Greenville rules fireworks acceptable only on day of, before and after a holiday

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 10:09 am on Thursday, August 09, 2012

Both Greenville and Belding city councils approved new fireworks ordinances that restrict when fireworks will be allowed to be used during the year, which both cities hope will resolve noise complaints, mostly during holidays. — File photo

GREENVILLE — The use of fireworks will be banned within the city of Greenville except for the day of, before and after a holiday.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Greenville City Council voted to approve an ordinance regulating the use of consumer fireworks in the city of Greenville.

City Manager George Bosanic said after Michigan passed a law allowing people to discharge consumer fireworks it became a problem not only throughout the state but locally as well.

“Some have asked why we need to pass an ordinance,” Bosanic said.

He explained residents were setting off fireworks well before and after holidays this year and well into the night. Ordinances that are currently in place such as a noise and littering ordinances were described as weak by Bosanic.

“Dispatch would receive multiple calls and public safety officers would have to go on a fishing expedition,” Bosanic explained. “When they have to do that, they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing — the public safety of our community.”

City Attorney Adam Eggleston said because of how the state law on consumer fireworks is worded, local municipalities cannot regulate in any way consumer fireworks the day of, before and after a holiday, which totals 30 days a year.

However, Greenville’s new ordinance regulates the use of use of consumer fireworks the rest of the 335 days a years.

“We are trying to put as much teeth in (the issue) as we can,” Eggleston said.

Highlights of the ordinance include:

• People cannot ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks in the city of Greenville unless permitted outside the 30 days allowed by the state law.

• A permit must be obtained 15 days in advance for the use “of agricultural or wildlife fireworks, articles pyrotechnic, display fireworks or special effects manufactured for outdoor pest control or agriculture purposes or for public or private display.”

In section 7, the ordinance states no one can “ignite, discharge, use or display any fireworks in a public street, right-of-way, public park, school property or any other place of public assembly.”

“Does this prevent anyone from using sparklers or low-impact fireworks?” Councilman Brian Greene asked.

Eggleston said yes, except for the 30 days the state of Michigan allows. This does not include private property, however.

Councilman Larry Moss asked about time restraints on the 30 days allowed by the state. Eggleston said because of how the state law is worded, the city cannot enforce time restrictions on those days at this time.

Eggleston said the city did look into making time restrictions outside of the 30 days, but decided this way was best.

“We are regulating this quite forcefully,” Eggleston said. “It should stop people from lighting them off because they are caught, they are guilty.”

If a person is caught breaking the new ordinance, there are penalties they will have to face. “A violation of this ordinance is a civil infraction, is punishable by a fine of up to $500,” states the ordinance. “In addition to any other penalty, a person that is found responsible for a violation of this ordinance shall be required to reimburse the city for the cost of storing, disposing of or destroying consumer fireworks that were confiscated for a violation of this ordinance.”

The ordinance received a “yes” vote from all seven council members.

“I want to see this implemented to the fullest extent,” said Councilwoman Frances Schuleit.

She spoke of her time working in a burn unit and seeing the injuries people sustained from fireworks and vowed to do what she could to stop this from happening.

This is the reason she voted “no” on a second fireworks item at the council meeting, which was approved by the six other council members.

Greenville Public Schools requested a permit to hold a fireworks display at the track on Aug. 24 following the first Greenville football game at the new Legacy Field. The display will be put on by Wolverine Firework Display Inc.

National holidays in which consumer fireworks are allowed in the city of Greenville are New Year’s Day; Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; Washington’s birthday; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving Day; and Christmas Day

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