New Owosso ordinance tightens fireworks restrictions

Fireworks are displayed for sale at PPI Fireworks of Michigan located on M-21 in Owosso

OWOSSO — The city council recently passed an emergency ordinance restricting the times fireworks can be used that will be in effect this holiday week.

“It’s not often that we do emergency ordinances but for fireworks, I consulted with Chief (Kevin) Lenkart and we think an emergency ordinance is necessary only for the fact that we want to have it in place for the time the Fourth of July rolls around,” City Manager Nathan Henne said June 3.

He explained if the council went through the regular process of approving the new ordinance it would not have gone into effect until July 6.

“I don’t even remember the last time we did one of these. Does an emergency ordinance … does it not even require a public hearing?” Mayor Chris Eveleth asked.

“It just requires the vote of five council members to approve it, “ Owosso city Clerk Amy Kirkland said at the June 3 meeting.

All six council members present (Dan Law was absent) voted for its approval.

Under a 2013 state law, fireworks were allowed to be detonated the day before, the day of, and the day after the Fourth of July from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m. The law also barred municipalities from setting their own individual ordinances.

After receiving significant pushback from municipalities that were unable to respond to citizen complaints of disturbances related to the use of fireworks, the state amended the law in 2018 to reduce the number of days in which municipalities are prohibited from regulating fireworks use.

Municipalities still may not prohibit the use of consumer fireworks Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. Jan. 1; the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day, until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days; and June 29 to July 4 until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days; July 5, if that date is a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.; and the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day until 11:45 p.m.

The former state law required that municipalities allow fireworks on 30 recognized holidays, but following the state change, the new city ordinance shrinks that number to 12.

“In years past, we have gotten a lot of complaints, especially around the Fourth of July because that’s the biggest national holiday where people want to shoot fireworks off. We get a lot of complaints specifically from people who have dogs and children and veterans as well,” Henne said.

According to T’Ann Love, the general manager of PPI Fireworks of Michigan in Caledonia Township, the new ordinance has not had any effect on sales.

“It’s been a little slow because of the rain, but not too bad,” she said. “People have been asking questions about the new ordinances and we try to educate them and we actually put the state law on the back of our receipts.”

According to the new Owosso ordinance, residents may use fireworks June 29 and 30, and July 1,2 and 3; as well as July 4 and 5.

“We’re reducing the number of days you can use fireworks and were reducing the times on those days that fireworks can be used,” Henne said.

Consumer fireworks may be detonated between 11 a.m. and 11:45 p.m.

According to the ordinance and state law, the fireworks are only allowed on private property.

“Will the police be aware of this and actually be actively trying to stop this or will it be on a complaint basis like how other ordinances are. How are we going to ask people to respond to this if their neighbors are shooting things off before or after the allowable time?” Council member Bailey asked.

“If it passes we would obviously notify them of the changes and make sure they are all aware of it. As far as enforcement, it’s a mix of if someone calls our dispatch an officer will respond or if they witness it on regular patrol or a call. Just call central dispatch, that’s the best way to notify us,” Lenkart said at the meeting.

Ordinance violators are subject to a $1,000 fine for each infraction.

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