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St. Clair Shores Passes Amended Fireworks Ordinance

City Council voted to limit fireworks to 10 holidays, along with the day before and after, to match state law.

City Council passed an amended fireworks ordinance Monday which limited the ignition, discharge and use of consumer fireworks except for the day of, before and after a national holiday.

The move comes after the went into effect at the beginning of the year, repealing former sections of the Michigan Penal Code regarding fireworks and setting new regulations for their purchase, sale and use.

What local governments can do, however, is regulate the ignition, discharge and use of consumer-grade fireworks, which include firecrackers, bottle rockets and roman candles.

“People are pretty passionate and upset over this issue,” said Mayor Kip Walby, who stated that he has received more correspondence on this issue than any other item as an elected official. “I haven’t had anything like this.”

St. Clair Shores joined other cities including, , and passed similar ordinances.

The new ordinance, also established general restrictions on the use of the fireworks including:

  • Not allowing the ignition of fireworks within 20 feet of an open flame;
  • Restriction of excessive use of fireworks for more than 20 minutes;
  • No ignition, launch or discharge of fireworks with 50 feet of a residential building or vehicle;
  • Fireworks can not be discharged from public property including schools, streets and medians.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie, who stated she thought that the state legislation was a “bad law” which was “hastily passed,” disagreed with the 20-minute usage part of the law.

“I think it is arbitrary and vague,” she said.

While the state law was written to allow the ignition of fireworks during the three-day period, St. Clair Shores also has current laws to which can be used if the fireworks become a nuisance including:

  • Disturbing the pulbic peace;
  • Trespassing, which could include spent fireworks landing on a resident’s property;
  • Nuisance.

Deputy Police Chief Glenn Bowlin said last year the department received 26 calls for service last year on the Fourth of July, and expects to have “double or triple” the number of calls this year.

He added that extra officers will be called in on overtime to enforced the city ordinances over the holiday.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie, who stated she thought that the state legislation was a “bad law” which was “hastily passed,” disagreed with the 20-minute usage part of the law.

“I think it is arbitrary and vague,” she said.

Other members of council described how they were personally affected by the fireworks usage in their neighborhood including Anthony Tiseo, who had a firework land in driver’s seat of his car. It did not cause any damage.

Chris Vitale, said a firework recently exploded near his dry grass, which he was concerned about the embers igniting his lawn. He also stated that his dog jumped through a screen and was hiding under a car due to the fireworks.

“You have a right to freedom of expression,” said Vitale, who also had to pickup numerous spent fireworks from his lawn. “They end when I have to clean up your mess. “

Resident Joseph Backus was the lone person to speak against the amended ordinance, and saw it a restriction of “freedom of expression.”

The majority of residents who spoke at the meeting were in favor of the amended ordinance.

Marianne Courey stated that she has had to give her dog a daily tranquilizer due to the fireworks; run her air conditioning due to the late night fireworks and been yelled by neighbors who were setting off pyrotechnics.

“I support this ordinance 100 percent,” she said. “There is an old saying ‘Good fences make good neighbors. ‘ I would include good ordinance make good neighbors.”

BGD July 06, 2012 at 02:24 AM
We are and have been for years. Now someone else gets to hear for acouple nights, what our service men and women listen to for a at least a year everynight. Sleep tight...
Thomas Licht July 06, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Yeow! Uh, no people can't say any damn thing they want about you. The Constitution doesn't go that far. Various laws limit peronal freedom. Slander laws limit what you can say about others and libel laws limit what you can write about others. Read and learn about your government. It is not without limits on your liberties. You cannot harm others and their property and peace. For those who seem to think there was something unconstitutional done, challenge it in court. That is always open to you as an avenue if you think you are still right. Until then, majority rules. Also, regarding what our soldiers experience in battle, God bless them, but those battles are fought to keep the peace here, not to bring the battle home.
DJG July 06, 2012 at 07:23 PM
@Christopher...You're WAY off base. Sorry. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Read up on that. Tell me how much happiness is experienced with fireworks going off for months, day in day out at all hours of the night. When I can't sleep, even with the AC cranked and a loud fan for back ground noise, yeah....I'm happy. I'm even more so happy when my own dogs, large dogs, are afraid to go outside. The law was a good idea, poorly written, poorly regulated and poorly thought through. If you feel so oppressed because you can't light off fireworks, which effect others around you...please feel free to move to another city, or better yet another country that will allow you to express those rights. Oh, that's right...people come here for that reason. Good luck on that.
CJA July 13, 2012 at 10:44 PM
To SDS who thinks our voted politicians are gestapo and is whining because he can no longer impose his stupid antics on other residents...You can always move...please do so...your lack of respect for the people that share your community is disgusting. We live close...lots are small and people simply dont enjoy listening to people express themselves for two months prior to a holiday. Maybe you need to look at buying acreage...somewhere way far away from here. And to those who supported the majority of citizens who were being audibly abused by the barrage of fireworks...thank you for listening...that is if your ears stop ringing long enough to hear :)
Karen July 17, 2012 at 04:12 AM
CJA, Thank you! I could not have said it better myself! If SDS thinks that not being able to use noisy, disruptive, dangerous fireworks is losing "freedom", then perhaps he/she should go elsewhere ASAP. I am also stunned by the words I've seen thrown around on various message boards-"Nazis", "police state", "tyranny", "gestapo"-really? Do you have even the most remote concept of history? Your ability to use your precious fireworks have nothing to do with your "freedom" or constitutional rights. Have you been dragged away from your home and sent to a death camp? Have you been asked to show your papers while walking through your community? Is your every movement being monitored? Has your home/business been destroyed because you do not fit the government ideal of the "perfect" citizen? Hmmm...thought not. P.S.: to those who suggest we drug our dogs because they are fearful-WRONG! I will continue to speak up until this debacle ends.

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