By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
Boyne City Commissioners voted unanimously to postpone their decision on a new fireworks ordinance during their March 26 meeting.
The city is considering passing new more stringent rules after the State of Michigan made rules on the types and usage of fireworks less stringent last year.
The new ordinance allows for the approval of display fireworks usage with permission from the city and penalties for violating the new ordinance are $50 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch asked Boyne City Police Chief Jeffrey Gaither if the new ordinance would provide him with the tools he needed to enforce firework violations and he said “yes.”
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said the new ordinance was merely a response to a relatively new state law which allows fireworks to be used more widely than in the past.
“Basically there’s 30 days throughout the year that they’re permitted and we have no real ability to regulate them unless they’re (posing) a real safety hazard to somebody else,” Cain said. “During a holiday, the day before and day after those holidays they’re basically permitted … and especially around the fourth of July time we had a number of complaints … of fireworks being used and things of that nature.”
There was no public comment on the matter.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she is not happy with the new state law.
She asked if there were laws in place to deal with property damage from any fireworks-related incidents.
“What kind of recourse would that individual have?” Sansom asked.
Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord asked if that type of issue wasn’t already addressed under state law.
Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer asked Gaither if a fireworks-related incident wouldn’t be handled like any other personal property damage case. Gaither said it would be a civil matter.
Sansom said she was also concerned about needing regulations on fireworks for times of the year when there is a higher than normal chance for fire.
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he feels it is a good ordinance.
Gaylord asked if children under adult supervision were allowed to use fireworks during the allotted holiday times.
“Where does it state that municipalities can regulate age during the 30-day window?” he said.
The state law prohibits minors from purchasing the fireworks but it does not specifically address their use.
Gaylord said he did not want to see a child under adult supervision get in trouble for using a firework that his parents have allowed him to use.
Neidhamer said he felt the possession by children issue should be not be addressed because then the police would be forced to allow kids to use fireworks on certain days and then to ticket them on others.
“I’d like to see it left in and applied straight across,” Samson said. “I don’t like seeing young children setting off bottle rockets. I think it’s dangerous, very dangerous.”
Neidhamer said there are many families that, within a family function, allow their kids to use fireworks.
“Is that a parent issue or a police issue,” he said.
Sansom said, “It’s a danger issue.”
The ordinance, as proposed, would force fireworks sellers within city limits to display the proposed ordinance if passed.
Would allow for the sale of fireworks as permitted by law but further limits the sale of certain fireworks that are now legal.
Limits the sale of or use of permitted fireworks by those under the age of 18.
Limits the use and possession of any fireworks on public property without a special permit from the city commission.
Allows for the use of certain fireworks (not what is allowed under the act today) on private property and only with the permission of the owner.
Prohibits the use of fireworks between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., which is in conflict with the current state law.
Addresses the sale of fireworks which is in conflict with the new law.
Requires that sparklers and their wires must not be left on the ground or disposed of in a body of water.