Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

October 7, 2012

Townships look out for residents by limiting fireworks

It took the Legislature just a few moments of thoughtlessness to let the fireworks genie out of the bottle in Michigan, but the effort to put some limits on the use of consumer grade pyrotechnics is taking a lot longer than that.

A couple area townships have followed Traverse City's lead and taken advantage of a clause in the state law passed last November that allows local governments to limit the use of newly-legal, more powerful fireworks to the day before, the day of and the day after a national holiday. Hey, who doesn't finish off the turkey with a few Roman candles?

Peninsula and Acme townships adopted ordinances similar to Traverse City's; violations are a civil infraction punishable by a fine, usually $100 for a first offense.

Blair and East Bay townships are expected to consider similar restrictions this week. East Bay officials are supposed to discuss a ban at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the township hall. Supervisor Glen Lile said he suspects the board will support drafting an ordinance to consider in November, based on a large number of complaints officials received.

Blair Township officials are expected to vote on adopting a ban when they meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the township hall. Green Lake and Long Lake townships haven't chosen which route to pursue.

Long Lake Supervisor Karen Rosa said she hasn't received as many fireworks complaints as she expected.

"We've talked about it a little, but haven't made a decision yet," she said.

Garfield Township, the most populous community in the region, won't be taking up a ban anytime soon, according to Chuck Korn, the supervisor.

"We had a brief discussion in August," Korn said. "The consensus was since this is the first year, let's give it a while before we do anything like a kneejerk, like write a new law."

Actually, there's no rewriting involved. The existing law allows communities to limit days when fireworks are allowed; that's the only leeway they have.

Obviously, not everyone hates the new law or the bigger fireworks. And around the Fourth of July, who doesn't like a few booms and a color show. That's all fine, but only as long as no one has an accident and those setting off the boomers have some respect for their neighbors.

Respect is what this is all about. If the people who set off fireworks across the region well into the night and on any day of the week thought about the folks two houses down who are trying to sleep, there wouldn't be a problem.

But they didn't/don't and so people call the police or the township hall to complain and the complaints mount and sooner or later, elected officials have to do things like restrict the use of fireworks to just 18 days a year and come out looking — in some eyes at least — like wet blankets.

But that's the way things worked out.

Acme Township supervisor Wayne Kladder said he received 40 or more complaints from residents.

"People weren't sleeping, dogs were barking, we even had a report of a fireworks war where people were shooting fireworks at each other," Kladder said. "It was just overwhelming."

Peninsula Township's supervisor Rob Manigold told a similar story.

"Maybe it's because we're surrounded by water, but many of our residents are complaining about people shooting off fireworks as soon as night falls," he said. "And then there's the ones who come home from the bars at 2 a.m. and shoot them off."

That's just not acceptable, no matter one's level of patrotic zeal.

If you live in Garfield, you may have to wait for relief, if that's what you seek.

"We'll be a little piece of heaven," Korn said. Right. If heaven has a sound track straight out of the Battle of Gettysburg.

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