Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 30, 2013

No fireworks curfew for the 4th of July

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A new law that will allow cities and townships to institute a 1 a.m. curfew on fireworks had too short a fuse to launch during the upcoming July 4 holiday.

Gov. Rick Snyder on June 19 signed a law to let municipalities adopt fireworks curfews, but public notice requirements in cities and townships demand between two weeks and 30-plus days to amend an ordinance. Officials in Traverse City and surrounding areas now hope to have the curfew in place for Labor Day.

“I think all of the northern townships are going to jump on this (curfew),” said Chuck Korn, supervisor in Grand Traverse County’s Garfield Township. “It’s obvious we need something. The bang-bangs at night are driving people crazy.”

Traverse City was among Michigan’s first communities to adopt a local ban prior to the Fourth of July celebration in 2012, that decision coming shortly after state lawmakers ended a long-time ban on exploding and propelled fireworks.

The townships of Peninsula, Long Lake, Garfield, East Bay, Acme, and Blair all followed suit during the fall and winter. Such ordinances ban the use of consumer grade fireworks year-round, except for the day before, the day of, or the day after a national holiday, which are exempt under state law.

The bans haven’t had much impact on business compared to 2012, said Brandi Petras, a supervisor at Pro Fireworks in Acme.

“We’re doing pretty good already,” Petras said.

The state previously banned powerful consumer grade fireworks such as bottle rockets, aerial cakes, Roman candles, and firecrackers. All now can be sold legally, and fireworks merchants’ subsequent windfall quickly led to an explosion of complaints from area residents.

“The worst is when you get the guys coming out of the bar at 2 a.m. and shooting them off,” said Rob Manigold, Peninsula Township supervisor. “Being on the water it really carries and it seems like they are going off all the time.”

Traverse City police Capt. Brian Heffner said there appears to be a decrease in fireworks use during banned days thus far this summer.

“I don’t know if it’s the newness of them is wearing off ... or if it’s because those people have been confronted by their neighbors and the police about the danger of using fireworks in a high-density living environment,” Heffner said.

Traverse City also bans the use of fireworks 365 days a year on all city property, including its parks and beaches. Heffner said that’s usually their biggest concern because many fireworks users aren’t aware parks are off-limits to pyrotechnics..

Heffner said officers ask people to leave the park and store their fireworks in a safe place. If they refuse, police will confiscate the fireworks and issue users a citation. Violation of the ordinance is a civil infraction in the city and most area townships.

Heffner said city police responded to over 20 calls on city property but issued just one citation over the July 4, 2012 holiday.

“He didn’t believe we could make him leave the park,” Heffner said. “But we’ll make sure the fireworks leave before we leave.”