RICHFIELD TWP. — The Board of Trustees has asked the township attorney to begin drafting an ordinance that would comply with the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, Public Act 256, which limits the days and times fireworks can be set off in the community.
The proposed ordinance was brought to the board by resident Robert DeLay who gathered names on a petition of township residents who supported the idea of adopting the state fireworks ordinance.
He said the request for a fireworks ordinance is to help people that have animals, people with PTSD, older people and others prepare for and take safeguards when they know people will be setting off fireworks.
“Such as being able to secure my horses inside a barn, bring the dog inside the house, turn on a radio or something to calm them,” said Delay. “Last year, one of my horses was injured trying to get out of the shelter because it was afraid of the fireworks.”
The ordinance DeLay proposed would follow the state guidelines which allow fireworks to be set off on the following dates and times:
• Dec. 31 until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1
• The Saturday and Sunday before Memorial Day until 11:45 p.m. on each day.
• June 29-July 4 until 11:45 p.m. each day
• July 5, if it falls on a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.
• The Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day until 11:45 p.m. each day
People in the township could apply for permits to let off fireworks on dates that deviate from the schedule above for special occasions such as festivals, homecomings and Outdoor Adventure.
DeLay said he had checked around and both Davison and Forest townships have adopted the state ordinance.
Township Supervisor Joe Madore said his only concern with adopting the state ordinance is he thinks the fines may be too steep at $1,000 per violation.
“I thought it was too steep right out the gate, do we have wiggle room there?” he asked at the Sept. 14 board meeting. “Can we give a warning first?”
Madore said he’d rather see a progressive fine starting with a warning on the first offense, then working up from there with every violation. He said the township attorney told him the board could do that.
Clerk Teri Webber said she read recently that Flushing Township had adopted the state ordinance with the $1,000 fine and questioned why Richfield Township should consider starting out lower.
“I personally thought it was excessive,” said Madore.
DeLay said he thinks fireworks should be regulated with the same scrutiny as firearms and should be treated as a potential hazard.
He agreed, however, that the township should take some time and develop an ordinance that will fit the township’s needs and take into consideration what everyone is comfortable with.
“We all might want to take a look at this as a work in progress,” said DeLay. “What decision you make tonight doesn’t have to stand in concrete.”
Trustee Keith Pyles said the board should start by reaching out to the township attorney and get his thoughts on it, then have him bring back what he comes up with for the board to consider.
The board decided to send the matter to Attorney Michael Gildner and will look at the issue again in October.