Township lowering the boom on frequent fireworks

FLINT TWP. — The township board took the first step toward defusing fireworks fervor that at times can be a neighborhood nuisance since a new state law went into effect last year granting more privileges for fireworks sales and usage.

State law allows fireworks to be used the day before, day after and day of a major holiday. It also permits sales of more explosive consumer fireworks such as Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets and other items that leave the ground.

Frequent use of louder fireworks, particularly late at night, led to a rash of complaints last summer but especially in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July holiday celebration.

On Monday night, the board gave a first reading to an ordinance amendment that will limit use of consumer fireworks during the year to only those holiday periods specified by state law. The proposed amendment comes up for second reading and adoption at the board’s July 1 meeting, just in time to curtail a prolonged spate of Fourth of July fireworks.

Violators will be charged with a municipal civil infraction.

Trustee Frank Kasle noted that the ordinance language was written by township attorney Peter Goodstein and is in full compliance with state law. Kasle also noted a pending change in the state statute that would further prohibit consumer fireworks usage from midnight to 8 a.m. including the allowed holidays.

“If this passes as expected, we can add it to your ordinance,” Kasle said.

Clerk Kim Courts concurred that the issue likely will come back for more changes.

Supervisor Karyn Miller said she is having discussions with fire officials about a fee to cover the added costs of having fire personnel at commercial fireworks displays.

Trustee George Menoutes asked why the hours of banned use could not be pushed back to 10 p.m. in deference to senior citizens who are in bed by then.

Courts said it is not dark enough for fireworks displays until after 10 p.m.

Poised for the more restrictive fireworks ordinance to take effect, the board is also taking a less lenient stance this year on applications for permits to operate firework stands.

Two applications were turned down Monday night and a third request was denied at the board’s June 3 meeting.

This week the township board voted 5-2 and 6-1 against requests from Jakes Fireworks to operate fireworks stands at 3192 Linden Road and 3282 Miller Road.

At the June 4 meeting, the board denied a request for a fireworks tent sale from James Teuber to be located at the Lincor Park Plaza on Linden near Corunna Road. But it gave the green light in a 5-2 votes to Carlson’s Greenhouse for a fireworks tent sale at 4056 Miller Road from June 29 through July 5.

Kasle and Menoutes voted against all requests. Kasle said he was against the requests for several reasons including that it posed a financial detriment to an established township business that operates and pays taxes year-round.

He noted that the building dept. opposed the stand on Linden Road on the grounds that it obstructed traffic flow.

Clerk Courts noted that vendors are required by the state to come to the township for a permit to operate a fireworks stand. She said the board needed to be fair about it and perhaps needs to consider changes to its ordinance that permit tent sales as long as certain conditions are met.

Before voting against the second request, Trustee Barb Vert asked Police Chief George Sippert about the volume of fireworks nuisance calls.

Sipper responded that the calls go through 911 and usually have stopped by the time officers arrive on the scene.

He did note that fireworks are readily available for purchase and more people are buying them.

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