FLINT TWP. — With only one day to go before a state-legalized period for Fourth of July fireworks celebrations arrives, Police Chief George Sippert said he would leave it to his officers discretion whether to issue citations to violators of the township’s new fireworks ordinance.
The ordinance underwent a first reading two weeks ago, was unanimously approved by the township board Monday night and becomes effective this Sunday after publication — making it a municipal infraction to shoot off fireworks outside of state-legalized times.
The action responds to numerous complaints received last year about people shooting off fireworks any time they wanted including late at night when neighbors were trying to sleep.
Effective January 2012, a state law expanded the list of types of consumer fireworks that can be sold in Michigan and legally established their use on 10 legal holidays and the day before and after.
Flint Township now joins many other municipalities that have passed laws restricting usage to only those 30 days a year adjoining New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Trustee Frank Kasle began calling for restrictions last summer but the request had to first be reviewed by the township attorney before the board initiated action earlier this month.
Residents are free to blast away from now until the law goes into effect on Sunday. After that, any leftover fireworks will have to wait until the next three-day legal period — Labor Day.
Chief Sippert voiced concerns that passing the law so close to the Fourth of July does not allow enough time for public education. That’s why he said he will leave it up to his officers discretion to issue warnings instead of citations after Sunday.
“We ought to give residents time to acclimate before we begin issuing citations,” he said. “I think it is prudent to allow a little leeway (during the public education period).”
Supervisor Karyn MIller said she wanted to make it clear to township residents and visitors that they can shoot off their fireworks the day before, of and after the Fourth of July and other legal holidays but the fireworks ordinance will be enforced outside of those times.
Trustee Frank Kasle noted a recently revised state law that now gives local municipalities permission to prohibit the use of fireworks between midnight and 8 a.m. during the three-day legal holiday periods.
Kasle suggested that township board approve the ordinance as previously stated but later amend it with the restrictions on late-night activity.
Chief Sippert said the excessive use of fireworks in the township seems to be “a summer activity pretty much.”