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Oxford Village moves toward fireworks ban



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August 01, 2012 - Oxford Village is moving in the same direction as Oxford Township when it comes to the use of fireworks – ban it.

Council last week voted 4-1 to direct the village manager to draft an ordinance "similar to the township's" banning the use of fireworks on all days except for the 30 protected by state law.

"Personally, I would never shoot off a rocket from my property," said Councilman Dave Bailey. "My property is just too small. My neighbors on all sides would complain."

Officials also set a first reading of the proposed ordinance for the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 village meeting. Council meets at 22 W. Burdick St.

"I think it's clear the township is working towards an ordinance that bans them except (on) those 30 days of the year that we have no control over," said Councilman Tony Albensi, who made the motion. "I would be in support of that."

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which took effect Jan. 1, legalized the selling of consumer-grade fireworks and the unlimited use of them on the day before, of and after the 10 national holidays.

National holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, George Washington's birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"Basically, we can't do anything about those 30 days," said Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth. "We can't limit the size of (the) property where you can shoot them off. We can't regulate times. We have no control over those 30 days."

As for the other 335 days, it's up to municipalities as to whether or not they choose to enact and/or enforce local ordinances regulating the ignition, discharge and use of consumer-grade fireworks.

Township officials have been working on developing a ban on fireworks during the 335 days of the year not specifically protected by state law. A first reading of this proposed ban will take place the township's 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8 meeting.

A desire for "continuity" between the township and village's fireworks ordinances was expressed by some council members.

Helmuth suggested the village's proposed ordinance increase the number of days folks are allowed to shoot fireworks around the Fourth of July from three to seven.

So, instead of the July 3-5 period allowed by state law, she wanted to extend it from June 29 to July 5 in the village.

"You know people are going to light them off the weekend before the Fourth (of July). They're going to do it," she said. "(The state) passed a fireworks law stating, 'Hey, we can do this in Michigan.'

"I think we have to let people do it to celebrate the Fourth of July. I don't think people are going to be lighting them off for Columbus Day (or) Washington's birthday . . . I think the Fourth (of July) is when you're supposed to have fireworks."

Councilman Elgin Nichols disagreed. He felt "to extend this any further is ludicrous."

"We need to confine it within the holiday period – not extend it," he said.

Village President Tom Benner was of like mind.

"If we extend it over the Fourth of July, I think we're asking for more problems," he said. "I'd rather see it kept right at the 30 days that the state law is talking about."

Supervisor Bill Dunn, who attended the council meeting as a village resident, indicated he's in favor of total ban in both municipalities.

"I've heard a lot of complaints (from people) throughout the township and the village about the obnoxious behavior of their neighbors," he said. "I feel even worse about our pets. Our pets are afraid to go outside. They don't know what's going on.

"I think 30 days is enough for people to have their fun with their fireworks. I think you should ban it the other 335 days of the year."

With regard to the pet issue, Helmuth said, "I have a dog, also. My dog suffers through it. As soon as it stops, she settles down. We go through it every time there's loud noises. I love my dogs."

Despite that, Helmuth, who cast the lone dissenting vote, believes people "deserve" the opportunity to shoot them off for a longer period around Independence Day.

"My personal opinion (is), even though I'm not a huge fan of fireworks, they are supposed to be here for the Fourth of July," she said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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