July 17, 2013 - Josephine "Babe" Osmak is fed up with fireworks.
"Why do I have to resort to Valium and Benadryl to have a peaceful sleep for myself and my dogs?" said Osmak, a 75-year-old Brandon Township resident. "We have been hearing fireworks for weeks that go on for hours by a bunch of people who have no regard whatsoever for their neighbors, pets or the elderly. They are very, very discourteous."
Osmak's concerns were echoed statewide this summer as lawmakers lit the fuse on a new bill to squelch the noisy issue.
Earlier this month, Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed legislation that allows any city, township or village to prohibit the use of fireworks between midnight and 8 a.m. on the national holidays and one day on either side. Locally, Flint Township in Genesee County recently passed laws restricting usage of fireworks to only those 30 days a year adjoining New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
The local fireworks issue became louder after state lawmakers opened up fireworks sales and usage in Michigan in 2011. The lawmakers' intent was to snag a few tax dollars then going to border states who sold such fireworks. The legislation expanded the types of fireworks that could be ignited legally in the state.
"We get plenty of calls on fireworks in June and July," said Sgt. Pete Burkett, Oakland County Sheriff's Office, commander of the Brandon substation.
"It's unfortunate we have to make laws restricting celebration due to some residents' inability to be reasonable about when to do it," he said. "If residents are lighting off fireworks at an unreasonable time, call us— don't get into it with your neighbor—we'll respond, we'll handle it. Our township noise ordinance is very vague, but if it's an unusual event, like a band at a party or fireworks they can be cited by it. Let the professionals do the fireworks, they know what they are doing."
Conversely, Bob DePalma, Groveland Township supervisor, said there has been only a few complaints to his office each year regarding fireworks.
"It's not been a huge problem here in the township," he said. "The planning commission will discuss the fireworks issue at 7 p.m., July 23. At that point we'll take a look to see if the township needs to have an ordinance."
Atlas Township Planning Chairperson Rick Misek said the state needs to take more action.
"The real boom lawmakers are hearing is the sound of cash in the state coffers," said Misek. "They need to just stand up and make it illegal at certain times. I understand at the holidays as long as you don't burn the woods down. But you just can't go out at 2 a.m.and set off fireworks. I would support a ban on fireworks between midnight and 10 a.m."
It's nuisance abatement that falls under the police power of elected officials, added Misek.
"If it were up to me I might make an exception for the Fourth of July—however, the idea of fireworks each night for June through July is just a little much."
Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman Jones said her office received just a few calls.
"We had more calls regarding fireworks last year," she said. "Depending on the size of the Aug. 19 township agenda, the fireworks ordnance will be a discussion item. Flint Township Board (of trustees) passed a fireworks ordinance. Part of the problem we have here is if a firework goes off on Henderson Road the animals on M-15 hear it."