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Village considers time limits on fireworks

July 31, 2013 - The ability to shoot off fireworks at any time during the 30 days a year designated by state law may be coming to an end in Oxford Village.

Last week, council scheduled a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27 to learn what citizens think about the municipality possibly amending its fireworks ordinance to prohibit their use during certain times on specific days.

The hearing will take place in the council chambers located at 22 W. Burdick St.

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act was recently amended to allow local units of government in counties with populations of 750,000 or more to regulate the ignition, discharge or use of consumer fireworks between the hours of 12 midnight and 8 a.m. on the day before, the day of and the day after the 10 national holidays.

New Year's Day is the only exception. That's when the hours are defined as 1-8 a.m.

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

Village Manger Joe Young explained that in order to enforce these new time restrictions, the municipality must adopt them as part of its local ordinance.

"Otherwise, they can (shoot off fireworks) all 24 hours," he said.

Last year, the state legalized the selling of consumer-grade fireworks and the use of them on the aforementioned 30 days with no ability for municipalities to impose any restrictions.

"It's such a stupid law," said Councilwoman Sue Bossardet.

The other 335 days of the year, municipalities are free to restrict or ban their use any way they see fit. Both the village and township currently prohibit the use of consumer fireworks, without a permit, the other 335 days of the year. That was enacted last year.

Consumer-grade fireworks include things such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and certain aerial shells not exceeding 1.75 inches in diameter. Basically, the category encompasses many fireworks that leave the ground and explode in the air.

On Aug. 14, the Oxford Township Board is expected to vote on banning the use of consumer fireworks during the aforementioned hours for those 30 days.

Village President Tony Albensi was disappointed that nothing was added to the state law regulating how far away someone using fireworks must be from structures.

"We're not able to restrict that, unfortunately," he said. "My biggest concern was proximity to houses and commercial buildings, but it doesn't sound like we can do anything about that."

"What you're allowed to do is fairly narrow," said village attorney Bob Davis.

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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