Source: Sherman Publications

Township finally passes fireworks ordinance

by Trevor Keiser

August 22, 2012

After much back and forth and possible lawsuit action, Orion Township Officials passed the much debated Fireworks Ordinance at their Monday night regular meeting.

The vote was 5-1 in favor of the ordinance. Trustee John Steimel voted “no” and Trustee D’Arcy Gonzales was absent.

Earlier in the week the township had received a letter from township resident Michael Mahan’s attorney Aaron Hanke of Carthew Law Firm PC in Rochester Hills arguing against the proposed ordinance. Township Attorney Dan Kelly said none of the arguments raised in the letter were a surprise and had been raised before. He said the primary objection in the letters were concerning regulations on the day before, day of, and day after a national holiday.

“I think a fair interpretation of the statute that was passed was the legislature created a difference between use and ignition,” he said. “That would be the basis for us to believe there is some availability of a local ordinance to regulate the use during those three days.”

Hanke urged the board caution as there had not been anything decided in court on the matter.

“I think in rushing to judgment here and trying to really get a response to a lot of complaints, that’s when mistakes are made,” he said. “When you go strictly as you can without being careful.”

“In the state law it says “shall not regulate” on the three days we talked about, that’s essentially the equalivlent of a “Thou Shalt Not” in the Ten Commandments,” he continued. You can’t regulate on these three days and I don’t see anywhere in the statute there is any wiggle room.”

Hanke also said to take into consideration the state is re-looking at the law.

“It would be too quick to adopt this ordinance when you might have the ground move from under you at the state level, as well as exposing yourselves to potential litigation by a conjunctive order,” he said.

Township Supervisor JoAnn Van Tassel said she understood the arguments, but said no one had received far more complaints than she had.

“Without an ordinance we are without any tool or mechanism to enforce the shooting off of fireworks on all the other days,” Van Tassel said. “I personally feel this is a step in the right direction and to not take action will just invite more potential problems.”

Stiemel said he would have been in favor of a quick ordinance that regulated time and when.

“This ordinance goes way beyond that and is too big,” said Steimel. “I cannot vote for it because I think we’re going too far.”