Fireworks ban, restrictions up for discussion in Ferndale

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 12, 2014 

0624 Fireworks PAD

Carlos Castaneda Jr., 12, helps stock the fireworks stand owned by his family Monday, June 23, 2014, on Haxton Way on the Lummi Reservation.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

FERNDALE - The future of fireworks in Ferndale is up for debate, as officials could discuss a possible ban Wednesday, July 16.

The City Council's public safety and neighborhood services committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the issue and review two possible fireworks ordinances - one that would ban fireworks outright and one that would ban them on all but July 4.

Depending on how that discussion goes, one or both ordinances later could go before the full council. Or the ban could be just a discussion and nothing more.

If the idea moves on to council, though, and they decided to restrict or ban fireworks, those changes wouldn't go into effect for a full year, meaning the first July 4 with the restrictions would be in 2016.

Councilwoman Cathy Watson requested the committee discussion about fireworks restrictions. She believes fireworks use in the city is escalating, and she's heard from people in her neighborhood who are worried about the safety of aerial rockets exploding over their homes.

"My concern is, especially in my neighborhood, it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year, and it's lasting longer," she said. "I'm not sure if we're going to completely eliminate them like Bellingham did, but I do want to have that discussion."

The city's fireworks laws currently match those of the state: They are allowed from noon to 11 p.m. June 28, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 29 through July 3, 9 a.m. to midnight July 4, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 5, as well as 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve.

City Clerk Sam Taylor said the city hears from more people every year who are frustrated about the impact fireworks have on children, pets and relatives who have served in the military. The city got 20 calls on July 4, he said, with people concerned about unsafe and illegal fireworks and complaining that people were shooting off fireworks after the midnight cut-off.

Bellingham just had its first July 4 under a residential fireworks ban, and Taylor said it appears to have enhanced public safety, with fewer fireworks-related problems reported.

Watson said she'd like to hear from officials in Bellingham about how the first year went, and she'd like to get the Ferndale Police Department's take on how a ban or restrictions might work in the city.

"At this point, I just want to have a discussion," Watson said. "Do they think we're getting out of control, or am I the only one who feels that way? And if I am the only one, then it will die in committee."

Reach Zoe

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