Ferndale City Council to vote on limiting fireworks to July 4, New Year’s Eve

People have another chance to weigh in on the City Council’s proposal to limit when people can set off fireworks to July 4 and New Year’s Eve.

The City Council will take up the issue Monday, Sept. 15.

The proposal would cut by seven the number of days that Ferndale residents are allowed to light fireworks.

The City Council likely will approve the new restrictions based on its direction to city staff at the Sept. 2 meeting to write an ordinance that would narrow the window when people can use fireworks to 9 a.m. to midnight July 4 and 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. Jan. 1.

The proposed ordinance also restricts sales of fireworks in Ferndale from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 1 through July 4.

There are two to three fireworks stands in Ferndale; none of them belong to nonprofits, noted City Clerk Sam Taylor, who was responding to concerns about the impact sales restrictions could have on nonprofit stands.

Violators would be fined $250 to $1,000.

The City Council has had a number of public hearings throughout the summer about possibly banning or restricting fireworks in the city, after Councilwoman Cathy Watson expressed concern that fireworks activity in the city was escalating. She also said she’d heard from people in her neighborhood who were worried about the safety of aerial rockets exploding over their homes.

The hearings drew supporters who said weeks of loud explosions were disruptive for their families and their pets, as well as opponents who thought an outright ban would destroy a longstanding American tradition. But many seemed to agree that a restriction that still allowed people to set off fireworks on July 4 was a good compromise.

If the council adopts the ordinance Monday, the restrictions will begin September 2015.

That means the upcoming New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July would be the last for residents under the city’s current fireworks rules.

Those regulations match the state’s: Fireworks 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 New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

At the City Council’s public safety and neighborhood services committee meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 10, Watson said she had wanted a ban to help curb illegal fireworks and also to start a community discussion about the issue.

“We started the conversation, let’s see what happens next year,” Watson said. “I want the people who are just sitting in their driveway, setting off a few little things, to still be able to do that.”