By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — Holiday fireworks — no longer reserved for Independence Day celebrations — will have to keep within certain hours this year or those shooting off the explosives may be fined after city officials approved a revised ordinance Monday.
During its regular meeting Monday, the City Council adopted a local policy that limits fireworks displays to a three-day period — July 3, 4 and 5 in the case of Independence Day — and certain times. City Administrator Jim Wagner said the policy was consistent with updated state regulations that passed in Lansing last week.
Revised policies were inspired by the number of complaints heard last year when the general public operated under looser fireworks laws for the first time, Wagner said. Spectacles that had previously been seen mostly on the Fourth of July were seen — and heard — for days leading up to and following several holidays, and celebrated with louder, higher-powered fireworks.
“We received a lot of complaints last year,” Wagner said, objections heard at City Hall and by state legislators that the expanded allowances for fireworks may have been abused. “Some people took advantage of the law, or lack of law.”
Wagner said the city had been “a little proactive” in crafting a local ordinance while state lawmakers worked out the final details of a bill that cleared both chambers last week. The updated state law allows local governments to set restrictions on fireworks displays, which will now be allowed the day before, day of and day after national holidays. Violators may be subject to a $500 fine if shooting off fireworks between midnight (or 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day) and 8 a.m.
A majority of state lawmakers agreed that last year’s expansive allowances that included decriminalizing certain high-powered, airborne fireworks may have been abused.
“A lot of people have animals that get agitated,” Wagner said. “Trenton is an older community and therefore has a lot of seniors who go to bed earlier. It may have been a little too aggressive.”
Wagner said city officials were able to have a plan drafted, approved and in place for next week’s Fourth of July celebrations, with hopes that this and future celebrations will satisfy both fans and critics of fireworks.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)