The Nevada City Council unanimously approved the second and third readings of an ordinance that regulates the sale, use or explosive of fireworks within the city limits.
Despite concerns that were expressed by a few residents and a few council members about allowing the use of fireworks during the entire time that fireworks are allowed by a new state law to be sold — June 1 through July 8 and again Dec. 10 through Jan. 3 — the council went ahead and approved use during those dates, as recommended by the Nevada Public Safety Department.
Public Safety officials, both Ray Reynolds, fire chief, and Ric Martinez, director of public safety, maintain that they are not happy about the decision of state legislators to legalize fireworks in Iowa. But they believe they will face fewer problems by allowing their use at the same time that they are sold, because that use will come with many rules that must be followed. A full list of rules and requirements will be posted by the city, and they will ask sellers to distribute flyers with every sale about the rules, as well.
Some of the main rules include that fireworks must be handled or supervised by adults who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and that fireworks can only be used on one’s own property.
Reynolds and Martinez once again explained that from their perspective, it will be more confusing and cause more calls for the department if fireworks are being sold, but then aren’t allowed to be used either at all or for a very short time. But cutting back on usage, Reynolds said, the city might be “driving people to be more reckless.”
Reynolds and Martinez also feel that if they try to allow the use as the state is seeking, they might be supporting the state to not overstep local control of fireworks in the future.
Nevada resident Larry Sloan, who was at the meeting, said he understood that reasoning, and listed other examples of the problems that would arise if you said to people you can legally buy this, but you can’t legally use it.
Still there were concerns.
Jim George, of 1007 Sampson Dr. in Nevada, shared that he is not in favor of the city allowing use during this entire sales period. He noted that a lot of larger cities aren’t going to allow shooting of fireworks within city limits. “I think if there’s push back (from the legislators), it isn’t going to be from Nevada prohibiting it,” he said. He feels that allowing use of fireworks for the number of days per year that the sales are allowed is a long time, especially for older residents and people with pets.
Councilman Jim Walker echoed those concerns. “A lot of people in our community prefer not to have them (being used) at all,” Walker said. “We have people with pets and people themselves who fireworks trigger anxiety.”
Fines for misuse of fireworks haven’t been established yet, but will be established soon, and Nevada city officials are proposing that the fines be steep, noting that some communities are establishing fines of $500 or more for a fireworks-related offense.
Councilman Brian Hanson said he believes the city should follow what is being recommended by its public safety officials for this first year, because they have thought this out and debated the issue for quite some time, and they believe by allowing fireworks with clear rules and requirements will cause less problems and calls for service on their part.
Councilwoman Barb Mittman agreed, saying she’d be OK with what they are proposing for this year to see how it goes.
Walker said he’d like to see data collected from the sales/use period this summer and shared with the council after that time. He wants to see that data used to make decisions about future use of fireworks inside city limits.
City Administrator Matt Mardesen said he is certain that Nevada and all other communities in the state will be further discussing fireworks after this summer’s initial selling period. He said, statewide, there is a lot of interest about how this will play out.