Nevada City Council members were braced Monday for what they thought might be a lot of people coming before them to talk about fireworks. But on Monday, there was only one.
Jennifer Knox, who lives on J Avenue, near Billy Sunday field, came before the council to read a letter, basically sharing reasons why Nevada’s decision to allow fireworks to be shot off — for what she added up to be a total of 495 hours over a 38-day period — hurt her ability to enjoy her property during that time, because it created a noise nuisance.
Among Knox’s arguments were the fact that some fireworks being used in Nevada created 175 decibels of sound. “Nevada has a noise ordinance against roosters … and against lawn mowers on Labor Day … (she said giving their less than 100 decibel sound measurements),” but fireworks that were 175 decibels were legal for the entire time period.
Knox, who shared her entire letter with the Journal inside this issue, basically told the council she hopes that a more common sense law, like Roland, which allowed fireworks use July 4, 5 and 6, might be a more reasonable approach for Nevada in the future.
Later on in the meeting, both Fire Chief Ray Reynolds and Public Safety Director Ricardo Martinez commented on fireworks.
First off, Reynolds said that the city’s own fireworks display went very well this year and received lots of good public feedback. He thanked the council for appropriating more funds to the display.
As for fireworks for consumers, Reynolds said he has so far gathered 16 pages of information from other fire departments about the issue. He said he also recently saw Gov. Kim Reynolds and she said the state has been inundated with comments about fireworks … and the fact that a lot of cities sounded like war zones during the past few weeks.
Reynolds said across the state there were a number of folks with amputated hands and other injuries now reported, but here in Nevada, they had no medical or fire calls as a result of fireworks use by the public.
Reynolds agreed that for many residents, like Knox, fireworks use was frustrating. He said Nevada is not alone in noise and complaints. “Every other city was experiencing the same thing.”
Martinez said that they received 15 complaint calls that turned out to be for legal uses of fireworks. They had 11 complaints of illegal use of fireworks. “Ten citations were issued and three (were) charged with reckless use,” he said.
The fact that no one was hurt and no fires were started — those are the biggest positives for the city at this time, Martinez said. But he noted, there were a lot of complaints. Although, he said in watching the comments that were made on social media, you have people who love the fireworks and being able to use them; and people who hate the use of them. It’s a very controversial issue, he said.
Councilman Andrew Kelly said there are very few other issues he’s seen over the years that have created this much controversy and outrage in the community. Other than a possible coal plant and Highway 30 plans, he couldn’t think of too many others that have generated this much talk among community members.
The city is hoping to have a survey, possibly an online one or one that comes out with the next water bill, for residents to fill out. It plans to have an open discussion about fireworks in August, at the council’s second meeting, Aug. 28, for an in depth look at how Nevada dealt with fireworks and how it might want to change things in the future. That meeting may likely be moved to Gates Hall if the council feels that a lot of people will want to come and be part of the discussion that evening.
As noted by one councilman and by Martinez, the fireworks issue came to cities at the last minute this year, and it was one that every community had to make quick decisions about. Now, it’s time to look at it in a more detailed manner.