Tuesday, October 18, 2005
GRANDVIEW - "Less is more" seemed to be the Grandview City Council's approach to a proposed fireworks ordinance.
A council-appointed task force drew up a revised ordinance and submitted it to council on Monday night for comment.
"It looks like the task force did a lot of work on this and I'd like to see us try it for a year," offered councilwoman Pam Horner.
While that may be council's eventual direction, it won't be without sweeping revisions in the proposal.
City Attorney Jim Maxwell said a proposal to charge a $10 permit fee for fireworks use would be "more trouble than it's worth" and an "administrative nightmare."
Further, he noted that charging a use fee would indicate the city's tacit approval for use and could open it up to potential litigation.
Council also differed with the task force's view that prohibiting fireworks in the street would be "unenforceable."
Countered Mayor Norm Childress, "I would expect that if the police came upon a child lighting fireworks in the street the officer would tell the child to get out of the street."
Councilman Bill Flory also pointed to the safety issue of allowing, or at least tolerating, setting off fireworks in the street. "Do you want a car coming around a corner to have to swerve around a child in the street and get in a wreck?"
Helen Darr, a councilwoman, and task force chair, said the city needs to impose "sound practices" related to fireworks because some citizens aren't being safe and thoughtful in the use of fireworks.
Public comment was divided on the proposal as it currently reads.
"I thought we were more after a clean-up after July 4," said Jack Mariotti in opposing the permit fee. "Why hit citizens for more when they already pay taxes on the fireworks?"
Task force member Chuck Hultberg, too, voiced concerns over the permit fee, "That will have a negative impact on what we're trying to get people to do."
Another Grandview resident, Alonzo Maganas Jr., came out in favor of all elements of the fireworks proposal, including the permit fee. "It puts a little more teeth in the law," he said.
Councilman Robert Morales reminded his colleagues that July 4 fireworks are a seasonal issue, "If this was July 4 weekend we'd have a lot more people here."
Following the advice of councilman Rick McLean - "sometimes less is more," he said - council agreed to have city staff draw up a draft ordinance based on their input.
As a result, for example, the draft will strike the proposed permit fee but retain the use of Country Park as a staging area for local residents to set off their fireworks, the increased age restriction to 18 and the change in hours on when fireworks can be sold.
Whatever final form the fireworks ordinance will take - council may make changes to the draft - all agreed it will be for a one year trial.
Further, Childress asked the citizens to abide by the fireworks ordinance when it is completed.
"In Grandview it's a privilege (to have fireworks) that's not offered in a lot of communities," Childress said. "It's a privilege that can be taken away if folks don't heed the law."