RC adopts ordinance to restrict firework use

ROGERS CITY – After receiving numerous complaints about reckless fireworks use in city limits, City Rogers City Council members narrowly adopted an ordinance greatly restricting their use.

Council members recently voted 3-2 to ban consumer fireworks use in the city, except for the days before, during and after national holidays as defined by state law, Mayor Tom Sobeck said. Sobeck voted “no,” as did council member AJ Przybyla. While the mayor sympathized with residents’ concerns over fireworks, he hoped to pass a less restrictive ordinance.

“I’m not saying that it was a bad decision, I think we needed to act very quickly,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that folks can’t be responsible enough to consider their neighbors.”

Much of the input city council received came from residents complaining about the way fireworks were being shot off in town, City Manager Joe Hefele said. One resident who attended the workshop said he had to remove fireworks remnants from his roof, and others said people were using fireworks in neighborhoods where the houses are very close together.

While it was something of a difficult decision, Hefele said he believes city council agreed that a town full of buildings, cars and people is not an appropriate place to use consumer fireworks. The ordinance won’t affect commercial displays like those for Nautical City Festival, but residents hoping to launch their own displays during the festival are banned from doing so.

Council adopted the ordinance as an emergency measure, meaning it’ll go into effect as soon as it’s published in the local newspaper, Hefele said. He expects that to be Thursday.

State law prevents the city from banning all fireworks use, Hefele said. On national holidays, fireworks are banned between 1-8 a.m., and can only be used by those 18 or older.

Consumer fireworks don’t include certain smaller items like sparklers and fountains, according to state law.

Sobeck said he was hoping to make allowances for residents who wanted to use consumer fireworks for personal celebrations like weddings or birthdays. He’s also concerned that people will get the false impression that the new ordinance will completely solve the problem.

“We really only fixed it on the days that we can regulate it,” he said.

However, Sobeck stressed his sympathies with concerned residents, and said irresponsible fireworks users were creating problems for everyone. He doesn’t anticipate reconsidering the ordinance in the future.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.