Monday, June 18, 2012

Michigan's New Fireworks Law

The State of Michigan has recently amended its fireworks law to allow the private sale and use of airborne fireworks. Since the new law went into effect, every neighborhood in town has a few people who are blasting off fireworks all night, much to the chagrin of their neighbors. Part of this is certainly "new toy" syndrome - people rushing to do what has been illegal in Michigan since as long as I can remember; no doubt this novelty will wear off over time. There are many states with legal airborne fireworks and people are not shooting them off constantly. May this day hasten its coming!

But regarding this constant barrage of fireworks that has been plaguing the City every night for this past week: I don't know how I can say this any clearer - Michigan's new law does not, and I repeat does not mean that you are allowed to shoot off fireworks at absolutely anytime you please at any hour of the day or night.

The law legalizes the private sale, purchase and use of certain airborne fireworks traditionally prohibited within the state and mandates certain restricted periods during the year when no local ordinance can supersede their use. The only time that municipalities may not restrict the use of fireworks are on the day before, the day of, and the day after a federal holiday. Since there are ten federal holidays in a year, this means there are a total of thirty days, and only thirty days, in which Howell's local ordinances are superseded by state law. At all other times, the use of fireworks in the City is subject to the pertinent local ordinances.

And does our local code say about the use of fireworks? There are two applicable ordinances - one relating to fireworks specifically, the other to noises in general. First:
"662.01(B.14): The following are prohibited as "disorderly conduct": Fireworks. Fireworks...displays or possesses any fireworks, except those which are permitted by State law."
Note that it says "fireworks displays", so I think this would not apply to small things like sparklers, roman candles, etc. My understanding is that this applies only to airborne fireworks displays; I suppose it hinges on the meaning of the word "display", a word that literally means "to scatter or unfold" and is an apt description of an aerial fireworks display. Since it excepts only those displays" permitted by state law", this would mean the exceptions are the day before, the day of, and day after a federal holiday (i.e., the thirty days during the year when state law prohibits us from regulating them). Aside from those exceptions, the governing ordinance would be the following that has to do with noise:
652.06(a) "In order to preserve and protect the public peace, health and safety, no person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued any loud, unnecessary or unusual noise or any noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others within the City."
If it is not the day before or the day after a federal holiday, then any noise (fireworks or otherwise), that is "unnecessary or unusual" and "annoys, disturbs, injures" your "comfort, repose (i.e., sleep), health, peace or safety" falls under this ordinance. This means that if anyone is shooting off fireworks and being a nuisance, you still can call the police and report it as a noise nuisance. In this respect, nothing has changed.

To sum up: The state law does not say that anyone can set off any firework any time; it only says that with regards to the day before and after a federal holiday (30 days per year). The rest of the year, they can be governed by the noise ordinance. But, bottom line, if someone is using noise to disturb your "comfort, repose, health, peace or safety" then you have grounds to make a complaint. Call 911 just as you would have before the new law. The nearest holiday to today is the 4th of July, so there should be no loud fireworks displays in the City before July 3rd.

And to those of you who are shooting fireworks off every night: Please, knock it off. Be considerate. Thirty days during the year is plenty of time to blast off fireworks all night long. You don't need to start doing it prematurely.



6 comments:

  1. Personally, I don't believe it should be allowed after 11pm on any date.

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    1. IT'S Really good blog "fireworks law"

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  2. Interesting blog! I have heard this fireworks law but I don't know if it is really implemented.


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  3. NO IT IS NOT IMPLEMENTED!!!! Last night people were shooting off fireworks and they were flying everywhere. Glad I didn't live right next door. We were trying to take a nice pontoon ride with our neighbors and dogs and the dogs were petrified! I got home and tried to go to bed but they were really loud even after I closed all my windows. I called the police and as usual got nowhere!!! They wanted to come to my house at 11:00 pm. Why is it a big deal for them to drive around and see what is going on and take care of the matter. Not the first time we called regarding issues on Thompson Lake. We called them and they came out when we had offshore racers with jets that are so loud they shake the house and so fast they are going to kill someone. As usual, they passed the buck!!!! No one would take responsibility, told to call Sheriff (they said they weren't responsible), police (not responsible), DNR (not responsible). Guess you can do anything you want, considering there isn't anyone that can do anything about it.

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  4. Anonymous,

    That was one of the reasons I voted against the City's ban was because I had the feeling it would not be able to be enforced; it was more to serve as a deterrent, but I do not personally think laws that cannot be enforced are really good ideas.

    Regarding the Lake, yes, who does have jurisdiction there? The Sherriffs don't patrol it except on holidays, City doesn't...it exists in two jurisdictions (Howell City and Oceola)...the Improvement Board handles certain matters but not Law Enforcement. It is the wild west.

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  5. Fireworks have been going off starting Monday. And wed. til 3am and tonight the 4th real big ones coming over the trees and lighting up my backyard. according to the police that's ok and no time limit. I don't mind some fireworks but not to the point of picking up crap from my back yard

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