By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport City Council has again postponed further discussion and a vote on an ordinance regarding the personal use of fireworks within city limits.
Because of this, as of now, the use of personal fireworks remains banned in Groveport.
At council’s July 11 meeting, council decided to delay more talks or action on the legislation until its July 25 meeting because Councilman Ed Dildine was not present at the July 11 meeting. Council members felt all members should be present during consideration of the fireworks legislation.
The proposed ordinance originally restricted the personal use of consumer grade fireworks to only on the Fourth of July within the Groveport city limits. However, on June 27 by a 4-2 vote, council amended the proposed ordinance to instead allow the use of personal fireworks on 15 days, which would make it consistent with the new state law regarding the personal use of fireworks. (Council members Jean Ann Hilbert and Jack Rupp opposed the amendment.)
A new Ohio law, which went into effect July 1, allows individuals to possess consumer grade fireworks, eliminating a requirement that purchasers transport consumer grade fireworks out of the state within 48 hours of purchase.
The new state law allows any person authorized to possess consumer grade fireworks to discharge them on their own property or on another person’s property with permission on the following days: New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; Juneteenth; July 3, 4, and 5 and the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays preceding and following; Labor Day weekend; Diwali; and New Year’s Eve.
However, the law permits local governments to restrict the dates and times when individuals may discharge consumer grade fireworks or to impose a complete ban on the use of consumer grade fireworks.
A motion on June 27 to pass, as an emergency measure, Groveport’s amended ordinance that would adhere to the new state law failed by a 3-3 vote. (Five votes are needed to pass legislation as an emergency. Council members Ed Dildine, Scott Lockett, and Becky Hutson voted to approve while Jean Ann Hilbert, Jack Rupp, and Shawn Cleary opposed.)
The amended ordinance goes on to its third reading and a possible final vote on July 25. If it is passed at that time it would go into effect 30 days later and then allow the use of personal fireworks on the days listed in the state law.
According to Groveport City Administrator B.J. King, under existing Groveport law there is currently a complete ban on the use of personal fireworks in the city.
Council members Lockett and Dildine have both expressed the desire that Groveport follow the new state law that allows the personal use of fireworks and make changes if problems arise.
Hilbert and Rupp favor restricting the use of personal fireworks. Both said they are concerned about the potential injuries brought on by the use of personal fireworks.
Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said individuals must be responsible when using personal consumer grade fireworks. He said people must ensure everyone in and around a launch is safe and the fireworks are launched away from others and structures that could sustain injury or damage when the fireworks explode and fall to the ground. He said the negligent use of fireworks without proper precautions could lead to criminal charges being filed against those responsible for the fireworks.