Personal fireworks remain banned in Groveport

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

Groveport City Council rejected legislation that would have allowed the use of personal fireworks within the city limits.

Because of this action, the city’s existing law banning the use of personal fireworks within the city remains in effect.

The vote to reject the legislation was 4-3 with Mayor Lance Westcamp casting the deciding vote against it. Council members Jean Ann Hilbert, Shawn Cleary, and Jack Rupp opposed the measure while Scott Lockett, Ed Dildine, and Becky Huston voted in favor of it.

The defeated legislation would have made the city consistent with state law to allow the use of personal fireworks on designated days during the year. It would have allowed individuals to possess consumer grade fireworks and 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.

“I’m always concerned with safety,” said Westcamp. “I didn’t like the idea of allowing it on so many days during the year.”

Westcamp also noted there is a potential for fires caused by fireworks if the grass is dry.

State 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.

Council members have the option of bringing back the legislation in an amended form, such as allowing the personal use of fireworks on only the Fourth of July.

Hilbert and Rupp at previous meetings cited safety issues and the potential injuries brought on by the use of personal fireworks as why they opposed the legislation.

At council’s Nov. 21 committee meeting, resident Greg Keller spoke against the measure stating, “It’s a very fine line between consumer vs. commercial fireworks. Either kind can kill or maim. It’s a hazard in an urban setting because there’s not enough room to ensure safety.”

Keller also said the loud noise of fireworks is harmful to military veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. He said the loud noise is also harmful to people’s pets.

Lockett and Dildine indicated at previous meetings that they supported the legislation so the city could mirror the state law They said following the state law would result in less confusion about what is legal and when. They noted many people still fire off fireworks whether it is legal or not and it is difficult for the police to monitor the situation.

Dildine said the state law gives officials an opportunity to provide information to citizens on the safe use of personal fireworks.

This was a second try at enacting the legislation as a previous attempt failed earlier this year. Lockett brought it back before council this time because he said all the council members were not present at the prior vote.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m very disappointed that Groveport is not staying consistent with Ohio current law that is usually the case. As stated in this article it creates less confusion for the citizens of the city. What many Groveport citizens don’t know is the way the current Groveport ordinance is written. It is a misdemeanor of the first degree for the simple possession of one small firecracker. This has the potential of landing you in jail for 6 months and a $1000 fine. Ohio has been selling fireworks for years using a liar’s law that allowed the sale if you signed and stated you would take them out of state, I’m sure very few actually take them out of state. Ohio has fixed the current law and Groveport should follow not subjecting its citizens to potential prosecution. My understanding is a new firework store will be opening in Grove City making fireworks even more accessible to the people of Groveport. I also see many normally law-abiding citizens that chose to engage in the use of consumer grade fireworks especially around the holidays without knowing the potential prosecution. Again, a simple sparkling fountain can get you in legal trouble in Groveport. At minimum the counsel and the mayor need to address this in some way to correct the language of this ordinance. If there is a concern about the amount of days consumer fireworks can be used, I would suggest allowing the following. The 4th of July and closest weekend and new years eve. This would eliminate the possession issue. Fireworks are much safer now than they were even just a few years ago with a little common sense. Regarding fire concerns the ordinance already has a stipulation firework use can be suspended during times of drought or similar conditions, page 21 (d). I understand the concerns of scared animals ext. I personally own a dog that does not like them. My dog is more terrified of thunderstorms and I don’t think Groveport can ban thunderstorms, that would be great. Just part of life! I wish for our great mayor and council to figure out how to correct the ordinance and make it reasonable considering current Ohio law. I see they are close and should be able to come up with a negotiation in a short amount of time.

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