By Rick Palsgrove
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.