Use of personal fireworks still illegal in Groveport

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By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

As of now, the use of personal fireworks remains banned in Groveport.

At its June 27 meeting, Groveport City Council heard the second reading of an ordinance regarding the personal use of fireworks. 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, 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.)

The new Ohio law, which goes 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 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.) This means the amended ordinance goes on to its third reading and a final vote on July 11. If it is passed at that time it would go into effect Aug. 10 and then allow the use of personal fireworks on the days listed in the state law.

According to Groveport City Administrator B.J. King, currently under existing Groveport law there is a complete ban on the use of personal fireworks in the city. Because the attempt to pass the ordinance as an emergency measure failed, King said, “This Fourth of July our current code (banning the personal use of fireworks) remains in place.”

Council viewpoints
Lockett said he preferred Groveport follow the new state law noting that the city could make changes “if problems arise.”

Dildine also wants Groveport to adhere to the new state law rather than restrict the use of personal fireworks.

“People do it (shoot off fireworks),” said Dildine. “It happens anyway. It’s already banned yet not typically enforced unless there is property damage or injuries.”

Dildine said following the state law would result in less confusion about what is legal and when. He added the new state law could give officials an opportunity to provide information to citizens on the safe use of personal fireworks.

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.

“I want to prevent someone from getting hurt,” said Hilbert.

Police reaction
Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams said 90 percent of calls the police get about the use of personal fireworks occur around July 4 and New Year’s Eve/Day.

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.

More about the state fireworks law
The new state law also:

•requires licensed retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers selling consumer grade fireworks to offer safety glasses for free or for a nominal fee and to provide purchasers with a safety pamphlet;

•prohibits discharging fireworks while in possession of or under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or on someone’s property without permission;

•allows the State Fire Marshal to suspend a fireworks manufacturer or wholesaler if they have violated the fireworks law or State Fire Marshal rules; prohibits the State Fire Marshal from unreasonably withholding a variance to allow hobbyists to manufacture, possess, and use individual display grade and consumer grade fireworks and requires cause for revocation of a hobbyist variance; and

•requires hobbyists seeking variances to demonstrate they can engage in the hobby safely and legally and limits hobbyists to possession of five pounds of raw materials and finished fireworks produced through the hobby.

1 COMMENT

  1. Pay attention Groveport! There is a political game being played here by Groveport Council and I’m not sure why? I personally voted for many of the current council members, and the mayor for 20 plus years. However, there is some simple math in this article that shows what politically happened.
    If you wanted to have a simple personal ground fountain firework this 4th of July because of the change in Ohio law that goes into effect 7/1/22 as mentioned in the article, that just went out the window in Groveport. And you need to understand the potential legal issues to protect yourself. Current Groveport law as written has the potential to land you in jail for up to 6 months and a potential fine of up to $1000 dollars. It would be a first-degree misdemeanor for possession of one single firecracker. I realize there may be few prosecutions in Groveport for simple fireworks however the potential is there! The council and or mayor should not subject its citizens to this potential prosecution considering Ohio law has now changed.
    For years Ohio has allowed the sale of fireworks in Ohio however not the use for consumer fireworks. Ohio collets tax revenues on the sale of fireworks then you can be fined or jailed for using what you purchased. Regardless of your stance on fireworks everyone must agree this is ridiculous. Allow fireworks for use, or not sell them at all, correct? Sounds like common sense, right? Again, Ohio State law has now changed.
    What happened? Groveport started amending an ordinance to allow the personal use of consumer grade fireworks on the July 4th only. This would not be in line with the new Ohio law effective 7/1/22 for dates and times. So certain council members Ed Dildine, Scott Lockett and Becky Hutson are shown to support amending the ordinance to be in line with Ohio Law and protecting their constituents. That is what Groveport should do considering the 175-year history of the city.
    There was however one council member that must have voted in deceit “Shawn Cleary” based off this article to allow the amendment to be in line with Ohio Law on a 2-4 vote passing the amendment. Then Shawn turns around on a 3-3 vote so he can be shown in this article to oppose. Not that there were enough votes to pass on an emergency measure requiring a total of 5. What Shawn Cleary affectively did is took away the one day that was being proposed for personal use this year on July 4th 2022. Not sure what Shawn has against fireworks however this was potentially a political game and not in the interest of Groveport’s citizens.
    The next scheduled meeting is 7/11/22 regarding this ordinance and if there is a 3-3 tie vote by council the amendment would be opposed by Mayor Lance Westcamp. The mayor that initiated the restriction would be the tie breaker based off previous articles. I’ve seen no record of the mayor stating why he opposes the new Ohio State Law.
    For the council members stating safety as a concern. What you are saying is the citizens of Groveport are not intelligent enough to use consumer fireworks safely. I guess you will be going after the 2nd amendment and firearms next? If a Groveport resident can’t safely light a firecracker, then God sakes, they should not have a gun. I hope to be able to vote as I have in the past. I guess we will see how this goes. Happy 4th Groveport residence! Don’t show anyone your firecracker that could get you in trouble.

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