Seeking a "re-organization and modification" of the city's rules on fireworks, the Mitchell City Council will vote on changing its ordinance to allow novelty fireworks throughout the city.
The council meets at 6 p.m. Monday at Mitchell City Hall for a regular meeting. On the agenda is a first reading for updating the city's code on fireworks and explosives. City Attorney Justin Johnson, in writing to the council about the agenda item, said that the city's current ordinance is currently "quite a bit out of date in its terminology and approach."
The rule would allow novelty fireworks - deemed as devices with minimal powder and explosives, and are generally considered safe for use in most situations - at all times in the city, provided they are not being used recklessly or violating the noise ordinance. Novelty fireworks are defined as those that produce limited visible or audible effects, such as snakes, tanks, poppers and snappers. The code also stipulates that novelty fireworks can be used and be sold inside city limits.
"While it is a change, several of the items considered novelty fireworks were previously exempted from the definition of fireworks in our current ordinance," Johnson wrote. "So even though it is a change, it isn't all that big of one."
Mitchell's current fireworks code dates back to 1984. It will also allow the use of ground and handheld fireworks - fountains, torches, wheels, ground spinners, sparklers and toy smoke devices - around Independence Day on private property.
"Initially, we were requested to allow certain types of fireworks across the city on July 3 and 4," Johnson wrote. "As I came across more background information and approaches from other (cities), it became apparent that our current ordinance was quite a bit out of date in its terminology and approach."
The proposed ordinance change seeks to modify definitions to be more easily understood for manufacturers and retailers, in alignment with the American Pyrotechnics Association standards. For example, the definition "fireworks" include firecrackers, skyrockets, roman candles, aerial shells and ground and handheld fireworks, but don't include novelties.
Still in the proposed code is exceptions for Independence Day, allowing general fireworks in most public areas around Lake Mitchell between noon and 11:59 p.m. on July 3 and 4, as long as individuals douse potential fireworks and safely dispose of all waste. Ground and handheld fireworks are allowed throughout city limits during the same hours on July 3 and 4, provided those activities take place on private property with "express knowledge and permission of the property owner."
Rules barring retail sale of fireworks within city limits, and barring the general use of fireworks in city limits, unless otherwise specified remain in place. Permits are still required for a public display, as well, and allows the city to ban fireworks when there's a burn ban in effect for Davison County.