The city government of Rolla banned candy-throwing from vehicles in the Christmas and St. Pat's parades a couple of years ago, and could ban Fourth of July fireworks -- if that is what Rolla residents want.
The city government of Rolla banned candy-throwing from vehicles in the Christmas and St. Pat’s parades a couple of years ago, and could ban Fourth of July fireworks -- if that is what Rolla residents want.
Following a report from 3rd Ward Councilman Kelly Long at Monday night’s council meeting about a constituent who was kept awake by neighbors firing off firecrackers and other holiday noisemakers, the consensus of the council was to take no action but to wait two weeks and listen to the public.
Mayor Louis Magdits suggested that period of waiting, urging the council to listen to residents. City Administrator John Butz said he would place a survey on the city’s Facebook page.
Long opened the discussion in the time allotted on the agenda for council comments by noting that he received a complaint from a resident that the constituent, who gets up at 5 a.m. to go to work, was awakened at 11:52 p.m. Tuesday, July 2.
That man, Long said, said he is not opposed to celebrating Independence Day with fireworks. Indeed, the man shoots off fireworks himself -- on the Fourth of July.
The Fourth of July should be celebrated on July 4, Long said the man told him, not on the days before or after.
“It’s certainly something I think we need to be listening to,” said Long, who added he believed the fireworks were louder this year.
Then the discussion opened even further. Magdits said he was concerned about the number of “Chinese lanterns” that he saw set ablaze and released. Magdits said he did not realize those lanterns would rise so high, and they clearly were drifting far from their point of launch.
Rolla Fire Chief Robert Williams was called to the microphone to speak to the subject. He noted that Chinese lanterns, also known as sky lanterns, were made illegal during a revision of the city code related to firefighting and fire safety requirements.
Williams also noted that all vendors are inspected — at least their paperwork is checked. Moreover, he said, the vendors in Rolla have been setting up tent stands year after year and are acquainted with the local requirements.
Fifth Ward Councilman Jim Williams noted that the problem is caused by people who go out of town to fireworks wholesalers and buy fireworks that might not be legal in the city limits.
But Williams also cautioned that too much is being made about the annual celebration of the nation’s independence. Acknowledging that there might be some “inconvenience” to people whose neighbors fire off the explosives, Williams said there is inconvenience on other nights throughout the year, too.
He said he has been inconvenienced on occasion by the loud thumping of “boom boxes.”
Councilman Matt Miller, who represents the 2nd Ward, said he grew up in a community “where fireworks were 100 percent illegal.” Although he does not advocate a ban, Miller indicated there might be room for some regulation.
The city legal code allows fireworks to be discharged July 1-5, and Fourth Ward Councilman Don Morris suggested that a 10 p.m. curfew be placed on fireworks on weeknights and a midnight curfew on Fridays and Saturdays. The exception would be July 4, when the curfew would be midnight, no matter what day of the week.
“I don’t see where that’s an inconvenience for anybody,” Morris said. It would shut down the fireworks at a reasonable time on weeknights, but would also allow people to fire off their firecrackers and bottle rockets he said.
Sixth Ward Councilman Walt Bowe questioned the enforcement of any additional regulations, saying it could become a nightmare.
“I agree with Jimmy Dale,” he said, and affirmed Councilman Williams’s statements that people should be allowed to enjoy themselves while celebrating Independence Day.
Another area of questioning was the disparity between the sale dates, June 30-July 7, and the discharge dates, July 1-5.
First Ward Councilman Monty Jordan said the dates should be the same for both sale and discharge, but Butz said the additional time was given to vendors to liquidate their stock. People could go out to the county and fire off fireworks legally.
Jordan said the vendors should be made to go out into the county to sell off their stockpile of fireworks.
The other councilman from the 1st Ward, Jonathan Hines, disagreed, saying that the city receives sales tax when fireworks are sold in the city limits. He said the vendors should be allowed to sell off their inventory the extra days so the city could receive the tax.
What current city codes say about fireworks
Sec. 14-38. Sale of fireworks, etc., permitted on certain days.
No person shall at any time sell, offer or expose for sale or give away any firecracker, potash or sulphur tablet or pellet, or any device for exploding any tablet or pellet, or any torpedo, aerial salute or aerial reporting shell, or any display bomb shell or any other article commonly known as fireworks within the corporate limits of the City of Rolla, MO, except on the thirtieth day of June and the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh days of July. (Ord. 575, §1; Ord. 1620, §1; Ord. 2737, §1, replaced by Ord. 4104)
SSec. 14-44. Discharge of Fireworks.
1. Any individual or organization may discharge fireworks as herein defined, without permit, on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th days of July. No fireworks may be discharged without the fire department’s special permit between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.
2. No fireworks shall be discharged within 100 feet of any stand, booth, or other location where fireworks are being sold.
3. Every person who shall sell fireworks in accordance with this Chapter shall post notice at their place of sale warning that no fireworks shall be discharged within 100 feet of such place of sale as per city ordinance and shall post notice that fireworks may be discharged within the city limits on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th.
4. Indoor Pyrotechnics displays are prohibited in establishments, which are licensed to serve alcohol within the City of Rolla. A special use permit would be required through the Missouri Division of Fire Safety and the City of Rolla Fire & Rescue for any other Pyrotechnic displays in the City Limits of Rolla
5. The uses of Sky Lanterns, also known as Kongming Lantern are prohibited in the City of Rolla. They are constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, and contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. When lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, causing the lantern to rise into the air. The sky lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern floats back to the ground.(Ord. 4104)
Secs. 14-45 to 14-50. Reserved.