After hearing several letters against the proposed fireworks ordinance during the public forum Tuesday, the city council decided to reduce the number of days residents will be allowed to legally shoot fireworks within city limits to four. This change to the proposed ordinance is significant enough that a new round of public hearings will need to be held.
City clerk Lisa Williamson read the letters from Connie Thompson, Marcia Fulton, Peggy Noel and Cindy Waske. They advocated for not allowing fireworks in town at all, citing the effects of the noise on those with PTSD, heart disease, high blood pressure and chronic pain conditions, as well as the issues caused for animals who are frightened by the noise.
One letter suggested the health effects of COVID-19 may exacerbate problems caused by the noise from fireworks.
“We are all a little more anxious and on guard these days, “ Noel wrote. “COVID will hopefully be improving by July. The mental and physical health effects of COVID may linger long.”
Part of the reason for the ordinance is to allow residents to be prepared for the specific days when fireworks are allowed council member Terry Freeman said.
Fulton said the city may be making itself liable for injuries due to fireworks if it permits them within city limits.
Council member Rich Madison, who was not in favor of the previous change from three days to seven, said he has had other residents who were against the new ordinance contact him.
Council member Matt Levine defended the ordinance saying its purpose was to limit fireworks in city limits and provide an avenue for enforcement but said he would agree to the four day limit.
“By changing this we’re hopefully going to stop the illegal shoot,” Levine said. “I understand that these folks are upset about the
fireworks that have been set off in the past, but I want it stressed that that’s all been illegal. If we do nothing, I don’t feel that that’s going to change.”
After the mayor polled the council to determine that more than half of the members supported reducing the hours, the proposed ordinance was amended to 5 to 11 p.m. July 2 through 5 for legal fireworks inside city limits. A public hearing on the amended ordinance will be set at the next city council meeting Dec. 1.
In other city council business:
• in a public hearing to vacate a portion of South Division Street, no public comments were received. The first reading was approved, the second and third readings were waived and the ordinance was adopted unanimously.
• in a public hearing to adopt an ordinance allowing “urban chickens” no public comments were received. The first reading was approved after city administrator Mike Taylor said some residences might be in a commercially zoned area. Public works director Kevin Kruse clarified that zones were not needed to be specified in the ordinance because of the wording restricting chickens to “tracts of land with single family dwelling units.”
• in a public hearing to grant an easement to Iowa Department of Natural Resources to place a sewer line on the west side of North Lincoln Street north of Townline Road no public comments were received. The easement was approved unanimously by the council after a requirement for a flow meter was added.
• two public hearings were set for 6 p.m. Dec. 1 to approve a City Development Block Grant application by Creston Waterworks and to review the current CDBG facade project.