Fireworks laws in Lake Stevens will change in 2009City council votes to limit fireworks use
The 4th of July in Lake Stevens is celebrated throughout the city with an abundant array of fireworks displays and many families heading to the lake to enjoy the beauty the lights and flashes bring on this truly American holiday.
In the past, fireworks could be discharged in the city limits of Lake Stevens from June 28 to July 5 and again on New Year’s Eve. However, after much discussion and public hearings, the city council has amended Ordinance No. 774 regarding consumer fireworks discharge to allow consumers to only emit fireworks on the 4th of July.
There were many factors in this decision including an open house last fall, a multitude of letters from community members and verbal opinions given at two different city council meetings. Also taken into consideration was the law that Snohomish County has enacted regarding consumer fireworks.
The county currently restricts consumer fireworks discharge to only the 4th of July. If the City of Lake Stevens chose to ban fireworks altogether it would create inequality around the lake since residents on the south side of the lake are in the county while other residents live in the city.
“I do not want to see fireworks go away,” Glen Hansen, a 23-year resident who lives on the lake said. “The county side would still be able to set-off fireworks and not the city end of the lake.”
One mother, Glenda Lynch, asked for a complete ban. She expressed her concern over the safety of fireworks after her 13-year-old son was killed through a fireworks incident in 1999.
“I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else,” Lynch explained.
City councilmember Heather Coleman tended to agree with Lynch.
“I would be more interested in supporting a total ban,” she said, citing the nuisance from the noise as her reasoning.
While most who have spoken out in this heated fireworks issue would like to see some sort of middle ground, there are those who stand firmly on the side of personal freedom and feel that by banning fireworks completely the city would be taking away an individual’s right to celebrate. “It is very good for this society that we have the freedom to do things like this it is a freedom,” Paul Ransom said, “We can’t have a society where people can’t take risks.”
The one issue that brought everyone together though, was that of unsupervised, inexperienced teens who are buying and discharging fireworks in an unsafe and dangerous manner.
“Kids need to be supervised, where are the parents?” Bob Brook asked. “Education needs to be a part of this. The 4th of July is tradition. It shows support for our country.”
“I have no problem with supervised fireworks,” Bill Ostrowski said. “I can’t see any problem with controlling this.”
“If you are going to make a law that works you can’t ban fireworks completely,” Kathy Anderson of Snohomish explained. “It’s the kids that cause problems.”
Many on the city council agreed that education and controlling unsupervised teens from letting off fireworks is key to lessening the negative effects of fireworks.
“I really would like to see the community clean-up it’s act when it comes to fireworks,” councilmember Mark Somers said.
Police Chief Randy Celori agreed but acknowledges that the resources need to be in place to make this happen.
“If we have the resources available we can step up the enforcement. We could have a significant impact,” he said.
On May 12 the city council will vote to adopt the ordinance that will limit the discharge of consumer fireworks to the 4th of July only. This ordinance will take affect on the 4th of July 2009.
“It is important that we do as much education as possible in this next year,” Mayor Vern Little added.