Fireworks will no longer ring in the New Year in Lake StevensLaws for the discharge of fireworks changed as the New Year began BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR
The singing of “Auld Lang Syne”, toasting in the New Year and lighting off fireworks are traditions most are accustomed to in Lake Stevens as the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, but as of Jan. 1, 2009 the law pertaining to consumer fireworks has changed.
In previous years, consumers were able to discharge fireworks within city limits from noon to 11 p.m. on June 28, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. form June 29 to July 3, 9 a.m. to midnight on the Fourth of July and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 5.
Fireworks could also be discharged from 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
However, last May the Lake Stevens City Council voted to change the ordinance concerning consumer fireworks, which takes New Year’s Eve out of the equation.
Fireworks are now only allowed to be discharged on the Fourth of July from 9 a.m. to midnight.
“The city had received a lot of inquiries, letters and complaints about fireworks, so the council decided that it should re-look at the ordinance and have the residents of Lake Stevens give their input on how they feel about fireworks in Lake Stevens,” Councilperson Kathy Holder said. “We also looked at the county ordinance to see when they allow the discharge of fireworks”
During several public hearings at City Council meetings, citizens commented on their concerns about the discharge of fireworks. Many complained about the noise, the possibility of fire and injury, the effect the fireworks had on pets and the trash left behind.
Others spoke of their love of the annual fireworks displays, stating that it brought neighborhoods together and was an American tradition that citizens should be able to enjoy.
The ordinance actually reads, “it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and welfare to amend Lake Stevens Municipal Code 9.64 limiting the discharge, sale and penalty of consumer fireworks”.
One concern the council had was that the Lake Stevens ordinance and the ordinance in Snohomish County differed, which meant that one side of the Lake had different laws than the other.
“There were a lot of strong feelings from citizens who support fireworks and those who wanted them banned altogether. In allowing the dishcarge of fireworks on our actual Fourth of July holiday only, we don’t draw out the noise for a week, but it allows those who like to celebrate by displaying fireworks on the holiday,” Holder said. “Our city ordinance is now more aligned with what the county allows, so there shouldn’t be confusion between county and city residents when it comes to enforcement.”
The penalty for discharging fireworks any day other than the Fourth of July could mean up to a thousand dollar fine, imprisonment in jail up to 90 days or both.
“I think that the first year that the ordinance goes into effect, there will be a lot of reminders that will have to go out to the residents, but I don’t think that enforcement will be difficult once everyone knows that the Fourth of July is the only day to discharge their fireworks,” Holder said.
Lake Stevens Police Department will be enforcing the new fireworks law.
“We won’t be adding any additional patrols unless we see we have an extensive amount of violators,” Lake Stevens Police Chief Randy Celori said. “When consumers purchase fireworks within the City limits they will receive a notice telling them when they can set off fireworks.”