It will be interesting to see if the July 4th weekend in Northeast Ohio sounds different in 2022 due to State House Bill 172.
The new law, signed Nov. 8 by Gov. Mike DeWine, will allow Ohio adults to unload consumer grade fireworks, such as bottled rockets and Roman candles, at their own properties or d ‘other private properties with the permission of the owner. Previously, Ohio required anyone purchasing consumer grade fireworks to take these items out of state within 48 hours.
House Bill 172, which comes into effect July 1 next year, will allow Ohioans to set off consumer grade fireworks only on holidays and specific days surrounding those celebrations. Some of these eligible days include July 3, 4 and 5, as well as Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays before and after July 4; New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day; Labor Day weekend; and Memorial Day weekend.
However, the bill also contains provisions that allow counties, townships and municipalities to be partially or fully exempted from the new law.
First, governing bodies can restrict the dates and times when consumer fireworks are allowed to be started. These same governing bodies could also “opt out” of the new law and ban the discharge of all consumer fireworks.
Over the next six months, until July 1, you can bet that many township boards, town and village councils, and maybe even county commissioners will engage in discussions about the Bill 172. These government committees must decide whether they want their communities to comply with state law as drafted or to adopt different rules at the local level, which HB 172 allows.
In fact, a conversation about the state’s new fireworks law took place at the Madison Township Trustees Meeting on December 14.
Township Police Chief Matthew Byers provided trustees with a summary of the bill
During the meeting, Byers said he felt it was his responsibility to inform community leaders that they “have the ability to restrict, limit or prohibit what the Ohio State permits “.
“So I think we have a bit of time to do that, but I wanted to bring it to the attention of the board now, if you wanted to research and think about it,” he said.
Peter Wayman, chairman of the board, said he wanted more time to study the matter, and his colleagues agreed. But Wayman also believes the township should set some parameters for residents to shoot consumer grade fireworks.
“I don’t think we should leave it wide open,” he said. “I think we should impose some restrictions, personally. “
Administrator Kenneth Gauntner Jr. said the noise created by fireworks can be bothersome for veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. In addition, he said the township police department is usually inundated with appeals of complaints about fireworks around public holidays such as July 4.
Byers said administrators face a no-win situation regardless of their reaction to the legislation.
He said it seems like around half of the community thinks there should be no limits when it comes to setting off fireworks. Meanwhile, the other half believe stiff penalties should be imposed on anyone caught shooting fireworks.
“I think no matter what the board does about half of the community will be unhappy,” the chief said.
Township attorney Gary Pasqualone said he would provide administrators with more information about the new law and the alternatives available to the community government to comply with, revise or reject the measure’s provisions.
The discussion among Madison Township government leaders may offer some insight into the challenges other legislative entities will face in communities across the region in taking a stand on the state fireworks law.
Another question: will local government panels get a lot of feedback from residents? We’ll be eager to see if citizens attend local government meetings and make noise about a law that changed the rules for ordinary people to shoot consumer grade fireworks in Ohio.