Camas takes a look at tightening up fireworks regulations

Council will discuss again Sept. 20

Sale:

June 28: Noon to 11 p.m.

June 29

through July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 5: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

December 27 through Dec. 31: Noon to 11 p.m.

Use:

June 28: Noon to 11 p.m.

June 29 through July 3:

9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight

July 5: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Dec. 31: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Sale:

June 28: Noon to 11 p.m.

June 29

through July 3: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 5: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

December 27 through Dec. 31: Noon to 11 p.m.

Use:

June 28: Noon to 11 p.m.

June 29 through July 3:

9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

July 4: 9 a.m. to midnight

July 5: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Dec. 31: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

When it comes to fireworks, one person’s celebration is another person’s headache.

Proponents of the use of personal fireworks say they are a fun, American tradition that should continue, while opponents argue that their neighbors often use illegal fireworks and violate restrictions.

This past Fourth of July holiday, fireworks were more than just a headache for Camas resident Sue Lanz. On July 5, she discovered the horse that had lived on her Northwest 38th Avenue property for 16 years suffered a broken leg.

Lanz believes the injury may have taken place when the horse was startled by fireworks that she described as sounding like “artillery shell explosions.”

After being seen by a veterinarian, it was decided that her 20-year-old retired thoroughbred mare “Misshollygolightly” would need to be put down.

“I think fireworks are a beautiful, wonderful tradition in our country,” Lanz said. “I just think it’s gotten out of hand. Parents don’t monitor their children. The minute they go on sale, you’ll hear them. It’s not a good thing anymore.”

Lanz said she supports banning personal fireworks all-together, or at least significantly restricting when they can be discharged.

“I think they should be in the hands of professionals,” she said.

The Camas City Council recently decided to revisit the issue, and possibly make some changes. During a recent workshop, the general consensus appeared to be to find a middle ground — somewhere between only allowing fireworks to be set off on the Fourth of July, and following state law, which allows for the sale and use of fireworks for an eight-day period in July and a five-day period in December.

Camas currently subscribes to the latter. Nearly every year police, city council and staff hear complaints from local residents about noise, leftover garbage and other regulation violations.

In addition to Camas, the cities of Battle Ground, Kalama, Kelso, Longview, Ridgefield and Woodland, and unincorporated Cowlitz and Skamania counties follow state regulations.

Unincorporated Clark County and the cities of La Center, Vancouver and Washougal have modified regulations. Washougal is the most strict, only allowing fireworks to be discharged on July 4 and Dec. 31. Fireworks can be sold, however, from June 28 to July 5, and Dec. 27 through 31.

But at least one Washougal resident isn’t sure the more stringent regulations, implemented in 2009, have had the desired impact.

“I’ll tell you Washougal does not only have fireworks on one day,” Ken Hadley recently told the Camas City Council. “It’s helped, but they don’t enforce it. If they don’t enforce it, the dates don’t mean anything.”

According to Camas Mayor Paul Dennis, the city of Battle Ground is also considering revisions to its fireworks regulations. He said he plans on bringing the issue up during a meeting of Clark County mayors in September.

In addition, Camas city council members said they are hoping to receive input from the community, including representatives from non-profit organizations that often sell fireworks as fund raisers for sports teams and drug- and alcohol-free graduation night parties.

“I am also trying to be conscious of the [impact on] the fund raising, and on the sales tax for that matter,” said Councilman Don Chaney. “I want to reserve [making a decision] until we hear from both sides.”

Councilwoman Linda Dietzman said she supports “tightening up” the dates and times that discharging fireworks are legal.

“I’m in favor of getting rid of use on July 5,” she said. “It just goes on for too long.”

If the council approves changes to its current fireworks sales and use laws, the new rules would go into effect one year from the date of ordinance adoption.

The issue is expected to be discussed again by the city council during its Sept. 20 workshop, which begins at 4:30 p.m., at City Hall, 616 N.E. Fourth Ave.

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