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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

Washington City Council members call for fireworks ban

By David Hotle, The Washington Evening Journal | Sep 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) — An ordinance to reduce the number of days fireworks can be shot off in Washington almost died during its second reading Tuesday evening when two members of the Washington City Council said they wanted to pass an ordinance to ban fireworks from Washington altogether.

The second reading of the amended ordinance was approved 4-2 at the regular Washington City Council meeting with council members Millie Youngquist and Kerry Janecek voting against the motion. The third and final reading of the ordinance will be done during the Oct. 3 meeting. During discussion Mayor Sandra Johnson said she has seen that several other municipalities have been reexamining fireworks ordinances.

“Someone asked me how this is going to make this a better place to live and I couldn’t answer that question in any way other than it would allow people the freedom to express themselves in this way,” Youngquist said. “I’m afraid it is taking away the freedoms of a lot of other people.”

Currently the city’s fireworks ordinance allows fireworks to be shot off on 11 days during the year. The amended ordinance would limit the number of days to three. The ordinance was approved shortly after the state approved the sale of fireworks and gave municipalities the freedom to determine usage, with the council wanting an ordinance in place before Independence Day. The amended ordinance was drafted as a compromise after council members had received input advocating both a total ban and keeping the ordinance the way it was.

Council member Jaron Rosien said that if the council tried to amend the ordinance for a full ban and the council did not have consensus, the amendment would die and the law would continue to allow 10 days of fireworks.

Council member Steve Gault said the compromise in the proposed amended ordinance had been reached after extensive work from the city council on the issue.

He said the amended ordinance should be passed and the results should be seen before deciding if the council needed to further amend the ordinance. Council member Brendan DeLong agreed, saying he believed some of the people who believe fireworks should be allowed in Washington weren’t as “outspoken” as the people who wanted them banned.

“I believe it was a compromise when we said 10 days, and that didn’t work,” Janecek said. “I don’t mind fireworks. I went outside and watched them. My kids and my neighbors were just looking at me and shaking their heads. I’m against this compromise and want an outright ban.”

Janecek said he believes the issue was cut and dried — either ban them or follow state law.

Council member Kathryn Salazar said she heard from both sides and thought the council had extensively discussed the issue and had come to a compromise.

If the third reading is approved, the amendments to the ordinance would allow fireworks to be used on New Year’s Eve, but limit the summer usage to July 3 and 4.

It would also limit the kinds of fireworks that can be used.

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