Goshen News, Goshen, IN

August 22, 2013

Proposed fireworks ordinance splits Nappanee council


— NAPPANEE — A usually single-minded Nappanee City Council is divided over whether or not to enact an ordinance restricting fireworks usage in the city. After some discussion and an amendment to the proposed ordinance before a vote was called for, the ordinance was passed on first reading with a vote of 3-2.

Councilman Todd Nunemaker shared several of his concerns about the proposed ordinance, including that it contained what he felt was confusing language in the section that states fireworks are allowed (on certain dates) until two hours after sunset.

Nunemaker said he checked what time the sun set on July 4 and it was around 9:22.

“It seems more common sense to just say 11:30 instead of ‘two hours after sunset,’” he said.

Clerk-Treasurer Kim Ingle replied that the verbiage comes directly from the state statute so it cannot be changed. “We can’t be more restrictive or lenient. We have to adopt it as is,” she said.

Nunemaker also said the dates surrounding the July 4 holiday should be extended to at a minimum nine days, for those years that the holiday falls in the middle of the week, or for those who host Independence Day parties the weekend before or after the holiday.

The current proposed ordinance, which is the same as Elkhart County adopted, allows for consumers to use fireworks only on June 29 through July 9 between the hours of 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset, on July 4 between 10 a.m. and midnight and on Dec. 31 between 10 a.m. until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Ingle again explained that the dates listed comes directly from the state statute and can’t be changed.

Nappanee Mayor Larry Thompson said if people want to discharge fireworks at other times than listed in the ordinance they can apply for a permit and receive approval through the Board of Public Works and Safety. However, someone pointed out the way the ordinance is written the permits would only be approved for use on governmental property — not the way the city wants to be able to approve usage.

Ingle said the council does have leeway as far as the permit goes.

“So, we can change item two but nothing else?” Nunemaker asked.

Ingle said that is correct and the reason is because that portion of the ordinance is local.

 Police Capt. Doug Weaver said currently officers use the city’s noise ordinance to curtail fireworks use.

The council first voted to amend the ordinance to allow the board of works to approve permits other than just on government property then voted to pass the ordinance restricting the use on first reading.

Councilmen Jeff Kitson, Mike Stull and Jacob Dermott voted for the ordinance while councilmen Todd Nunemaker and Sam Beachy voted against it.

After the meeting Nunemaker said if they were able to change the ordinance he might have voted differently. Both councilmen were in agreement with the ordinance as to the time limit on hours, but felt the ordinance allowed for too few days a year.

“I don’t believe in a lot of regulation anyway but I feel this (ordinance) needs to be extended to more than just a couple of days,” Nunemaker said. “I’m not opposed to restricting the hours or type of fireworks but I’d like to see this be a little less restrictive.”

Salary ordinances

The council unanimously passed two salary ordinances on second reading: One for the elected official’s salary and one for city employees.

Thompson told Fales, “We’re working toward something we started years ago — making the mayor’s position full time.”

The ordinance calls for an across the board 2-percent increase for all full-time employees. At the last meeting it was reported that city officials were able to give this increase because of fewer employees, however, it doesn’t guarantee the raises if a budget cannot be met using these figures.