CEDAR FALLS — Fireworks proponents who hoped a soon-to-be-seated City Council member might tip the scales in their favor in January may be sorely mistaken.
Council members voted 4-3 Monday night to pass the third and final reading of an ordinance banning the discharge of fireworks in the city.
Fireworks proponent John Sheehan, who lives in Cedar Falls and ran a fireworks operation in Waterloo this year, appeared before the Cedar Falls council to argue against the ban, unsuccessfully.
After the meeting, he suggested one of the council members supporting the ban, John Runchey, leaves office at the end of the year, having been defeated by financial planner and landlord advocate Daryl Kruse.
“I’ve asked the council for this to be reconsidered in the spring,” Sheehan said after the meeting.
Kruse, contacted after Monday’s council meeting, indicated Sheehan may get the same answer after Jan. 1.
“No, I’m not in favor at all of shooting them off,” Kruse said. “You can shoot something 2,000, 3,000 feet in the air and it falls on someone’s roof. There’s not enough room for it in Cedar Falls.”
Kruse said he wants to talk with Public Safety Director Jeff Olson on the enforceability of a ban. But generally, Kruse said, “I’m in favor of a ban.” He also suggested the city should have a controlled fireworks display by licensed pyrotechnics experts instead.
Sheehan argued fireworks enterprises bring business to the city and the incidence of reported violations — about 60 — were a small percentage of the total population of the city. He also said there were no fires and no reported injuries. He said fireworks sales benefit the city in sales tax revenues, provide rent to property owners and income for the people who sold them.
Sheehan said he ran a fireworks operation under contact but said his supplier will not resupply the operation if they can’t be discharged.
“This decision takes money out of the state and city coffers. It takes money away from people who are managing the sales sites,” Sheehan said. “There’s no objective evidence the majority want a ban.”
Staff had voted for a total ban over Olson’s recommendation for a limited discharge period.
Steve Ephraim, a resident of the El Dorado Heights neighborhood, urged the council to hold firm on the ban, noting a military veteran spoke at a past meeting of temporarily leaving his neighborhood, traumatized by fireworks.
“I would ask you to consider this, that even for the rights of one to maintain a stress-free life, please consider moving forward with what you’ve been doing,” he said. Other veterans have supported discharging fireworks and said people should be allowed to celebrate the nation’s birthday with them.
Council members Runchey, Dave Wieland, Mark Miller and Frank Darrah voted for the ban. Council members Nick Taiber, Susan deBuhr and Tom Blanford voted against it.
Mayor Jim Brown noted the matter can come back if a council member refers it back for discussion.
A new state law permitted the sale and discharge of fireworks for the first time in 80 years. Cities can regulate their discharge but not their sale.