WATERLOO — City Council members have been unable to reach a consensus on the future of fireworks use.

They’ll try again Monday when they consider an ordinance that would ban the use of consumer fireworks in the Waterloo city limits, except for novelty items like sparklers and snakes.

Council members have held several work sessions in recent weeks to discuss whether to allow the use of fireworks or follow the lead of several other large cities, including Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Cedar Falls, in voting for a ban.

The Iowa Legislature earlier this year lifted an 80-year ban on consumer fireworks and allowed them to be shot off from June 1 through July 8 and again from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3.

The law does not allow cities to ban the sale of fireworks. But cities are allowed to approve shorter usage periods or completely ban setting them off.

Waterloo previously limited fireworks use to June 30 to July 4 but fielded numerous complaints from residents about the noise traumatizing veterans and others with stress disorders, agitating pets and disturbing the peace.

But it’s unclear whether council members have the votes to approve the ban.

Councilman Ron Welper said he supports a ban. Councilmen Bruce Jacobs and Tom Lind have previously voiced support for a ban but did not participate in the two most recent council work sessions.

Councilman Jerome Amos Jr. said he supported allowing fireworks use only on July 3 and 4. “I don’t believe in that ban because I’ve heard our police chief say that it would be a nightmare to enforce,” he said.

Councilman Pat Morrissey said he wanted to allow fireworks only from 5 to 11 p.m. July 4, adding a restriction to limit sales only to industrial zoned areas of the city.

Councilman Tom Powers said he was flexible on the dates and times, but was not in favor of a ban. “People want to have an opportunity to teach their kids how to safely do fireworks,” he said.

Councilman Steve Schmitt suggested the council should just ban fireworks during the upcoming winter use period and wait until three new council members are seated in January to address the summer period.

“I’d still like to see the new council set the July 4 fireworks schedule,” Schmitt said. “I’d like to see this current council just make a decision for New Year’s Eve, call it good and move on.”

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall.


Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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