Black Cat fireworks for sale at the Iowa Fireworks Company tent on La Porte Road Thursday in Waterloo.

WATERLOO — City Council members shot down a plan to limit fireworks use in Waterloo to four hours on the Fourth of July.

But they still lacked consensus despite voting 6-0 Monday to reject an ordinance that would have allowed residents to explode fireworks only between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. July 4.

“Back to the drawing board,” said Mayor Quentin Hart.

State lawmakers legalized the sale and use of consumer fireworks this year for the first time in 80 years, allowing them to be used from June 1 through July 8 and again from Dec. 10 through Jan. 3.

Cities are allowed to ban or further restrict the use of fireworks but cannot limit their sale.

Councilmen Ron Welper and Bruce Jacobs said they favored following the lead of Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Iowa City and Cedar Falls in moving ahead with a complete ban.

“I think it’s absolutely too hard to police,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s just a simpler road to say in the city limits we’re not going to allow you to shoot off fireworks.”

Jacobs said he had heard numerous complaints last summer about fireworks, which was very hard on some veterans and others with post traumatic stress disorder.

Other councilmen, including Jerome Amos Jr. and Tom Powers, said they favored at least some period of time for legal fireworks use.

“I don’t think a total ban is a direction we should be going,” Amos said.

Councilmen Pat Morrissey said he was OK with a short fireworks period but also wanted to add ordinance provisions requiring fireworks stands to be in industrial zoning districts, city guidelines posted at fireworks stores and limits on use by underage or intoxicated persons.

Councilman Steve Schmitt said he wanted to set a one-day fireworks window for the coming New Year’s holiday and then seek to form a committee with Cedar Falls and Evansdale to discuss having a common ordinance for the metro area.

“I think all we’re going to do is create chaos for all of our public safety group,” said Schmitt.

Cedar Falls is in the process of implementing a fireworks ban. Evansdale has approved June 30 through July 4 and Dec. 28 through Jan. 1 for fireworks use.

Councilman Tom Lind was absent.

Police Capt. Joe Leibold said Police Chief Dan Trelka has suggested allowing a few days around both the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve for fireworks use. Enforcing a ban or shorter time frame would be difficult.

“I equate it to buying alcohol,” Leibold said. “If you can buy alcohol in the city and told people not to drink it, how successful would you be at enforcing it?”

Hart said he expects the measure to return for additional discussion next week.


Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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