Normandy Park City Council delays fireworks ban decision to September

by Jack Mayne

Past near-fire misses, loud explosions for several days and South Sound residents flocking to Normandy Park during the July 4th celebration prompted a long discussion on Tuesday night that ended by postponing any decisions until a September meeting of the Normandy Park City Council.

For over two hours on Tuesday (July 14) the Council reacted to citizen complaints of the fact that Normandy Park is the only city in the immediate area that allows fireworks to be purchased and set off at any time. Many cities have either banned then altogether or restrict them only to certain hours on the 4th.

Councilmember Stacia Jenkins said she was prepared to make a motion banning fireworks in the city but Councilmember Shawn McEvoy said people would resent such a motion because it was not on the agenda and there was no time for public comment on the measure.

The idea of a city advisory vote was proposed but Council would have to decide on that by early August to get it on the November ballot.

In the end, City Manager Mark Hoppen said the staff would come up with proposals to either put the issue on an advisory ballot or draft an ordinance shortening the time of sales and other combinations for the Council to consider in September.

Residents Opposed
As the Council meeting opened, Kathleen Appleyard brought in petitions with “over 143 signatures” of residents and businesses,” requesting the Council ban the sale and use of fireworks in the city.

She said she did not think the week should be a “free for all of legal and illegal fireworks all hours of the day or night putting resident’s property and local business properties in danger.”

Appleyard said she has seen blogs and newspapers directing people to Normandy Park to “purchase and set off fireworks here” because fireworks are banned in surrounding cities. She said it was “enormously difficult” for the city police to find, arrest” and convict anyone setting off illegal fireworks and even if the amount of sales in the city were as much as $10,000, the revenue to the city would be $85.

Resident Teri Rule said she had known that they could be set off all week long, but noted she was glad to live near the fire station adding that neighbors had their sprinklers off until the week of the 4th when neighbors turned their lawn sprinklers on, she said, adding that maybe the time could be only on the 4th or perhaps in designated areas like the park and “regulating that people have to pick up the trash.”

Park resident Lynette Smith said the city should explain to people what is legal and “what is a felony” and suggested an article be placed in the city’s magazine about what can be done and can’t be done.

“We don’t want to have to stay home with our fire hoses,” Smith said.

Rain of fireworks
Leanne Pollock says she has lived in her home on Marine View Drive for over 16 years and that when she was home on the holiday “the fireworks rain(ed) down on our back yard and on our house and patio,” and that this year a “misfired firework” landed on her patio. She said she loves the public gatherings and other events, but the week of fireworks is invasive, scary and noisy, which in other years caused her family to leave. This year Pollock said the family decided to stay home because of the fire hazard.

“I think my biggest issue is it is so invasive,” Pollock said. “What choice do I have as a citizen of Normandy Park to celebrate my 4th of July in a way that is important to me?”

Gary Gabler suggested limiting the hours for fireworks to specific times on the 4th, allowing people to “blow things up” and sellers to make money and even help safeguard pets that are afraid of the noise and “focus government resources on people who step over whatever line” the city sets.

No major problem
Police Chief Chris Gaddis said that on the 4th they took 18 “incident numbers” and another “10 to 15” contacts that did not result in official reports, mainly because they were busy.

Gaddis said the fire district chief said there were four calls for service in Normandy Park between June 30 and July 4. He said there was no report of substantial debris problems in the city because many people cleaned up their own mess.

“A majority of our calls are for legal fireworks,” – those include mortars and shells, he said. “The boring ones are the legal ones, fire crackers.”

All the legal and illegal fireworks are listed on the Normandy Park Facebook page, Gaddis said.

The department was busy on the holiday, but no more than on any warm summer evening.

He said it would “absolutely” make their jobs easier to ban them, but noted that many large groups and families get together to enjoy the holiday and the legal fireworks.

Make ‘em illegal?
Councilmember Kathleen Waters said she “personally doesn’t want somebody else to be responsible for the safety and security for my family and my home. I know some people are very responsible when it comes to … using legal fireworks. Responsible people using legal fireworks that come down in somebody else’s yard as an ember or a spark is not something that I, as a homeowner, want to happen to me.”

Waters said she thought there were more grass fires than reported to firemen, but that many residents put out the fires themselves. She also said she was surprised than more Park residents with pets did not complain about the noise that scares pets.

The $85 “we get from the fireworks sales will not help our (city tax) revenues” so it is not a reason to keep the extended time for sales to many people from nearby outside the city limits, Waters said. Someone later suggested a sort of nuisance sales tax increase, but Waters didn’t think that would help prop up the city’s finances – and the city attorney said it was likely illegal.

Waters said it was maybe time to make them illegal in Normandy Park, but earlier comments from the city attorney said any local law that was more restricting than state law must have a one year notice before it can go into effect, meaning any law the Council passed now would not go into effect until July 4, 2016.

“I could go for fireworks on the 4th of July just out of respect for the culture and the history but I would really like to work with the Cove and put the whole thing down there near the water where it would be much safer,” Waters told the Council.

Ban won’t stop fireworks
Councilmember Tom Munslow said the Council has not heard from the vast majority of the citizens. He said he talked with several and “did not find one person against the fireworks.” He said the city could ban them, but there were lots of them going off in cities that banned them.

“So we are still going to have fireworks … (and a ban is) punishing everyone for the irresponsible actions of a few.”

“I think that if we put it up to a vote of the people, which we can’t … but if we did, I think we would find the majority of the people in Normandy Park want to continue safe and sane fireworks.

“So I think reducing the hours is a proper thing to do,” Munslow said.


2 Responses to “Normandy Park City Council delays fireworks ban decision to September”
  1. Pappy says:

    This Mayor, and council DEMANDED facts not hearsay during the Lease Debacle. Here Councilman Munslow and the Mayor used “lots of people” as a defense against banning fireworks in essence, using hearsay to put down 143 real signatures!

    Well I am disappointed to say, Chris Gaddis is in error. As of July 5th, what I was told was there were 25 calls for service. And 1 reported brush fire. Those numbers came from NPPD themselves on July 25th. Even those numbers are low, because for a fact and photos, of at least 4 brush and lawn fires in the Manhatten/MVD area.

    Tom OKeefe, took 8 commercial garbage can loads of firework debris out of the Towne Center, and had to replace windows from vandalism on the 4th! Volunteers cleaned up the cove area of debris. Why is this being left out???

    Furthermore on the transcript of Tuesday’s Council meeting on the 13th of July it’s heard that Gaddis was receiving his information about what was legal from the Fireworks seller! So of course everything is legal!!! Unlike the Neighbors Blog where people actually quoted STATE LAWS on fireworks! The N.Park Police are going by what the seller is stating! That’s just scary!

    This is a key reason why we have no enforcement!!! They have no idea what’s legal, won’t actually find a legitimate source to find out what’s legal. No wonder people are scared!

    These are facts that came from the recording of the July 13th, available to everyone via the city’s website, down on the bottom left corner, and under “recorded” on the drop down menu. Even this 56 year old can learn new fangled computer tricks!

    • Pappy says:

      Excuse me, I meant July 5th, NOT 25th, that NPPD gave me the calls for service and brush fire data. So again I have no idea why that is being so heavily modified and down played by Gaddis, in front of the council.

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