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Washington starts process banning shooting fireworks

The Washington City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would ban the launching of fireworks within city limits. The second reading of the ordinance will be at the council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18. (File photo)
The Washington City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would ban the launching of fireworks within city limits. The second reading of the ordinance will be at the council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18. (File photo)

WASHINGTON — The first reading of an ordinance banning the launching of fireworks in the city of Washington has been approved by the city council.

At the meeting Tuesday night, the majority of council members said they only were contacted by residents who wanted them banned. Currently, the city’s policy is to allow consumer-grade fireworks July 3 from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., July 4 from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. and Dec. 31 from 9 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.

In May 2017, the Iowa Legislature lifted a ban on the selling of fireworks, causing many cities, like Washington, to pass ordinances allowing fireworks. In September 2017, the city created an adaptation to the original ordinance allowing residents to launch fireworks on those three days each year.

Should the council choose to ban fireworks, it will join Kalona, Riverside and Wellman as the fourth city in Washington County to ban them. However, fireworks will continued to be sold in town in accordance with state laws.

Council member Steve Gault said he hard from several community members who wanted to keep the ordinance the same. Gault said the community has continued to compromise as the ordinance has changed over the years.

Changing the ordinance again would not prevent people from launching fireworks, he said, and suggested it would instead make things worse.

“Understand something people: that firework stand goes up, it’s fair game,” he said.

Gault said people would go out of their way to launch fireworks near council members’ houses to express their anger against the proposed ordinance.

“America is supposed to be built on compromise, and all of a sudden there is no compromise in Washington, Iowa,” he said.

Council member Elaine Moore said because the majority of her constituents asked for them to be banned, she felt it was necessary for the council to take action.

The council approved the first reading banning the launching of fireworks within city limits on a vote of 5-1 with Gault opposing. The second reading will Tuesday, Aug. 18.