Oregon to review new fireworks law

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Beginning July 1, the public can discharge consumer grade fireworks in Ohio except where a political subdivision has chosen to opt out, meaning they will not allow people to discharge consumer grade fireworks.
        Oregon City Administrator  Mike Beazley asked city council on Monday to review the law and decide whether to opt out or not.
        “Ohio law has changed on the personal possession of fireworks, said Beazley. “Each community has to decide between now and the end of June if we want to do legislation that deals with this or not.”
        City Solicitor Melissa Purpura said House Bill 172 amended the Ohio Revised Code that limited personal possession of firecrackers and bottle rockets. “It limits it only to the individuals who sell it. Previously in Ohio, everyone was prohibited from possessing and discharging. So House Bill 172 now puts it to the communities to enact their own home rule to say whether they want to prohibit it entirely as it was before, or do you want to limit it to certain holidays, days and times. If we want to prohibit it or put some limitation on it, we have to enact legislation by June 30 due to the fact it goes into effect July 1,” she said.
        “Is there any feeling at all yet how communities neighboring us would probably react to this?” asked Council President Tim Zale.
        “I have not reached out to the surrounding communities. I can definitely do that and report back to council. I can tell you that several communities in the State of Ohio have chosen to prohibit it, that being Rocky River, Lakewood, Oberlin. There are several around the state,” said Purpura.
        “I’m interested in the Lucas County area basically,” said Zale. “Also, on a second note, if we were to redo our own legislation on this, would we have the ability to prohibit the sale of fireworks in the city - not just the use of them, but the sale of them.
        “No, it would be specifically towards possession,” said Purpura.
        “So it would stay the same as it is right now,” said Zale.
        “Correct,” said Purpura.
        “This is a thing that a lot of cities are just learning,” said Beazley. “We’re all just trying to react to the change in law. A lot of cities are going to be deciding over the next 35 days or so. We might want to have a public safety meeting and review our options, draft legislation, or just leave it alone. Let’s face it, we all know, even though it’s not necessarily legal, that around the Fourth of July, our residents shoot off fireworks. The only rational response from police is to tell them to knock it off if it gets too noisy or disruptive. We all have lived it. We don’t know the answer. This is really a legislative question. We will get a sense from the surrounding communities what their plans are and get that back to us.”
        “We’ve seen laws like this come up in the past,” said Zale. “We have this window. If we refuse to act on this window, we can never revisit it. We’re stuck with what we have.”
        “That’s correct,” said Purpura.
        “Unless the Legislature acts again,” said Beazly.
        Also at the meeting, council:
        •Council authorized a special use permit for property at 3026 Pickle Road for the purpose of having up to six chickens (only hens) on the property in an R-2 medium density residential zoning district.
        •Approved an ordinance authorizing the City of Oregon Fire and Rescue Department to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Ohio Division of Forestry establishing a working relationship to meet the forestry needs of the area. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is comprised of several divisions, one of which is the Division of Forestry. The Ohio Revised Code requires the Ohio Division of Forestry to enter into agreements with fire departments of political subdivisions to meet the needs of forestry assistance in Ohio. The agreement establishes the working relationship between the Oregon Fire and Rescue Department and ODNR Division of Forestry. It commits ODNR Division of Forestry to offering assistance programs to the Oregon Fire Department such as grants, federal surplus equipment, wildfire training opportunities, as well as various other programs. It also sets forth training and reporting requirements for the Oregon Fire and Rescue Department.
        •Renewed a contract with Renee Jardy to act as case manager to the Juvenile Diversion ACHIEVE Program.


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