Fireworks cleared for liftoff in Marion

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MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Marion City Council gave the green light to people using fireworks, at its meeting Thursday night. The city is now one of the first eastern Iowa towns to do that since Iowa lawmakers approved the sale of fireworks earlier this year.

Courtesy: MGN Online
Courtesy: MGN Online

The new state law allows the sale and use of fireworks on certain days around the Fourth of July and New Years. Cities can still ban fireworks outright if they choose.

Marion Council members were considering that option as well as two others. One would have essentially had the city follow the state's established limits. The other-- which the council approved unanimously, minus two absent members, restricts the number of days firework use is allowed.

The effective dates scale back state regulations by about three weeks in June and December, going from June 1st-July 8th and December 10th-January 3rd to June 24th-July 8th and December 31st to January 1st.

"None of us wanted to be in this position," said Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly. "The state Legislature has put us in this position by making it legal to sell fireworks."

The council made its decision after receiving a lot of feedback from the community, urging them to either enact a ban or at least limit days people can use commercial explosives. In the end-- the mayor felt a ban was ultimately impossible. He and the rest of the council agreed it was unrealistic to expect people not to use fireworks now that they'll be able to buy them in town.

"The police department has expressed concern about enforcement if it was completely banned," said AbouAssaly. "What that would do-- it would be impossible for them to enforce the ban. People are going to be using them anyway."

Besides fire hazards, injury concerns and general annoyance-- some of firework critics' biggest worries were for those with PTSD and conditions impacted by loud noises. One man who spoke at the council meeting said his wife is among them.

"Loud reports are very painful to her," he said. "She carries earplugs in her purse and has them in the night stand for thunderstorms."

Despite wanting a total ban, the man later told TV9 he was happy the council's decision.

The city may still limit the hours on those days fireworks are permitted. They'll talk about it at the next city council meeting.

Right now, Cedar Rapids does not allow people to use fireworks. But in the coming weeks, the city council could decide whether to continue the ban or allow the use of fireworks during certain periods, like Marion.

"Ultimately, the City Council will be making a decision on whether to continue the prohibition of fireworks discharge or whether they will allow discharge during certain dates and times," said Greg Buelow, a spokesman for Cedar Rapids. "This action will likely occur over the next several weeks."

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