Fuse lit on city fireworks ordinance

Langley Councilman Craig Cyr is fulfilling a campaign promise by trying to get fireworks banned from within city limits.

At a city council meeting Tuesday night, the members discussed Cyr’s proposal, which he has said resulted from knocking on doors throughout the city during his campaign. The majority of people, he said, wanted a ban on the pyrotechnics.

They are noisy, dangerous, a fire risk and cause pollution, he said.

While council members didn’t seem completely convinced, they agreed to move forward with drafting an ordinance, which would open discussion on the matter.

Cyr argued in support of the ban, pointing to surrounding municipalities, such as Mukilteo, which have successfully enacted a similar ban.

If passed before July 2020, fireworks set off by private individuals would be permissible until July 2021, since the state requires a one-year waiting period to enact the ban.

According to the meeting agenda packet, the current law for fireworks within Langley city limits allows them from 9 a.m. to midnight on July 4.

Councilman Thomas Gill opposed the ban, suggesting that the nearness of fireworks set off on the Tulalip Reservation, which he referred to as “boom city,” would not reduce the level of noise in Langley.

“I see the discharge of fireworks and the celebration as part of one of our First Amendment rights,” he said. “It’s one of our freedoms of expression and a very joyous occasion for a majority of our people.”

Gill said the continued accessibility of legal fireworks at local stores would help alleviate the discharge of illegal fireworks purchased from neighboring reservations and those homemade from “tennis balls and gunpowder.”

Councilwoman Dominique Emerson said she has heard both sides of the argument from people she has polled. Some of her neighbors look forward to setting off fireworks with their grandchildren.

Councilwoman Christy Korrow said the issue could benefit from the public’s input.

“No one I’ve talked to has ever asked for this,” she added.

Mayor Tim Callison said the allowance of permits for professionals to light fireworks during official shows would help keep them out of the hands of amateurs.

Police Chief Don Lauer said his department has never had any trouble with people being defiant when confronted lighting off fireworks.

The motion to draft an ordinance passed 4-1, with Gill opposed.