Heights passes fireworks, marijuana ordinances

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – Ordinances were a hot topic at the Aug. 27 city council meeting, with the council approving new language for fireworks and the transportation of marijuana.

The first ordinance amendment, to fireworks, is something the council has been discussing since the state of Michigan passed Public Act 65 of 2013.

PA65, which was enacted June 19, allows local units of government, based on population, to regulate the use of consumer fireworks during certain hours on the day before, day of and day after a national holiday. Use between midnight and 8 a.m. is banned.

The Act also states that fines under local ordinances are “restricted to a $500 maximum fine for each violation and violations could not be subject to any further fine or sanction.”

Corporation Counsel Gary Miotke presented the council with language in the firework ordinance that was “more aggressive” than the draft he presented at the Aug. 13 council meeting.

He said changes were made to when, where and who could use consumer fireworks.

“Use is prohibited between midnight and 8 a.m. on national holidays, with those times changed to 1 and 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day,” Miotke said. “The ordinance also prohibits the use, discharge or ignition of fireworks on the property of another without their permission or while under the influence of alcohol, liquor or controlled substances.”

Another change is that minors are not allowed to use, ignite or discharge fireworks, and anyone who allows them to or sells them the consumer fireworks is also in violation of the ordinance.

The council approved the changes unanimously. Councilman Thomas Berry was absent from the meeting.

Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton said the issue has been something she and other council members have been concerned with because of its impact on the community.

“We have all received many phone calls in regards to fireworks and noise,” Hicks-Clayton said. “With the passage of this ordinance, I think we’re taking an aggressive stance, but I do want to plead to common sense and neighbor-to-neighbor relationships in terms of safety and being responsible. We have to be respectful of our neighbors.”

The second ordinance amendment discussed and passed regarded the illegal transportation of marijuana. It also was drafted by Miotke.

“This ordinance adopts the same standard that exists under state law for the transportation of marijuana in vehicles,” Miotke said.

The new ordinance prohibits the transportation of marijuana if it is not enclosed in a case that is carried in a trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the marijuana must be enclosed in a case that is not readily accessible from the interior of the vehicle.

The ordinance also passed unanimously.

A third proposed ordinance change regarding the zoning of hotels and motels was postponed so the council can have a study session to discuss the issue more. Several items of the existing ordinance might be removed from the language, including requirements for 50 feet of buffer space between the hotel or motel and adjacent residential use and which lights can be used on the outside of the business.

The date of the study session was not determined at the meeting.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)