End to fireworks ban signaled
An unenthusiastic De Soto City Council voted 3-2 Nov. 17 to have city staff prepare an ordinance permitting the use and sale of fireworks in the city for the Fourth of July.
The council has been kicking around the fireworks issue since shortly after July 4, when Councilman Ted Morse suggested the council should consider lifting the widely ignored ban. At last week's meeting, he repeated the rationale for lifting the ban.
"The police say they can't control it," Morse said. "I thought maybe the city could make a little money off it."
Last week, City Attorney Patrick Reavey presented the council with a draft ordinance allowing the use and sale of fireworks in the city, asking council members for direction on possible modifications.
The ordinance requires vendors to buy a $500 permit from the city. But council members agree the permit might not be charged to non-profit organizations, which would also be exempt from sales taxes.
The ordinance would forbid the use of fireworks on streets or within 1,000 feet of a medical center or nursing home or within a public building. Fireworks use would be restricted to July 2, 3 and 4, and their sale would be limited from July 1 through July 4.
Council member Linda Zindler wasn't willing to give up on enforcement of the ban. Lenexa takes a proactive approach to enforcement, sending fire department personnel into residential neighborhoods to control the use of fireworks rather than respond to complaints, she said.
"I really think we are going backward in protecting our citizens," she said. "I also note we have no restrictions about selling to children. They are the highest risk factor."
But other council members questioned if that approach would work in De Soto. And the present practice of issuing warnings of a citation on a second visit wasn't working, Johnson County Sheriff's deputy Mark Lieker said.
Council members agreed lifting the ban could jeopardize the annual community fireworks display at the De Soto High School football stadium. De Soto USD 232 officials have expressed concern when the council began discussion about lifting the ban last summer.
The vote to have staff prepare an ordinance indicated the council has concerns of its own. Council member Tim Maniez voted with Zindler and Council member Betty Cannon voted with Morse. Council member Mitra Templin joined Cannon and Morse after first proposing the city allow the use and not sale of fireworks.
"It would benefit the non-profits," Morse said. "We can pass it for one year and see what happens."