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Fiscal Court Considers Lighting The Fuse On Possible Fireworks Ordinance

A young boy holds his ears during a fireworks show several years ago. (File image).

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Mercer County Fiscal Court is looking at possibly taking action on fireworks. Although it isn’t clear what that may be.
At the fiscal court’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 11, Judge-Executive Sarah Steele asked for two magistrates to work on a possible amendment to the county’s noise and nuisance ordinance.

Some magistrates questioned the need for an ordinance.

“Ain’t it a free country?” asked Magistrate Tim Darland.

“I want guidance,” said County Attorney Ted Dean. Dean said the county’s ordinance predates the state’s legalization of fireworks. While noise and the nuisance are always subjective, Dean said the current ordinance raises issues, including the potential question of “unequal enforcement,” which makes him uncomfortable with taking cases to court.

Last July, several county residents complained about fireworks to the fiscal court and in particular the impact they have on animals, including horses.

There is no county ordinance that covers fireworks. The noise ordinance, has been criticized by local law enforcement as vague.

Judge Steele said her office receives messages from residents concerned about fireworks on a weekly basis, including horse farms. Steele said the biggest issue is people shooting off fireworks throughout the year, not just on Independence Day.
Chief Ric Maxfield of the Mercer County Fire Prevention District offered his assistance. Maxfield said there are national regulations on fireworks which the county could use as a guide.

“It can get pretty cloudy,” Maxfield said.

Magistrate Dennis Holiday volunteered his time and the time of Magistrate Kevin Hicks.

“Me and Kevin will do it,” Holiday said. The fiscal court took no further action.

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1 Comment

  1. Wiliam Marshall on April 16, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    Regarding the Fiscal Court considering an amendment to the county’s noise ordinance I can only hope that the Magistrates approach this endeavor with objectivity unlike Tim Darland. Yes, Mr. Darland it is a free country and freedom comes with responsibility. We can’t drive ninety miles an hour on Route 127 because there is a fifty-five miles per hour speed limit. Frankly, the majority of us wouldn’t do ninety on 127 because we have enough common sense to realize it’s unsafe for us and others in the community. The same thing applies to high explosive fireworks. The majority of us wouldn’t shoot off these fireworks in close proximity to herd animals. The majority of us wouldn’t start shooting off these fireworks at 11:30 PM without warning our neighbors of our intentions. Unfortunately, there are those that don’t have good old common sense.
    We welcome any debate or dialogue regarding this issue. We can’t have good laws without debate. What we offered to the Fiscal Court last year was to look at the surrounding counties noise ordinances as to how they addressed fireworks. Have a discussion with officials in those counties as to how the restrictions addressed in their noise ordinances is working out. Have a discussion with our own Sheriff and deputies for any suggestions from them. But most of all let’s be completely objective Mr. Darland.

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