MASON CITY, Iowa - You could hear loud booms, snaps and pops around town well before last Friday and Saturday.
And it's led to many frustrated residents calling in to law enforcement: according to Police Chief Jeff Brinkley, 169 fireworks-related complaints were logged last month, and 79 so far in July, mostly due to the time of day, as well as locations in town where discharge is prohibited. Now, despite changes made last year regarding allotted times to shoot off fireworks, the number of complaints that came in this year has warranted change.
Now, Mason City city council members are looking to modify the city's fireworks ordinance. Later this month, councilors plan to discuss what options are available to them, including an outright ban on the sale and discharge of consumer-grade fireworks within city limits. However, that might be tough to enforce, as state legislation currently does not allow communities to enact ordinances regarding sales, except for where exactly they could sell them, as well as not allowing discharge in certain neighborhoods.
"It's such a strain to try to get the Police Department able to police it. They fire them here, they're gone, and by the time a cop shows up, there's nobody to arrest or cite or anything."
City council member John Jaszewski has heard complaints and concerns from constituents about fireworks, and has expressed interest in supporting a ban. He has been in contact with State Senator Amanda Ragan and State Representative Sharon Steckman about what they could do at the state level to allow communities to have more control.
"Amanda said she's going to encourage her colleagues to look at that law and see if there are some changes that could be made, and hopefully allow a city within its borders to ban the sale of fireworks. That still wouldn't prevent them if they're legal to fire, but it would make fewer available to people, and hopefully will lead to fewer incidents of them going off and driving people crazy."
As for commercial fireworks shows, like the one held at the North Iowa Events Center this year, Jazsewski says an exception would be made in any ordinance change to allow them.
While the topic may be controversial, Jaszewski encourages those that are for or against any changes to contact their ward council member, as well as their state representatives.
The ordinance is planned to be discussed during the July 21st council meeting.