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SIOUX CITY -- The Woodbury County supervisors have directed a county commission to develop recommended zoning ordinance changes about the sales and use of fireworks in rural areas, one year after a new state law expanded the type of fireworks that can be shot off in Iowa.

"We can come up with reasonable, safe, practical policies," Community and Economic Development Department Director David Gleiser said Tuesday.

Currently, there are no Woodbury County ordinances that address fireworks. Several of the county supervisors, including Matthew Ung and Rocky De Witt, said they were not interested in reducing the maximum state window of weeks in which fireworks could be ignited.

The Legislature in 2017 handed cities and counties the power to allow fireworks discharge for the first time in eight decades. Since that time, many cities and counties have discussed what times and places they want fireworks to be sold and shot off.

Some Northwest Iowa cities and counties allowed their residents to shoot off fireworks for five weeks -- the state maximum -- to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. Other local governments set stricter limits.

Under Iowa's law, licensed retailers or community groups can sell consumer-grade fireworks out of permanent structures to adults between June 1 and July 8 and also between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3 to celebrate the New Year's holiday.

The Woodbury County supervisors in a Tuesday board meeting approved a proposal by Gleiser to use the zoning commission and board of adjustment to work through recommendations about zoning on fireworks sale and use.

Given the new state law, Gleiser said the county needs to add the sale of fireworks to amend the 2008 zoning ordinances concerning the Land Use Summary Table of Allowed Uses. Gleiser said any new county ordinance would only apply to rural portions of the county, not any of the towns or Sioux City, which have set or are setting their own rules.

Gleiser said it might not make sense to allow the sale of fireworks near industrial or heavily agricultural portions of the county. He said one merchant used a sales tent along U.S. Highway 20 in the county last summer, and that merchant has also inquired about a more permanent building.

Gleiser said he wants a very open process in working through the fireworks issues in the county.

"That process could include public hearings," he said.

Sergeant Bluff and Sioux City officials have tinkered with the fireworks times in recent months.

In mid-December, the Sioux City Council shortened July fireworks discharge from 10 days to two. Sioux City's current hours are 1 to 11 p.m. July 3 and 4 and from 1 p.m. Dec. 31 to 12:30 a.m. Jan. 1. Sioux City was among several cities tweaking their ordinances after the first year and is currently the largest city in Iowa that will allow fireworks discharge within city limits.


County and education reporter

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