SIOUX CITY | The discharge of firecrackers, bottle rockets and other pyrotechnics is no longer off-limits for Sioux City residents during select days of the year.
With a 5-0 vote Monday, Sioux City became the first Iowa metro with a population above 60,000 to officially adopt an ordinance legalizing the discharge of fireworks around the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve. Second and third readings of the ordinance also passed unanimously Monday.
Spurring the city into action was Gov. Terry Branstad's signing into law a bill legalizing fireworks sales throughout the state around the Fourth of July and New Year's holidays. While cities cannot limit the sale of fireworks under the new law, they can limit or completely ban their discharge.
Beginning this year, Sioux City will allow adult residents to discharge fireworks from 1 to 10 p.m. June 25 to July 4, and again Dec. 30 to Jan. 1.
On the Fourth of July, residents will be allowed to discharge fireworks until 11 p.m. On the night of New Year's Eve, discharge will be allowed until 12:30 a.m. Residents will also receive the same extensions on the Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding the holidays if they fall within the allotted dates.
Violators will be fined $250 on private property and $500 on public property. Discharge will not be allowed on public property.
The city will allow sales of fireworks by licensed retailers or community groups from permanent structures between June 1 and July 8 and also between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3. Sales from temporary structures will be allowed June 13 to July 8.
Sellers must hold sales permits both from the state of Iowa and from the city. Sioux City will grant sales permits based on proof of state licensure. Vendors must also pass an inspection conducted by Sioux City Fire Rescue. The city will charge a $500 application fee.
The council made two tweaks to the ordinance prior to taking its vote Monday. The first allows for fireworks to be sold in areas zoned business park, also known as light industrial, as well as the previously proposed general commercial zones that are not located downtown. Those two zoning designations comprise 566 parcels of land within the city.
The second tweak, at Mayor Bob Scott's recommendation, reduced the proposed fine for a fireworks violation from $500 to $250 but maintained the $500 level for discharge or possession of fireworks in city parks.
"I do think $500 is a little steep if you're firing off a bottle rocket in your backyard," Scott said. "But I would fine someone $500 in a park."
Sioux City Police Capt. Rex Mueller told the council the police will also step up its enforcement this year, adding fireworks patrols to provide the necessary manpower.
The police department did not have fireworks patrols last year, he said, when it received 294 calls for fireworks between July 1 and July 4 and issued no citations.
The change to Iowa's 80-year-old fireworks ban has sent cities around the state into a flurry of action. Iowa's largest metros are currently in varied stages of approval for their own modified ordinances, with cities floating a smattering of different options for limits on fireworks discharge, and a handful considering complete bans. As of today, it's difficult to know just how Sioux City's discharge dates will compare.
In Des Moines and Waterloo, city leaders voted to limit fireworks discharge on Monday.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa's second-largest city, Fire Chief Mark English told the Journal that fire staff are still scheduling a meeting with council members to find how they want to approach the new law.
City officials in Davenport, Iowa City, Ames, West Des Moines and Council Bluffs as of Monday were also still discussing the changes. Iowa City, Ames and West Des Moines are among the cities that appear set to pass a complete ban on fireworks discharge.