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Changes To Sioux City Fireworks Rules Fine Property Owners

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Sioux City residents can be fined if fireworks are set off illegally on their property. The city council voted Monday to approve changes to the fireworks code.

Fireworks can be discharged on private property in Sioux City during certain hours on July 3 and 4, and on Dec. 31 through the first half-hour of Jan. 1. A person can be fined at least $250 for lighting fireworks outside of those times. Discharging fireworks on city property at any time carries a $500 fine.

Now, property owners can be fined as well, according to the ordinance. The ordinance pins a $250 fine on a property owner for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for third and subsequent offenses.

Councilman Pete Groetken, a retired Sioux City police captain, opposed the changes. He wants a full ban on fireworks.

“I firmly believe the city’s responsibility is to look out for the safety and welfare of its citizens,” Groetken said, “and I don’t know how we can do it any better than to actually ban the fireworks.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dan Moore said he doesn’t think a ban is the answer.

“Pre-2017 when the sale of fireworks was not legal, we were shooting those off all the time,” Moore said.

State law has allowed for the sale and use of fireworks since 2017. But municipalities can make their own rules.

Sioux City Community Policing Sgt. Jeremy McClure told IPR in an email police received five fireworks-related complaints on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, outside of the times people can legally discharge fireworks. Police also received five complaints from Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. to Jan. 1 at 12:30 a.m. – when people are allowed to light fireworks in Sioux City. Police issued no citations.

The Sioux City Journal reported in June, Sioux City police responded to 306 fireworks complaints, when no discharge of fireworks from private property is allowed. Police responded to 79 fireworks-related complaints and issued three citations over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

A resident complained at the July 6 council meeting about how loud the fireworks are, their effects on people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and their effect on pets. Council members said the fireworks seemed to be louder than previous years. They brought up the possibility of revisiting the fireworks code.

In a Monday interview with IPR, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Moore said city staff reviewed the fireworks laws other cities have set. Many had a complete ban, which “wasn’t real helpful,” Moore said.

“We still want to try to keep the two days in the summertime over the Fourth of July and the one day for New Year’s Eve,” Moore said. “We want to keep that in place and still enjoy our freedoms. But then just keep in mind the safety and surroundings and the people that would affect.”

Moore said he thinks the changes to the fireworks code will be a solution because they give “some responsibility to those owners to not have the illegal discharge of fireworks going on with their property.”

The city is planning to air some public service announcements to inform people when they can legally discharge fireworks. Councilman Groetken said he thinks the PSAs will “have an impact on some people,” but said he is still skeptical of the code changes.

“I think the real story will develop when we go through the next July 4th and how well that works,” Groetken said. “I would like to think people will obey the law and just follow those two days. I think it’s unrealistic to believe that that’s going to happen when for the last 50 years it hasn’t happened.”

The changes to the fireworks code will go into effect once they're published in the local newspaper.

Katie Peikes is IPR's agriculture reporter