Norfolkans might have less time to buy and light off fireworks next Independence Day.
An ordinance discussed and tabled at Monday night’s Norfolk City Council meeting would cut the window to sell and ignite fireworks from 10 days to seven. It also would limit the time window from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., except on July 4 itself.
The ordinance was created after city staff and elected officials received complaints after this year’s fireworks season, said Danielle Myers-Noelle, the city attorney.
“I’ll be honest, I’ve gotten a lot more than I thought emails in favor of reducing from 10 to seven days, and no comments on times,” said council member Corey Granquist. “I can understand a lot of community members wanting less days.”
Councilman Kory Hildebrand said the time change is intended to help shift workers, who may not start work until the afternoon.
Hildebrand said he’s heard from a lot of people in favor of the ordinance, particularly shift workers, people with animals and veterans.
“I had a veteran call me today, he’d read our agenda, and he said, ‘I ask that we do the seven days, because some of us have come back for our freedom, for this day and for 10 days I suffer with PTSD,’ ” Hildebrand said. “ ‘I re-see what I saw overseas all over again.’ ”
But reducing the time fireworks are allowed would hurt local vendors and may not solve the problem of people shooting them off after hours, said council member Gary L. Jackson.
“I’ve had discussion with a gentleman who runs more than one stand,” Jackson said. “He talked about educating the citizens as far as time frames that you can light them off.”
Eric Sanders, a co-owner of Fly By Night Fireworks, said Columbus had a similar discussion several years back.
Sanders said the compromise there was that vendors in Columbus place signs on every side of their tents listing out when fireworks can be lit off, instead of having times limited.
Sanders said he’d be happy to do this in Norfolk and even give out brochures with fireworks sales, too.
Going from 10 days to seven would hurt his business and that of other fireworks vendors, Sanders said.
“We’ve got 10 days to do our business, and that’s it. It’s tough to try to do that amount of business in 10 days,” he said. “Taking days out, really anywhere in there, it’s just a loss. It gives you no time to recover if anything happens.”
Councilman Frank Arens said that sometimes 10 days of fireworks is too much, but trying to educate the public about the rules is a good idea.
“I really do like your fireworks discharge signage going on those tents, I think it’s a great idea. It should probably be there regardless if the time changes or doesn’t change.”
The council members seemed to agree that further discussion was needed, as they voted unanimously to table the ordinance for now.