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Summerville to consider fireworks law

A town council proposal could limit fireworks. Buy this photo

— The town wants a little peace and quiet — from excessive fireworks and the streams of complaints they bring from residents who don’t take part in raucous Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Town Council has asked the town attorney to draft a law that could include a limit on the hours during which “audible” fireworks could be shot, as well as a ban on shooting onto someone’s else property or public property.

The “audible” law would exempt fireworks blasted on holidays, such as Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve, but would be enforced on days surrounding those holidays. Rounds of fireworks lit off on those days tend to ignite the most complaints.

Fireworks laws are one of those no-wins for local governments. Nearly every Lowcountry municipality has one, except Summerville and Mount Pleasant. But police concede frankly they are tough to enforce: By the time officers respond, the show is over.

Summerville for 10 years has eyed ordinances that at one point included an outright ban, only to get snuffed by the enforcement dilemma and a preemptive state law that was changed in 2011.

Just one of the problems, as Councilman Bob Jackson pointed out Monday, is people who discharge fireworks on properties in unincorporated Dorchester County adjacent to properties in town whose residents complain.

Last year, Councilman Walter Bailey proposed that Town Attorney G.W. Parker look into what could be done. Because this law wouldn’t be a ban, and has specific citable offenses that give law enforcement some teeth, council members think it might work.

“At least it gives us something,” said Police Chief Bruce Owens. “Right now there’s no (enforcement) tools.”

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