S’ville hopes to snuff out nuisance fireworks

Post and Courier file photo

wade spees

— The town has taken a new shot at regulating fireworks.

Town Council on Wednesday approved a preliminary vote banning them during later night and earlier morning hours, as well as shooting onto a neighboring property or public property.

They’re not playing: Violators could be fined up to $500 and sent to jail for up to 30 days.

The vote was unanimous and made with little discussion, except to have town attorney G.W. Parker read the law’s provisions to the people at the meeting. The proposal needs a second council vote to be approved. The law would give revelers an extra three hours on New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July, but still bans fireworks after 1 a.m. on those holidays.

Council members in April asked Parker to draft a law that would allow the displays during holidays but restrict them more on days surrounding the 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 say they are tough to enforce: By the time officers respond, the show is over.

“If they pass it, we’ll enforce it,” Summerville Police Chief Bruce Owens said about the proposed law. But he conceded that enforcement would be fairly difficult.

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 pre-emptive state law that was changed in 2011.

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.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.