Madison Township opts out of HB 172; continues ban on consumer-grade fireworks

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Jun. 19—Madison Township has decided not to be covered by an upcoming state law that would allow consumer-grade fireworks to be set off on a variety of holidays throughout the year.

Trustees, at their June 14 meeting, voted unanimously to opt out of House Bill 172 and instead continue Madison Township's ban on discharging, igniting or exploding fireworks in the community.

HB 172, which goes into effect on July 1, will allow people in Ohio to set off consumer-grade fireworks on specific holidays and days surrounding these observances. Some of those eligible days include July 3, 4 and 5, and the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays before and after the Fourth of July; New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; Cinco de Mayo, Labor Day weekend; and Memorial Day weekend.

However, HB 172 also contains provisions that allow counties, municipalities and townships to become either partially or totally exempt from the new law.

Trustee Peter Wayman said he thinks it's a good idea, from a safety standpoint, to reaffirm the township's prohibition of using consumer-grade fireworks.

"I believe you should leave fireworks to the professionals," Wayman said.

In communities that decide to abide by House Bill 172, adults will be allowed to discharge consumer-grade fireworks, such as bottle rockets and Roman candles, on their own properties or other private properties with the owner's permission.

Previously, Ohio law required anyone buying consumer-grade fireworks to take the products out of the state within 48 hours. Up until 2015, buyers of consumer-grade fireworks had to sign a form vowing to keep that promise.

House Bill 172 was signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in November. With the bill not being enacted until July, area government leaders around the state had about seven months to consider whether they wanted to either opt out or have their communities adhere to HB 172.

When Madison Township trustees held previous discussions on HB 172, they predicted that they'd make at least some residents unhappy with whatever action they took.

Board members acknowledged that some residents feel there should be no limits to setting off consumer-grade fireworks. But for other residents, such as people with pets, or veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, the noise created by fireworks is troublesome, said Trustee Board Chairman Kenneth Gauntner Jr.

"I have a very close family member who served in Iraq and suffers from PTSD and I can tell you that Fourth of July is not his favorite holiday, " Gauntner said.