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County may shorten fireworks season

The city of Oak Harbor celebrates Fourth of July with a big fireworks display. Some county residents like to put on their own, smaller fireworks shows, but a new county rule may shorten the number of days fireworks are allowed. - Justin Burnett \ File photo
The city of Oak Harbor celebrates Fourth of July with a big fireworks display. Some county residents like to put on their own, smaller fireworks shows, but a new county rule may shorten the number of days fireworks are allowed.
— image credit: Justin Burnett \ File photo

Fourth of July fireworks season in Island County may be one day shorter next year.

The Board of Commissioners agreed last week to hold a public hearing on a measure designed to bring county rules into conformance with state law, which is slightly more restrictive.

The hearing will be held June 24 at the board’s monthly nighttime meeting, beginning at 6 pm in Coupeville.

“Basically, all we’re doing is aligning with state law,” Commissioner Kelly Emerson said at a work session earlier this month.

Existing county code permits the discharge and sale of fireworks from noon on June 28 to noon on July 6. State rules have a similar schedule but it ends on July 5 and allows fewer hours.

The discrepancy has been known for sometime and was discussed by the board at length in 2012. The rules were never changed, however, as there was simultaneous discussion about whether or not to make the county’s rules even more restrictive than the state’s.

Former District 2 commissioner Angie Homola led the charge, advocating on behalf of constituents who were voicing complaints about long hours and frightened pets.

Although Homola was unseated in November, Commissioner Helen Price Johnson picked up the torch at the meeting last week.

“People are asking that we please reduce the days so I wanted to put that back out on the table to see if there was any interest,” Price Johnson said.

She emphasized the negative impact on pets and livestock and added that Camano Island residents are complaining about the flood of Snohomish County residents who visit the island to light off fireworks.

Emerson maintained her position from last year, saying she was “content” to align county code with state law but nothing more.  Commissioner Jill Johnson agreed, saying her immediate concern was to bring the county’s rules into conformance.

“At this stage, I just want to get us into compliance,” Johnson said.

Johnson did voice some reservations about the start date and indicated she might be open to a future discussion but made no promises.

“I’m from a fireworks loving town,” she said.

 

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