The feedback will be the topic of a May 7 council meeting to discuss possible changes to fireworks rules in the city
BATTLE GROUND — The city of Battle Ground is once again tackling the issue of fireworks, but they want the public to sound off before they make a move.
Battle Ground is currently one of only 77 jurisdictions in Washington, out of 266 total, that does not impose any restrictions on fireworks beyond those already present in state law. That means fireworks are currently allowed between June 28 and July 5, and again on December 31.
Members of the Battle Ground City Council brought up the issue again last month. During the meeting, councilor Brian Munson pointed out that the topic of restrictions on fireworks had come up eight times last year.
“We spent 30 percent of our time last year talking about this,” Munson said, “and every time we voted to keep everything the same.”
But noise and damage complaints have risen along with the population of Battle Ground. Elizabeth Duke and her husband moved to the area in 2012, and have struggled to clean up the damage left behind in their Sixth Street Station neighborhood.
“Were July 4th not a legal holiday,” she told the council, “the fireworks celebration aftermath in our neighborhood would be considered deliberate littering and property damage.”
Duke says she faced backlash, including vandalism, when she took her complaints to her Neighborhood Association. Council member Adrian Cortes seemed to sympathize with her point of view, after admitting Independence Day was one of his favorite times of the year as a teenager.
“As an adult,” he admitted, “it’s the one holiday where I get to pay for my neighbor’s fun.”
Council tasked city staff with gathering public input on fireworks restrictions, hopefully in a way that didn’t allow only young people to “jam the ballot box” as it were. Their method of doing that is a hybrid survey system that will allow people to submit their thoughts online, or in person at several locations around the city:
- Battle Ground City Hall – 109 SW 1st Street
- Battle Ground Police Department – 507 SW 1st Street
- Battle Ground Fire Station – 505 SW 1st Street
- Battle Ground Community Center – 912 East Main Street.
The city will accept feedback through Fri., April 27 at 5 p.m. The city council will take survey results into consideration during the May 7 council meeting.
This past Fourth of July was the first in which fireworks were banned entirely within the city limits of Vancouver. Clark County has also reduced the number of days fireworks that can be used south of 219th Avenue.
Battle Ground council members could choose to leave things as they are, restrict days of usage, restrict the types of fireworks allowed, eliminate them entirely, or give the fire department and city council power to suspend fireworks during years the fire risk is deemed severe. Many of the council members seemed to lean towards the last option as a good compromise, though it’s not clear how much of a heads up they would need to provide, since fireworks stands must buy their merchandise well ahead of the holiday.
Any changes adopted by the council would need a full year to go into effect, so it would not impact the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.