Clark County Council likely to overturn new restrictions on fireworks

A voter-backed initiative to put the issue on the ballot is already underway

CLARK COUNTY — It appears one of the first orders of business for the new Clark County Council may be undoing a decision made just last month to ban certain types of fireworks.

In December, the council voted 3-2 in favor of allowing only Safe and Sane fireworks, banning the kind that fly more than a foot off the ground or six feet along the ground. 

Fireworks line the stands at Blackjack Fireworks in Hazel Dell. File photo

With Republican Karen Bowerman now replacing outgoing Councilor John Blom, who supported the ban, the council this week voted to put a public hearing and possible vote on overturning the ordinance on their agenda at the next possible date.

The vote was also 3-2, with Councilors Temple Lentz and Julie Olson opposing the move.

Olson, who introduced the resolution in December, noted that a voter-backed referendum to put the restrictions on the ballot was already moving forward.

“This ordinance that we passed last December won’t take effect until the end of 2021,” Olson noted. “I think if the ordinance is so bad, and there’s so much support to overturn it, then gathering those signatures would be reasonable and having this on the ballot would be reasonable if the community decided that they didn’t like this ordinance.”

Lentz added to Olson’s remarks, noting that the council lacks the authority to put the restrictions in front of voters on their own, and could still act to overturn it if the ballot initiative failed to gather enough signatures in time.

“Most of the council would have been in favor of putting this on the ballot, so that we could resolve this through voter voice,” Lentz said. “So we have the opportunity to hear that (because) they’ve started the referendum process.”

County Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien said last month she opposed new restrictions without a full public process unhindered by the pandemic, which has limited council meetings to a virtual format, and because recent restrictions on when fireworks could be sold or used just recently were implemented.

“If the public is so inclined that they want to place more restrictions on fireworks,” Quiring said, “it would be perhaps incumbent upon them to bring forward a referendum.”

Medvigy agreed, and added that by undoing the restrictions now, the council would give more time for anyone seeking that process to get something on the ballot this year, rather than waiting to see the fate of the current referendum and then acting.

Bowerman, who joined the vote to move the discussion to a public hearing, did not weigh in during the Council Time meeting on Wednesday.

The hearing is yet to be scheduled, but will likely be on the council’s calendar in early February.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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