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Lake Saint Louis may lift fireworks ban for brief period in 2019

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Lake Saint Louis residents may be able to shot off fireworks around the Fourth of July in 2019. This year, however, doing so is still forbidden.

The city’s Board of Aldermen agreed at its April 16 work session to allow Police Chief Chris DiGiuseppi to draft new language for a bill that, if approved, would allow a brief period on July 3-4 between about noon to about 10:30 p.m. where residents could shot off fireworks.

The board went along with the idea of allowing a year before that language would into effect because DiGiuseppi said doing it this year wouldn’t allow him enough time for public education on what people could and couldn’t do this July 4.

The idea of allowing some lawful fireworks stems from residents asking if shooting them off could be allowed even for a short time during the July 4 holiday. The city currently has a zero-tolerance policy for fireworks; however, DiGiuseppi concedes that enforcing the fireworks ban is difficult to impossible because residents ignore it.

Last October, the board agreed to allow DiGiuseppi to form an “exploratory committee” made up of public safety providers, neighborhood representatives, residents and the Lake Saint Louis Community Association to review fireworks regulations. DiGiuseppi also agreed to develop a public opinion survey for residents to gauge their interest in the public use of fireworks. More than 1,000 people took the survey.

According to DiGiuseppi, a key finding was that 68.33 percent of respondents were in favor of allowing residents the use of fireworks on a limited basis, while 28.87 percent disagreed and 7.79 percent didn’t have an opinion either way.

In all, 66.37 percent said that fireworks should end by 10 p.m., while 17.42 percent disagreed and 16.22 percent didn’t have an opinion either way.

The survey also indicated that 70.79 percent of respondents said they watched a professional fireworks display put on by the Lake Saint Louis Ambassadors on July 4.  Nearly 80 percent of respondents also said they were aware that the city prohibited possessing and igniting fireworks.

Noise from fireworks did not disturb 43.79 percent of respondents, while 40.12 percent disagreed and 42.76 of respondents said fireworks noise disturbed their pets, while 19.64 disagreed. In all, 38.04 percent said they enjoyed shooting fireworks on July 4, while 47.01 percent disagreed.

DiGiuseppi asked aldermen if they would allow a shut-off time of 10:30 p.m. because his officers may need time to finish up with traffic monitoring from the public display that ends around 10 p.m.  He said he favors a shutting off time before 11 p.m., which is the shutoff time for public use in nearby Wentzville. He also suggested that the city may want to monitor what other nearby cities do as far as allowing residents to shoot off fireworks.

Wentzville, St. Charles and Cottleville all allow a time frame around July 4 for the public to shoot off fireworks. Whether the brief time frame of permissible use has a positive effect on limiting offenses when a fireworks ban is in force appears to vary from community to community and year to year.

DiGiuseppi said he would prefer a ban with no exceptions.

“I’d prefer voluntary compliance with the existing ordinance,” he said.  “We leave it banned and no one shoots fireworks and it’s a perfect world. But that ship has sailed.”

He noted that some fireworks, such as bottle rockets and rockets with fins, may remain banned because they can cause fires on roofs.

The board still has to approve whatever language is developed, DiGiuseppi said.

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