The public may be allowed to shoot off fireworks in Lake Saint Louis for a few hours around July 4 in the future – maybe. But allowing fireworks stands that sell them in the city – probably not.
During the city’s Board of Aldermen work session on July 16,Police Chief Chris DiGiuseppi discussed public fireworks use in the city this past July 4 and received input on a new ordinance he will draft to regulate fireworks use in the city.
In April, the board agreed to allow DiGiuseppi to draw up a new ordinance that would allow a brief period when fireworks could be shot off by the general public between noon-10:30 p.m. on July 3 and 4, beginning in 2019. The city, like several municipalities in St. Charles County, currently bans the public from shooting off fireworks; however, those bans are widely ignored.
In Lake Saint Louis this year, the city had about 20 calls complaining about fireworks use on July 4, up from 18 calls last year, DiGiuseppi said. City police say they had 52 calls during a 10-day period that included the weekend after July 4.
“July 4, like last year, was crazy,” DiGiuseppi said. He said fireworks use was particularly heavy in the Bridgepoint and Mason Glen subdivisions. Some of the Mason Glen activity may have been on property in the adjacent unincorporated area, he said.
“It seems like [fireworks use] is escalating,” DiGiuseppi said. He said the situation may only get better if the state limits the sale of fireworks, but added, “I just don’t see that happening.”
An alternative is allowing some fireworks to be shot off during a brief period of time during the July 4 holidays. Wentzville allows residents to shoot off fireworks for few hours on July 4 and DiGiuseppi said Wentzville officials have told him that, while a lot of fireworks were shot off, there was a noticeable drop off in activity outside of the permitted hours. St. Charles and Cottleville also allow a time frame around July 4 for the public to shoot off fireworks.
DiGuiseppi said he was planning to use Wentzville’s ordinance as a model for what he plans to submit to Lake Saint Louis aldermen for their consideration at their Aug. 6 board meeting.
The ordinance would include limits on the types of fireworks that can be shot off as well as a requirement of adult supervision for children.
DiGiuseppi asked if he should include information that would allow and regulate fireworks stands in the city but the aldermen expressed no interest in allowing fireworks sales in the city.
The city has been exploring the use of fireworks since last year. Last October, the board agreed to allows DiGiuseppi to form an “exploratory committee” made up of public safety providers, neighborhood representatives, residents and the Lake Saint Louis Community Association, which manages private amenities, to review fireworks regulations.
DiGiuseppi also developed a public opinion survey of residents to gauge their interest in the public use of fireworks. More than 1,000 people took the survey. Two key findings were 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
In all, 66.37 percent said that fireworks should end by 10 p.m., while 17.42 percent disagreed.
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.
“I’d prefer voluntary compliance with the existing ordinance,” DiGiuseppi said in April. “We leave it [fireworks] banned and no one shoots fireworks and it’s a perfect world. But that ship has sailed.”