Iowa Senate bill would prevent cities from restricting fireworks sales in commercial and industrial areas

Local governments in Iowa would no longer be able to restrict the sale of fireworks in parts of their communities zoned for commercial or industrial use under a bill passed by the US Senate on Wednesday. Iowa.

Sen. Mike Klimesh, R-Spillville, introduced the proposal as an amendment to Senate File 2285, which deals with local planning and zoning laws. He said it would prevent local governments from having a “end race” around the Iowa law that legalizes fireworks sales.

The measure would eliminate the discretion now available to local governments to prevent the sale of fireworks in commercial or industrial areas. Opponents said the move would prevent cities from restricting fireworks in places that might border residential areas, for example, or other businesses that might pose a fire hazard.

The Legislature legalized the sale and use of fireworks in Iowa in 2017 and the law has been controversial ever since, especially in urban areas where some cities have banned the use of fireworks due to noise and fire hazard complaints.

Democrats argued the measure was a dangerous breach of local control.

Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-Windsor Heights, pointed to an explosive fire in Clive in 2021 in a 40-foot storage container containing explosives. “The explosion was so powerful that it pushed the sides of the steel container like a balloon. It took hours for our local fire departments to put it out,” she said. “They had to close major intersections.They had used special equipment to manage the incredible risk there was to the lives and safety of their firefighters.

Trone Garriott asked his fellow senators, “Have you spoken with your city councils? Do you understand what is at stake when we take away the ability of municipalities to regulate the presence and storage of mass quantities of explosives within their city limits? »

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, called the proposal a “Main Street Explosion Amendment.”

He said that “it’s not enough to think that a restaurant, a hair salon and a shoe store should be located… next to the fireworks guy, okay, where you have the potential for everything blow it up if there’s an accident. It doesn’t make sense. That’s why we left it to the locals,” he said.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, proposed limiting the zoning change to cities with fewer than 20,000 residents, arguing that large cities have unique needs and situations that local officials, not state lawmakers, should to respond. The amendment was defeated along party lines.

Klimesh said the proposal would not change current law requirements that the fire marshal approve location and fireworks vendors carry insurance.

“What this bill does is it provides a check to cities that attempt to use spot zoning to attempt to circumvent state law that allows the legal sale of fireworks in the city. ‘Iowa State,” Klimesh said.

Both the amendment and the larger bill passed along party lines and are now being sent back to the House for consideration.

Sallie R. Loera