Metro Cities Running Out of Time to Adopt Fireworks Rules

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- It’s been a scramble for city councils across the state to set their own fireworks rules before the new state law takes effect.  The author of that law says many of those cities are acting illegally by doing so.


Sen. Jake Chapman, (R) Adel, worked on the bill and he’s surprised there has been this much confusion around it.  

“Yes, it comes at somewhat of a surprise to see municipalities, cities, counties doing some of the things they are doing,” said Chapman.

Chapman says the language in the law is clear. Cities have the power to regulate if and when fireworks can be shot but not much more than that.

“Either out right bans or trying to ban them by using zoning laws. Trying to put them in industrial areas. All of which, frankly, is in violation of law in my opinion,” said Sen. Chapman.

One of the cities that Chapman is referring to is West Des Moines.

Tuesday night, they passed their fireworks sale policy.  One tenet of that policy dictates fireworks can only be sold in industrial zones. However that is not what the law intended. It states they can be sold in retail zones.  

That’s worrisome for West Des Moines Councilman Russ Trimble, who is afraid the city might be subject to lawsuits from fireworks retailers.

“I think that it’s basically discriminating the sale of just thing one product and a certain business. In addition to that I don’t think it’s fair to our local business that are retail businesses,” said Trimble.  

Iowa Fireworks company is already seeing the effects of the confusion. They were removed from a retail parking lot location by Polk County. The owner Jeremiah Terhark, said this won’t stop him from selling this summer but he hopes the cities can figure it out soon.

“It’s a road block. It’s actually not that confusing if you read the law. It’s pretty plain terms, as far as what it allows the cities to regulate and not regulate,” said Terhark.

The most popular way Iowans will purchase fireworks is from a pop-up tent or stand. Those cannot be opened until June 13th. City will have almost two weeks to sort out the details before then.