Des Moines Being Sued Over Fireworks Ordinance

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Beginning on Tuesday, Iowans could buy and sell fireworks at pop-up stands across the state; but if you're in Des Moines, you probably won’t see any up and running.

That’s because in its June 5th meeting the city decided to only allow the sale of fireworks in areas zoned as "industrial," rather than commercial. Now, the city is being sued because of it.

Companies like the Iowa Fireworks Company that were planning on setting up shop in commercial zones have to pick up and move.

“We had a location at Brass Armadillo and they made us move it outside of the city limits just because that was the restriction of having the tent,” said Communications Director Ali Boettcher.

Because they need a new location, they need to get a new permit.

“Its a process that takes between two to three weeks to get done,” said Boettcher.

While they wait for that process, they'll be losing out on sales in the metro, and so will the biggest distributor of fireworks in the country, which is why American Promotional Events is suing the city of Des Moines over its ordinance.

Better known as TNT, American Promotional Events claims in its lawsuit, "For every day in which American cannot sell fireworks in Des Moines it loses thousands of dollars.  If American loses out on selling for the entire July 4th season it estimates losses of $300,000.”

The lawsuit seeks a temporary and permanent injunction from the ordinance and damages from the loss of sales. Companies stuck in the middle say they'll rely on their other locations and wait for the legal process to play out.

“We actually have a Fort Dodge location up and going and they've done some revenue this morning, which is really exciting to be off the ground and selling fireworks,” said Boettcher.

Mayor Frank Cownie declined a request for comment.