There will be no rockets' red glare flying above West Richland city parks this Fourth of July.
The city council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ban all fireworks in the parks, including parking lots. Councilman Richard Bloom did not attend the meeting.
The ban was part of an amendment to the city ordinance on the possession, sale and discharge of fireworks within the city limits. The cost of a permit for retail sale of fireworks also was raised from $25 to $200.
The council also voted to ramp up the punishment for possessing illegal fireworks, making it a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor and set a fine of $250 for each, up to a maximum of $500.
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"Making it a civil infraction makes it easier to enforce. You don't have to gather as much evidence," said West Richland police Chief Brian McElroy.
The new ordinance also assesses a fine of $250 for anyone who sets off any pyrotechnics that cause damage to someone's property.
After fire crews battled six fires caused by fireworks last summer, residents called and emailed council members asking for restrictions on the type and duration pyrotechnics could be fired off in city limits.
They also spoke up at an April 10 town hall meeting and at a May 1 council meeting.
Two residents who called for the tighter restrictions attended Tuesday's meeting. After hearing the terms of the new ordinance, Wallace Ruff said, "This is an improvement, but I wish they would go further. I just pray there's no wind on the Fourth."
Mary Jean Knight, who lives on a small 6,000-square-foot lot said it's impossible to get away from the noise and the mess created by neighbors.
McElroy said the new ordinance includes language that clearly defines which fireworks are legal and which are not.
"It'll be easier to take enforcement action this year for those few who don't follow the rules," the chief said. "If people will just fire them off safely, responsibly and be considerate of their neighbors, that would cut down on the problem considerably."
Illegal fireworks include firecrackers and chasers; bottle rockets; missiles and rockets; M80s or larger; cherry bombs; tennis ball bombs; salutes; and legal but altered fireworks.
The new laws will be in effect by June. A list and description of permitted fireworks will be posted at each firework stand in the city and on the city's website, www.westrichland.org. Look for it under "Government" and "Municipal Code."
This year, fireworks can be set off from noon to 11 p.m. July 1-3; noon to midnight July 4; noon to 11 p.m. July 5; and 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1.
Beginning in 2013, the number of days when fireworks can be discharged will be reduced by two and hours restricted.
By state law, any ordinance more restrictive than what the state allows must be on the books for a year before it becomes law.
The new hours and days will be 6-11 p.m. July 2-3; 6 p.m. to midnight July 4; and 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to 1 a.m. Jan. 1.