Letter: Time for city to stop fireworks free-for-all
About 11:15 p.m. Thursday night, an explosion awakened me in time to see my dog run into the closet to hide. That was the 14th night in a row that she and I and everyone living on the mountain side of Steamboat Springs had the quiet enjoyment of our homes disturbed by people detonating fireworks illegally.
In this annual bombardment, area residents are subjected to loud explosions over the course of several hours every night from a week before July Fourth until about a week after. This year, on July 3 and 4, the intensity and duration of the barrages were particularly astonishing.
One major display, worthy of a small city, continued for over an hour in a neighborhood near Whistler Park. Another large display launched from somewhere near Eagle Ridge. Before, during and after those displays, many other displays and explosions took place all over the area until around midnight.
Colorado law states that “permissible fireworks do not include aerial devices or audible ground devices, including, but not limited to, firecrackers.” (Colorado Revised Statutes, 12-28-101(8)(b).) Each violation of this law is a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $50 to $700 and/or six months in jail.
Equally relevant, the city’s code prohibits anyone from “disturbing (the) quiet enjoyment of home” of other persons by “conduct which is so loud that it materially interferes with or disrupts another individual in the conduct of lawful activities at such individual’s home.” (Steamboat Municipal Code, Article II, Section 10-55.) Each explosion loud enough to awaken or frighten a child or adult or inconvenience them by terrifying their pets violates this city ordinance.
In conversations with neighbors, a clear majority objects to this activity, enduring it with a sense of helplessness. Scheduled fireworks displays like those of the city or the ski area are one thing; random barrages over periods of hours night after night are something else entirely.
No police officer who was on the mountain side of town after about 8 p.m. on July 3 or 4 could have failed to hear and see the illegal activity. For July 4, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reported that “54 of 112 complaints turn(ed) out to be fireworks.” Obviously, it can be difficult to catch these lawbreakers after the fact.
But the city is not helpless, and it’s time for city authorities to fashion a plan to mitigate this annual fireworks free-for-all.
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