Sandy Springs City Council didn’t settle on how to enforce newly-allowed fireworks regulations at its Aug. 7 meeting, opting to ask city staff to come back next time with more a fleshed out proposal for requiring residents to obtain firework permits.
The council first heard city staff’s proposal to create a permit system for fireworks at its July 17 meeting, where City Attorney Dan Lee explained the two basic options cities have for enforcing new fireworks controls allowed by a state law that took effect July 1. Sandy Springs can require police officers to use decibel readers to determine if a person is violating the noise ordinance, or require residents to receive a permit to use fireworks.
Fireworks are now allowed to be prohibited under cities’ noise ordinances. In Sandy Springs, the ordinance prohibits noise over 65 decibels during daytime hours and 55 at night, which rules out virtually all fireworks, Lee said.
But if only relying on the noise ordinance, officers have to record noise on a decibel reader to determine if its in violation, and often the noise may be gone before police arrive, Lee said.
“This is like setting a speed limit, and not having radar to clock it,” he said.
Under the state law, several holidays are exempted from the controls, including Jan. 1; Memorial Day in May; July 3 and 4; Labor Day in September; and Dec. 31.
Lee said the permitting option would give police stronger ability to enforce the fireworks restriction.
Only allowing residents to use fireworks on non-exempted days if they have a permit would give officers more ability to enforce it, he said. If a police officer arrived and saw evidence of fireworks use and the resident did not have a permit, they would be in violation, he said.
Under the current proposal, permits would cost $5 and last for a day, Lee said.
However, council members wanted much more detail and restrictions on the permitting process, including potentially restricting how many could be given to one resident, setting approval criteria and requiring neighborhood notification.
Councilmember Andy Bauman initially moved to deny the permit proposal, but council later unanimously moved to table the matter until staff could come back with a modified ordinance.
“This is a tough one. I think we really need to think it through,” Bauman said.
Lee said the ordinance could come back at a work session before the next council meeting Aug. 21.
“It’s clear we’ve got some additional work to do on this,” City Manager John McDonough said.