City leaders lean toward total ban of fireworks in Perry

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Meeting Friday morning in a work session were, from left, City Finance Officer Susie Moorhead, Perry City Council members Dr. Randy McCaulley, Barb Wolling and Chuck Schott, Perry Mayor John Andorf, Perry Police Chief Eric Vaughn, Perry City Council members Dean Berkland and Vicki Klein, City Clerk Liz Hix and City Administrator Sven Peterson.


The council is considering restricting the sale of fireworks to areas of the city zoned heavy industrial, indicated by the dark blue areas on the zoning map of Perry.

The Perry City Council inclined strongly Friday toward banning the use of fireworks within the city limits.

The consensus emerged during an hourlong work session, during which the council members identified the central problems with the current fireworks ordinance and proposed potential solutions.

State law permits the sale of so-called consumer fireworks from June 1 to July 8. The current city ordinance permits the use of fireworks only on July 4. The council appeared to agree that the root problem was residents’ use of fireworks outside the one-day window.

The scale and intensity of the fireworks’ usage were also deemed a problem. Three council members described the behavior of users last month as “crazy” and “absolutely crazy” and said the neighborhoods were a “war zone.” The nuisance made it impossible for residents to enjoy their yards and porches.

“People shouldn’t have to be locked in their homes on a holiday,” one council member said.

“The public is not going to change” no matter how much the council tinkers with the current ordinance, another member said, implying that an outright ban is called for.

“We gave them a couple of years to do it right,” and they did not do it right, a third member said.

Perry Police Chief Eric Vaughn, a member of the council’s ad hoc fireworks committee along with Perry City Council members Barb Wolling and Dr. Randy McCaulley, said enforcement of the fireworks ordinance presents an ongoing challenge. He said increased signage in the public parks and along the commercial corridors appeared to reduce usage in those areas this year.

State law prohibits cities from banning outright the sale of fireworks, but cities can restrict the location where sales may take place, such as where tents may be pitched. Discussion among the council members indicated their interest in limiting sales to areas zoned heavy industrial.

In Perry the areas zoned heavy industrial are primarily on the west side of town — along the west side of Diagonal Road and in the area of the brownfield north of the Tyson Fresh Meats factory.

No opportunity for public input was provided at Friday’s work session, but members of the public will have an opportunity to share their opinions during the open forums at the Perry City Council meetings on Tuesday, Sept. 7 and Monday, Sept. 20.

The mayor and city council members are also accessible by mail at the Perry City Hall, 1102 Willis Ave., P.O. Box 545, Perry, IA 50220 and by email:

Mayor John Andorf, john.andorf@perryia.org

Council member Dean Berkland, First Ward, dean.berkland@perryyia.org

Council member Dr. Randy McCaulley, Second Ward, randy.mccaulley@perryia.org

Council member Barb Wolling, Third Ward, barb.wolling@perryia.org

Council member Vicki Klein, At-Large, vicki.klein@perryia.org

Council member Chuck Schott, At-Large, chuck.schott@perryia.org

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