SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady City Council on Monday unanimously approved a fine of up to $250 per firework illegally launched in the city.
The 6-0 vote came immediately following a public hearing where several residents supported the fine. This includes Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association President Pat Smith, who praised council members for the legislation.
“It could not be more perfect,” Smith said.
Jon Gilbert, who lives in the Woodlawn, also spoke in favor of the legislation. He said lighting of fireworks in the city can be dangerous, especially because some of the homes are very close to each other.
“It could lead to a great fire,” Gilbert said. “I love our neighborhood. We all need to keep it safe.”
There was one resident, however, who spoke against the fine.
Jody Klimek said while he agrees with the complaints from residents about people lighting off fireworks late into the evening, and on days that are not the Fourth of July, he doesn’t think it should spoil the fun for people who want to light them off responsibly.
Klimek also argued that there are already ordinances that cover those types of offenders: noise ordinances.
Instead, Klimek suggested residents be able to obtain a permit that would allow them to launch fireworks off on the Fourth of July between a certain time period, such as 7:30 till 10:30 p.m.
“I’m advocating for a second look, because I don’t think neighbors who are considerate of other people throughout the year should be penalized for a 3 or 4 hour window,” Klimek said. “The Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks.”
The proposed fine is actually an amendment to the city’s fireworks ordinance. It was first introduced last week during the council’s Administrative Efficiency Committee on June 18.
It was an addition to the city’s already-existing ordinance regarding permits for public displays of fireworks. The ordinance was mainly geared toward organizations looking to shoot off fireworks.
Those permits must be approved by the chief of both the city Police and Fire departments.
The amendment also allows police to confiscate fireworks or any of the devices used to launch them.
City Council President Ed Kosiur, who was not present on Monday, previously said this allowed police to stop any further launching of fireworks, even if no one is around to be fined.
The amendment was meant to cover fireworks of any kind, including aerial fireworks and firecrackers, such as M-80s and cherry bombs.
In April, the Schenectady County Legislature approved a ban on sparklers and ground-based fireworks, which had been legalized statewide by the state Legislature in 2017. The state leaves it up to individual counties on whether to allow them.
While the amendment received support from all council members, some did not like that the vote on it was rushed.
“The only concern was that this is just a one-time deal where we have a public hearing and a vote on the same night,” said Independent Councilman Vince Riggi, who then voiced his support for the legislation. “I understand the expediency factor, but it’s something we need and hopefully it will be better with this in place.”
Councilwoman Marion Porterfield also mentioned the quick approval of the legislation. Still, she said the legislation was necessary.
Schenectady police will be stepping up patrols on the Fourth of July, Police Chief Eric Clifford previously said.
Clifford said police will focus on areas where the homes are closer together, which will include neighborhoods such as Hamilton Hill, Mont Pleasant, Bellevue and Eastern Avenue.