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Davenport residents will have shorter time to set off fireworks this Independence Day

The Davenport City Council voted Wednesday to shorten the window to set off fireworks by four hours on July 3-4.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Davenport is shortening the hours residents can legally set off fireworks this Fourth of July.

The Davenport City Council voted 8-2 Wednesday, June 8 to shorten the window to set off fireworks by four hours July 3-4. 

Previously, consumer fireworks could be set off from 2-11 p.m. July 3-4. The new ordinance changed that window to 5-10 p.m.

Sixth Ward Council Member Ben Jobgen supported the change, saying that he believes an 18-hour window was "excessive."

"That loud noise becomes a nuisance to animals, to people with (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other health conditions," Jobgen said. "In my mind, being able to decrease that window of time just makes sense and can hopefully lessen the strain on some of those individuals."

The council had voted 7-2 on the ordinance May 25 during its first reading. One alderman was absent during that meeting. 

At-Large Council Member Kyle Gripp voted "no" during both meetings, while Eighth Ward Council Member Judith Lee changed her vote from "no" to "yes." Seventh Ward Council Member  Derek Cornette voted "no" June 8.

Ordinance changes are required to be read and discussed three times, and the city council was set to discuss the proposed firework hours again in two weeks. However, the council agreed to dismiss the third reading in favor of letting residents know the new hours sooner.

"I acknowledge that shortening the window won't stop people from shooting off fireworks when they please, the current ordinance doesn't do that," Jobgen said. "But a significant majority of our residents are law-abiding citizens, if they know what the law is, they're going to follow that law. And hopefully, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on July 3-4, they'll shoot off their fireworks, they'll be courteous neighbors to other residents outside of that time and not be selfish."

Those who are cited for setting off fireworks outside of the legal hours can face a fine. A first offense could cost a minimum of $250, Fire Marshal Jim Morris said. With court fees, offenders could be facing a $400 fine. From there, he said, the potential fines can escalate to up to $600.

"They want everybody to enjoy their Fourth of July weekend," Morris said. "They're trying to kind of balance it out to where everybody can enjoy themselves and not have to worry."

However, it's not easy for police to issue those citations. Last year, between June 1 and July 8, Davenport police issued 10 citations.

"You have to have an officer of the law actually witness somebody in the act of shooting off the fireworks to issue a citation," Jobgen said. "And so the biggest thing we can do is communicate to people that these are the hours during which you can legally discharge fireworks, ask them to be courteous neighbors and again, rely on the fact that a significant majority of the people are good, law-abiding citizens."

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