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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Kids in the Hall

Fireworks in December; those determined Niowave neighbors; and RTW opposition

by Andy Balaskovitz
Monday, Dec. 10 — The Lansing City Council unanimously adopted a revised fireworks ordinance tonight that hopes to calm aggravated residents who were sick of putting up with loud fireworks all night.

The legislation prohibits using fireworks without a license “on any day other than the day preceding, the day of, and the day after a national holiday,” the ordinance says. It also requires licenses for “agriculture and wildlife” uses (which Councilwoman Carol Wood has said relates to scaring animals off private property) and for pyrotechnic, display, special effects and consumer fireworks.

The ordinance is modeled after a state law and similar regulations in East Lansing, Wood said tonight. If city of Lansing pyros want to shoot off fireworks on any day besides a national holiday — and the day before and after — they need to apply to the City Clerk’s Office at least 30 days before they intend to fire them off, unless the fire marshal approves the use at an earlier date. License fees will be set by the Council.

An application sets off a round of review by the clerk, the City Attorney’s Office, the fire marshal, the Police Department and the Treasurer’s Office. If that checks out, applications then must be approved by the Council. Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

Still, police must witness displays that would potentially violate the ordinance, which one resident said tonight ultimately means the ordinance will do very little to stop offenders.

In other news, Walnut Neighborhood residents made their strongest showing in months to file grievances with the Council about their corporate neighbor’s 14,000-square-foot pole barn. Indeed, the Niowave saga is far from over.

Nine residents spoke during public comment tonight urging the Council to investigate whether Niowave violated special land use conditions approved six years ago allowing them to operate at the former Walnut Street school.

Basically, neighbors claim the company’s newest addition doesn’t maintain the character of the neighborhood, as is outlined in several criteria in the SLU. However, city zoning officials have said that the SLU only applies to the original building and not any additions on the property. Moreover, zoning administrator Susan Stachowiak said at the outset of the Niowave controversy that the SLU only applies to what happens inside the original building — not the exterior appearance.

Residents are still working out plans of a possible picket at Niowave officials’ homes, Seymour Avenue resident Mary Elaine Kiener said tonight. More on those plans here.

And finally, the Lansing City Council joined thousands of others around the state in opposition to pending Right to Work legislation, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday.

On the eve of what could be the largest protest in Lansing since Snyder took office, the Council unanimously approved a resolution urging the governor to veto legislation that passed the House and Senate last week.

Mayoral Chief of Staff Randy Hannan said the administration echoes the Council’s sentiment.

“Mayor Bernero joins this Council in being absolutely appalled and disgusted that the Legislature and Gov. Snyder would try to railroad this through at the 11th hour. It’s the lamest of lame duck sessions we’ve ever imagined,” Hannan said. “We hope tomorrow’s demonstrations will send a very clear message.”
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