WILKES-BARRE — Council moved a proposed ordinance that essentially prohibits the use of fireworks within city limits closer to becoming law when it approved the first of two readings at its public meeting Thursday.
The second and final reading is scheduled for council’s Aug. 9 session. If approved then, it would become effective 10 days later.
The ordinance would make it illegal to use the consumer-grade fireworks that became available for purchase in Pennsylvania this year on city sidewalks, streets, in parks and all city-owned real estate. State law already prohibits using them within 150 feet of an occupied building.
Three residents spoke in support of the ordinance during council’s 17-minute meeting.
Dan Ritter, of Matson Avenue, said he took his dog to Parsons Park on July 5 and found it littered with spent fireworks.
He asked for a heavier penalty than the $100 proposed by the city, saying someone who pays $900 for the fireworks that are heavily taxed by the state “isn’t going to bat an eye” at the fine. In addition, the city could fine someone for littering and being in the park after the posted hours its open to the public, Ritter said.
Council chairman Tony Brooks responded that the city fine can’t exceed the amount set by the state in Act 43 of 2017 that allowed for the sale of aerial and other more powerful fireworks.
“It also doesn’t mean there can’t be multiple violations,” added councilman Bill Barrett.
Jim Burden, of Taft Street, suggested the city assign more officers to afternoon and night duty during the Fourth of July holiday to enforce the ordinance.
Council also approved the final readings of ordinances dealing with parking violations. It established a procedure to appeal parking tickets and set the costs of parking fines — $20 if paid within 72 hours, $30 after 72 hours but within 10 days; $50 after 10 days but within 30 days; and $100 after 30 days.
In other business, council approved:
• The first reading of an ordinance that sets a five-day period for compliance when someone is notified to remove a vehicle from private property.
• The first reading of an ordinance to adopt the 2009 edition of the International Property Maintenance Code.
• A change order that increased the demolition contract for the Academy Market property on Academy Street by $3,800. The city awarded A.R. Popple a $19,000 contract for the demolition. The increase covers the cost of removing garbage from inside the structure.
• The award of a lease and purchase deal for a 2019 Mack garbage compactor for $199,500 to the most qualified bank.
• Renewal of the $104,000 information technology services and support contract for one year with Aelaric Inc. of Carbondale.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.