Revamped noise ordinance could limit home fireworks displays in Carmel – if state law allows

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People love the CarmelFest fireworks display, but private fireworks displays are raising some hackles in Carmel. (Staff photo by Niko Anas)

People love the CarmelFest fireworks display, but private fireworks displays are raising some hackles in Carmel. (Staff photo by Niko Anas)

By Pete Smith

Is it possible that we have taken it too far this time of year with the fireworks?

That seems to be the consensus among members of the city council who have received numerous complaints in recent weeks that late-night fireworks are preventing people from going to sleep.

In fact, councilor Sue Finkam posted a poll about the matter and had more than 540 responses in the first day alone.

About one third of people participating in the poll said the council should: Allow fewer days – hours are ok, but we allow fireworks on too many days.

About another one third of people participating in the poll said: Hours and days both need adjusted – there are just too many fireworks.

“Over half of those respondents want to see some type of change,” Finkam said. “Many are very frustrated by late night noise night after night, especially those with small children, pets or those who based on age or shift work go to bed early.”

The poll was conducted as Part of councilor Sue Finkam’s Carmel Northeast monthly e-news. People can subscribe by texting Northeast to 42828.

The poll was conducted as Part of councilor Sue Finkam’s Carmel Northeast monthly e-news. People can subscribe by texting Northeast to 42828.

Currently, city rules allow for fireworks five days before and five days after July 4 until 10 p.m., and until midnight on the Fourth of July.

But in a recent meeting of the council’s utilities, transportation and public safety committee, the council sought to restrict the days fireworks are allowed within an updated version of the city’s noise ordinance. They could soon be limited to July 3, 4 and 5 if the updated noise ordinance is passed by the council at its next meeting on July 21.

“I think that type of restriction for Carmel residents would be very appealing, however, we are unfortunately very limited as to how we can modify our ordinance based on laws already on the books by the State of Indiana,” Finkam said.

She said that city attorney Doug Haney said that state law forbids the city from limiting the use of consumer fireworks:

● Between 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset on June 29 and 30.

● Between 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset on July 1,2,3,5,6,7,8 and 9.

● Between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight on July 4.

● Between the hours of 10 a.m. on Dec. 31 and 1 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider also said that the city needed to do a better job with educating the public about the rules, noting that any ordinance on fireworks would be difficult for police to enforce.

“Residents can also work with their HOAs to inform residents of the rules, as some may be unaware that the state and city have restrictions,” Finkam said.

Other noise ordinance changes

The other contentious changes within the updated noise ordinance surround the regulation of construction noise and the backup beepers on large trucks.

The current noise ordinance allows construction noise during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

It had been proposed to shorten that window to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but during the committee meeting councilors decided to compromise and limit construction noise hours to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Carmel Chamber of Commerce President Mo Merhoff said the compromise would like be amenable to the business community and local builders.

Rider said, “If it becomes a problem, we’ll revisit it.”

He noted that for construction noise complaints outside the new hours, residents should call police. But if residents had a problem during those hours, they need to call their city council representative.

Councilor Ron Carter also suggested installing the MyCarmel app on a smartphone and using it to file complaints when necessary.

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