Carmel leaders hope to shorten hours to operate fireworks in 2016

This Saturday, Carmel residents will be lighting up the sky on Independence Day, whether they enjoy the city display at CarmelFest or shooting off their own rockets at a private party.

But if some members of the Carmel City Council have their way the sound fireworks wouldn’t turn into a weeklong event, as has been the case in some neighborhoods.

Presently, state law allows for fireworks to be shot off five days before and five days after July 4 until 10 p.m., and until midnight on the Fourth of July. Cities don’t have the ability to shorten these hours unless the Indiana State Legislature takes action.

City Councilor Sue Finkam conducted a survey last year and found that the majority of those polled want fewer days and/or shorter hours for fireworks.

“A lot of people tell us that their babies can’t sleep or their pets get scared by the fireworks,” she said. “We all understand that during the holiday it’s going to happen but it gets kind of ridiculous five days later.”

In addition, there’s a growing campaign on social media nationwide to be aware of military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and the effects that nonstop fireworks can have on them.

Finkam’s survey found that 66 percent of 557 people surveyed want hours and/or days adjusted with the rest of the people happy with the current law and hours.

In 2014, the Carmel City Council discussed shortening fireworks to just July 3, 4 and 5 as a part of a new noise ordinance, but City Attorney Doug Haney said that state law would need to be changed first.

State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) sponsored Senate Bill 124 to the Statehouse this past session to allow localities to regulate fireworks on days other than July 3, 4 and 5. A similar bill was filed in the house. Neither bill received a hearing.

Finkam said she’s talked to some legislators and she’s hopeful it can have a chance in the Statehouse for the next session.

“We just want our cities and towns to be able to make their own decisions about this,” she said. “We want local control.”

However, home owners associations can restrict fireworks days and hours, so that’s one option.

Finkam said another problem is that current fireworks laws aren’t always being followed. She often hears from constituents who say they can hear bottle rockets and roman candles at very late hours.

If you hear fireworks outside of allowed days and hours, contact the Carmel Police Department on their nonemergency number at 571-2500.

Indiana 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.

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