Union Township

Union Township approves fireworks ordinance

Students looking to start the school year off with a bang will have to make sure to stay outside of Union Township.

The Union Township board approved a fireworks ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting with a 6-1 vote. The ordinance limits the use of consumer fireworks, stating they can only be used on the day proceeding, day of and day following a holiday.

The 10 federal holidays and the days surrounding them are the only times a local government cannot regulate the use of consumer fireworks, which first became legal in Michigan this past January. Consumer fireworks include roman candles, bottle rockets and other previously illegal fireworks that leave the ground.

The move by Union Township follows the recent fireworks ordinance adopted by the City of Mount Pleasant.

“Our ordinance comes from a model ordinance and is almost identical to the city’s,” township supervisor John Barker said. “We do our best to make it easy on police and officials to regulate these things by having similar standards.”

With the change to state law, Barker said fireworks have frequently been heard this summer.

“Most who live around here have heard on a regular basis these noises going off,” he said. “It’s becoming quite the nuisance.”

The board also decided to have their intergovernmental committee meet with Isabella County’s intergovernmental committee with no special conditions.

Nearly two weeks ago, the county announced in a press release plans to possibly sue Union Township for capturing taxes in the East Downtown Development Authority.

County commissioners voted to look at legal options in hopes of the return of more than $300,000 in surplus funds held by the EDDA.

Union Township’s board members expressed surprise at the announcement, with some explaining they woke up to the press release or story in the newspaper.

Many members noted the lack of communications between the governmental bodies.

“There wasn’t any communication or them asking for the money back,” treasurer Pam Stovak said. “All I heard was they were going to sue.”

While board members all could agree talks between the township and county were needed, the vote was 5-2 on agreeing to meet with the county’s intergovernmental committee.

Two members, Stovak and trustee John Verwey , were opposed to the meeting because of a lack of transparency.  The county’s committee does not wish to take official minutes of a meeting between the two groups, which Stovak and Verwey did not agree with.

Though the other board members noted transparency is important, many pointed that no decisions can be made at the meeting.

Putting aside the disagreement about not keeping minutes and getting a discussion going is the primary concern, trustee Phil Mikus said.

A meeting date has not been set. Barker said he will talk with the county to decide a date that works for both the township and county.

The board also looked at the proposed 2013 budget, which will not be approved until December.

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