Muskegon City Commission Approves Fireworks Ordinance, Beach Restaurant and Special Liquor License for Bassmasters Event

Andrew Trzaska | July 23, 2013

Muskegon nailed down its fireworks rules at Tuesday’s full city commission meeting, barring use late at night, outside of holiday windows, and by those using drugs or alcohol.

Muskegon’s rules follow the June passage of a retooled Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which backs up the authority of local governments to give fines when ordinances are broken, including ones that ban overnight use.

With a 6-0 vote Tuesday, Muskegon residents may set off fireworks on national holidays, as well as the day before and the day after a national holiday as well. However, even during those three-day windows, setting of fireworks between the hours of 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. is still prohibited.

Commissioners set a $500 fine for those who violate the ordinance, a number backed up in the state fireworks law.

­­The law also bars anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs from using fireworks, and says that people cannot “recklessly endanger the life, health, safety, or well-being of any person” by setting off consumer fireworks, according to Chapter 54, Article VIII, Section 301 of the city’s code of ordinance.

“I agree with the restriction. In my neighborhood I had a lot of complaints. I heard fireworks the whole week before [Independence Day], and I think that’s too much,” said commissioner Eric Hood.

On a clarification question from commissioner Lea Markowksi, Public Safety Director Jeff Lewis said that his interpretation of “commercial fireworks” in the state law would be anything that exploded or left the ground, meaning that sparklers and similar non-exploding items would not likely be enforced.

He also stated that placing them in church parking lots, on sidewalks, streets and terraces, and on the beach are still completely illegal, and urged citizens to be mindful of those restrictions. He said people having problems with fireworks recklessness should call 911.

Key approvals for Pere Marquette development, Bassmasters Tournament

Also on at Monday’s meeting were two key approvals: one moving forward a restaurant development on Pere Marquette Beach, and one for the upcoming Bassmasters Tournament event being held in September.

Tuesday’s beach votes included a series of three legal agreements that would put into motion Harris Hospitality’s proposed multi-stage plan, which will eventually include a frozen yogurt shop, a corndog shop, a banquet center and a one-story restaurant.  These agreements moved forward on a 6-0 vote.

The Bassmasters All-Star tournament will be held in Muskegon Lake, White Lake and at Heritage Landing from September 27 through September 29.  This event is fairly unique for the region, with only an event in Detroit on the B.A.S.S. series calendar.

The activities at Heritage Landing will center on fish weigh-ins, and will include whiskey samples from Evan Williams, a corporate sponsor of the B.A.S.S. series of events.

According to the agreement voted on Tuesday, marked wristbands will limit of-age visitors to a maximum of two free samples, as by state law.  Further mixed drinks must be purchased.

Hard liquor samples are not typical in Muskegon, so commissioners placed extra scrutiny on the request.

“This is one of [the Bassmasters’] sponsors, which is why this is a different request,” said Cathy Brubaker-Clarke.

On a question from commissioner Eric Hood, current Greater Muskegon Jaycees President Chris Annis said that the Michigan Liquor Control commission is “adamant on the amount of alcohol in drinks served” but does not limit the number of drinks. He stated he worked with a police detective in the Muskegon police department to determine this information.

Wristband processes seen at events such as Coast West Music Festival and the Michigan Irish Music Festival will be in play at this event, requiring every patron to be IDed on the way in the door.

Answering a question from commissioner Willie German Jr., Muskegon County Community Development Director Bob Lukens noted that patrons being served liquor would not expressly be allowed to drive boats from the premises. Bassmaster demonstration boat rides would be provided, but patrons would not be allowed to drive.

Commissioner Sue Wierengo was not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst