As Independence Day approaches, residents are reminded that the City of Buckhannon has an ordinance that regulates when fireworks can — and can’t — be set off within the city.
Within Buckhannon city limits, fireworks are only permitted between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 4 itself and between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on the Saturdays preceding and following Independence Day.
This year, that means fireworks may be set off between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 2; Monday, July 4; and Saturday, July 9.
Fireworks are also permitted on Dec. 31 to celebrate the new year.
Ordinance 418 regulates the use of fireworks within city limits. Last year, city police chief Matt Gregory explained the rationale behind the rule.
“There are a couple of primary reasons, and one of which is because houses are so closely grouped together in the city that if fireworks were allowed to happen all throughout the year beyond the Fourth, it would potentially be a noise issue and a disturbance issue,” the police chief said. “Another concern that came up a few years ago when this current version of the ordinance was drafted was a concern for animals as well – that if it’s allowed to occur throughout the year, it can be traumatic for dogs and other types of animals.”
Fireworks sounds may also trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in affected military veterans.
Buckhannon’s ordinance was approved by Buckhannon City Council in 2017 after the state Legislature, during its regular session in 2016, had passed House Bill 2852, which “legalized certain classes of consumer fireworks which had previously been illegal, including consumer fireworks,” the city’s ordinance says.
The ordinance says that if a person is found to have violated the law, they will be charged with a misdemeanor and, if convicted, they will be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200 upon first offense; not less than $200 nor more than $350 for the second offense; and not less than $350 nor more than $500 for any third or subsequent offenses.
The document says if someone is charged with violating the ordinance, city police may “seize, take or remove all consumer fireworks intended to be used in violation” of the ordinance, and those fireworks might be auctioned off publicly or “destroyed at the expense of the person” from whom they were seized.
You may view Ordinance 418 – which only applies to the area within municipal boundaries – here. There is no ordinance regulating the usage of fireworks outside city boundaries in the county. In addition, the ordinance does apply to city-sanctioned events, such as the Fourth of July fireworks display slated to take place in downtown Buckhannon Friday, July 2.