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Fireworks on agenda for council

Hunting within city limits will also be discussed.
Sunday, November 16, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Bullets and sparks could fly after Columbia City Council members review a report on Monday outlining options for allowing hunting and fireworks within the city.

After reviewing the report, the council could request that city staff draft an ordinance allowing these activities on recently annexed land. There would be restrictions, however, concerning where hunting and shooting fireworks would be allowed.

“Criteria for areas where hunting would be allowed could include size of property, zoning and distance from occupied buildings and public roads,” City Attorney Fred Boeckmann said in a report to the council. The report also addresses allowing fireworks on recently annexed land, or even the entire city, around Independence Day.

Because of safety concerns, fireworks and firearms hunting in Columbia are illegal. If the council specifies certain recently annexed properties as reasonably safe for hunting and fireworks, however, older city properties that meet the same criteria might be included in the ordinance.

Attempts to reach city fire officials to talk about the fireworks proposal were unsuccessful.

Rob Brown, chief of staff for the Boone County Fire Protection District, said the most important thing would be for people to use common sense if fireworks were made legal in the city.

“Fireworks are always inherently dangerous,” Brown said. “We don’t have an overwhelming problem with them, but we have had problems in the past. Improper use can lead to injury and devastating fires. ... There’s no magic about it being inside the city or out in the county.”

Boeckmann’s report was prompted by city officials’ desire to make annexation more appealing.

“The reason it was generated is that there’s some large tracts that have been reticent to annexing because of giving up their rights to shoot fireworks or hunt,” Sixth Ward Councilman Brian Ash said. He added that the council hopes to learn whether hunting and fireworks are the primary stumbling blocks to annexation.

Also on Monday night, the council will:

  • Introduce a new panhandling ordinance that would restrict the practice to daylight hours; prohibit panhandling close to public building entrances, public toilets, ATMs, bus stops, bank entrances and pay telephones; and define aggressive panhandling behavior. Denver and Indianapolis ordinances served as models for the new provisions.
  • Introduce an ordinance allowing $15,000 worth of playground improvements at West Boulevard Elementary. The school, unlike the originally selected Parkade Elementary School, is located in an area that makes it eligible for Community Development Block Grant money.
  • Review a report on a proposed agreement with Boone County Regional Sewer District to begin work on a sewer line to El Chaparral. The city would pay $684,700 of the cost, while the sewer district would chip in $753,800. The city would administer the project.
  • Consider a six-month moratorium on the removal and demolition of buildings in the Special Business District. The moratorium is intended to minimize the number of vacant and surface parking lots downtown.

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