Ending a controversy that has simmered for several weeks, the Bingen City Council decided to reject a proposed fireworks ban.
On Sept. 16, council members voted 3-2 to reject a proposed ordinance that would have effectively banned all fireworks displays within the city limits.
The ordinance was introduced as a way to help reduce the danger of fireworks-caused fires in the community.
At the previous council meeting, council members attempted to draw a distinction between "aerial fireworks" and "ground fireworks." However, Anthony Connors, the city's attorney, said that would be subject to too much interpretation and would be difficult to enforce. As a result, the City Council was advised that there needed to be a total ban on fireworks use, or no ban at all.
Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel advised the council members that the proposed ordinance was without a distinction between aerial or ground fireworks.
"If there's not a workable way to distinguish aerial from ground fireworks and we can't allow some form of legal fireworks, then I don't want to be the guy who says you can't do this at all," explained councilor Randy Anderson.
Council member Terry Trantow said the proposed ban could be counterproductive in terms of fire safety, and actually make the danger more serious.
"The nature of cities is that water is generally available, and if you ban them in the city, residents will go out into the forest or other areas where there is not any water," Trantow explained. "If we ban it, people are going to shoot them off somewhere else. That increases the fire danger."
Councilor Jeanette Fentie supported allowing ground fireworks only.
"If we cannot resolve the enforcement issue, I will vote for the total ban," Fentie said.
Council member Laura Mann made a motion to approve the complete ban.
The council rejected the motion, with Larry Murphy, Randy Anderson, and Terry Trantow voting against, while Laura Mann and Jeanette Fentie voted to support it.
The vote closes consideration of the proposal.
"As far as I'm concerned, that's the end of it," Prigel said.
Prigel added that he was hopeful the lack of a ban would not increase fire risks. He pointed to this year's successful use of Port of Klickitat property at Bingen Point as a designated site for fireworks.
"If we keep fireworks controlled as we did this year, it may not be a problem," Prigel said. "The designated site worked this year, and hopefully it will get better."