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Second reading on fireworks ordinance delayed

By Staff | May 5, 2017

An ordinance concerning fireworks use times and sale and storage was supposed to get a second reading Monday evening.

However, after hearing concerns from a business owner and a resident, Rugby Mayor Arland Geiszler advised the city’s Ordinance committee to look over the proposed ordinance again and have it ready for a second reading at the Rugby City Council’s June meeting.

Rugby resident and N.D. Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Craig Zachmeier said state law already regulates fireworks dealers, and that while the city has the authority to issue permits as per its home rule charter it doesn’t need to create such regulations. Zachmeier also said that changes to ordinances could have an affect on city sales taxes collected from fireworks sales.

Rugby Hardware Hank owner (and former councilman) Terry Wentz, who has been selling fireworks for over 40 years, took issue with newly-proposed section 9.36.021 which makes fireworks sale and storage locations subject to inspection with vendor consent. The section makes failure to consent to inspection result in forfeiture of permits the next year.

“[There are a] lot bigger hazards stored in town than fireworks,” Wentz said.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Sue Steinke said the purpose of proposed changes to the city’s fireworks ordinance wasn’t to limit vendors’ ability to sell in town.

“What have vendors been doing wrong? It’s already in ordinance and state law.” Wentz said.

Zachmeier said from a statistical standpoint more people die from artillery shells than they do from fireworks stands.

Rugby Police Chief John Rose said that when dealing with fireworks the department deals more with end users than they do dealers.

Rugby Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dave Schneibel said they can put inspections in if there’s any complaints.

“I’ve got better things to do than look at others’ fireworks stands.”

Schneibel also said the proposed changes were worded stronger than originally intended.

“[We] want to know where [extraneous fireworks] are stored,” Schneibel said.

Ward 2 Councilman Gary Kraft said he didn’t agree with the changes to times of use. The times of use under the proposed changes would be 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 27 through July 2, 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on July 3, 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on July 4, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 5.

Nuisance properties discussed

Concerned citizens clamored their concerns to the council regarding nuisance properties in their respective neighborhoods.

Linda Warner, wife of former councilman Arden Warner, said some lots had vehicles on them that had been sitting as long as 17 years., and at times the properties described as “nuisances” in their neighborhood have no full-time occupants. Arden said branches falling on to sidewalks have created safety issues.

“Nothing has been done,” Arden Warner said. “Our taxes are going up and our property values are going down. No sense having an ordinance if [the city] doesn’t enforce it.”

Linda Warner said: “We’re not going to wait until Winter. We want it cleaned up.”

Rose said the city’s nuisance ordinance is a broad ordinance, and that when the police department investigates nuisance property complaints it tries to determine whether there is a health and safety risk or whether the complaint is a matter of beautification.

Geiszler said complaint procedures are in place and that he encouraged the Public Safety committee to get copies of issued complaints.

“It think the important part is enforcement,” Geiszler said.

Ward 2 resident Nancy Houim complained that due to junk on a nearby property the mice population has been growing on her property. Houim said she had made a complaint last summer and then talked to Ward 2 Councilman Randy Fossum.

“Do I just keep complaining?” Houim asked.

Fossum said that the city should send dated letters out to nuisance property owners, and if complaints are not handled then nuisance property owners should receive hits to their pocketbooks.

Ward 1 Councilman Neil Lotvedt said residents should keep pressing the issue.

“[Eventually], the hammer will drop,” Lotvedt said.

Ward 1 Councilman Bruce Allen Rheault thanked residents who voiced their concerns about nuisance properties before voicing his own.

“I’ve been on the council since 2003 and we haven’t done a damn thing about it,” said Rheault. “Where I live used to be a nice neighborhood. It’s not nice anymore.”

Other actions

– The council approved a resignation notice for Brad Radomski.

– The council approved proclamations for EMS Week, Poppy Day and Arbor Day.

– The council approved designating the Pierce County Tribune as Rugby’s official newspaper.

– The council met with Enbridge Community Relations Advisor Katie Haarsager, who discussed the crude oil line that runs north of the city.

– Zachmeier questioned the council as to why the city spent $7,923 for consulting on the city’s budget and recreation funds.

– The council approved a zoning request application for Northern Equipment, who is constructing a pole building.

– The council approved an abatement request for Richard & Cindy Schaan.

– The council held a first reading for changes to the city’s liquor and beer ordinances regarding server training. Server training will not be made mandatory in city establishments unless violations of ordinances occur.

– The council deferred a rate increase request from Rugby Sanitation to the city’s Finance Committee. Rugby Sanitation requested a $2 increase in residential waste pickup rates after receiving a notice in late December 2016 from the City of Minot’s public works department that their commercial solid waste rates were increasing from $36 per ton to $40 per ton, and that Rugby Sanitation could ask for an increase if the cost to deposit garbage at the Minot Landfill were to reach $38 or higher.

– The council approved April meeting minutes, bills and financial statements, Municipal Judge’s report, and Rugby Job Development Authority board meeting minutes.

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