Local Government Law Bulletin July 18, 2012

Attorney General Issues Opinion on Fireworks Regulations

On January 1, 2012, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act (the MFSA) went into effect. The MFSA allows consumer-grade fireworks to be used in Michigan on federal holidays and 24 hours before and after each federal holiday. The MFSA also contains an express prohibition on local government interference with the MFSA in Section 7, which provides as follows:

Except as provided in this act, a local unit of government shall not enact or enforce an ordinance, code, or regulation pertaining to or in any manner regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation, or distribution of fireworks regulated under this act.

On June 12, 2012, the Michigan Attorney General issued an opinion finding that a local zoning ordinance which generally regulated temporary vendors was not preempted by Section 7 of the MFSA. In reaching his opinion that the local zoning ordinance regulation was not preempted, the Attorney General found that the zoning ordinance at issue did not expressly refer to the sale of fireworks or any other specific goods and services, and that the ordinance would only incidentally affect the sale of regulated fireworks in the township. The Attorney General further found that the ordinance was not in direct conflict with the MFSA because both the MFSA and the zoning ordinance could be enforced. In other words, so long as the local ordinance did not prohibit firework vendors from undertaking their commercial operations in any way that other vendors could undertake their operations, the ordinance was not preempted by the MFSA.

The Attorney General’s opinion does not have the same legal impact as a ruling by the Michigan appellate courts, but it does agree with the position taken by many municipalities that, while the MFSA certainly does change the law regarding the sale and use of fireworks in Michigan, that there is still a role for local governments who desire to regulate the sale and use of fireworks through limited and carefully drafted zoning and noise regulation ordinances.

If you are considering regulations concerning the sale and use of fireworks, please contact Ross Leisman or one of the other attorneys in our Local Government Law Practice Group to guide you through the appropriate zoning and noise regulations.

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