Middletown has passed a fireworks ordinance regarding the sale of fireworks in the township. The ordinance, passed at Monday night’s board of supervisors meeting, will limit the pop-up firework shops found in the area this time of year.
Firework sales have been a source of controversy since 2017 when a law regarding sales of consumer-grade fireworks was included in a budget bill approved by the General Assembly. Previously, “Grade C” fireworks were only available to residents out of state.
Earlier in the evening, resident Deborah Harker spoke to the board regarding the potentially serious problems fireworks could have sparked in her neighborhood. Densely populated areas like Middletown have virtually no location meeting the 150-foot requirement from an occupied structure, according to local law enforcement. But despite the distance requirement, her neighbor and many residents continued to shoot off fireworks.
“They’re beautiful, but hard to enjoy when the embers are falling towards your roof. At one point he misfired and (the firework) went sideways, causing me to jump behind my car to avoid the sparks.”
Two police officers responded at separate times. Harker was upset her neighbor, and several other offenders, did not receive citations from police.
Meanwhile, Falls Township Chief Wilcox gave an update Tuesday night, saying his department issued 12 citations. They wanted to address the problem aggressively.
“I know in my neighborhood my dogs were going crazy with the M80’s so I know animal lovers were having a hard time,” Wilcox said at the Falls Township Board of Supervisors meeting. “But it was nice having the extra (officers) out on the street. They were there for four hours and they really did a bang-up job.”
However, Middletown Police Chief Bartorilla defended his police department and their decisions on July 4th.
“Enforcement isn’t just issuing a citation, enforcement is actually stopping the problem from happening,” Bartorilla said. He called the $100 fine a slap on the wrist, which wouldn’t stop people who had spent hundreds of dollars on fireworks. “It’s more than just the police.”
Chief Bartorilla said he wanted the community of Middletown to help the police department find a solution and continue to work with the community regarding this issue.
The board hoped this ordinance is a step toward remedying the issue. State Rep. Frank Farry is also working to change state laws.