Regular Joes may get the chance to pop off fireworks next year in Independence.

Regular Joes may get the chance to pop off fireworks next year in Independence.

Monday night, during a City Council study session, City Manager Robert Heacock outlined several changes to the current ordinance that would allow a person 16 and older to possess and use consumer grade fireworks from July 3 to July 5. Established by vote in 2001, the city’s current ordinance prohibits possession, manufacture, sale and use of fireworks within city limits, except by a professional approved by the Fire Department.

In August Heacock said he wanted to bring the City Council’s attention to the ordinance, which many officials believe is unenforceable, especially during holidays such as Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. The new ordinance, which Heacock said may be brought before the Council for vote in January, only addresses Independence Day.

“The existing policy effectively drains our public resources,” Heacock said. “It’s unenforceable.”

Heacock said the proposed changes were only recommendations and that his intent was to open discussion among council members to address an issue that typically inundates police officers and department dispatchers to the point that they are trying to respond to several calls at once during peak holiday times.

“We put our staff at a disadvantage and it’s a no-win situation,” he said, adding the Independence Police Department received in 2008, 502 complaints of illegal fireworks use from June 27 to July 5. “As a result, you get citizens who are upset with our police department.”

Other changes to the ordinance would allow only not-for-profit religious and community services organizations to sale fireworks within city limits from 10 a.m. June 23 until noon July 5.

“That’s a good way for (local organizations) to raise funds for their clubs and provide service to the community,” Heacock said.

Council Member Will Swoffer said he was appreciative of the City Manager’s office for looking into revising the ordinance.

“It’s a very unenforceable ordinance the way it exists now,” Swoffer said.