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Macomb Circuit Court Rules Municipalities May Regulate Sky Lanterns

By Donald P. DeNault, Jr.bio_donald_sm

On October 24, 2016, the Macomb County Circuit Court ruled that the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act does not govern sky lanterns. Therefore, the preemption provision of the Act does not impact local ordinances that regulate or prohibit the possession or sale of sky lanterns and similar “aerial candle” devices.

Macomb Circuit Judge Joseph Toia wrote: “[A] sky lantern does not fall within the definition of ‘fireworks’ as stated in the Act….[T]he Legislature intended ‘fireworks’ to consist only of items that fall within the scope of one of the five identified categories: consumer fireworks, low-impact fireworks, articles pyrotechnic, display fireworks, and special effects….[I]f the Legislature had intended to include sky lanterns within the provisions of the Act, it would have expressed this intention within the language of the Act just as it did with the other specified categories of fireworks.”

The result of Judge Toia’s decision is that our client’s sky lantern ordinance remains valid and enforceable. If your community is interested in regulating sky lanterns, our client’s ordinance, our firm’s ordinance drafting expertise, and the Circuit Court’s opinion will be valuable resources for moving forward.

Donald P. DeNault, Jr. is a shareholder of the firm and specializes in all areas of municipal and school law, including Freedom of Information Act issues, Open Meetings Act issues, zoning, police issues, student discipline, bidding and purchasing, historic preservation, appeals, litigation defense, civil service, civil rights, governmental immunity, government contracts, ordinance drafting and policy preparation.

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