Shawnee to allow fireworks sales in city starting next year — Here are the details

The ordinance will allow up to five retail spots for fireworks sales within city limits between June 27 and July 5. Image via Shutterstock.

Starting next year, Shawnee can host five retail fireworks sale locations and will give preference to city businesses and residents for sale permits.

What happened? The Shawnee City Council on Monday night unanimously approved amendments to the city’s fireworks ordinance, passed May 9, that clarify rules governing the sale of fireworks in the city, which the ordinance authorizes to start next year.

  • The council authorized fireworks sales from June 27 through July 5.

Details: According to council documents for Monday’s meeting, the amendments do the following:

  • Specify that each ward will have one fireworks sale location and two alternate locations, and that the city will have one at-large sale location
  • Specify that the city will notify alternate permit applicants of their permit status within two weeks of Aug. 15
  • Give permit preference to Shawnee businesses and residents
  • Prohibit applicants who have received a felony conviction, diversion agreement or pending charge on a felony complaint within one year of application
  • The council also discussed the possibility of having brick and mortar fireworks sale locations but took no action on it and will discuss it at a future meeting.

Permit lottery: Assistant City Manager Caitlin Gard said a business had approached the city about possibly buying a building for selling fireworks, “but they’re not interested in doing that unless they’re ensured a lottery spot every year.”

  • The ordinance as currently written authorizes a lottery for fireworks sale permits.

Councilmembers’ thoughts: Ward 4 Councilmember Jill Chalfie said she didn’t “feel great about guaranteeing an annual permit because somebody has a brick and mortar store, because they may turn out to be the worst of the five vendors that we had … and now we’re sort of locked in to awarding them a permit every year.”

  • Ward 2 Councilmember Eric Jenkins agreed and said the council should determine whether to renew a brick and mortar permit based on the vendor’s performance.
  • Ward 1 Councilmember Tammy Thomas asked what would happen if someone wanted to buy more than one building in one ward for fireworks. Gard said the city would have to administratively regulate that and might want to wait until after next year’s season to evaluate it, as with noise and air quality concerns.

Possible storage risks? A councilmember asked Shawnee Fire Chief Rick Potter what the risk to the surrounding community would be of having fireworks in a building. Potter said he would defer to the fire code and Deputy Chief Corey Sands.

  • Storage requirements are dictated based on the class of explosive stored, Potter said.

Going forward: Gard said the city had used social media and sent a direct mailer to residents about coming fireworks sales and developed educational material for the fire department to hand out at all community events they attend.

  • Vendors have to pay a $2,500 fee to sell fireworks, with revenue earmarked for fire education and an Independence Day festival.
  • Fireworks sales tax revenue is projected at roughly $18,000 a year, excluding fees, according to the city.

Using fireworks: The new fireworks ordinance authorizes the use of fireworks only on July 3 and July 4 until 11 p.m.

  • Only relatively low-risk fireworks such as snaps, snakes and sparklers that are rated below 1.4G are allowed.
  • Bottle rockets and other types with a “stick” are prohibited. The penalty for violation is $100.

Learn more: A recording of Monday’s meeting is on the city’s website. The fireworks discussion starts at 2:09:49.

Jerry LaMartina is a freelance journalist who contributes frequently to the Shawnee Mission Post and other Kansas City-area publications. He can be reached at lamartina.jerry@gmail.com.