Cedar Rapids finalizes fireworks ban

Heeding protests, council cracks down under state law

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids City Council finalized a ban Tuesday on setting off fireworks in the city.

The measure imposes stricter local limits that were allowed under a state law adopted earlier this year to legalize the use and sale of fireworks in Iowa around the Fourth of July and New Year’s holidays.

The city had not done so around the Fourth, which drew protests.

“It was clear the council wanted to have a complete ban and that was the predominant theme after the Fourth of July period,” Mayor Ron Corbett said. “There was not a lot of calls in support of fireworks.”

Elected officials were bombarded with calls and emails after a rocky summer, with several fireworks-related safety incidents, prompting a tightening of the rules. That culminated Tuesday in an 8-0 vote, with member Ann Poe absent.

Last week, the council also approved restricting fireworks sales to industrial zones only, and before that adopted rules allowing authorities to seize fireworks that are held illegally.

Still, Corbett said, additional issues are likely to surface this month that will need to be addressed before the state- sanctioned fireworks summer period, which is from June 1 to July 8.

“If sales go down and fewer people own them, I think we are going to have less incidents,” Corbett said. “My guess is people are still going to feel if they are legal to purchase and legal to own, they are going to think they can be set off.”

Corbett had recommended allowing a day when residents could use fireworks, but ultimately supported the measures.

Art Tech Village

In other action, the council gave a first green light to rezoning land needed for the $25 million live-work concept called Art Tech Village by the Hatch Development Group. The project would be at the south edge of New Bohemia.

The proposal is to rezone 2.5 acres of vacant land east of the under-construction 16th Avenue SE extension and south of Fifth Street SE to regional commercial.

The City Council must vote twice more on the rezoning for it to become official. The rezoning previously had the backing of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Art Tech concept includes 34,000 square feet of retail or office space on the first floor and 107 apartments on the top three floors. Among the units, 24 would be studios intended for short-term use by entrepreneurs, such as those participating in the nearby Iowa Startup Accelerator. Two co-working spaces and a fitness center also are planned for residents’ use.

Construction could start next year.

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