Columbia Borough building

When: Columbia Borough Council meeting, Nov. 4.

What happened: Council members plan to combat illegal fireworks by adding their discharge to a list of activities prohibited by the borough’s noise ordinance. Council may also decide to make pyrotechnics a nuisance.

The plan: Fireworks would remain illegal except for certain holiday periods such as July 4 and New Year’s Eve, with possible weekends added in if the holiday falls midweek. Borough counsel Evan Gabel presented the proposal to council members.

State law: Pennsylvania began allowing people to purchase consumer fireworks, such as firecrackers, Roman candles and bottle rockets, in 2017. These products must limit explosive material to 50 milligrams. However, state law also prohibits anyone from setting off these same pyrotechnics within 150 feet of an occupied building, whether or not anyone is inside at the time. In addition, those setting off a display must get permission from the property owner.

Quotable: “People are obviously not obeying that,” Gabel told council members. Police officers or witnesses have to see someone set off fireworks to charge that person. Usually, Gabel said, officers arrive long after those responsible have left the area.

What changes?: Adding fireworks to a list of noise problems or nuisances would allow police to charge people associated with pyrotechnics, such as a property owner where fireworks were lit instead of proving who lit them. The borough also could create fines that increase each time someone is charged. “This is something I’ve done with a few other municipalities, and it’s worked pretty well,” Gabel said.

Health advisory council: Columbia wants a seat on the new Lancaster County Health Advisory Council, and council directed Borough Manager Mark Stivers to find out how to make that happen. The representative doesn’t have to be a council member and could be a health professional.

Background: The county plans to set up an advisory council after it failed to get enough support from area municipalities and school boards to create a county health department. Commissioners have started accepting applications from anyone who lives or works in Lancaster County. The council, which will include nine to 13 members, may only analyze data and offer advice on how to handle public health issues.

Moving money to another account: About $550,000 in federal pandemic funds will move to a newly created bank account so the borough can be transparent about how the money is spent, Borough President Heather Zink said. In addition, council Vice President Sharon Lintner recommended seeking public opinion on how the money should be spent.

What’s next: The borough will hold a council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9. The meeting will be streamed on the borough’s Facebook page.

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