People pulled their barbeque grills into their driveways and spent the day hanging out on the Fourth of July in Spring Hill thanks to an ordinance that allowed residents to launch fireworks in town this year.
“I’ve got a feeling people felt very community-oriented during the whole weekend,” City Administrator Jonathan Roberts told city council members during a meeting July 8.
But community-oriented aren’t words Don Flanagan, Spring Hill, would use to describe the community celebration of Independence Day. Flanagan said he believed his house may have been targeted by revelers following the holiday.
Flanagan presented plastic bags filled with firework residue he pulled from the roof of his house after the Fourth of July.
“These were bombs that came over my house and exploded,” Flanagan told council members as he passed the residue to council members and city staff. “I know if it hadn’t been raining, I could’ve had a house fire.”
Flanagan said a previous home he owned in Lenexa caught fire after a bottle rocket hit it several years ago.
The Spring Hill fireworks ordinance prohibits the use of bottle rockets and limits the size of fireworks that can be used during the holiday.
Mayor Mark Squire said the fireworks residue Flanagan displayed for council members appeared larger than those allowed for use within city limits.
“It (looks) like what you’ve got there, and bottle rockets, that’s stuff that wasn’t bought here in Spring Hill,” Squire said.
However, he admitted the new ordinances allowing the use and sale of fireworks may make it more difficult for police officers to enforce use of larger fireworks and bottle rockets.
“I personally don’t believe it can ever be enforced,” Flanagan said. “That’s my opinion.”
Flanagan didn’t call police about the fireworks until the following morning.
“I’m one of those people who get homesick for my bed at nine o’clock,” he said. “There were flashing lights on both sides of my house. I don’t know what time I was awakened.”
Thirty-year Spring Hill resident Carolyn McGee also spoke to council members about her concerns about the new ordinance.
“This is the first Fourth of July I experienced the noise, the explosions, the smoke,” she said.
She called police about bottle rockets on July 3 and July 5. Police Chief Mitch Hofmann said the department responded to approximately 21 fireworks-related calls during the holiday weekend. Officers did not respond to any injuries. They did respond to a dumpster fire caused by fireworks, however.
“I just can’t believe that our sweet town opened it up to explosions,” McGee said. “The street was filled with smoke. You couldn’t even drive down the street.”
She also expressed concerns about pets’ reactions to the fireworks.
“It’s traumatic for the animals,” she said. “…We had a war zone at Madison (Street) and Poplar (Street).”
Jim Hendershot, city planner, said in the near future a group of city officials will meet to evaluate the Fourth of July ordinance.
“We have received phone calls with concerns and also those that have been very positive as well,” Hendershot said.