Residents complaining about noise, ask city to ban private fireworks

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Neighbors in Monk’s Bay on Whitefish Lake were awoken on a recent Saturday night by the boom of fireworks.

It’s an incident they’d like to have the city put a stop to, as four women told the Whitefish City Council last week.

Marcia Sheffels said she knew the city granted a permit for the display.

“I’m really disappointed that the city would allow the display for the benefit of a few especially on the heals of the fire season we’ve had,” she said.

Sharlot Battin agreed.

“Enough with the fireworks,” she said. “On July 4 on the lake and New Year’s on the mountain for controlled displays are fine [but that should be all.]”

The fireworks over Whitefish Lake on Sept. 15 were shot off from the Lodge at Whitefish Lake as part of a wedding celebration, according to the city. A permit for the fireworks were obtained by separate vendor, according to the lodge, as related to the event.

Brian Averill, with the Lodge, declined to comment.

Mayor John Muhlfeld said he personally spoke with the Averill family, owners of the Lodge, following the incident and relayed neighbors complaints.

“They assured me that this is the last time they will ever approach the city for a fireworks permit,” he said.

Police Chief Bill Dial confirmed that he signed the permit allowing for the fireworks, but he did suggest that the display take place earlier in the evening. The fireworks display reportedly occurred at 9:30 p.m.

“I didn’t want to sign it at all, but the ordinance allows for it,” Dial said.

Following the public comments, Councilor Richard Hildner reiterated his request for Council to hold a work session and likely eventual vote on changing the city’s fireworks ordinance. He said allowing the noise of fireworks in unfair to many citizens, including workers trying to sleep, those with post-traumatic stress disorder and the elderly, in addition to pets that become scared.

“We need to revise the fireworks ordinance,” he said. “I think we need to prohibit fireworks except for the public display that happens on July 4. Kalispell and Columbia Falls have similar ordinances.”

Currently, personal fireworks can be used in Whitefish between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on July 3 and 4 under the current city ordinance. Fines for violating the city ordinance are $300 for the first offense and $500 or imprisonment for subsequent offenses.

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