FARMINGTON — Farmington will once again have strict firework restrictions surrounding this year's Fourth of July holiday.
Councilors in Tuesday's meeting voted 3-1 to approve a proclamation stating fireworks may only be shot off on pavement or barren lots near water supplies due to drought conditions.
The council also plans to ask Farmington Municipal Court to issue higher fines for people who use illegal fireworks.
Councilor Mary Fischer voted against the proclamation because she said she does not think it goes far enough.
"It's no surprise that I hate fireworks," she said. "I would like to see them totally banned."
She said fireworks frighten animals, shake houses and break windows.
"I feel like I'm a hostage in my own house," she said.
However, city attorney Jay Burnham said Farmington currently has the highest ban the state permits, and banning fireworks completely is not allowed.
About 30 years ago, the city tried to challenge the statute and ban fireworks, and it lost that battle, Burnham said.
Last year, Bloomfield tried to ban the use and sale of fireworks within city limits and was forced to change the ban to forbid aerial devices and ground audible device fireworks.
"The legal fireworks, in my opinion, don't really pose a threat to us," Farmington Fire Chief Terry Page said.
He said the real problem comes from the use of illegal fireworks, which many people set off in their backyards.
Illegal fireworks carry up to $500 fine and a possible 90 days in jail.
Councilor Dan Darnell suggested the council ask the municipal court to issue the maximum fine for every illegal firework case this year.
Page said the fireworks problem is not unique to Farmington. He said he has spoken to fire departments across the state about the issue.
"Everybody seems to run into the same issue," he said.
Fischer said the major problem is Farmington residents' access to the illegal fireworks. Many fireworks that are illegal in the city are legal elsewhere in San Juan County.
George Bacon, a Sunset Heights resident, told the council that two years ago his French door broke after a neighbor set off an illegal mortar.
"When you tell somebody that you can shoot off bottle rockets, they shoot off mortars," he said.
Bacon urged the council to ban fireworks, despite the state statute.
"You guys, with a stroke of a pen, would be heroes," he said.