Scio Township debates fireworks during COVID-19

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| 2 min read | by Lonnie Huhman, lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com |

In making its decisions, a vote of the seven-person Scio Township Board doesn’t typically end in a tie.

However, it did on May 12 when it came to approving a couple of fireworks permit requests, one from the Loch Alpine Improvement Association and the other from The Blast, LLC.

As with many decisions being contemplated right now by local governing bodies, the current environment of the COVID-19 pandemic played a big part.

But so did technology.

Both fireworks permits were not granted after votes of 3 to 3, failing to get a majority. The meeting was held via Zoom remote and virtual conferencing.

Township treasurer Donna Palmer was unable to participate in most of the meeting due to technical difficulties. Township clerk Jessica Flintoft said without verbal participation Palmer was considered not present.

The township is requiring verbal participation for virtual meetings.

Township board trustee David Read was one of the no votes and said he normally supports this activity, “but this year is different.”

“I am concerned about the ability to maintain the proper distancing at an event like this – especially with the children,” Read said. “I just don’t think it is practical to expect everyone to sustain the proper distancing and because of that there is the potential for the spread of the COVID-19. I think it would be wrong for the township to condone an activity that could very well lead to more folks getting sick.”

On the other side of the debate was township supervisor Jack Knowles, who said he was personally disappointed that the permits failed. 

“The Loch Alpine event has been held for many years, and is something that the residents look forward to,” Knowles said. “I believe the organizers would have insisted on correct social distancing and other needs to comply with whatever Executive Orders may be in place at that time. If they did not, we had the ability to cancel the event.”

He said with The Blast permit, “the applicant was in total control of the event and attendees as it was on private property.” 

“Complying with whatever requirements are in place at the time, would be even easier to accomplish than the Loch Alpine event,” Knowles said of The Blast event.  

The township board discussed both permits at its April 28 meeting, but postponed a decision for further review by the township attorney, for further consideration given the current Executive Orders from the Governor. An addendum to the applications outlining additional terms and conditions had been provided to address the concerns expressed at the April meeting.

Staging its show for years, the Loch Alpine Improvement Association applied to have a firework display on June 27 or the 28th, if there was rain.

The other permit for a display was sought by The Blast, LLC for a public firework display to be held July 3, with a rain date of July 4, at 6620 Ann Arbor-Dexter Road, in Scio Township.

The Blast, LLC, has had fireworks shows over the past few years. 

According to township officials, state law requires that the board of trustees approve/deny permit applications for the public display of fireworks to be held in the township.

In an upcoming meeting, Scio Township is expected to review another fireworks permit request. This time from the Dexter Daze organizers.