Bettendorf advanced a plan to place a temporary ban on permanent fireworks-selling buildings downtown.
On Tuesday, the city council advanced a plan to its Planning and Zoning Commission to place a 120-day moratorium on such buildings.
Bettendorf’s City Attorney Chris Curran told council members the moratorium would give staff and council members time to parse through Iowa’s fireworks laws and determine if the city can make an amendment to its downtown district ordinance to ban permanent fireworks-sale buildings downtown.
In 2017, Iowa legalized the sale of consumer fireworks, and Curran said that led to initial confusion on what a city could do to regulate fireworks sales.
The city’s Downtown Master Plan Overlay District municipal ordinance didn’t address fireworks sales because of uncertainty surrounding the new fireworks law, Curran told council members.
“At this point it seems clear that one of the areas the city has leeway in regulating the sale of fireworks is through zoning,” Curran told council members Tuesday.
There are some banned business types under the ordinance governing what the downtown overlay district can look like, as well as rules for what landscaping and outdoor structures look like to make a more uniform downtown.
Under the downtown master plan ordinance, prohibited businesses include: tobacco, vape and/or CBD shops, tattoo and piercing parlors, storage units, automotive sales, automotive services and body repair, pawn shops, title loan or “quick cash” operations, storage and staging yards or service vehicle parking and adult entertainment venues.
The overlay district has been in place in some form since about 2002, said Bettendorf Community Development Director Mark Hunt
The planning and zoning commission would issue a recommendation on the moratorium at its meeting Wednesday, Curran said, and the council would then have to reconsider it based on the seven-member commission’s recommendation.
If the council wants to make the moratorium permanent and city staff determine it to be lawful, Curran said the council would have to take it to the planning and zoning commission, then to the council for three readings.
“This (moratorium) would allow council and staff to review, and allow council ultimately to determine whether an amendment would be made,” Curran said.