A local bill for the Town of Loxahatchee Groves will go before the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation on Thursday, Oct. 28 that would regulate the use of fireworks within the areas of the town zoned agricultural-residential.
The legislative delegation meeting is from 9 a.m. to noon at the Clayton E. Hutcheson Agricultural Services Center Building on Military Trail.
The bill is similar to a bill prohibiting the use of fireworks in Wellington’s equestrian areas that passed in the Florida Legislature earlier this year.
The letter of intent from the town to State Rep. Mike Caruso (R-District 89), chair of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation, states that the Village of Wellington was successful in its effort for a local bill and asks that the Town of Loxahatchee Groves be granted similar privileges.
“The Town of Loxahatchee Groves has a large equestrian industry because of its rural nature, shared borders with the Village of Wellington, and typical large lots of five acres that are included in the agricultural-residential zoned area in Loxahatchee Groves, which is home to many equestrians and equestrian-related goods and services throughout the year, especially during the winter months when the equestrian community expands in population,” the letter states.
The letter continues that the winter season in Loxahatchee Groves has a great deal of equestrian-related activities, similar to that seen in the Village of Wellington.
It is well documented that horses are startled by loud noises and sudden flashing lights and are at particular risk from fireworks, that can cause both stress and harm to the horses and residents, the letter notes.
In anticipation of holidays during the year, town staff receives numerous requests to assist these residents with the protection of their horses and livelihood from fireworks displayed throughout the town. It is very common for horses to gallop, sweat and tremble when spooked by fireworks. This is especially evident on holidays such as New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Independence Day.
In 2007, the legislature directed that local governments may not adopt any ordinance, rule or regulation that interferes with the standards established by state law. The effect of the 2007 legislation is that the Town of Loxahatchee Groves is currently preempted from regulating fireworks within the town.
During 2020, the legislature adopted a statute that provides that the use of fireworks is not prohibited on the designated holidays of New Year’s Day, Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. This exception allows residents to set off fireworks on these three holidays, which allows for the potential harm and safety to the horses and the equestrian industry within the Town of Loxahatchee Groves, according to the request.
The local bill only seeks to create a partial exemption to allow the town to regulate fireworks within its agricultural-residential area for non-agricultural use of fireworks on the three holidays.
“This local bill does not seek to preclude the agricultural exemption for fireworks,” the letter continues. “Loxahatchee Groves does not believe the legislature considered the impact of the legislation on unique equestrian communities such as Loxahatchee Groves and Wellington. Loxahatchee Groves and its equestrian residents have grave concerns about the impact that the unregulated use of fireworks on the designated holidays has on the horses within the agricultural-residential zoned area.”