Changes to Miami ordinances for swimming pools and fireworks were approved by the City Council during its last session and set to take effect immediately.

MIAMI – New guidelines were added to City of Miami ordinance regarding swimming pools and fireworks.

Last amended in 1979, the City’s Swimming Pool Ordinance got an update at the last Miami City Council Meeting mainly to help protect children from accidental drowning.

Kristi McClain said safety concerns and associated dangers have arisen regarding various issues with the increasing affordability and accessibility of pools, both in-ground and above ground.

“In reviewing our ordinance that we have in place, it does not cover situations that come up on a regular basis,” Miami’s City Attorney Ben Loring said. “The problem is, a child could drown in just a couple inches of water and we have people with these temporary pools in their front yard, and their side yards and they’re not fenced in.”

Additionally, undrained pools or rain-filled pools, and collapsed pools are causing hazards with mosquito issues. Mosquitos lay their eggs in stagnant water and can spread diseases such as malaria.

Swimming Pools

The immediately effective updated City of Miami ordinance defines and differentiates permanent outdoor swimming pools, above or in-ground, as 24 inches or greater in water depth. These pools now must be located with the inside wall of the pool at least 10 feet from the nearest property line, be screened by a masonry, metal or wood wall or fence at least six feet high on any side which faces a street in a residential district, and can only be located in the side or backyard.

All other sides of the pool not streetside must also be fenced and enclosed by a chain-linked, masonry or wood wall or fence at least four feet high with no opening more than four inches wide.

All outdoor pools shall be drained, covered or maintained during the offseason.

Prior to the building of any permanent above or in-ground pool a $50 permit must be obtained from the City of Miami and before the initial filling of the pool an inspection of the pool and enclosure must be completed by the city building inspector.

“Pools have gotten really cheap and you can spend just $100 and have a four-foot small pool in your backyard, and we had many cases at the end of the swimming season that people were leaving those pools up with water in them," McClain said.

All temporary outdoor swimming pools, regardless of the depth of the water, used for 120 days or less must be disposed of or drained and removed and stored at the end of the swimming season and must be completely enclosed by a chain-linked, metal, wood or masonry fence at least four feet high with no opening more than four inches wide.

The goal is to get the word out and educate Miami residents of the new ordinance requirements before stricter enforcement is enacted.

“When we introduce something new, we have a grace period the first season, and do a lot of talking to people and reminding them and a lot of telling them and anticipate the next season,” McClain said.

McClain said the new ordinance is meant to protect all and will be retroactively enforced as well.

The newest City Councilman Ryan Orcutt asked what is imposed if residents do not comply.

“We would handle it like all nuisances, “ McClain said.

Fireworks

The City’s Fireworks Ordinance was last amended in 2014 allowing waivers of the application fee for the sale of fireworks within city limits for non-profit and charitable organizations or groups only setting up fireworks stands. Last year only one fee was waived for the Rotary Club, and two other permits were issued.

“The problem has been once it’s done for somebody everybody expects it so we’re taking that out of there,” Loring said.

The newly passed, immediately effective fireworks ordinance calls for a lower $250, non-waivable application fee for governmental entities, not-for-profit organizations, charitable foundations, and student fundraising groups hosted by Miami Public Schools, NEO A&M College, or private primary or secondary education schools located within the City of Miami.

The application fee is $750 for all other applicants.

Revenue from these permit fees goes to the City’s general fund.

Another change allows public fireworks exhibits year round instead of at limited windows of time around holidays such as New Years and the Fourth of July.

“There may be some festival or something or another time of the year where they want fireworks,” Loring said.

Loring said the ordinance gives the Miami Fire Department more regulatory enforcement authority as well.

Sewage

A new ordinance was approved formalizing and imposing enacted fees for the disposal of porta-potty and septic cleanout services waste in the City’s sewer plant facility.

The rate for dumping is 10 cents a gallon with a minimum fee of $50 if the sewage load is less than 500 gallons.

“It’s open to everybody. I’ve caught so many of these guys just opening their valve and driving it down the street, and I want to give them a place to go,” Miami’s Pollution Control Manager Todd Murphree said.

Murphree said all sewage accepted is monitored and sampled.

“So if they dump something industrial and it upsets the plant, we’ll take that sample and send it off and find out what they’ve been dumping on us and we’ll cut them loose and tell them they can’t come anymore,” he said.

“If we don’t do this people might be dumping it in an improper way. This way it’s treated properly, our plant can handle it, we get a little profit from it, but it is a good process to do,” Miami City Manager Dean Kruithof said.

The new statute also specifies what type sewage and wastes are allowable. For instance, unsoluable dyes, radioactive waste, certain medical wastes, detergents, fats or oils of heavy concentrations, toxic waste, noxious waste, industrial sludges are all listed as unacceptable for disposal.

Other business

In other actions, Loring who also currently serves as Oklahoma State Representative for District 7 asked for and received a reduction in salary.

Loring said as his contract provides, he receives a reduced salary during the Oklahoma Legislative session.

“Due to the unusual nature of this past legislative session, there were extensive periods of time where I was not able to perform any of my duties with regards to the City, and so consequently I think it would be fair to reduce my salary for those time periods,” Loring said. “What I’m requesting is that for two pay periods of that reduced salary that just be wiped out.”

The measure was approved, and the Council and Mayor Rudy Schultz thanked Loring.

Schultz also asked for a proactive solution for Loring’s next year’s contract in the event such a situation occurs in future legislative sessions.

Schultz recommended and received approval to replace former City Councilman Neal Johnson with Councilman Brian Forrester to serve as Chairperson of the Miami Recreation and Tourism Convention and Visitors Advisory Board (MRTCVB).

Appointments were also made of Steve Gilbert to the MRTCVB, Jason Blevins and Judee Snodderly to the Miami Development Authority.

Forrester reminded and asked Miami residents and travelers to be aware and cautious when driving as Miami’s school children are now out for summer break.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.