LAYTON -- Releasing Chinese lanterns into the night sky and cavorting at local pool halls are now illegal activities in this community, as a result of some recent revisions in city code and an effort to bring local ordinances up to date.
City leaders approved 20 pages of changes to Title 9 of the city code at a recent meeting, including new restrictions on the lanterns as well as numerous changes taking old language and explanations off city books. City Attorney Gary Crane said Title 9 is the criminal section of city ordinances, and he described the effort as cleanup work. Much of the city code includes extensive sections of state code where criminal activities have been addressed.
The focus on Chinese lanterns comes amid growing discussion of the dangers of releasing burning objects into the sky. Chinese lanterns released for the wedding rehearsal dinner of former BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette in June 2012, in the greater Denver area, led to calls about UFOs and started a fire in a tree.
Fire Chief Kevin Ward called the lanterns "flaming litter" and said they should never be released within 5 miles of any airport facility or in any windy conditions.
"We feel with the proximity to Hill Air Force Base, it is a concern. We just think there's some potential for damage to aircraft," Ward said.
Ward said the lanterns normally reach an altitude of 1,000 feet and can do damage when they land.
"If a bird can take down a jet into the Hudson (River), a lantern can't do anything good to aircraft," Ward said.
The ban on Chinese lanterns is part of the changes in code dealing with fireworks. The newly revised code includes new hours for when fireworks can be used in the city, adopting language that was in place until last year, when the Legislature changed the time frames for fireworks, before opting for the old guidelines again this session.
Some of the changes to old code, including pool halls, brought some laughs and smiles among council members during a work session in which Crane spent some time on the rewritten provisions, ranging from descriptions of places of prostitution as bawdy to rules restricting the hours people could operate pinball machines.
The new code also includes some small quirks on things like impersonating an officer and a provision requiring anyone bow hunting within city limits do so off a raised platform.