BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Sparklers and other small novelty fireworks are now legally sold in area stores, including supermarkets _ but as of this week, their use is illegal on all public lands in Bernards Township.

The ban covers the lighting or setting off of such fireworks and sparklers on public roadways, state property, and land owned by Somerset County.

The Bernards Township Committee on Tuesday voted to revise an existing law, which already prohibits the use of explosives and the discharge of firearms on any public property within the township, to also include sparklers and low-level fireworks that are now legal in New Jersey.

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The update to the law was proposed at a Township Committee meeting earlier this month. Township officials said then that police and municipal insurance carriers are in favor of keeping the sparklers and fireworks off public lands, citing concerns about fire and overall safety.

In response to a question, Bernards Township police chief Michael Shimsky said that the law defines public property to include any public roadways and/or right always or any property owned by the township, state or county.

As written now, penalties defined by ordinance for the use of explosives or discharging weapons on public lands include a possible fine of a minimum of $100, with a maximum fine of $2,000, imprisonment for up to 90 days, community service of up to 90 days, or a combination of the penalties.

The public hearing for the revision of the law was held before the 3-0 vote to approve at the July 10 meeting. There were no comments from the public.