WINTHROP — Consumer fireworks will soon be legal in town in the coming year after the Town Council did not reopen debate on a possible ban on Monday.

A new state law, effective Jan. 1, permits the sale and use of consumer fireworks throughout the state unless otherwise prohibited or restricted by municipalities.

The council tabled discussion on the matter in August and agreed not to reopen it with a 4-3 vote Monday — effectively voting to accept the new state law as written.

Sarah Fuller, Kevin Cookson and Priscilla Jenkins voted in favor of the motion to reopen discussion on the possible ban. James Lattin, David Rheaume, Linda Caprara and Ken Buck voted against.

According to Cookson, Monday night’s vote means that a motion to prohibit or restrict fireworks in Winthrop is dead for the next year.

“Winthrop will live — for lack of a better word — with the state law starting Jan. 1,” he said.

Vice chairman Rheaume pointed to the new law’s prohibition on selling to persons under 21, as well as rules governing the storage and handling of fireworks.

“We felt that state law is quite restrictive as it was,” he said, speaking for the four councilors who voted against reopening debate.

On Monday night, councilors also heard town manager Jeff Woolston describe a draft proposal to enact new fees as well as raise existing fees for a number of town services.

A two-year sticker for solid waste disposal at the transfer station, for example, would double under the proposal, from $5 to $10. New fees for fire inspection of homes, apartments and businesses would be imposed.

Fire Chief Dan Brooks argued that although the state conducts annual inspections of low-income housing, it does not guarantee that the buildings meet code requirements.

“I can take you into about 15 properties, and they do not meet state fire code,” he said. “Most of our actual fires that we put out are in apartment buildings.”

The council agreed to take up the question of fee increases at future meetings on a department-by-department basis. Under the town’s charter, many of the new and increased fees will require a public hearing as well as an ordinance change.

In other business, the council:

* voted 7-0 to accept a $72,000 grant from the Communities for Maine’s Future for repairs to the roof of the Charles M. Bailey library;

* heard that a fundraising committee has been formed and a grant writer hired as part of plans to build a $1.3 million addition to the library;

* voted 7-0 to accept the Kennebec County Revised Hazard Mitigation Plan; and

* acted to resolve outstanding complaints from attendees about hearing difficulties at town meetings through the purchase of three additional microphones.


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