HALLOWELL — The City Council on Monday will take up a pair of issues that several other communities have been debating: fireworks and natural gas.

Public hearings are scheduled for residents to offer feedback on a proposed tax break for a natural gas pipeline and a draft ordinance regulating the use of fireworks in the city. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Hallowell is one of a dozen central Maine communities considering a tax increment financing deal with Kennebec Valley Gas Co. to help the company build a natural gas pipeline from Richmond to Madison.

Hallowell’s tax deal would reimburse Kennebec Valley Gas about $800,000 in property tax payments over 15 years, according to city officials.

The agreement would shelter the taxable value of the pipeline for 30 years, reducing the amount Hallowell would owe for education, county taxes and state revenue-sharing by $1.3 million during that period.

Kennebec Valley Gas proposes building a distribution line — to which local property owners could also connect — along Water Street, as well as a main line along roads to the west of Interstate 95. The value of the construction in Hallowell is projected at $4.8 million.

City Manager Michael Starn said the pipeline would be good for Hallowell’s residents and businesses.

“I think energy competitiveness is something that many communities need for economic competitiveness,” Starn said. “I think that if we put natural gas in here, you’ll see oil prices come down pretty quick.”

The City Council is scheduled to vote on a first reading of the tax increment financing agreement following the public hearing. Three readings are required for final approval.

Councilors also will vote on a first reading for an ordinance that limits the use of consumer fireworks in the city. The ordinance, written by Fire Chief Mike Grant and the city’s Protection Committee, is modeled after the open-burning ordinance. A free permit from the Fire Department is required, and fireworks are banned in the downtown area.

Fireworks use would also be banned within 300 feet of “any combustible structure,” according to the ordinance proposal.

“That pretty much means everybody on the river side of the turnpike, with the exception of some folks on outer Winthrop Street,” Grant said.

The Fire Department will perform a site inspection before issuing a permit. Grant said the ordinance does not apply to the sale or possession of fireworks — just their use.

A new state law that goes into effect Jan. 1 allows the sale and use of consumer fireworks, while enabling municipalities to enact their own bans or regulations.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]


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