WINSLOW — The town council Monday narrowly approved a moratorium on the sale of fireworks.

The first reading of the moratorium ordinance was approved 4-3, and was effective immediately. The moratorium will last for 180 days. It does not address the use of fireworks, which become legal on Jan. 1.

The vote followed a public hearing. Town Clerk Pam Smiley said about 20 residents attended. Two people spoke in favor of the moratorium. Four people spoke in opposition.

“It was civil,” Smiley said of the hearing.

Resident Bob Huard spoke in favor of the moratorium. Fireworks are annoying, he said Tuesday.

“My wife and I don’t stick around for Fourth of July weekend. It’s too noisy,” he said. “Now, Fourth of July is going to be 365 days a year.”

Huard also said the housing density in Winslow is too great for the safe use of consumer fireworks.

“There are a lot of houses around here, and they’re all close together,” he said. “If you fire a rocket on your land, do you think it’s going to come back on you? No. The neighbors are going to get it.”

Steven Marson, president of Central Maine Pyrotechnics, attended the hearing. Marson intends to open a fireworks store in Winslow next year. He was not discouraged by Monday’s vote.

“I left very encouraged that basically the board is split,” he said.

Marson said he is confident that once the proposed committee looks into the state regulations that govern the sales of fireworks, their concerns will be appeased.

Councilors Ray Caron, Roland Michaud, Cathy Nadeau and Gerald Saint Amand voted in favor of the moratorium. Ken Fletcher, Paul Manson and Steve Russell voted against it.

Manson said it doesn’t make sense to restrict sales in Winslow, if consumer fireworks can be sold in neighboring communities.

“They’re going to be sold somewhere,” he said. “If the town of Winslow can acquire some revenue due to taxes or fees, or even have a couple people employed, I think it’s a good thing. As long as it’s done safely, as long as the building passes codes and safety inspections.”

Manson said the proposed site of Marson’s store formerly housed Ken’s Restaurant on China Road.

Nadeau said she was surprised by the number of opponents on the council.

“I was amazed by that,” she said. “One of the councilmen said this will bring business. No it won’t. It will bring one or two people.”

Huard said he also doesn’t buy the argument that a fireworks business will have an impact on the bottom line.

“You get tax money in sales, but all that tax money is going to offset by people getting hurt,” he said. “I think the medical bills are going to offset whatever the state is going to make.”

Councilor Cathy Nadeau said a second reading on the ordinance will be voted on in January. Afterward, the council will form a committee to determine the pros and cons of fireworks sales and use within the town.

“It just needs to be researched,” she said.

Across the river in Waterville, there are no plans to restrict fireworks through a municipal ordinance, City Manager Mike Roy said.

“There hasn’t been any interest here expressed by any of the seven councilors about going forward with anything on fireworks,” he said.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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