WINSLOW — A proposed fireworks store is nearing liftoff.

If everything goes as planned, Hallowell-based Pryo City Maine will open for business in April, said company president Steve Marson. On Monday, Marson filed a permit application to rework the former site of Ken’s Restaurant at 173 China Road into a consumer fireworks retail store.

Marson said his first store will open in early March at leased space at 703 Western Ave. in Manchester. Code Enforcement Officer Frank Stankevitz said final approval of the Winslow application is contingent on Marson providing the town with renovation plans, including plans for a state-mandated sprinkler system. Beyond those requirements, Stankevitz said he doesn’t foresee any problems with Marson’s plan for the 5,500-square-foot store.

Marson is owner of Central Maine Pyrotechnics in Hallowell, a 25-year-old company that provides public fireworks displays for towns all over northern New England. Last year, Marson announced his intention to open six retail stores throughout northern Maine in the wake of a new law legalizing consumer fireworks within the state. The law took effect Jan. 1.

Marson said potential sites for other stores are Brewer, Edgecomb, Presque Isle and Turner. The Winslow location requires $40,000 to $50,000 in startup costs, plus the cost of the lease-purchase agreement, which Marson said is still under negotiation. He said he also decided recently against pursuing a store in Skowhegan.

He estimates it will take a month to transform the interior into a retail space. Outside, Marson will need to improve plumbing capacity to the building in order to comply with state regulations.

“From the street to the building, we need to put in a 6-inch water line for the sprinkler system,” he said.

That project alone will cost $28,000, he said.

Once that work is done, the state fire marshal will need to inspect the building before the store can open. Marson said he’s not worried about investing money prior to final approval from the state.

“We’ll do everything the federal standards and state standards call for and there will be nothing for them to deny it on,” he said.

The store will employ two full-time workers and two or three seasonal ones, Marson said. He anticipates yearly sales to range between $400,000 and $700,000.

Marson said navigating the state’s restrictions and codes has been challenging, but he’s excited that the stores are taking shape.

“We’re going forward now. Finally,” he said.

Although the state has legalized the sale, possession and use of consumer fireworks, municipalities have the right to opt out of the law. Late last year, the Winslow Town Council approved the first reading of a 180-day moratorium on the sale of consumer fireworks; but on Jan. 9, the council rejected the moratorium proposal, 4-3.

Councilors Paul Manson, Steve Russell, Kenneth Fletcher and Jerry Quirion voted against the moratorium, while Catherine Nadeau, Raymond Caron and Gerald Saint Amand voted in favor.

The vote followed a brief public hearing on the issue, during which one person, Marson, spoke.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

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