SKOWHEGAN — Emotions about a proposed fireworks ordinance Tuesday night at a special town meeting covered both ends of the debate, from banning use of them altogether to allowing them with few, if any, restrictions.

The fireworks ordinance would have allowed the sale and use of most consumer fireworks outside the downtown area, with permits from the Fire Department. The proposal was defeated, 29-18.

Skowhegan Town Manager John Doucette Jr. on Wednesday said he will bring the matter back to selectmen during their next meeting, on Feb. 28. He said a possible referendum at the annual Town Meeting in June could set the course for fireworks use.

The referendum would ask voters what they want to do — ban them, allow them with an ordinance, or use the open state model for use and sales of fireworks. Results of that vote could lead to another, final vote, based on what residents want, Doucette said.

A new state law allows the sale and use of fireworks throughout Maine, but it’s up to communities to decide whether they want to regulate them further.

With no ordinance in place, anyone can shoot off legal fireworks anywhere in Skowhegan, even downtown.

Selectman Newell Graf suggested during the meeting that voters approve the ordinance to put some restrictions in place and revisit the idea at the annual Town Meeting. Voters disagreed.

Others, including Planning Board Chairman Donald Skillings, said the proposed ordinance was too restrictive and that permits should not be needed outside of the downtown area. He urged a “no” vote.

In other voting Tuesday night, residents agreed to accept a $400,000 Communities for Maine Future bond grant as part of the revitalization of the downtown. The state Department of Economic and Community Development already had awarded the money to the town to improve the municipal parking area, but voter approval was necessary to accept the grant.

Residents also approved a new road ordinance to establish specifications for the design and construction of public and private roads and entrances. The ordinance spells out rules for line-of-sight distances, permitting, design and construction standards for all road improvements and construction.

Skowhegan voters also agreed to amend the town’s Planning Board ordinance, adopted in 1991. The changes say the board chairman must call at least one regular meeting each month. Special meetings may be called at the discretion of the chairman or the full board, based on its bylaws; and no meetings can be held without a quorum of four of the seven members present.

Voters also agreed to amend the bylaws of the town’s Budget and Finance Committee. The committee will be comprised of 11 members who are appointed by the Board of Selectmen. Members will serve three-year terms and meet quarterly in open session.

Any member missing more than two consecutive meetings without notifying the committee chairman or the town manager will be terminated automatically.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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