RICHMOND — Residents have rejected the state building code and shot down a proposal to regulate when and where fireworks may be used.

The decisions came Tuesday night during the annual Town Meeting. Rejection of a proposal to adopt the Maine Uniform Building Code essentially leaves the town with no building code to be met by builders, although Code Enforcement Officer Ryan Chandler said construction projects still will require a permit from the town.

“The only option we have is to adopt this state code or have no code,” Town Manager Marian Anderson said shortly before the vote late Tuesday night.

Voters went with the “no code” option, rejecting an ordinance that would have adopted the state building code as the town’s.

The new state code took effect in 2010. It initially required municipalities with populations of more than 2,000 to adopt the new regulations. However, the law was amended, and municipalities with fewer than 4,000 residents are not required to adopt the new code. Richmond’s population, according to U.S. Census data, is about 3,400.

Many residents said the new code is unnecessary and would increase building and remodeling costs on projects large and small.

“This is not required for a town of this size,” resident Paul Adams said. “It increases building costs, due to these regulations. Why would you want to increase someone’s cost just because you don’t understand building codes? Why would we do something the state is forcing us to do? We’re forced by Augusta, already, to do things we shouldn’t have to do.”

Voters also rejected a new fireworks ordinance that would regulate, but not ban, the use of consumer fireworks. State law now allows the use and purchase of consumer fireworks unless a community approves its own restrictions or bans.

The proposed ordinance would have banned the use of fireworks in the village district and the portion of the commercial-industrial district that abuts the village district. It would have allowed fireworks to be used in every other zoning district in town, though users would have been required to get a permit.

Voters also said no to a proposal to use $37,000 from the Town Properties Reserve account to expand the meeting room of the Town Office, which consists of 374 square feet. If voters had approved, another 450 square feet would have been added to it.

Anderson said the meeting space gets crowded with just five or six people attending selectmen’s and other meetings.

Resident Michail Grizkewitsch Sr. said the Town Office was just renovated in recent years. He spoke against adding new space now.

Following contentious debate, voters approved $22,300 in funding, as recommended by selectmen, for the summer recreation program.

Jane Alexander, a member of the Budget Committee, said about 90 children participated in the program last summer.

“Last year we had 90 kids, for the town’s $22,000,” Alexander said.

“That sounds kind of steep to me. I’m sure it’s a good program, but there comes a time you have to look at what the town can afford. I agree we need to take care of people in town, and that includes children and seniors.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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