WINSLOW — An ordinance to limit fireworks use in town was tabled by the Town Council last night after councilors agreed there were too many unaddressed questions to move forward.

The proposal under consideration Monday would allow fireworks from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Winslow High School graduation day, July 3 and the Fourth of July.

The original fireworks ordinance proposal, presented by a safety committee in July, called for them to be banned except 12 holidays.

The council considered the less restrictive proposed ordinance for about an hour before tabling it, 5-2.

The proposal would also limit the use of aerial fireworks to lots that are larger than 1.5 acres and more than 100 feet from any structure, including sheds and other outbuildings.

Police Chief Jeffrey Fenlason said the police department has received far fewer calls complaining about fireworks since Fourth of July and he is comfortable with adding days they’re allowed, but it would be difficult to enforce some of the proposed space restrictions. Police could easily measure 100 feet from structures, but it would difficult for officers to enforce the acreage limits.

Councilor Ken Fletcher said the definition of structure was too loosely defined in the proposal, because the town’s definition for structure includes things like fences and swimming pools.

Councilor Cathy Nadeau said the safety committee that drafted the proposal anticipated questions and amendments from the council, but hoped the ordinance would be voted on rather than wait another month.

Consumer fireworks became legal in Maine on Jan. 1, but municipalities can set their own rules to regulate sales and use. Neighboring Waterville enacted an outright ban in June.

Earlier in the discussion, Councilor Ray Caron said the revised ordinance means thare are more than 100 days when fireworks could be used in town.

He said every Friday and Saturday is excessive.

But Nadeau said the ordinance was a comromise. “Everybody can have some peace and everybody can have some fun,” she said.

Resident Don Eskelund, a hay farmer on Heywood Road, said the proposed distance restrictions don’t go far enough, considering his livelihood is highly flammable.

“One hundred feet is too close to a field with round bales,” Eskelund said. He said his hay bales are tinder dry “and we make it tinder dry to keep them from spoiling.”

Eskelund said his neighbors use fireworks often and it bothers his livestock. “Have you ever seen 45 cows running full blast across the field?” he said.

Later in the meeting, the council voted unanimously to authorize $68,000 in additional spending for renovations to the town office, but it’s unclear if the money will be needed.

At issue is whether a fire-suppression system will be needed for the entire town office now that a major expansion of the police department has begun. Town Manager Michael Heavener said the decision will be made by the state fire marshal’s office.

The project was authorized in May, but councilors assumed any new sprinkler system would be confined to the new addition.

On Aug. 3, the fire marshal’s office halted construction, because the town hadn’t sought a building permit. It is unknown when construction will resume.

 

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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