SKOWHEGAN — A closely split referendum vote in 2012 on the use and sale of fireworks in Skowhegan now has town officials revisiting the question to bring it back to voters. Skowhegan selectmen voted 5-0 Tuesday night to put the sales question on the warrant as an article for Town Meeting in June.

The ballot vote in 2012 allowed the use of fireworks in Skowhegan but banned the sales. According to Town Manager Christine Almand, 60 percent of voters in 2012 were not in favor of a complete ban on sales, but because the question was split into three parts, the question to ban sales carried the day.

“Because it was split into three options, the ban prevailed,” Almand said Tuesday before the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen. “The options were to ban it, which was 40 percent; or to allow the sale, but to give it some restrictions, which was 22 percent of the vote; or to allow the sale with no restrictions following the state guidelines, which was 38 percent.”

Almand said the people who wanted to allow the sales with some restrictions combined with those who wanted to allow it without restrictions came to 60 percent of the total votes cast.

According to a memo to selectmen from the Skowhegan Planning Board, there is also a financial consideration when it comes to the sale of fireworks. The Planning Board voted unanimously in October to request that selectmen place an article on the Town Meeting warrant in June 2018 to repeal the ban on sales of fireworks, which they did Tuesday night.

The memo, from Joel Greenwood, of the town’s Planning Office, said the Planning Board thinks that the ban on fireworks sales serves little purpose in improving the health, safety and welfare of Skowhegan residents. Fireworks can be purchased in another town and can be shot off in Skowhegan with no penalty.

Skowhegan does not get any economic or financial benefit from the sale of fireworks from outside of town and currently prevents any business in town from cashing in on the popularity of fireworks, they said.

The Legislature permitted the sale and use of consumer fireworks — not commercial grade used by licensed companies — in January 2012, ending a 63-year statewide ban; but it was up to communities to decide whether they wanted to regulate them further.

Since 2012, 49 towns have prohibited the use of fireworks outright, according to the state fire marshal’s office. At least 54 other towns permit fireworks by residents with certain restrictions. Maine law does not allow anyone under 21 to buy, sell, possess or use fireworks. Legal fireworks include those certified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, such as certain firecrackers, morning glories, Roman candles and flaming fountains.

Fireworks banned under federal law:

• M-80s;

• Cherry bombs;

• Any firecrackers containing more than 50 milligrams, or about 1/16th of the weight of a typical aspirin tablet, of powder;

• Large, reloadable shells;

• Aerial bombs;

• Mail-order kits for building fireworks.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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