Nicole Liberty of Winslow casts her ballot Tuesday while holding her granddaughter, Adalynn Labrie, 1, of Fairfield, at the VFW hall in Winslow. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — Voters on Tuesday rejected an effort to forbid the use of fireworks in town.

Unofficial results show that 2,410 ballots were cast rejecting a measure calling for the prohibition of fireworks, according to Town Clerk Lisa Gilliam. There were 1,430 residents who voted in support of the measure, which asked whether residents would ban the use of pyrotechnics in Winslow but not the sale.

Even having the measure on the ballot may have been a surprise to some, as the town for 25 years was known in the region for its booming Fourth of July display. But in 2017, after repeated concerns by town officials and others about the cost of the event, organizers decided to leave Winslow and move the show to Clinton.

The Maine Legislature in 2012 lifted a 63-year ban on the sale and use of consumer fireworks. After that ban was lifted, it was left to towns and cities to decide if they wanted to regulate pyrotechnics.

Many towns in Maine have prohibited the use and sale of fireworks since then. Those towns include Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Camden, Damariscotta, Randolph, Topsham and Waterville, according to the Office of State Fire Marshal. Other towns in the region have restrictions on certain types of fireworks. They include Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Lewiston, Monmouth and Oakland.

Tuesday’s vote likely disappointed the Winslow residents who complained that loud fireworks disturb their sleep, upset animals at home and in the wild, and could cause stress and anxiety to people with post-traumatic stress disorder.


Councilor Peter Drapeau earlier this year brought up the issue of fireworks at a Town Council meeting, citing complaints about frequent, noisy displays bothering people year-round. After some discussion at an August meeting, the council decided that the issue would be best settled by residents, and moved to put the question on Tuesday’s ballot.

Had the ban passed, nearly all fireworks would have been prohibited for personal use unless a state permit was obtained. A draft of the proposal defined fireworks as anything “producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration or detonation,” including firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets and “other fireworks of like construction.” Some sparklers would have still been allowed.

Violators would have faced a $250 fine for a first offense and $500 for violations beyond that.

The question caused one business, Pyro City in Winslow, to say that it may be forced to close if the ordinance were to pass.

Vern Carlow, the store’s manager, said in September that it didn’t matter that the question only sought to ban the use of fireworks and not the sale.

Carlow said that over the last decade there were three other Pyro City stores in Maine where the town law was changed to permit the sale but not the use of fireworks, he said. Two locations, in Ellsworth and Windham, eventually closed and the third one in Edgecomb is now only open seasonally, he said.

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