RUMFORD — Residents of Rumford voted 19-11 against placing a six-month moratorium on fireworks at a special town meeting Thursday night.
Several residents, many who were against the moratorium, defended their right to use fireworks, as long as they used them responsibly and didn't ignite them off after 10 p.m. Many opponents of the moratorium suggested ways the town could reach a solution that would benefit both those against a six-month fireworks ban and those for it.
Resident Judy Lee Whittemore suggested that the town require those who wish to use fireworks to acquire a permit before using them.
"The permit could ask the person when and where the fireworks would be used, who would be in charge of using them," Whittemore said. She also suggested that the permit require people to have a garden hose ready in case of a fire.
Resident Candice Casey was a proponent of the moratorium, explaining that she originally "anticipated that people would use fireworks responsibly," but instead experienced "night after night of firecrackers being thrown out of (her apartment building's) second story window at 2, 3, 4 in the morning."
Casey also told the selectmen and the audience about how a group of teenagers once threw a firecracker between her and her service dog on a public sidewalk.
"The police department is overwhelmed by the complaints day and night," Casey said. "We need to get this under control so we can all enjoy fireworks."
Another resident, Charles Riggs, said he was frustrated at the prospect of the moratorium and said it felt like the town was taking away his rights because other residents were not using fireworks responsibly.
"Some of us shouldn't hold a sparkler, let alone fireworks," Riggs said. "Why should I be penalized for a few people who can't follow the rules?"
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy later added that while she's "not against fireworks," she has "a lot of empathy for those who want a good night's sleep" and believes the police department is wasting its time and efforts in dealing with the constant complaints.
"I need my police officers where they need to be, not wasting time with fireworks," Lovejoy said.
Before the vote was tallied, Selectman Greg Buccina told the residents in attendance that despite the outcome, people could still come up with and suggest different ways for the town of Rumford to deal with fireworks in a way that would keep both sides happy.