Council bans sale, use of fireworks in Lewiston limits

LEWISTON — Councilors opted for an outright ban on fireworks Tuesday night, thanks to some last-minute parliamentary wrangling.

The City Council voted 5-2 to ban the sale and use of all fireworks within city limits, with Councilors John Butler and Larry Poulin dissenting.

A new state law, scheduled to take effect in January, legalizes the sale and possession of fireworks. It allows cities and towns to adopt their own limitations, however.

Butler said he doubted Lewiston's new ordinance would work. He asked police to report back on the number of citations issued by October 2012. Residents will still buy fireworks outside Lewiston and bring them here, he said.

"At least with this information we can see if this ordinance, which you all seem to like so much, actually works," Butler said. "Let's put theory and practice together and see what we get."

Councilors had voted down an identical, outright ban at their Oct. 18 meeting, but lacked enough votes to pass it. With Councilors Renee Bernier and Tina O'Connell not attending that meeting, councilors voted 3-2 in favor of the ban. By charter, councilors need a minimum of four votes to amend a city ordinance.

A section in the city's governing rules, Robert's Rules of Order, does not allow councilors to revote on bans that have failed. On Tuesday, councilors got around that requirement with a 5-2 vote to suspend Robert's Rules for that discussion, and a second 5-2 vote to reconsider the Oct. 18 decision.

Both Butler and Poulin argued against the votes to suspend the rules.

"This council has always acted according to their own rules," Poulin said. "I'd hope that we would continue that."

Councilors also considered a less drastic ban but turned it down. It would have allowed fireworks to be used in the outskirts of the city but not downtown. Fireworks would have been only allowed on three days: Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and July 4. Only professional fireworks displays would be exempt from the new rule.

"I don't see how that change could be beneficial to the city at all," Councilor Ron Jean said. "If we do this, all that's going to happen is we're going to create more problems for ourselves."

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 's picture

Why not put more on the

Why not put more on the shoulders of the Lewiston Police force, I mean what better things do they have to do? I think we should ban cigarettes, candles and Christmas tree lights because they cause fires too. If anything it should have been vote from the citizens, not a vote of government telling us what we can and can not do anymore. Nice example the council members presented though, if the rules don't work for you find a way around them. Wonder how many Lewiston citizens will remember their example come New Years Eve or the 4th of July.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

The ban is smart policy

Fireworks would make city cops' jobs much harder. Guns and many fireworks sound almost identical, which would make for tense times in the city. I like fireworks, but they're dirty (toxic chemicals and paper/plastic litter) and rude when exploded at inappropriate times. Banning them in cities is common frickin' sense.

As I've typed before, I'm sure Dr. Freud had a few thoughts on (mostly) men's need for "explosions."

Dan Beggs's picture

no respect for the will of the people

voting this way shows the lack of respect for the will of the voters. not surprising considering the source remember this on election day when these out of touch pinnicals of power peer down from the ivory tower and ask the lowly minions for their votes

 's picture

Am disgusted with the City Council after reading this.

This is not the way this process is supposed to go. Thank you to Mr. Butler and Mr. Poulin for trying to do the right thing. Hey, why have Robert's Rules at all if you can really do anything you want by suspending them? This is very wrong.

I am not even talking about the fireworks issue - I am disgusted that the City Council so openly disregards the laws that are in place to keep things like this from happening.


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