Council unanimous on Auburn fireworks ban

AUBURN — Councilors had no problem making a citywide ban on fireworks official Monday night.

They voted 6-0 on second reading to accept the ban, despite the urging of one resident who said he'd like to open a fireworks stand.

"Fireworks are used to celebrate freedom, so please allow us to celebrate our freedom that our Legislature has bestowed upon us and open the door for a potential retail establishment," Adam Smith of Garfield Road said.

A new state law, scheduled to take effect in January, legalizes the sale and possession of commercial fireworks by private citizens. It does let cities and towns adopt their own limitations, however.

The Auburn ordinance bans the sale and use of fireworks within the city limits. A similar ban in Lewiston failed last month.

Smith told councilors that fireworks had gotten better and been made safer since he was a child growing up. He remembered shooting fireworks off as a kid.

"And I rode a bike without a helmet, I played games like lawn darts and I survived all of that," he said.

Smith asked councilors to adopt a zoned approach, allowing fireworks use and sale in some parts of the city.

But former Auburn Fire Department inspector Gary Simard, of 157 Cook St., said the council's ban was a good thing. He listed several fires or emergencies he covered in his time as an Auburn firefighter, many involving children.

"Given my experiences, I highly favor a change like this," Simard said.

Councilors approved the fireworks prohibition on first reading at their Nov. 29 meeting by a vote of 5-1, with Ward 4 councilor David Young voting against it and Ward 1 Councilor Mike Farrell absent from the meeting.

Farrell, an opponent of fireworks regulations when it was first discussed during a council workshop meeting, didn't attend Monday's meeting.

Young said he changed his vote Monday because he heard from a few of his constituents and most supported the ban.

"Besides, it is something I would like to revisit at a later date," Young said. "If I'm on the prevailing side of the vote, that means I can be the one to bring it up again and I thought that was an option worth preserving."

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 's picture

i too live in auburn

and was looking foward to having my own fireworks celebration on the 4th this year. seems the council feels the need to nanny us. of course the fire marshall is aginst fire works, his word out weighs the desires of the people? heaven forbid we might get a few jobs out of selling fireworks in town.

Dan Beggs's picture

no respect for the will of the people

this shows the ruling class is out of touch with the common man. while they rule over the lowly peasants and tell them these laws are only for others, you are still under our control. fireworks are legal,however the auburn overseers think we are all too dumb to use them.

 's picture

Come to a council meeting and be heard

I was/am an Auburn Councilor at Large and would have loved to hear from you prior to last nights vote. I did hear from a number of residents who were happy with the proposed ban.

The fire chief made persuasive arguments that we should ban fireworks in our more built up neighborhoods due to the high density of residents, age and condition of those areas. He proposed setting a "zone" for fireworks. This would have resulted in two classes of Auburn citizens, those who had the right to use fireworks and those who didn't. This would have been unworkable for the police and just doesn't seem fair.

Two residents did come forward last night and argue for allowing the use of fireworks. They were passionate and made some good points. Then a state/regional fire investigator who lives in town countered with some equally good points. It was not an easy decision.

This is an area that can certainly be revisited.

If, as you state, the will of the people were to have fireworks, those folks should have made their views known. We had a workshop and two readings of the ordinance where public input was welcome. Plus, our email and phone numbers are listed on the city's website. Each citizen in Auburn has three councilors that represent them. Talk with all three that represent you and get your voice heard. Please.

 's picture

no communication

never heard this was even being concidered, how would we know to advocate for a law that was just changed by the state.

 's picture

ways to communicate with Auburn City Hall

There has been an email list any citizen can get on that will automatically send him/her the agenda of upcoming city council workshops and meetings. Please contact city hall to get on that list. The city website has a link that will allow you to get on this list as well.

I will agree that city hall has not always done a great job at getting the word out about upcoming items, but there is a system in place now that seems to be working pretty well. I would encourage everyone to get on that list.

The LSJ has run a couple stories about the fireworks ban. There were opportunites for all to speak. There are still opportunities for all to speak. Just because it was banned doesn't mean it can't come back for reconsideration.

In talking with other councilors, it was generally agreed that the number of people in favor of a ban was far higher than the number of people against a ban. Some, of course, favored a "zone" arrangement as originally proposed by Fire Chief Low. Again, that was considered unworkable and therefore dropped as an option.

Please call or email your councilors, especially your new councilors being inaugurated this month to voice your opinion. The city will work best when more people are involved.


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