PARIS — While selectmen look into creating an ordinance regulating the sale and use of fireworks in town, the area's first fireworks store will likely be up and running by Memorial Day.
Catherine Richards of Oxford is securing state permits to open her business, Havoc Fireworks, on Route 26 near Doe's gas station. The Planning Board has approved her business application and renovation work has begun on the building.
Richards said she's been thinking about starting the business since the Legislature legalized fireworks last year. She said a friend in New Hampshire is a wholesaler at Aah Fireworks. “I had a pretty close resource to use him as my wholesaler,” Richards said. Having a friend in the business was the deciding factor.
“Where I didn't have to jump over that hurdle, it kind of gave me initiative to do this,” she said.
When the law went into effect this year, Richards got to work, securing a space and starting a long permitting process.
“I'm hoping (to open) mid- to the end of May,” Richards said Tuesday. “It all depends on the state inspection and how well that goes.” She said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has already interviewed her and granted her federal permits.
The state has requirements for exit doors, evacuation plans, sprinklers and distance from other buildings. Fireworks businesses must have a $5,000 state permit, with an annual renewal fee of $1,500. Richards said she's about 350 feet from Doe's gas station. The state minimum distance for buildings where gas or fuel is sold is 300 feet.
Last week, investigator Richard A. Shepard from the State Fire Marshal's Office spoke to Norway and Paris residents on the new consumer fireworks law. He went over which fireworks are legal and illegal and restrictions on fireworks use.
People under 21 can't use or buy fireworks. They must be ignited on one's own property, or on property where the landowner has granted permission.
Richards said she's received a positive response from the town and from fire Chief Brad Frost. Towns can opt to further regulate the sale and use of fireworks in their communities. Portland has banned them outright.
In December, Frost told Paris selectmen that he'd like to see a permitting system, similar to fire permits, so the department could block fireworks use on especially dry days where sparks could start a forest fire. He said illegal fireworks have started woods fires in recent years.
The Board of Selectmen will hold a workshop after its regular meeting Monday to discuss whether to institute a fireworks ordinance in town. The board plans to end its regular meeting at 9 p.m. Monday for the workshop.