Livermore Falls fireworks ordinance to remain intact

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LIVERMORE FALLS — The town’s Consumer Fireworks Ordinance will remain the same as when voters approved it on June 11, 2013.

Any change will need to come from a citizens’ petition that contains the names of 110 registered voters, and even then the board does not have to accept it, Town Manager Kristal Flagg said.

After the November election, the number of signatures needed may change, because the requirement is 10 percent of the number of voters in last gubernatorial race.

Selectmen voted 2-2 Tuesday to leave the ordinance the same, which failed because it was a tie but had the same result as if it passed. Chairwoman Louise Chabot and Selectman Jim Collins voted to leave it as is, and Selectmen Laurie Sanborn and Mary Young opposed it. Selectman Ron Chadwick was absent.

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Sanborn and Young contemplated amendments that would further restrict fireworks in the village area but didn’t present one.

Some residents voiced concerns about the closeness of residences in the village area that encompasses the downtown area and its outskirts, along with the noise that disturbs their sleep and frightens their pets.

They wanted more restrictions put on the village area, or better yet, they said, ban fireworks completely.

The issue was brought up this past summer and tabled until a full board was present. It inadvertently hadn’t made it back on the agenda until Tuesday. When Chabot was asked if they wanted to wait until a full board was present, she said she wanted to take care of it.

The state legalized the sale, possession and use of certain fireworks on Jan. 1, 2012. Many towns adopted ordinances to control the use of them.

The Livermore Falls ordinance sets some restrictions on the village area, including that they not be used within 50 feet of any building or within 25 feet of overhead power lines.

The ordinance follows state law for all areas of the town for the time that they may be used. They can be set off between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. The exceptions are that they can be used until 12:30 a.m. on the Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve and the Saturdays and Sundays immediately before and after July 4 and Dec. 31.

“In my opinion, I think the fireworks ordinance should stand the way it is,” Chabot said. It has not been that long since it was approved in June 2013, she said.

There have been a total of seven complaints centering around the week before July 4 and the week after, Town Manager Kristal Flagg said. There have been no complaints since July.

On one complaint, police went out and measured the distance, and the person was within ordinance requirements, police Chief Ernest Steward Jr. previously said.

“I know we haven’t had that many calls,” Young said. But she wondered if people don’t want to bother police or that they don’t know from where the fireworks were set off.

There are a number of animals within the village area, she said.

“There is no great time to have fireworks with the animals in the area,” Young said.

Chabot said she lives in the country and she and her pet do not like fireworks either, but it is the people’s right to set them off.

There are also farm animals in the country, Flagg said.

Resident Melissa Crocker, who is also a Planning Board member, asked if it was possible to change the amount of feet the fireworks can be set off from a building or property.

“The problem is the citizens approved that ordinance a year ago,” Chabot said.

It is beyond animal concerns, there are safety concerns because the houses are so close, Young said.

A lot can happen, including that fireworks could tip over, she said.

Flagg said the Planning Board worked hard on the ordinance to create a balance of restriction and not infringing on people’s rights. A lot of people showed up to vote just because of the provisions for the village area, she said.

Bringing it back to voters means it could be defeated. “If you abolish it, you will follow the state rules and you will have no restrictions,” Flagg said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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