OLD TOWN – After discussing fireworks restrictions for the seventh or eighth time in about as year, city councilors agreed to have city staff work up an ordinance for their purview.
With occasional complaints about the frequency, time and proximity to other homes that some people have been using fireworks, councilors have brought up at the issue time and again, only to never reach resolution. At a recent meeting they discussed time and distance restrictions, and those issues were raised again at a workshop last week. But once more, no agreement was reached.
Councilors had discussed minimum lot size as a possible piece of any fireworks ordinance, but it was pointed out that in effect would ban fireworks in a large chunk of Old Town, including all of French Island and much of Marsh Island. Councilor Stan Peterson didn’t necessarily think that was a bad idea, saying public safety should be the first priority.
Councilors also wondered at what distance fireworks should be allowed from neighbors, and they debated setting using both how far fireworks are shot off from a property line and a home. There seemed to be consensus that the distance from a home would be easier to determine.
Hours once again came up during the discussion of a possible ordinance, which is being crafted on one already in place in Holden. There was talk of setting the hours at an hour after sunset; others favored a bit later, but no later than 9 p.m. At any time of the year.
With no clear consensus on an ordinance, Fire Chief Steve O’Malley suggested that he and other town staff, including City Manager Bill Mayo and Police Chief Don O’Halloran, craft a document, which could be reviewed in bits and pieces at upcoming meetings. O’Halloran said the current time of year is less of a problem with fireworks than warm weather months.
Any ordinance could be difficult to enforce, said O’Halloran, who said that people often will shoot off the fireworks, then be nowhere to be found when police arrive a short time later. He said an easier way of dealing with noisy revelers may be through disorderly conduct charges. City Attorney Eric Stumpfel, on the other hand, felt that most people would respect an ordinance if it was in place.
“If you told most people they have to be 50 feet away (from another home to use fireworks), they’ll stay 50 feet away,” said Stumpfel.

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