Discussion concerning new state laws that permit the sale and use of fireworks unless restricted or prohibited by local ordinance.
ACTION: No action is anticipated.
A new state law â€śAn Act To Legalize the Sale, Possession and Use of Fireworksâ€ť was signed on July 1, 2011. This law will allow the sale and use of fireworks in any Maine community unless it is prohibited or restricted by local ordinance. Chiefs Rice and Tolan have expressed some public safety concerns to the Town Manager.
At the Town Council meeting on September 12, the Town Manager will offer guidance with regard to how he would like the Council to move forward with the development of an ordinance which would restict (not necessarily prohibit) the sale and use of fireworks in Falmouth. If the Town Council chooses to prohibit the sale and use of fireworks, the development of an ordinance should be a quick process based on specific provisions in the law.
The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2012. If the Town Council agrees to adopt an ordinance, the process must begin with the September 26 meeting and move forward at a rapid pace. The full text of the law, along with an article published in the MMA's August-September 2011 edition of the Maine Townsman, is attached.
If the Town Council has interest in allowing fireworks, these are some of the recommendations from the Town Manager based on his review of this matter and input from the Fire and Police Chiefs:
A. An ordinance should consider a restriction on use that would include the following:
1. Require permits similar to "burn permits"
2. Limit use to only certain days of the year such as January 1, July 3, July 4 and other celebrations recognized as significant holidays or events.
3. Limit use to certain hours of the day similar to state law (9:00 AM to 10:00 PM, except certain holidays
when the hours of use could be expanded).
4. Limit use to days when fire danger is low, similar to "burn permit" regulations.
5. Limit use to avoid fire danger on applicant property and abutting property. We are researching other ordinances in other states to learn more about standards that could be applicable in Falmouth.
B. An ordinance should consider a restriction on the sale of fireworks that would include the following:
1. Only allowed in land use zones that allow retail sales.
2. Only allow sales at locations that sell other retail products unrelated to fireworks. If specialty stores are allowed, we need to make provisions for fire and public safety.