October 28, 2016

Windham Council approves fireworks ordinance - By Stephen Signor

Three days ago Town Council members approved the motion to establish an ordinance to limit the use of consumer fireworks. As this was also a public hearing, council members listened to over a half dozen testimonials prior to making the decision. Voices resonated with concern from residents surrounding their issues with fireworks that ranged from noise to personal damage. As one resident said, “It’s like harassment listening to fireworks constantly, hearing them every night of the week.” Others with horses, including council chair Donna Chapman expressed concern over the extensive use of fireworks.

Following the closure of the public hearing, Town Manager Tony Plante spoke. “For the sake of the public, here in this room and public watching, I’d like to briefly run down what the ordinance covers. “No person shall use, display discharge, fire or cause to be exploded, consumer fireworks within the town of Windham without a permit, except that this ordinance shall not apply to a person issued a fireworks display permit by the Town and or the State of Maine.” Furthermore “No permit shall be issued on any day with a Fire Danger Class of 3, 4 or 5.”

Fireworks will be allowed only during the following times:
July 3rd, from 12 noon until 10 p.m.
July 4th, from 12 noon until 11p.m.
December 31st from 12 noon until 12:30 a.m. the following day
January 1st from noon until 10 p.m.

Lastly, No person shall use, display, fire or cause to be exploded consumer fireworks within 150’ of any building or structures.

Police Chief Kevin Schofield addressed the issue of enforcement. “To address the enforcement of any town ordinance, which is what this draft is, we can’t arrest anyone, but we can issue tickets and fines. Our first goal is to get some voluntary compliance. What we (the Police Department) like about the ordinance is it gives us a clear direction and authority to follow up on complaints.” The next step is acclimating to the cultural shift. “Public education is going to be the key component in this. I suspect we will be busy while educating the public to get compliance,” continued Schofield.

Despite objections to the addition of the 150’ clause from the original draft the end result was a unanimous decision much to approval of clapping residents. 

“Ordinances take effect 30 days after approval so this ordinance will be effective on November 25, 2016,”concluded Plante.

A copy of the ordinance is available in the town clerk's office and on the town's web site at www.windhammaine.us/DocumentCenter/View/2761.

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