Bangor council bans sale, use of fireworks

Posted Oct. 24, 2011, at 11:01 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — While some Maine municipalities will erupt with the sounds and sights of townspeople igniting fireworks around Independence Day, there will be nary a fizzle in the city of Bangor.

The City Council officially enacted an ordinance prohibiting both the sale and use of fireworks by an 8-1 vote Monday night, with only Councilor Charlie Longo voting against the ban.

While Councilor David Nealley affirmed his support for the the sale of fireworks and mentioned wanting to make a motion to amend the ordinance to allow for sales, he voted with the majority, which included Rick Bronson, Patricia Blanchette, Gerry Palmer, Cary Weston, Susan Hawes, Nelson Durgin and Geoffrey Gratwick.

“I think this is a sad day for the city of Bangor and its promotion of small business,” said Longo. “No dollar is a bad dollar and I think it’s a shame people won’t be allowed to start a business that could help feed their family or give a college kid a good seasonal job.”

Starting Jan. 1, state law will allow Maine residents to buy, possess and use fireworks, but the law allows cities and towns to enact their own laws regulating their sales and use.

Durgin referred to national safety statistics compiled for states banning fireworks and reaffirmed his stance against their use and sale, adding that allowing their sale but not their use struck him as hypocritical.

The council also voted unanimously to approve the effort by a group of private individuals to work with the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department to build and find a suitable location for a new gazebo for Bangor Band concerts. The most discussed and popular option is a spot on the Bangor waterfront, but no final decision has been made.

“There is wide support for this by councilors and Bangor citizens alike and this will be a great thing for the Bangor Band and the city,” said Palmer. “This was a good time to do this as the old gazebo was not safe and they will have a much better structure and location to play for their appreciative fans.”

The council also voted 9-0 to amend the code limiting the licensing period for taxicabs and drivers so as to no longer put undue stress on the city office when Bangor’s approximately 200 cabdrivers all have to renew licenses at the same time.

Councilors voted 8-1 to appropriate a $60,000 nonpoint source pollution grant fund for the restoration of Capehart Brook, one of six impaired streams in Bangor. Weston, the lone dissenter, said he disagreed with costly federal government environmental mandates that manifest themselves as unnecessary expenses for already revenue-strapped municipal governments.

The meeting was the last for longtime councilor and former Bangor major Gerry Palmer, who took the occasion to present several symbolic gifts to his fellow council members after they all took turns lauding the man who has come to be known as the council’s unofficial Bangor historian.

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