Brewer planners OK fireworks store as city considers partial ban on use

Posted Sept. 10, 2012, at 8:21 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Lovely Properties LLC gained Brewer Planning Board approval on Monday to build the city’s first fireworks store, which owner Greg Lovely said he hopes to open in late November near the Brewer-Holden town line.

While planners discussed Lovely’s project, City Councilor Joseph Ferris made a move to ban the use of fireworks in the more populated areas of the city.

City leaders will discuss a proposed local referendum for November during their Tuesday night meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s an ordinance amendment that asks for a referendum vote on whether or not we would allow consumer fireworks in the zones other than the discharge of muzzleloaders-black powder zones,” Ferris said Monday. “It will be allowed there, either way.”

Residents who are at least age 21 are now allowed to use fireworks anywhere within the city, as long as they own the property or have permission to use the property. Under state law, fireworks can only be fired between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., except on certain holidays that have extended hours.

The local referendum vote in November, if approved, would restrict the use of fireworks to the city’s rifle-restricted area that lies between Wilson Street, halfway between Dirigo Drive and the road into Walmart, and the Holden town line and the Eddington town line to the north, basically along the power line and the eastern side of the Lambert and Day roads.

“One property owner shouldn’t be allowed to bombard another property owner,” Ferris said. “I think they belong on the outskirts of town and the willywags.”

If fellow city council members approve the local referendum at Tuesday’s meeting, residents will decide in November whether they want to restrict where fireworks can be used, he said.

On Jan. 1, the law banning fireworks in the state was lifted, and since that time neighboring Bangor and Holden, and at least 22 other Maine communities, have prohibited or placed restrictions on the sale or use of fireworks. Portland, South Portland, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Orono and Rockland are on the list with restrictions.

City planners on Monday approved the construction of a single story 1,600-square foot retail fireworks store at 972 Wilson St. for Lovely’s limited liability corporation. The shop will employ two people and is estimated to see an average of 71 customers per day.

Two residents spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting about dangers they see with the location, which is about 1,500 feet from the end of Interstate 395.

Scott Braley of Plymouth Engineering presented the site plans and said Lovely has already applied for a new Maine Department of Transportation business driveway entrance permit needed for the property, which now has a small house and garage located on it.

City Engineer Frank Higgins also was asked to address the board about the traffic and possible problems with people turning left out of the new business, heading to Ellsworth and Bar Harbor.

“Yes, Route 1 is dangerous and there is a history,” he said, adding that is one reason why center turn lanes have been added to Wilson Street. “Center turn lanes actually save lives. I think this is an appropriate location for this.”

Brewer planners approved the project contingent on the MDOT entrance permit being approved.

Lovely, who owns several Newport businesses, including a fireworks store, said after he got approval for the Brewer fireworks store that he plans to hire a local contractor to build the new fireworks store.

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