EASTPORT, Maine — The city is moving to effectively ban fireworks displays except those authorized by a permit to be issued by the fire chief.
The City Council voted unanimously at a regular meeting Wednesday night to set a public hearing on the proposed ordinance. The public hearing will be held at its Oct. 22 session.
The council has been fielding complaints recently about fireworks displays and tasked City Manager Larry Post and its police chief and fire chief with drafting an ordinance.
The meeting Wednesday night drew about 45 people, about eight of whom railed against nuisance fireworks displays and the need to regulate them. No one spoke against the suggestions to rein in fireworks displays. In addition, a show of hands sought by council chairwoman Mary Repole indicated a clear majority of those present favored restraints on fireworks displays.
As one unidentified man observed after several people had spoken, there were no arguments in support of fireworks displays. He suggested only allowing them on certain days, such as the Fourth of July and the annual Eastport Pirate Festival. His comments spurred applause.
“What have you gained by allowing the fireworks?” asked another person.
Some speakers pointed to the potential fire hazard, particularly in the city’s congested areas with wooden buildings.
“I’m not in favor of having them legal at all,” Repole told the gathering.
The proposed ordinance, to be presented at the public hearing later this month, would require a fireworks display to have a permit issued by the fire chief. It includes provisions calling on the fire chief to review and approve the site and also seeks information about the time of the fireworks display, materials to be used, protection and related issues.
The ordinance also prohibits fireworks displays without a permit as well as the sale or possession with intent to sell fireworks.
A person who uses fireworks in violation of the proposed ordinance could be fined from $50 to $200; the penalty increases to $100 to $400 for subsequent offenses.
Violations of the prohibition against selling or possessing fireworks with the intent to sell would be punishable by a minimum fine of $200, and subsequent violations, $500.
A number of other small communities in Washington County, notably Lubec, also are wrestling with nuisance fireworks displays. Lubec officials are drafting a proposed ordinance to restrict fireworks displays.