THOMASTON, Maine — A group of local citizens concerned that fireworks are disrupting people’s lives and scaring animals have gathered enough signatures to force a community wide vote on whether to regulate them.
The Board of Selectmen is to appoint members of a committee to draft an ordinance to regulate fireworks in town after receiving a petition last month with the signatures of 129 residents. Petitioners needed to gather 124 signatures to require the town to send the matter to voters.
A state law that took effect in 2012 allows displays of consumer fireworks on one’s own property — or on other property if the owner consents — from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The hours are extended until 12:30 a.m. the following day for July Fourth, New Year’s Eve, and the weekends immediately before and after those two dates.
State law, however, also allows municipalities to limit or ban the use of fireworks.
Thomaston Town Clerk Joan Linscott said that residents around Booker Street spearheaded the petition drive to limit the use of personal fireworks in Thomaston to Fridays and Saturdays as well as holidays. She said the town’s fire chief and others also have said that the issue of fireworks use in town needed to be addressed.
The main concern of residents, Linscott said, is the loud noise from pyrotechnics being set off at night, disrupting people’s peace and scaring animals. Residents have complained that it has happened too often.
The committee is to come up with recommendations and a ballot item will be developed for a town meeting. A special town meeting to address other matters is already scheduled for Dec. 19 but Linscott said she did not think there would be enough time to develop a proposed fireworks ordinance before then.
The Dec. 19 special town meeting is being held to vote on three articles including the proposed purchase of 133 acres adjacent to the waste water treatment facility for $137,500. The land would be used for pollution control irrigation fields.
On Nov. 5, residents in the neighboring town of Cushing rejected 171-188 a ballot item to restrict the use of fireworks in their town after some citizens said it was disruptive and scared animals.