2011-12-05 / Front Page

Fireworks permits proposed

At hearing, Brunswick council to weigh limited use vs. townwide ban
BY DARREN FISHELL Times Record Staff


The Town Council will hold a public hearing tonight on a proposed fireworks ban. Among the proposals councilors will consider is whether town permits to discharge fireworks should be allowed.

The ban originally proposed by District 2 Councilor Ben Tucker would apply to the entire town. However, an amendment requested by District 5 Councilor Gerald Favreau would allow residents outside the town’s growth zone to apply for permits to discharge fireworks, according to a Nov. 30 memo from Town Manager Gary Brown to the council.

At a Nov. 21 meeting, District 4 Councilor John Perreault also expressed support for fireworks being permitted in certain sections of town.

“ I understand the problem with (fireworks) going off in town with other houses so close,” Perreault said, “but that’s partly why you move out to the country is to do things you can’t do in town — legally.”

The latest draft of the fireworks ban also added language to protect a restriction that town attorney Pat Scully said could face legal challenges.

The state law legalizing fireworks as of Jan. 1 provides that Maine cities and towns have the power to restrict the sale or use of fireworks within their boundaries.

Brunswick’s ordinance also prohibits possession of fireworks with the intent to use or sell.

“ There is a little uncertainty … whether the authority granted to towns carries an implicit ability to prohibit possession with the intent to use or sell (consumer fireworks),” Scully said at the Nov. 21 council meeting.

The new draft specifies that if any portion of the ordinance is found in court “to be invalid for any reason, such decision shall not be deemed to affect the validity of any other section,” preserving the sale and use restrictions of the proposed ban.

At this evening’s public hearing, councilors also will consider the amounts of fines for violating the ordinance, if it’s enacted.

As drafted, the penalties include:

— The first sale offense would trigger a fine of between $ 300 to $ 500, plus attorney’s fees; the second and subsequent offenses would cost a fine of between $ 600 and $ 1,000, plus attorney’s

— The first use offense would result in a fine from $200 to $400, plus attorney’s fees; the second and subsequent offenses would spur a fine of between $300 and $600, plus attorney’s fees.

The ordinance also provides an enhanced penalty for “willful violation” of the ordinance. If a person found violating the ordinance was previously told by an officer, employee or agent of the town of Brunswick that fireworks are banned, a fine of $10,000 would be issued.

Tucker said the severity of proposed penalties aims to send a strong message to more serious violators, such as those who may try to sell fireworks in town.

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