Naples Selectmen discuss fireworks

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The topic of fireworks laws ignited some civil differences of opinion.

Like in so many Maine towns, members of the Naples Board of Selectmen batted around ideas of how to prepare for the statewide law that will lift the ban on the use and the sale of fireworks.

Selectmen Chairman Christine Powers said she had requested that the issue be on Monday’s agenda so the town could “be proactive rather than reactive.”

“We are a community where people come to revel and celebrate,” Powers said.

Fellow selectmen commented, “That was well put” to Powers as she continued, saying the lakes-filled community did not want to be taken by surprise when everyone is more readily allowed to purchase and ignite different types of fireworks.

Powers cited the traditional use of fireworks by private citizens as part of recent New Year’s Eve festivities.

“I am hearing concerns at the end of (the) road where I live,” Powers said.

“The concern is safety,” she said, adding that many areas in Naples are densely populated.

Powers advocated getting a handle on the correct interpretation of the new law, which legislators had passed before the First Session ended in summer 2010.

Under Chapter 416, the prohibition was lifted on the sale, possession and use of fireworks in Maine. That law went into effect Jan. 1.

Powers asked board members if they would like to see the Naples Ordinance Committee create a town-wide policy to address any foreseeable problems with this new fireworks freedom.

Selectman Dana Watson said a citizens-driven petition would be an option — allowing residents themselves to support stronger local laws — if that is what people want.

Selectman Bob Caron Sr. said the town should abide by the state law, and not create additional ordinances within the town limits.

“We are getting where we have so damn many ordinances here that we don’t have a way to enforce them,” Caron said. “I don’t think we have to do anything. The state law is what it is.”

One issue — as pointed out by board members and the town manager — is the cost of enforcing any Naples ordinances. Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) serves Naples, and is required to uphold state law over what is “on the books” locally.

“Our county police will enforce state law, but not the local law or town law,” Selectman Rick Paraschak said.

He said emergency radio activity indicated that the CCSO was responding to calls in which “people are infringing on people’s property,” he said. An example of that would be when someone “lets off” fireworks, and that poses a fire hazard to an abutting neighbor.

Paraschak expressed concerns that calls to enforce additional local laws governing fireworks would tax the Naples Fire and Rescue Department. However, he favored ordinances to protect town property and citizens using those public areas.

“We should at least ban fireworks on town properties. We wouldn’t want someone down at the town beach shooting off fireworks where there are lots of people,” he said.

Goodine expressed interest in putting together an ordinance to outline regulations for entrepreneurs who operate fireworks stands in Naples. Also, he mentioned that the town would take on costs associated with enforcing local ordinances.

As the discussion wrapped up, Powers made it clear she planned to research the up-and-coming law more thoroughly.

“We should understand the law so we know what will happen, and we can figure out what could happen,” she said.

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