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Topsham narrowly upholds fireworks ban

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Topsham narrowly upholds fireworks ban

TOPSHAM — Voters were narrowly divided Tuesday on whether to legalize the sale and use of consumer fireworks.

A measure that would have overturned the town's ban of the products failed by about 100 votes, 2,784 to 2,681.

A petition launched in June by Selectman David Douglass called for the sale and use of consumer fireworks to be allowed in accordance with state law. Under that law, fireworks were allowed in Topsham from Jan. 1 to June 12, when a referendum vote enacted the ban.

Douglass expressed disappointment Wednesday morning, saying he had hoped to be able to use fireworks if he wanted, and that Topsham would have had the opportunity to attract a new kind of business to town.

But he said he was pleased that voters had a simple yes-or-no question to answer, and that they turned out in droves at the polls. Topsham's voter turnout was 83 percent.

"I think everyone had a say, so I feel very good ... (that) we accomplished that," Douglass said.

Two ballot questions on June 12 each presented voters with three choices about fireworks. The first question asked about the sale of consumer fireworks, while the second involved fireworks use. Voters were asked to pick one of the three options presented under each question.

Question 1A asked whether the town should "neither regulate nor prohibit the sale of consumer fireworks and therefore permit the sale of consumer fireworks in accordance with state law?" That question received 436 votes.

Question 2A asked the same thing, but in respect to the use of consumer fireworks, and received 419 votes.

Question 1B asked voters if they wanted to enact a zoning ordinance regulating fireworks sales, which 227 voters favored. Question 1C asked whether an ordinance prohibiting those sales should be enacted, and 565 – the majority – voted for that option.

The second and third parts of Question 2 also involved ordinances to either regulate fireworks use, or ban it. Two hundred fifty-nine voters favored regulation, while 540 preferred prohibition.

Douglass had argued that if the first two parts of each question – which called for some kind of legal sale or use – were added together, their total be greater than the third, which called for a ban on the sale or use. Fifty-four percent voted for some kind of sale, while 56 percent favored some manner of use.

"In my opinion a majority, because it was split three ways, essentially didn't get what they were looking for," Douglass said earlier this year.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.