Survey: Fireworks regulations divide Topsham residents

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TOPSHAM — An online survey seeking input from residents about local fireworks regulations shows respondents are sharply divided.

The survey, available at topshammaine.com/survey, was prompted by a state law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2012. That law legalizes consumer fireworks, but allows municipalities to enact local restrictions on use and sale.

The poll asks residents whether Topsham should ban or regulate the sale or use of fireworks, or rely on the state to regulate their sale or use.

Those who responded by Wednesday voted 105-104 that Topsham should not ban the sale; 110-91 that it should regulate the sale; 96-82 that it should not rely on the state for sale regulation; 95-91 that it should ban the use; 110-74 that it should adopt use regulations, and 119-70 that it should not rely on the state for use regulation.

Some responders did not answer all the questions.

The Board of Selectmen, which discussed the matter with the town’s public safety officials in a workshop Dec. 1, is scheduled to talk about the survey results and possibly take action Thursday, Dec. 15. The survey will be closed before the board meets.

Town Manager Cornell Knight said earlier this month that the town would develop an ordinance likely to allow the conditional use and sale of fireworks. But he noted that if there were a strong indication that the community opposes the use and sale, action could be taken sooner than next May’s Town Meeting, at a special Town Meeting.

Knight said conditions could be that fireworks would only be allowed on private property, away from buildings; would not be allowed on dry days, when there is increased hazard of fire; and would be allowed to be sold or used in only specific parts of town.

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

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.