Woodstock gets fireworks complaints; petitions expected
Woodstock selectmen are expecting two petitions requesting a fireworks ordinance, following recent complaints.
"I've had several phone calls in the last three weeks, and several more since Monday morning," Town Manager Vern Maxfield told the board Tuesday. "People are very concerned about upgrading our ordinance. There are two petitions circulating - one asking for a ban, one asking for details on when it would be acceptable to use them."
The town currently allows the use, but not the sale, of fireworks.
Since the state made fireworks legal last year, other area towns, especially Greenwood, have also had complaints about use.
Many of the complaints in Woodstock center around Lake Christopher.
Selectman Rick Young, who lives on the lake, said someone was shooting off fireworks Monday night. "They went on for a good 15 minutes," he said.
And on Saturday night, he said, fireworks had started at 10:20 p.m. and went for about 10 minutes. “They were good sized,” said Young.
"Before 9 p.m. it's not too bad," he continued. "But after 9:30 it gets a little annoying, and when your dogs try to crawl up into your lap, night after night, sitting there panting, that's enough. We've always had fireworks on the pond, but not to this extent. And what I see now is all the paper debris in the lake. I picked up a whole bunch of stuff Sunday morning."
Jennifer Chase, who lives on the Dudley Road, said that after one round of fireworks there was a strong sulfur smell even at her house.
She also said the subject of fireworks had been discussed at this past weekend's annual meeting of the Lakes Association.
“The meeting was a lot about that,” she said.
Mil rate drops
In other business, the board set the new mil rate at 11.45 mils, down 1.40 since last year. The decline is due to a $40 million increase in town valuation, thanks largely to the Spruce Mountain Wind farm.
"It's the third lowest mil rate since 1989," said Maxfield.
With the new rate, $45,000 will be available for overlay in case of tax abatements.
Tax bills are expected to go out next week.
Road bids, general assistance
Selectmen awarded bids for winter sand/salt for the coming season, choosing Hadley of West Paris at a price of $14,375, over R.A. Tibbetts of Wilton at a price of $14,250. Hadley provided salt and sand last year.
The board also set rates for General Assistance, based on new numbers from the state.
The board received updates on a variety of topics, including: an MDOT bridges report (bridges on the Andrews Road, on Sleepy Hollow Road and on Old County Road need work); concerns from summer residents about noise from the wind towers; an expected proposal to the Planning Board from the 4H camp to build a barn and parking lot on land recently purchased from Ken McInnis; an update on MDOT repairs to the Route 26 retaining wall; and the number of applications received for the $5,000 Spruce Mountain Wind scholarship (seven).
Maxfield also told the board he had received a request from one person for a half dozen abatement applications for possible use by several people, based on a perceived loss of valuation because of proximity to the wind farm.
Selectmen said a significant amount of time would have to go by in order to tell if the farm could have that effect. Maxfield said he told the person if anyone submitted applications the town would hold them until more information became available.