Greenwood to hold public hearing on possible fireworks ordinance
At a public hearing Tuesday, Aug. 21, interested Greenwood residents will be asked their thoughts on the town adopting an ordinance either banning the use of fireworks, or limiting the hours during which they can be set off.
The option favored at the hearing will then go a special town meeting, where there will be an up-or-down vote on adopting it.
The whole democratic effort, however, may prove an exercise in futity.
Futile because there will be no practical way to enforce any such ordinance.
The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, the area’s primary law-enforcement ag ency, will not.
In a memo to town selectmen, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant explained why:
“Town ordinances are local rules and policies and are not state laws. We do not enforce town rules only state laws.
“Just FYI, if you do vote to have town ordinances just remember the Town of Greenwood would have to train someone in town to be a municipal prosecutor and try and take violations to court because the district attorney”s office will not handle town ordinance cases.
“Laws are specific and can be enforced state wide. Ordinances are local rules that are so different from town to town even if we could enforce them how would we know which town had which rules when you are dealing with 35 towns.
“You could assign your fire chief or code enforcement officer but you would also have to invest in getting them trained to be able to prosecute the violation. ... That’s if a judge even allows it to be heard in their courtroom.”
At a selectmen’s meeting Tuesday selectman Town Manager Kim Sparks said most towns in Oxford County are in the same boat.
“A lot of the bigger town’s have their own police departments to enforce it, but little town’s don’t,” Sparks said.
The town’s fire chief has approached people setting off fire works beyond the state law’s curfew, Sparks said, “but when he turns around to leave, they start firing them off behind him.”
But Selectman Amy Chapman said that if the town had a fireworks ordinance, it might at least reduce the frequency with which residents are force to endure loud “bangs” lasting well into the night
With such a ban, she said, you’re basically going to keep honest people honest, and there’s some value to that … even it it only cuts it down by 10 or 20 percent.
At Tuesday meeting the selectmen also heard more complaints about fireworks.
“It’s making my life insane,” said Nancy Doepke of Patch Mountain Road. "It’s every single weeking. I can’t live like that.”
Doepke pointed the finger at nonresidents.
“It’s the folks who come into Hick’s Lane, to their camps, every weekend – from out of state or out of town, and they have a fireworks party every single weekend. … There is just no logic about what they’re doing. They don’t care about the neighborhood.”
Joanie Kintz, who lives on nearby Willis Mills Road, worried about environmental damage from the materials fireworks are made of.
“When they fire these over the water, that’s poison. It’s worse than gasoline,” Kintz said.
The public hearing on Aug. 21 will be held in the town office meeting room.
It will begin at 5:30.