Fireworks won't light up Bayside skyResident raises concerns over proposed Searsport tank
Northport — Some types of fireworks are now legal in Maine, but the use of such products will not be allowed in the densely populated village area locally known as Bayside.
Monday night, June 4, voters at the Northport annual town meeting approved an ordinance titled, "Town of Northport Ordinance Prohibiting the Use and Sale of Fireworks." The meeting took place at the Blue Goose Center on Route 1.
After Moderator Lee Woodward called for the vote, Woodward declared that the ordinance, which came up under Article 9, was "overwhelmingly" approved.
There was some brief discussion among residents regarding the scope of the ordinance and what specific areas of town it would impact.
Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Paul Rooney explained that the fireworks described in the ordinance include those that became legal in Maine earlier this year. According to the ordinance, the types of fireworks to be locally outlawed include missile-type rockets, helicopters and aerial spinners, as defined by the State Fire Marshal's Office. The term "consumer fireworks" does not include sparklers, skyrockets and bottle rockets. The ordinance defines skyrockets and bottle rockets as "cylindrical tubes containing not more than 20 grams of chemical composition... with a wooden stick attached for guidance and stability, that rise into the air upon ignition and may produce a burst of color and/or sound at or near the height of flight."
"This came about as the result of a special request from the Village Board of Overseers, the selectmen don't take a position on it, one way or the other," said Rooney.
Some residents expressed regret that the ordinance would prohibit Bayside residents from using fireworks that the state now deems legal.
"It's something people enjoy," said one resident.
Others felt the ordinance was a suitable solution, not only to any concerns residents in Bayside may have about fire danger when fireworks are used, but also for the noise that can come with the use of some of those products.
"It's out of respect for the quietness that's often there," said a woman who identified herself as a year-round resident of Bayside.
Dan Andrews, who manages the Blue Goose Center, asked how the fireworks ordinance might impact events at the Blue Goose.
"If we want to have a fireworks display here, we couldn't because it's in the village?" asked Andrews.
Selectman Drexell White told Andrews the ordinance does not pertain to those who obtain a fireworks display permit from the state.
Overall, the meeting was a relatively short affair, as residents disposed of the 24-article warrant in about an hour, but an issue that has become one of regional interest found its way into the discussions — the proposed development of a 22.7 million liquefied petroleum gas facility.
The proposal from DCP Midstream out of Colorado is currently in the midst of a review from the Searsport Planning Board. The permitting process at the federal level has drawn criticism from local citizens in recent weeks because the Army Corps of Engineers opted not to hold public hearings prior to issuing a permit on the project.
That news also prompted a letter to the Searsport Planning Board from members of the Islesboro Board of Selectmen urging the Searsport planners to consider the impact such a development might have on all towns in the Midcoast region. The correspondence was dated May 30.
"The proposed DCP Midstream LPG tank and terminal will have an impact on the economy, environment, safety and security of the entire Midcoast region," stated the letter from the Town of Islesboro. "Review of the pending permit application, including consideration of restrictions and limitations, must include and address these regional impacts before making a determination regarding this application."
Copies of the letter were also sent to the other 25 towns in Waldo County, including Northport, as well as Waldo and Knox County Commissioners, Maine Emergency Management and U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Congressional representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud.
Northport resident Paul Sheridan encouraged his neighbors and selectmen to seize the opportunity to make their thoughts on the project heard. The Searsport Planning Board is scheduled to continue its work on the project review Monday, June 11, at which time the board will accept public comment.
Sheridan brought the subject up during discussions regarding Article 10, which sought funding for town accounts including the Northport Volunteer Fire Department ($35,000) and First Responders ($18,225).
"These figures are going to have several zeroes added to them in the next couple of years," said Sheridan, referring to the potential need for beefed up public safety resources should the development gain town approval. "... We need to get ourselves on this list of commentators because this invariably will go to a lawsuit. I would urge people to be involved in this because [the public safety figures] won't be $18,000, it'll be $180,000."
In other news, Town Administrator Barbara O'Leary surprised one of the local residents with a Spirit of America Award, an honor that is bestowed upon residents of Maine towns each year. Cleo Alley did not appear to know about the award, as his response to hearing his name was, "What?"
But Alley stood and joined O'Leary at the front of the room as O'Leary explained the reason for the honor — Alley's eight years of tireless volunteering at the Northport Food Pantry. Last year, the award went to the Northport Volunteer Fire Department.
In the June 2 elections, residents returned RSU 20 Director Debra Riley to another three-year term on the school board, and re-elected White to the Board of Selectmen.