Enfield Board  To Vote on Fireworks

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/6/2016 11:57:38 PM
Modified: 11/7/2016 12:07:16 PM

Enfield — Officials are hoping a new ordinance regulating fireworks in town will appease those who light displays in the summer and year-round residents who say the practice has become too frequent.

The three-member Selectboard is expected to vote Monday night on the new regulations, which would ban fireworks from Monday through Thursday, and allow them from Friday through Sunday until 10 p.m. Fireworks would also be allowed on holidays such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, until 10:30 p.m. regardless of the day of the week.

People found in violation of the ordinance would be given a written warning for a first offense, followed by a $250 fine for a second offense and $500 fine for subsequent offenses.

Another ordinance regulating larger fireworks displays would require a permit from the fire and police chiefs, and those displays will also be required to follow the weekday schedule restrictions.

While some see the ordinance as compromise between vacationers and long-term residents, others are calling for further regulation, saying Enfield’s lakes need protecting.

“I believe in keeping things simple but as of right now, it’s too simple,” resident Jeff Hinman said of the proposal.

A Mascoma Lake resident, Hinman first brought fireworks complaints to the Selectboard in September. At the time, he said large amount of debris had fallen on his property and worried about the welfare of wildlife.

The ordinance before the Selectboard doesn’t include regulations regarding weather conditions, the distance between homes or water protections, Hinman said. It also doesn’t ban certain types of fireworks considered by some to be too dangerous, he said.

“I’m glad that they’re addressing the issue (but) the ordinance as is I don’t like at all,” he said.

Fireworks can contain substances considered to be toxic, according to the state Department of Environmental Services. The fallout can impact water quality and speed up algal and cyanobacteria growth.

Mascoma Lake is also home to a significant bird population that can be frightened by fireworks during nesting season, said Catherine Greenleaf, director of the St. Francis Wild Bird Hospital, in September.

Town officials have discussed a public information campaign to educate vacationers about fireworks, a mission the Mascoma Lake Association is willing to help with, according to Aliton Flint, the group’s president.

“We’re not taking a political stance but we can work to protect the lake,” she said, adding that although group has disbanded for he winter, members will likely be present at tonight’s meeting.

Selectboard member Meredith Smith said she’s also worried the ordinance doesn’t reduce the environmental impacts of fireworks.

“I don’t know what will come of it,” she said. “I’m concerned about pollution of the lake.”

Smith said she would like to see fireworks stopped completely around Enfield’s lakes, but understands that such a measure would be difficult to police.

“The pollution issue is one that I feel is important that we didn’t really discuss at the last meeting,” Smith said, adding she might not be ready to vote for the proposed ordinance.

The current proposal isn’t expected to tax local police, however, according to Police Chief Richard Crate. He reached out to towns with similar rules and found call volumes normally don’t increase partially because police already respond to complaints, even without an ordinance.

“They don’t deal with a lot of these complaints,” he said. “They mainly don’t see a change.”

Selectboard member John Kluge disagreed with Smith on Sunday. He said the proposal was made through compromise, everyone shouldn’t be expected to like the ordinance.

“We decided unanimously that we we’re going to try to balance things out a little bit and not go toward the extreme in either directions,” he said.

Kluge said he’s sensitive to complaints about noise, but didn’t want Enfield going in a direction similar to Sunapee, which has a permitting system.

“I know there are going to be people who are disappointed,” he said. “We’re just not at that point as a community.”

The Enfield Selectboard will take up the fireworks ordinance when it meets tonight at 6 p.m. at the Public Works Facility on 74 Lockehaven Road.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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