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Woodstock voters to decide on fireworks

WOODSTOCK – About 20 voters turned out Tuesday evening for a public hearing on four proposed ordinances that will be on the Town Meeting warrant.

Voters will be asked to take action on measures banning the sale of consumer fireworks within town limits, adopting a quiet zone in Bryant Pond village, freezing the acceptance of any applications for wind turbine projects for one year and adopting a Certificate of Occupancy ordinance.

As of January 1, 2012 the state legalized possession, use and sale of “consumer fireworks,” as defined in the new law. Towns were given the option of restricting sales within their limits.

Speaking on behalf of the Woodstock Fire Department, Tom Hartford said “the town does not have the resources to police a fireworks store.” He noted that the age requirements, hours of use and types of fireworks allowed are “taken directly from the state statute.”

Hartford also reminded the audience that “some out of state purchases may not be legal here” as bottle rockets are not legal under the new law.

The ordinance also would give the town recourse to recover costs incurred for responding to fireworks-related personal injuries or property damage.

Bob Elliot, speaking for the Wind Power Committee, asked for “one year of information so as to put together an ordinance for next year.”

The committee decided to observe the actual operations of the Spruce Mountain facility and gather public feedback in order to craft an ordinance specific to Woodstock.

Elliot said they “have no intention of asking for another year.” Selectmen said there are no current applications for further wind turbines in Woodstock.

The most hotly-debated issue was the Certificate of Occupancy Ordinance. If it passes, the town would be able to require new home builders and business owners to sign off on a document saying they have met all town, county, state and federal requirements for their building.

As Woodstock has no building code, town requirements are limited to driveway and building permits, an approved/completed septic plan, electrical disconnect switch, a final plumbing inspection and a house number.

Selectman Rick Young opened the discussion by noting that the town has been asked by banks and insurance companies for such a certificate, and “we cannot issue one.”

Selectman Ronald Deegan said the ordinance “is a great footprint for you to follow. It is the responsibility of the owners to learn, and we will help.”

Developer Leon Poland said “the contractor ought to sign off” on the form as well.

It was agreed that voters will be asked only to decide whether to approve the ordinance as written, and that the actual certificate will evolve as needed.

The final discussion was on the proposed quiet zone. Jan Kendrick drafted the ordinance, based on one used in Mechanic Falls.

There was a lot of discussion on the use of noisy compression release engine brakes to slow down trucks coming into Bryant Pond. Kendrick said all she is “asking for is respect that this is a village.”

Most of the attendees wanted the selectmen to put up a sign at either end of the village on Route 26. As an ordinance is required before the Maine Department of Transportation will do so, the ordinance was rewritten so as to more narrowly address the issue.