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Fireworks ban not popular in Pelham

PELHAM - Residents spoke out against a town-wide fireworks ban but kept the door open to a permitting process during a public hearing Tuesday evening.

About 30 people came to the public hearing to discuss whether the town should regulate the use of fireworks. Board of Selectmen Chairman William McDevitt said the board felt an obligation to have a public discussion after hearing concerns from residents following a fireworks accident on Dodge Road that injured 13 people on July 3.

Susan Boucher of Katie Lane said people shoot off fireworks in her neighborhood up to 2 a.m. Boucher said she would support some type of permitting process to keep track of who is handling fireworks.

'One of my concerns is it is an explosive, and as we saw this summer people were injured by these explosives,' Boucher said.

Jay Tropea of Dogwood Circle said he empathizes with the people who were injured, but urged the board not to be too hasty. He has been to numerous private displays in town that were handled very professionally, Tropea said. Additional regulation won't stop a few people from acting irresponsibly, he said.

'You can't legislate common sense,' Tropea said.

Sean and Michelle Piemonte of Lawrence Corner Road agreed. The couple puts on a large display annually, and Sean has had training in handling fireworks. He does not support a fireworks ban in town and told selectmen he would help distribute safety information.

'If the education is there and the safety is there, you can prevent something like this from happening again,' Piemonte said.

People who misuse fireworks are less likely to comply with a permitting process, leaving those already trying to comply to bear the brunt of additional regulation, said Dennis LaBreque of Tenney Road. He would rather see his tax dollars used for education than permit processing.

'I'm concerned about you placing additional restrictions on us beyond what the state requires,' LaBreque told the board.

Enacting restrictions because of one accident is a slippery slope, said Shawn Murphy of Chagnon Lane.

'We're responsible adults. We do not need any more rules to regulate our lives,' Murphy said. 'It's live free or die.'

Selectman Edmund Gleason commended the people who offered input and use fireworks responsibly. No one wants to ban fireworks and ruin people's celebrations, he said.

'I think education is key in terms of making people aware of the danger of fireworks and the necessity of taking precautions,' Gleason said.

All of the public input was valuable, McDevitt said. The board is accepting additional comments from residents and will discuss all its options at its Oct. 16 meeting.

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