Town Council Minutes 09/23/2014
South Berwick Town Council
September 23, 2014
Chairman Gerald W. MacPherson, Sr. called the meeting to order at 6:49pm. Councilors present included Jean Demetracopoulos, David H. Webster, John C. Kareckas, and Russell H. Abell. Town Manager Perry Ellsworth was also in attendance.
Approval of Minutes
1. Board of Assessors 09-09-14: On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.
2. Council 09-09-14: On a motion by Mr. Webster, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.
1. On a motion by Mr. Abell, seconded by Mr. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant dated September 18, 2014 in the amount of $303,679.86.
Reports & Presentations
Kim Dailey, Emery’s Bridge Road, addressed the Council in regard to a Fireworks Ordinance. Mrs. Dailey expressed her concerns with the potential illegal use of commercial grade fireworks in her neighborhood. She stated that the intense concussion from the fireworks have a very adverse effect on some animals, the elderly, and disabled. She also commented that if burn permits are not being issued due to conditions, fireworks should not be allowed either. She added that it is unfortunate that some people will take advantage of their privileges and push it. A neighborhood is not the proper venue for commercial grade fireworks.
Town Manager’s Report
-He informed the Council that mechanic Scott Maltese has given his notice, and he does not intend on hiring a replacement. The facility lease is up in 2015. This would be the time to decide what we want to do in the future.
-The Avesta project is moving along. There will be a site walk with contractors next week. A workshop is needed to discuss who does what and when. The closing has been moved back a week, now scheduled for the 2nd week in November.
-The Seacoast Energy Initiative projects are all complete. The paperwork is being completed.
-Work currently being done on the library steeple. The solar panels are installed and working. The geothermal system is also going to be revamped.
-It was agreed to hold a roads ordinance workshop at the end of the next regular meeting.
-Asked that his performance evaluation be done prior to the retirement of two of the Councilors.
-The new Parking Committee will be meeting on October 7th. The time has not yet been set.
1. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to approve the Junkyard Permit for Emery’s Junkyard on Emery’s Bridge Road through September 30, 2015.
On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to approve the Junkyard Permit for Lynch’s Junkyard on Route 236 through September 30, 2015.
-Mark Phillips, Old Goat Ln, expressed his concerns regarding the use of commercial grade fireworks being used in the Witchtrot/Emery’s Bridge Road area without the proper state permits. He stated that this is not the proper area for them. They sound like field artillery. He provided the Council with information to view the displays in question on the internet. He requested that the Council restrict the use of commercial grade fireworks.
-Kyle Holton, Lords Ln, stated that he does not want to see a ban on all fireworks. However, it is not right to shoot them off over someone else’s home. He stated that neighbors need to communicate and work together to solve these types of issues.
-Mr. MacPherson stated that when the State passed the fireworks law the Council took a “wait and see” approach. He added that the Council needs to review existing ordinances and investigate what would be appropriate for South Berwick.
-Helen Burton, house sitter for the Dailey’s on Emery’s Bridge Rd, stated that she has called the police twice because the fireworks can be terrifying and she has felt unsafe.
-Seth Holton, Boyd’s Corner Rd, asked how many fireworks related fires there has been this year. Mr. Ellsworth stated “none”. Mr. Holton stated that he would hate to see fireworks banned because of the joy it brings to the kids. The Council should wait another year before making any decisions.
-Scott Landis, Academy St, stated that he supports Mrs. Dailey’s points. He does not want to over-regulate, but the fireworks activity has been “completely out of hand”. He stated that it is a quality of life issue.
-Sam Murray, Emery’s Bridge Rd, stated that he sees both sides. He recommended that the Firearm’s Discharge Ordinance be referenced for information as well as other towns’ & state regulations. He added that he is not in favor of over regulation, but “irresponsible use should be punished”. If commercial grade fireworks are being used then the police and fire departments should be stepping in. Mr. Murray added that the sound travels quite a distance along the river.
-Jake Desmaris, Thurrell Rd, stated that he would not want to see a total ban on the use of fireworks. He added that irresponsible use is a problem. The use of commercial grade fireworks should be investigated.
-William Tsakiris, Emery’s Bridge Rd, stated that he is the resident whom Mrs. Dailey & Mr. Phillips have spoken. He stated that he possesses all valid Federal and State of Maine (NH & MA) licenses. He is the co-owner of Patriot Fireworks. He added that he is the one that ’shot’ the fireworks at the golf course and Lantern Fest. He will also be ‘shooting’ the high school homecoming. He added that the Town has all his licenses on file.
Mr. Tsakiris stated that he is in favor of an ordinance to “help regulate it so it doesn’t negatively affect the masses. He added that there are areas that it would not be appropriate to ‘shoot’ them off. He does not store any fireworks at his home. There is a significant amount of documentation required anytime he ‘shoots’. He then explained the process & requirements for a ‘shoot’. Mr. Tsakiris stated that he has helped write some of the ordinances in neighboring towns and offered to provide a sample to the Council.
Mr. Tsakiris stated that from July 3rd to today he has only ‘shot’ commercial grade/display fireworks four times; none longer than 10 minutes or later than 9:30pm. Some of those ‘shoots’ were to test for Lantern Fest.
Mr. Webster asked Mr. Tsakiris if he obtained permits for the four ‘shoots’ at his home. Mr. Tsakiris stated “No”. Mr. Tsakiris stated that permits were not required because they were not public events.
Mr. Kareckas asked about the ‘shoots’ at the high school. Mr. Tsakiris explained that he donates his time and product for the Boosters and the display is shot on private property taking all liability away from the school.
Mr. Webster asked, if after hearing tonight’s discussion, if Mr. Tsakiris thought his house was the best place for testing his commercial fireworks in the future. Mr. Tsakiris stated that he conveniently tests at his home when he has family events planned. Mr. Tsakiris added that he does not think it is right to take all his rights away, but is willing to ‘back down’ on the size of shells.
Mr. Kareckas commented on an incident involving the adverse effect sudden load noises can have on some people (Vietnam flashback) and an incident this July 4th. He added that there must be a middle ground.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos commented on the negative effects the fireworks being ‘shot off’ for the ball games at the high school have had on her horses. The concussion travels; it is a great echo chamber. She also expressed her concerns with the lack of notice and the inability to prepare it creates.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos stated that she contacted the State Fire Marshall’s Office. According to Tim Fuller a permit is required any time commercial grade fireworks are ‘shot’. He also verified that the State has not issued any commercial grade fireworks permits since August 1st (to Mr. Tsakiris/Patriot). Therefore, no display permits were issued for Lantern Fest, Marshwood, or Labor Day.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos commented on the problems with enforcement. She then went on to read several of the state statutes regulating fireworks, especially commercial grade/display.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos stated that not everyone likes fireworks. She hoped that people would self regulate. There is a need for social responsibility.
Mr. Ellsworth thanked Mr. Tsakiris for his information and offering to work with the Council. It was agreed that the Council would gather information and schedule a workshop.
3. On a motion by Mr. Webster, seconded by Mrs. Kareckas, it was unanimously voted to authorize the Town Manager to enter into an agreement with Tax Exempt Leasing for a period of seven (7) years for the purchase of a fire truck to replace engine 2.
4. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to allow Sobo Sings to hold a teen open mic at the library on Saturdays from 6pm to 9pm, conditioned on the fact that there will be no deleterious effects on the library.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to establish a special revenue account for Sobo Sings open mic night at the library.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted suspend the rules and continue with items 5 & 6 of new business.
5. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to authorize the Manager to sell the present Powderhouse snowmobile and return the funds to the special revenue account for Powderhouse to be utilized to reduce the costs associated with the new snowmobile and grooming equipment.
6. On a motion by Mr. Webster, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to accept the donation of snowmaking pipe (6” diameter, approx. 1200’ with hydrants) from Sunday River for use at Powderhouse Ski Hill.
Council Member Comments
1. Mr. Abell:
-Stated that he wanted to clarify what was heard regarding fireworks. There are three issues, commercial grade vs. consumer grade, safety, and quality of life.
2. Mr. Kareckas:
-Stated that roof cleats should be placed over the library entry.
-Asked if it would be appropriate to deal with the special revenue account at this time in light of the mechanic leaving. Mr. Ellsworth stated “Not yet”. He and Jon need to discuss a plan.
-Impressed with the Shorey’s Bridge project. The collaboration between the two towns has shown the level of talent both have.
3. Mr. Webster:
-Stated that it is nice to see our crew doing some of the jobs we used to sub out.
-Asked about the maintenance and guarantee on the library solar panels. Mr. Ellsworth stated that they are maintenance free and we have a 15 year warranty.
4. Mrs. Demetracopoulos:
-Asked if the Manager or Clerk could lay out the process for a write-in vote since there is only one candidate for two council seats. Mr. Ellsworth stated that he and the Clerk would prepare something for the next meeting.
-Made note that NH Chronicle will be re-airing a piece about Mt. A on Wednesday evening.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 9:30pm.
Barbara Bennett, CCM