To the Editor:
We support the Southwest Harbor fireworks ordinance on the May 3 ballot.
Some 80 Maine cities and towns have ordinances against the use of consumer fireworks, including Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Camden, Ellsworth and Surry.
If 80 Maine law enforcement agencies have successfully dealt with an ordinance, surely Southwest Harbor’s Police Department can. Arguing that an ordinance would be unenforceable underestimates law-abiding citizens: most people respect posted ordinances (leash laws, littering laws, speed limits) regardless of who is watching.
Fireworks explosions violate Southwest Harbor’s noise ordinance, which states: [not permitted is the] use of loud and unreasonable noise … which … annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health or safety of individuals, or which results in disturbing the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood.”
The noise ordinance states a 67-decibel limit. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, fireworks are 130-190 decibels. Their site states that permanent hearing damage begins at 85 decibels.
Fireworks disturb people with PTSD, bother pets and ruin the tranquility of our neighborhoods.
Combat veterans report they are retraumatized by fireworks sounds. Hearing fireworks, they often “hit the ground “and can suffer panic attacks and prolonged distress. Some dogs show severe anxiety and become inconsolable/uncontrollable hearing fireworks. According to Cesar Milan (the “Dog Whisperer”), more dogs run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year.
Many communities with ordinances allow consumer fireworks on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and July Fourth. If those limits were instituted, beleaguered neighbors, PTSD sufferers and dog owners would at least be able to predict and prepare for those events.
Fireworks present a serious fire risk. Currently, fireworks can be set off any day – even days when burning permits would never be issued. Fireworks are unpredictable and can end up igniting woodlands, a neighbor’s brush pile or a dry field. The risk of accidental fire is real.
In the 2013 straw poll, Southwest Harbor voters requested fireworks restrictions by a 2-to-1 margin. We urge voters to approve this ordinance and restore quality of life – fire safety, peace and tranquility – to our community.
and more than 85 other concerned residents