WESTBROOK — City councilors blasted the state Legislature on Monday night for leaving the regulation of fireworks largely up to local officials.

They said the law passed in June makes it possible for neighboring communities to pass different laws, which would be difficult for citizens to obey and police departments to enforce.

The law legalizing fireworks, which takes effect Jan. 1, allows towns and cities to regulate sales and use of fireworks within their boundaries.

The Portland City Council has decided to ban fireworks in the city, while Scarborough officials have indicated they won’t enact strict local regulations.

Westbrook city councilors took up the issue for the first time Monday at a meeting of their Public Safety Committee.

Councilor John O’Hara, a self-proclaimed lover of fireworks, said he believes the law should be consistent statewide so there’s not a “patchwork quilt” of fireworks laws in Maine.

“What kind of government does that to its people? A government that doesn’t want to be responsible to make a decision and stick with it,” he said. “This is not an issue we should be debating.”

O’Hara questioned whether someone who bought fireworks in Scarborough and then drove to Westbrook for an ice cream would be considered a criminal if the city banned possession. “What, do we set up roadblocks now?” he asked.

Natalie Burns, an attorney for the city, later clarified that a municipality cannot ban the possession of fireworks, though Portland’s ordinance prohibits possession of fireworks with the intent to use or sell them in the city.

Council President Brendan Rielly echoed O’Hara’s disdain for the law, calling it “absurdly ridiculous” and “mind-numbingly stupid” to have different regulations from town to town.

Rielly said he has concerns about people creating a nuisance in their neighborhood by regularly setting off fireworks, and questioned if the use could be restricted to rural zones. Still, he said, he’s unsure what, if anything, the city should do.

Only one councilor, Paul Emery, spoke in favor of a fireworks ban in Westbrook. He said he knew people who were injured or killed in accidents involving fireworks. He said he worries that children would get fireworks, even though the law allows only people 21 and older to use them.

“I don’t want tragedies,” he said. “I think we should follow the example of Portland … Keep ’em out.”

Public Safety Director Michael Pardue offered to have the fire department to set up an educational outreach program, which O’Hara suggested could be paid for through city licenses to sell fireworks.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said he will look into licensing fees for the sale of fireworks and seek legal advice on whether frequent use of them could be considered disorderly conduct.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]