This adult female piping plover, was photographed with a zoom lens on a Scarborough beach in 2019. Residents spoke in support of a proposed consumer fireworks ban after bringing forward concerns about how the noise may affect the birds. Tammy Wells Photo

SCARBOROUGH — On April 7, residents spoke in favor of a proposed consumer fireworks ban that would affect Scarborough’s beaches and marsh areas if passed.

In March, the Town Council and ordinance committee brought forward amendments to the town’s consumer fireworks ordinance after residents of and near Higgins Beach said they were concerned about how the explosives impact the local wildlife, including piping plovers, a near-threatened bird species that nests on the beach, and other community members.

The amendments would ban consumer fireworks south of Route 1, which covers all of Scarborough’s beaches. Currently, consumer fireworks are permitted four days of the year throughout the town.

Glennis Chabot of Houghton Street said that last July 4, there were 10 adult piping plovers and nine chicks on Higgins beach.

“There were also, on July 4, 126 least tern nests,” she said. “That means 252 least tern adults, and there were 14 least tern chicks. That’s a lot of endangered species. With the exploding of fireworks, we were able to observe the startled adults take to the air and disappear into the night sky, and we have absolutely no idea how many returned after that explosion.”

The changes to the ordinance address safety concerns as well, said Alyson Bristol of Bayview Avenue.

“I support the proposed amendments to the fireworks ordinance,” she said. “I think it’s a good compromise from banning fireworks totally in Scarborough in a way that protects all the beaches and the marshes … Yes, it’s about the endangered species on the beaches, but down here in Higgins, we all have very small lots, so its impossible for people to legally enjoy consumer fireworks on private properties without the debris falling onto other properties, which has been the case since I’ve been here.”

Elizabeth Jesmain of Peal Street also addressed safety concerns she said she has.

“I’ve witnessed concurrent fireworks displays that were so numerous, at one time walking through the streets of Higgins Beach was disorienting,” she said. “You couldn’t hear people next to you. You felt disoriented, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Since the consumer fireworks have been legalized, the nature of our community has been degraded, with the 4 of July and New Years becoming repeated nights of fear.”

The council is slated to make a final vote on the ordinance amendments on April 21.

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