Fireworks in Town Sparks Discussion

May 24, 2013

by Kristen Hoffman

Litchfield residents complaining of incessant fireworks are going to have to grin and bear it for the mean time.

After a discussion with their legal counsel, the town found out that there is no specific ordinance in place to allow for a permit process prior to private citizens using “permissible” fireworks on their own property.

Fireworks have been a hot button issue in the town for several years now, always reigniting in the summer months.  According to Town Administrator Jason Hoch received a letter from a resident who was concerned with the constant barrage of fireworks on non-holidays.

Selectman Frank Byron said many of the complaints are centered around his neighborhood in southern Litchfield.  But, he said the complaints may be less about fireworks and more about general noise, “The Londonderry Police Department has a target range just over the Litchfield line,” Byron said, noting that some of the pop sounds residents have associated with fireworks may actually be gun shots.  Another cause of the noise could be the Londonderry Fish and Game Club, which is physically in Litchfield on Lund Drive.

Lund Drive is situated along the far northeast corridor of Albuquerque Avenue.  Recently, the club held a fireworks demo for a vendor.  The concerns were focused around this time.

Despite the recent rash of concerns, this discussion was a continuation of a conversation held in October 2012, and according to Hoch, included an extensive list of times.

It is legal to purchase and use fireworks within the state of New Hampshire, but the way the RSA is set up, the town has to vote to allow permits for the use of fireworks.  Litchfield never had such a vote so it is legal to use fireworks without a permit within the town.

Select board member Brent Lemire asked if the town needed to issue permits for the use of fireworks.  Board Member Kevin Bourque answered that the only permits given out by the Fire Department are burn permits.  According to Lemire, the use of fireworks was brought up years ago when there were several fireworks related injuries in town during the course of one summer.  Through the use of legal counsel, it was determined that there was never an ordinance specifically applying to fireworks enacted in the town.  The closest ordinance is a noise variance, which state that nothing should exceed 175 decibels.

Left without a permanent solution, Selectmen Chair John Brunelle asked that residents who are bothered by actual fireworks within the neighborhood should contact the Police Department.