GOULDSBORO — Board of Selectmen Chairman Dana Rice has pledged to accelerate drafting a noise ordinance in response to Corea residents’ complaints of gunshots and explosives for an 8.5-hour period over July Fourth weekend. Selectmen plan to scrutinize other Maine towns’ noise ordinances and research enforcing such regulations before drawing up an ordinance to be voted on at a special town meeting.
“We will try to put it on a fast-track and do the best we can,” Rice told several Corea residents in attendance at the selectmen’s meeting July 8.
He said restricting the time of day and rounds fired may help address the problem. He said the board will explore options at some public workshops.
“There’s got to be a balance,” Rice said.
In late spring, Walter Bell was among several Corea residents who complained about hundreds of rounds of explosives being fired in just one or two hours on weekends and weekdays at a private residence in the Paul Bunyan, Peninsula and Grand Marsh roads area. At that time, Bell compared the loud explosions to anywhere from a quarter to a half stick of dynamite being detonated. Since then, selectmen had planned to take a year to research and draft a noise ordinance to put to voters at the 2022 annual Town Meeting.
Last week, Bell reported that the use of explosives for target practice had been reduced to a day and a half per week. Still, he said the continued booms and blasts adversely affected the seaside village’s quality of life. He recounted being awoken by blasts at 12:20 a.m. last Monday. He said the situation wasn’t tenable for another year and pressed selectmen to address the issue in a shorter time frame.
“You guys get to sleep at night, we don’t,” Bell told selectmen, later adding, “If it were a 22 [.22-cailber rifle], I would not be here.”
Asked if they had experienced any retaliation for speaking out, Bell and other Corea residents said they had been subject to verbal reprisals and other aggressive behavior.
Newly elected Selectman Danny Mitchell Jr., who is the Winter Harbor police chief, said harassment and disorderly conduct were offenses that could be dealt with under the law.
“That is something we can deal with,” he said.
In other business, Rice made it known that he would step down from the harbormaster’s position “in the next year or so.” The equally long-serving selectman has overseen the town’s five harbors and seven coves for more than 40 years. He recommended that the Harbor Committee set aside around $20,000 for his successor. Except for January and February, he takes as many as half a dozen related calls daily.
“All of the harbors, except for one, are at a saturation point,” he warned, noting Gouldsboro does not charge mooring fees.