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Officials might revise Export burning ordinance

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A “putrid” smell has some Export officials wanting stricter enforcement of the borough's burning regulations.

Councilwoman Melanie Litz said she repeatedly has caught a whiff a “toxic-smelling, putrid burning” in the borough at night. On one Saturday night last month, she first smelled the odor at about 9 p.m. and was awakened by a return of the odor at about 3 a.m. It permeated her house, Litz said.

“It gives you a headache,” Litz said. “I know people like to burn sticks and leaves, but when I smell something putrid that gives me a headache, it can't be safe for anyone.”

Export has an ordinance that limits burning from dusk to dawn and prohibits outdoor burning on Sundays and Mondays because they are “wash days,” solicitor Wes Long said. The ordinance is at least 30 years old, but was reviewed about 10 years ago, he said.

At that time, residents still protested allowing burning on Sundays and Mondays because many residents hang their laundry outside on those days, he said.

Councilman Clay Soles suggested tightening the ordinance but exempting fire pits used for small, recreational fires.

“They're pretty popular, and you're not burning plastics in them,” Soles said.

Export isn't the only community in the region looking to revamp its burning regulations. Whitehall, a borough in Allegheny County, last month passed an ordinance restricting how close a fire can be to a structure, when it can burn and what can be burned. In North Huntington, officials are reviewing the township's recreational burning ordinance, and in Trafford, council is considering allowing burning with a permit every day. Trafford currently allows burning only on Saturdays.

Violating the Export ordinance comes with a fine, Long said. Residents who notice illegal burning should call the borough's code enforcement officer, Mike Stack.

Litz said while tightening the restrictions is a good idea, she doesn't want to see officials go overboard. Instead, she wants residents to be more conscientious.

“Let's not let a few bad apples ruin it for everyone,” she said. “I don't want to move to outlaw burning — that would go over like a lead balloon.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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