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Resident pushes Export to tighten burning regulations

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Last week's sunny, spring days stunk for Donna Thatcher. Because of that, she wants officials to change the ordinance that regulates burning in Export.

Thatcher said that when temperatures reached the 70s last week, she opened the windows of her Filmore Avenue home — only to close them less than an hour later because the stench of burning rubber was permeating her house.

“You can't breathe,” said Thatcher, a former borough councilwoman. “I want to open my windows and have fresh air.”

The borough has a burning ordinance that permits residents to burn every day except Sunday and Monday — on washing day. Thatcher wants that changed, specifically to ban burning anything that emits a stench.

Council Vice President Melanie Litz said she had the same experience on April 1, which led her to support Thatcher's plea.

“It's heinous and toxic and gagging. It's all-encompassing,” Litz said. “It still smells like burning rubber in my house. In this day and age, why does anybody have to burn?”

The same problem happened last April, when Litz brought worries about “putrid” smells in the borough to council and requested officials review the burning ordinance. That hasn't been done.

The ordinance is at least 30 years old and last was reviewed about 10 years ago. At that time, residents were adamant that the burning ordinance stay as it is written, Solicitor Wes Long said.

Thatcher — who resigned from council in 2012 — said she remembers those meetings, and she doesn't care how many residents complain. She wants to officials to ban burning, specifically the burning of rubber and plastic, in the borough.

“It's bad for your lungs. I'm saying that, and I'm a smoker,” Thatcher said. “I'm ready for a fight. I want to breathe.”

Litz said she wants to hear feedback from residents before council decides what to do with the ordinance — but something needs done one way or another, she said.

“Whether the burning ordinance repealed or not, perhaps residents should make their voices heard if the feel strongly about it,” Litz said.

“If it's that important to people, they can line up out the door.”

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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