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Fire pit rules now approved in Whitehall

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The thick smoke pours out of a backyard fire pit and embers land on valuable property, triggering calls from neighbors to the borough.

Whitehall officials now have a way to address the complaints.

Council members last week, in a unanimous vote, approved an ordinance that places restrictions on open burning and outdoor fire pits in Whitehall.

“It's probably not going to affect them in any significant way, unless their fire becomes a nuisance,” borough Manager James Leventry said.

Borough officials began looking at an ordinance last summer to address the growing number of complaints they were receiving surrounding backyard fire pits, Leventry said. Officials spent months reviewing and amending the ordinance before its final passage.

The ordinance outlines size limits for fire pits, the distance they can be located from a structure and times open flames are allowed.

The rules prohibit outdoor fire places from being operated within 15 feet of a structure, combustible material or lot line. Fires also are banned between 1 and 7 a.m.

Violators could face a hearing before the district judge and a fine of no more than $1,000.

Most residents who use outdoor fire pits likely won't be affected by the new rules, Leventry said.

“Only if their fire generates a call from neighbors,” he said.

Commission vacancy

Whitehall officials plan to interview the two candidates who have expressed an interest in an opening on the borough's planning commission, Manager James Leventry said.

The candidates first will have an introductory meeting with the planning commission to learn about their possible role in the borough, he said.

A seat opened on the commission last month after council approved the resignation of 20-year planning commission member Steven Polome. Polome, who served as vice chairman on the commission, cited concerns from employer, PNC Financial Service Group, that his service on the commission could be a conflict of interest.

The four-year term runs through Dec. 31.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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