West Kittanning mayor considers veto of proposed burning ordinance
West Kittanning's mayor said he may veto the borough's proposed burning ordinance.
Council unanimously passed the ordinance on Monday to control backyard fires and burning, but Mayor James Sobiski said the law, which council based on a sample ordinance from the state Fire Commissioner's office, is too vague and restrictive.
“I just don't think that I can approve of this,” Sobiski said. “To me, this is misleading — it's a burning ordinance that doesn't really let you burn — and I don't want to see it lead the borough into legal troubles.”
Even after discussing the ordinance with West Kittanning police Officer Bob Gahagan, Sobiski said he plans to meet with Solicitor Andrew Sacco, who did not attend Monday's meeting, to discuss the ordinance and his ability to veto it.
Councilman Ken Trudgen said the new ordinance is designed to place limits on burning, which were not addressed in the borough's prior law. It sets limits on what can be burned, and when, he said.
“This tightens everything up, and I really think this is a little more neighborly,” Trudgen said.
The ordinance allows residents to maintain fires with only firewood and prohibits burning any type of paper, cardboard and chipboard, chemically-treated woods, trash, tires, plastics and rubber, oil, shingles and other building materials.
It prohibits the use of a burn barrel and requires fires be kept in a container no taller than two feet above the ground, and no larger than four feet in diameter. Recreational burning, such as campfires, can only take place between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.
“The way it stands, you can't light a fire before 6 p.m.,” Gahagan said. “So, if you're in your backyard, cooking a hot dog or marshmallows over a fire on a Sunday afternoon, before 6 p.m., you're violating the law.”
Anyone violating the ordinance would have to pay fines up to $100.
Councilman Cliff Neal refuted Sobiski, claiming the ordinance was written to be as specific as possible.
Council president Bob Venesky said the ordinance limits the hours so residents aren't plagued by the smell of smoke around the clock, especially during the summer, when their windows may be opened.
“A lot of people up here, especially our older residents, like to hang their clothes out to dry and don't want fires smoking during the day,” Venesky said.
Sobiski said recreational fires should be kept small and shouldn't generate enough smoke to be problematic. The limited time is too restrictive, he added.
Trudgen said council's goal was to get a law on the borough's books, but every ordinance can be amended.
“Ordinances can be amended and, if we see it needs to be changed, we can,” Trudgen said. “We may even take another look at it after it's been in place for a month and see what needs to be changed.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State agents arrest Ford City man on child porn charges
- Christian radio station off air while on the market
- Ford City offers 50-year payment plan for its $581,000 federal debt
- Gateway Clipper making 2 Armstrong County cruises in October
- Lenape adult learning center in Manor offers free job-readiness classes, job training
- Search warrants aim to tie Rayburn killing to Armstrong jail escapee
- Police determine which car was going wrong way in fatal Manor crash
- Dog day of summer at East Franklin pool
- Auctioneer expects quick sales at Ford City High School