Township supervisors want to change burning law

June 07, 2005|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Washington Township likely will ban most outdoor burning beginning in August, but residents still will be able to burn much of their household trash, and the township will have a curbside leaf pickup program.

The draft ordinance reviewed Monday night by the Township Board of Supervisors will ban the burning of brush, tree trimmings, yard waste, demolition and construction debris and recyclable materials if the ordinance is approved in July. Recyclable materials include glass bottles, aluminum and bimetal cans, steel cans, number 1 and 2 plastic containers, newspaper and cardboard.

If the ban is not passed, the township risks losing approximately $300,000 in Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection grants for a recycling building and equipment, according to Township Manager Michael Christopher.


"This is not a prohibition of trash burning in burn barrels," Christopher said. That is not mandated by DEP, he said.

Despite the allowance for paper plates, napkins, packaging and other household trash, the proposed ban prompted questions from a few residents.

Terry Sebold said she lives on a large property and the township's plan to have waste haulers pick up brush and tree trimmings twice a year seems inadequate.

Christopher said residents will still be able to haul yard waste to the township transfer station and drop it off at no cost.

"How do you like marshmallows?" he asked Sebold, making an oblique reference to exceptions to the burn ban that allow for fires solely for recreational or ceremonial purposes and cooking.

"Who doesn't like to sit around a little campfire?" said township attorney John Lisko.

There are also DEP-approved exceptions for firefighter training, foliage cleared from new construction sites and fires set for agricultural purposes on farmlands, according to the draft ordinance.

Mingling construction debris or other banned materials in those fires, however, would be a violation, Christopher said. The proposed ordinance allows for fines of $100 to $1,000, or jail sentences of 10 days to 30 days for violators.

Township crews would pick up leaves weekly in the fall, but Christopher said residents would have to buy biodegradable leaf bags.

"We don't really want to spend taxpayers' money going around picking up leaves," Christopher said at one point. Residents dropped off more than 200 tons of yard waste last year that was composted and used to enrich the soil at the Pine Hill Recreation Area, he said.

Resident Bob Peiffer, a member of the township planning commission, said he lives on a wooded lot and has a lot of leaves each autumn. Christopher said he could still bring them into the transfer station at no cost.

"I can't see that I'm going to bag all those and haul them in myself," Peiffer said. "You may see smoke on the mountain."

Details of the leaf pickup program are not finalized and Supervisor Arthur Cordell said some accommodation may be possible for residents in Peiffer's situation.

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