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Village of Massena supports open burning code ideas

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MASSENA - There recently wasn’t worry about mosquitoes overnight with temperatures and winds driving the wind chill factor down in the 40 below zero mark, but the pesky little pests could also face challenges in the spring and summer a village officials consider revising its current open burning ban.

Code Enforcement Officer Ken McGowan presented the village board with a draft proposal that would allow recreational fires, with some restrictions, inside the village boundaries.

“People in the community wanted to know why you couldn’t have one of those little barbecue pits in the back of their house in the summer so they could sit outside in the evening. I said, ‘Well the village law says you can’t have open burning. We’ll do a little research and see what we can find,’” Mr. McGowan said.

“I talked with (Village Clerk Patricia M. Dumas) extensively and us guys at the fire station, and we started Googling and other communities in New York state have code where you could have open burning as long as you had some type of fire protection in place, you had to be there, it had to be dry wood, etc. So after talking about it extensively, we copied a bunch of code that was already in place from other municipalities and we put it together,” he said, noting the village attorney was also involved in the effort.

“Basically the way we feel (is that) they’re out there. Any summer night you go for a walk and you can smell them. The stores are selling them. What we want to see, if the village is going to allow it, let’s put something in place so they’re done safely - give the people some guidelines. Use the dry wood, not wet wood, and if your neighborhood doesn’t like it, the neighbor can still call the code office and call the police department. If it’s a nuisance, they can extinguish it. But as long as it’s done safely, we don’t see it being an issue.”

Trustees Patricia K. Wilson and Francis Carvel, who are both on the fire committee, were very supportive of the idea.

“I like the idea because people are doing it. Let’s make sure they do it in a safe way that’s not annoying their neighbors, burning stuff they shouldn’t burn; putting in the right code so that they do it the right way but allowing them to do it,” Ms. Wilson said. “I think it’s a good idea personally.”

“I think it’s a good idea. Like we said, they’re already doing it and this way here at least it gives them an idea of how they’re supposed to do it properly, you know don’t put it up against a building or something,” Mr. Carvel added.

Village board members will have an opportunity to make changes to the draft proposal at their next meeting, and a public hearing may be scheduled after that work is completed.

Recreational fires, according to the draft proposal, are designed as an outdoor fire burning materials oher than rubbish where the fuel is contained in a container designed for burning that bas a total fuel area of three feet or less in diameter and two feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.

The proposal says recreational fires cannot be conducted within 25 feet of any building unless the fire is contained in a barbecue pit or an outdoor fireplace.

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