MASSENA - The village board held a public hearing in February to discuss whether to enact a set of rules that would regulate open burning in the village.
After hearing from an elderly woman, who was concerned with the effects the fires could have on her health, the proposed changes in the local regulations were tabled.
Mayor James F. Hidy, who said he has since heard from many residents of the village looking to have fires on their property, revisited the issue at this week’s board meeting.
Although board members were unwilling to make a motion that would have created a set of regulations connected to recreational fires in the village, Mr. Hidy offered citizens hoping to have an outside fire on their property a piece of advice.
“According to the law as it stands now, as long as you have a packet of hot dogs or some marshmallows next to you, it’s OK,” he said, explaining the law does not prevent fires which are being used for cooking. “There’s a loop hole for you.”
Mr. Hidy said he has received several calls from people looking to have recreational fires on their property and suggested the move to update the local law had been sidetracked by the concerns of one “old lady” appearing at the public hearing on the issue this past fall.
Trustee Francis Carvel said many of the calls he has received were from residents opposed to allowing recreational fires in the village. He said people he talked to noted the proximity of many of the homes in the village and shared concerns about fires that are left smoldering for hours with the smoke drifting into neighboring homes.
“I’ve had several people call me, but only one person was for it,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘We’re the cancer capital of the world, what do we want to do, add to it?”’
Trustee Patricia K. Wilson asked Fire Department Foreman Ken McGowan if the fire department or code enforcement office have received very many complaints connected to open fires in the village.
“A few, but most of them have been cooking food,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Mr. Hidy said he didn’t care whether the new regulations were passed; he was simply bringing concerns brought to him by citizens to the table. He cited the names of two village residents who had discussed the issue with him this week.
“It’s up to the board,” he said. “I don’t care either way.”