The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 9, 2013

City to hold public meeting July 17 on outdoor burning

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — The discussion of open burning within city limits was a hot topic at Monday’s City Council meeting, and residents were loud in voicing their concerns.

After a few weeks of residents complaining to the council and Mayor David Persing about outside burning, Persing has announced that a public meeting on the issue will be held at 7 p.m. July 17 in City Hall.

The discussion began after a resident complained about neighbors having fires in their yards and containing them only in homemade devices.

Residents can’t burn any type of garbage or refuse under the existing city code, but nothing in the law says residents can’t have fire pits or campfires in their yards.

Smoke from camp fires blowing into homes and forcing people to shut windows when it’s hot outside was one issue.

During Monday’s meeting, one resident was so fired up about the ordinance that she badgered Councilman Todd Snyder about comments he made to The Daily Item in a recent story. Snyder listened as the woman vented but stood by his comments about the city looking at the ordinance and proceeding with caution.

“It’s one of those things that if someone is purposely blowing the smoke, then, of course, they should be punished,” Snyder said previously. “If you know how to control a backyard fire in order to let your kids roast marshmallows, I don’t see a problem with that.”

Another resident listened for nearly 20 minutes before standing up and saying he had no problems with burning as long as people do it correctly.

Persing is addressing residents’ concerns by scheduling the special July 17 meeting.

“Although Sunbury city code addresses most burning situations for refuse, it does not define recreational burning such as grills and backyard burning containers,” the mayor said. “We want to gather facts in hopes of addressing an addition to our ordinance to define recreational burning, which would include gas and charcoal grills for food preparation.”