The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 14, 2013

Farm burning ban not essential for recycling grant

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — There will be no open burning ban for farmers in East Buffalo Township. Information from the state Department of Environmental Protection incorrectly included them in requirements for a recycling grant.

“We don’t need a total ban” to qualify for a state recycling grant that would let the township buy a wood chipper and a mounted vacuum for pickup and cleanup of brush and leaf waste, Supervisor Thomas Zorn announced before a scheduled public hearing last night at the supervisor’s monthly meeting.

The township’s DEP representative gave the supervisors incorrect information, he said. “There are exceptions under DEP for farming operations.”

Township officials became aware of the error during an executive session last week, Supervisor Henry Baylor Jr. said.

That was good news to the farming community representatives, who packed the house for the meeting. At least half of the 20 people attending were there to discuss the burn ban.

Among them was LaVere Hook, president of the Union County Farm Bureau, who said he was “glad to see everyone is in control” of the situation.

Hook came prepared, noting later that Act 101, which dictates a municipality have a total burn ban to get the state-managed grant, contains an exception — namely Title 25, section 129.14 — which lets burning “in conjunction with the production of agricultural commodities in their unmanufactured state” on  farms.

The township assumed it needed to comply with section 902, which said it couldn’t allow burning of waste whatsoever or it would be disqualified from the grant, as much as $250,000.

“No one likes to make mistakes,” Zorn said. “I’ve always thought we needed to listen to our citizens.”

Zorn said he appreciated not only the vast public response on the issue — the advertisement about the ban and public hearing was last month — but everyone’s civility through the whole ordeal.

“It’s nice to know our supervisors listen,” said Joshua Sadison, among the farming representatives there, adding the supervisors should feel free to come to them with such issues.

Another public hearing on the matter will be advertised soon so that the township may still get in for the grant.