HOMER CITY — The town council has moved forward with tightening the rules governing trash burning in the borough.
On a recommendation of the public safety committee, council voted 3 to 2 to limit burning to Wednesdays and two Saturdays a month and to require the use of a metal barrel.
Council members Rick Jones, Chris Worcester and Joe Iezzi Sr. favored the new conditions. President Kenneth “Cal” Cecconi and Matthew Black voted no. Council members Jennifer Jaworski and Betty Brown were absent.
On a second vote of 4 to 1 — with Black joining Iezzi, Jones and Worcester — council agreed to advertise the changes. The board could vote in May to enact and enforce the new rules.
Solicitor Michael Supinka said he’d write the recommendations in the form of an amendment to an existing ordinance. The regulation would empower borough police to enforce it.
The amendment would permit trash burning on the first and third Saturdays each month and every Wednesday. There was no mention of a limit on the hours burning would be allowed.
In lengthy discussion leading to the vote, council members, Mayor Arlene Wanatosky and Police Chief Anthony Jellison pondered whether the ordinance should prohibit burning at times of high winds, ban burning that generates nuisance smoke, consider the risk of brush fires or be renamed from “Homer City Air Pollution Control Ordinance” to a title that reflects the safety concerns at its foundation.
Discussion also touched on public awareness of recycling and garbage collection options that would take a lot of discarded materials out of consideration for burning.
“I don’t know if it’s necessary for people to burn, or why people feel that they have to burn,” Wanatosky said. “We have municipal waste pickup once a week … and they will take large items, pieces of furniture, things like that.”
Limbs and yard waste can be delivered to the compost heap at the county recycling center, she said.
“People don’t understand that they can set anything out” for garbage collection, Black said. “They don’t know this. When they want to get rid of branches or whatever — they don’t think of the recycling center just up the road.”
“The ordinance as written eliminates everything that you can put out for garbage,” Jones said. “Nothing that you can put out for garbage can be burned anyway.”
“But they do,” Secretary Karen Valyo said.
The main failing of the current ordinance is a lack of limits on when people can burn. The amendment would take a step toward controlling that.
In other business, council:
• Voted to reopen the municipal office to conduct business on a walk-in basis. Residents now must make an appointment to enter the offices. The change takes effect immediately. Visitors will be required to wear face coverings and follow other CDC guidelines.
• Authorized Disobedient Spirits to serve food and alcohol at sidewalk tables during the summer, mirroring authorizations given the past two years, at the request of owner Robert Begg.
• Accepted a low bid of $72,297.59 from East American Inc., of Route 286, Indiana, to perform the summer street paving project. East American far underbid Quaker Sales and Derry Construction in competition for the borough’s business.
• Authorized the police department to sell two surplus .223-caliber rifle barrels, which Jellison expected to draw offers of $80 to $120.
• Approved Jellison’s recommendation to sell a seldom-used ENRADD traffic speed detection system.
Jellison said former borough officer Mark Craig had offered to pay $1,000 for the system on behalf of the Somerset County-based municipal police department where he now serves.
Supinka said he would research and advise council on any legal restrictions on sale of public property, such as advertising it for bids.
• Jellison urged borough residents to clear the curbs and streets of any grass clippings after they mow their lawns.
Grass on streets can clog storm water drains and poses a hazard to people riding bicycles or motorcycles, he said.
• Jellison again encouraged council to support a fundraising chicken barbecue dinner to support the care of K-9 officer Thor.
The take-out dinner will be limited to the first 200 diners, at 410 each, from noon to 4 p.m. May 22 at the Homer City fire station.
• Heard Wanatosky’s report that the mayor’s office in the borough building now has a new exclusive phone for residents to report issues of concern. The number is (484) 640-5912.
• Noted the posting of 40 “Welcome to Homer City” banners on the decorative light poles lining Main Street.
Each is sponsored by a member of the Homer City Area Business Association.