White Township officials agreed to look at other municipalities’ burn ordinances in response to a complaint by two Heritage Oaks residents, but the township supervisors warned that crafting an ordinance that fits both high-end neighborhoods and agricultural areas is difficult.
Kevin and Laura Kubica and Tom Ott, of Westwood Court in Heritage Oaks, told the supervisors Wednesday that the owners of Renosky Lures, on Christy Park Drive, frequently burn something that lets off a foul odor in a large burning pit near their properties.
Kevin Kubica said he has lived on Westwood Court for almost a year, and that the smell is so bad his family is unable to sit outside some evenings when the fire is burning. He said the pit is about 15 feet by 20 feet, and that it’s 30 to 50 feet away from his yard.
“There’s no reason we should have to endure that,” he said. “(The smell) is so bad that we had to go inside.”
The township’s burning ordinance allows the burning of wood or wood products, such as paper, though recycling is encouraged. Burning plastics or Styrofoam or rubber is not allowed.
(There is currently a burn ban in place, and Kubica said the business has not been burning since they were informed of the ban.)
Chris Anderson, the township’s assistant manager and code enforcement officer, said he has been out to the area but that he has not seen any ordinance violation.
By the time he arrives, there’s just ash and he can’t tell what was burned, he said. He offered to swing by on his way home to keep an eye on the situation.
But Kubica asked whether the township could amend the ordinance, requiring that any burning be back further from property lines or that burning be allowed on certain days of the week but not on others.
“I just can’t find it realistic that a business can have a 15-foot-by-20-foot trench (for burning) within eyesight of my backyard. I can’t grasp how a business can do that,” he said.
He also asked whether the township would take a sample of the ashes to determine what had been burned, and offered to help with the cost of that.
Supervisor George Lenz said taking ash samples are beyond what the township can do, but that the Department of Environmental Protection can take them.
Laura Kubica said they have filed a complaint with DEP. And he suggested that township officials look at other ordinances to get ideas.
But he also said the township has to be careful because the ordinance will apply to everyone, both the neighborhoods and the farmers.
The township is half rural or agricultural and half neighborhoods, which “makes it awkward,” Lenz said. “We have to somehow come up with a balance.
“We do acknowledge your problem, and it’s not new.”
Supervisor Gail McCauley assured them that the township is taking their concerns seriously.
“We are not going to ignore your problem, but we will not rush to make a decision” about amending ordinances, she said. “I don’t think we can guarantee that we can come up with a perfect solution … but we will try.”
Solicitor Michael Delaney said that even if Renosky Lures is not violating any ordinance, the neighbors can take the business to court claiming that they are a nuisance and asking the court to enjoin Renosky Lures from burning.
Anderson said he would continue to monitor the burning and would look at other ordinances to see how those municipalities handle burning.
In other business, the supervisors:
Agreed to allow members of Laurel Highlands On and Off Road Bicycle Association to help maintain the trail system in the White’s Woods neighborhood and to create a map of the trails, under the supervision of Recreation Director Ryan Shaffer.
Members of the organization often ride in the woods and want to be able to remove fallen trees from the trails as they come across them or help restore muddy or washed-out areas. Delaney said that so long as everything they did was under Shaffer’s supervision, he was not concerned.
Voted to renew the vision insurance contract at no change in costs: $672 per person or $1,485 per family.
Voted to pass a resolution saying the township has no issue with Family Promise of Indiana County Inc. obtaining a small games of chance license. The township does not issue the license but must sign off on it before a license will be issued.