January 3, 2012
A public hearing was held on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 for the purpose of taking public comment on the proposed Burning Ban Ordinance for Westfall Township. The meeting was held at the Westfall Township office on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, Matamoras, PA 18336 at 7:32 p.m.
Those present were Chairman, Robert Ewbank, Vice-Chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors, Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg, and Robert Melvin; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Lisa Green. Also present were Treasurer, Scott Myer; Building Inspector, Shawn Bolles; Zoning Officer, Mike Rendleman; Bill Schneider, Bill Koferl, Jay Edwards, Mark Spatz, Dan Lawless, Joseph Banach, Elaine Shewchuk, John Shewchuk, Debra Banach, Ken Adams, Donna Schutz , Landa Copertino, and approximately 15 members of the general public.
Solicitor Bernathy stated there was a notice placed in the Pike County Dispatch indicating that the supervisors would conduct a public hearing here today January 3, 2012 at the Municipal Building to take comments on the proposed Air Pollution Control Ordinance for the prevention and control of air pollution; defining certain terms used therein; providing for regulations, exceptions, enforcement orders, responsibility of owners and operators, penalties, unlawful conduct, public nuisances, and validity. Following public comment, it will be the Supervisors intention if they so desire to choose to adopt the ordinance. Again, Solicitor Bernathy stated that this ordinance and a summary of the ordinance was advertised in the Pike County Dispatch. Proof of publication will be made available to the public and made part of the record.
Solicitor Bernathy said this ordinance was prepared based on a model ordinance by the DEP. Further stating that it should be made clear that if this ordinance is adopted that no person may permit the open burning of material in the area of the Township which is immediately adjacent to Matamoras Borough bordering Tenth Street, said area containing substandard lots of fifty (50’) feet by one hundred (100’) feet in area. Any other area in the Township this ordinance is not applicable. In that specific area fires may be set for the following reasons:
1) A fire set to prevent or abate a fire hazard:
2) A fire set for the purpose of instructing personnel in fire fighting;
3) A fire set for the prevention and control of disease or pests;
4) A fire set for the purpose of burning clearing and grubbing waste with certain restrictions;
5) A fire set in conjunction with the production of agricultural commodities in their unmanufactured state on the premises of the farm operation;
6) A fire set solely for cooking food;
7) A fire set solely for recreational or ceremonial purposes.
The Supervisors are trying to regulate complaints received for leaf burning and household waste burning.
Solicitor Bernathy asked for public comment from the residents of the township.
Ken Adams of 214 C Tenth Street questioned if this is only 100 feet deep off of Tenth Street. Solicitor Bernathy explained that there has to be some applicability of the ordinance and some reason why it would only be applicable to that area of the township and the reason why is that it is adjacent to Matamoras Borough which has a burning ban as well as leaf collection, but more importantly that’s a very dense area of the township and when someone burns it affects the neighboring parcels; that was the reasoning behind the ordinance. Mr. Adams said his sister’s home is 214 Tenth Street and the property goes back approximately 500 feet. He has been accumulating piles of trees and brush on the property that he has been waiting for a fire drill to burn it. Mr. Adams said he is a member of the fire department and he feels they could call that a drill to go down and burn the pile up. Solicitor Bernathy said he would defer to the chief to see if that would constitute an exception to the ordinance as far as a fire set for the purpose of instructing personnel in fire fighting. Solicitor Bernathy said without that if this ordinance is adopted he would not be permitted to do that. Mr. Adams said he has trees that are being killed by the Pine Bark Borer and he plans on cutting them down and letting them fall. He wants to burn the piles. But he does not want to burn them at this time. He does not want to be a nuisance. He wants to burn them in a safe manner. Solicitor Bernathy said he is looking at the fire chief now and does not want to put him on the spot but without comment from him, if the ordinance does pass he would not be permitted to burn those piles. Mr. Adams questioned how deep on Tenth Street this will be going. Solicitor Bernathy said this has to be discussed by the Supervisors. There has been some discussion and if you look at the zoning map there is a triangle there and as it goes back off of Tenth Street it gets narrower. It is his opinion to adopt the whole triangle.
Donna Schutz of 218 Tenth Street asked if it is only from the Avenue back to Avenue C which is Mr. Ewbank’s neighborhood that is being banned or is it the other side of the Avenue also. Supervisor Ewbank displayed the zoning map for the public to see and explained that the triangle begins where 84 and Tenth Street come together by the Airport goes all the way up Tenth Street to the Mountain then on to the Masurack property at one point in time back out to the firehouse and along 84 back out to where 84 meets Tenth Street. It was asked what they would do with four acres of leaves. Supervisor Ewbank said we are taking that into consideration. Ms. Schutz said compared to people who burn woodstoves and coal that happens everyday from October to March as opposed to three or four days the whole year. Ms. Schutz asked about a fire pit that they like to use and Solicitor Bernathy said that is an exception to the ordinance. Ms. Schutz said then the ordinance is just to prohibit leaves and garbage. Solicitor Bernathy said that is not correct. The applicability of the ordinance is you can’t burn anything with the exceptions of what is in the ordinance. Ms. Schutz asked about what is going to be done with the leaves further commenting on what Matamoras Borough does with their leaf pickup. Solicitor Bernathy said there has been some discussion that it would be done by township personnel. There also may be intermunicipal cooperation. Everything is up in the air at this time. Supervisor Ewbank said we have a history of borrowing each others equipment and that may be an option. Discussion followed.
Landa Copertino says that the DEP gives examples of yard waste and says when we had hurricane Irene we needed to burn the debris. The petition she gathered was showing no one was in favor of burning. They were also in that immediate area that is being proposed. Mrs. Copertino said she has gone to Matamoras board meetings and no one has contacted them as of today regarding the leaf situation. Supervisor Ewbank said they haven’t been approached because this is the first time the burning ban has been brought up. Mrs. Copertino feels that there section of town is being abused by not being allowed to burn. Supervisor Flansburg asked Mrs. Copertino if we struck a deal with Matamoras to pick up the debris would those people be happy who were against the burning ban. Mrs. Copertino said yes they would be happy, there are a lot of seniors there who try to do it themselves or pay to have it done and they just can’t get it done.
Joseph Banach said he has come from Port Jervis and followed Commercial Companies with New York plates dropping stuff off at our composting site. If we are going to start picking up our leaves you are going to have to do something about the commercial companies or the landfill is going to be as big as the mountain behind you. Supervisor Ewbank said he is not sure how to police that issue. It is supposed to be for Matamoras and Westfall residents only. Mr. Banach said there are more New York plates going in there.
Elaine Shewchuk read the proposed ordinance in the dispatch and she wondered if it would leave us open to discrimination. Stating that area is a small percentage of the township. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not believe it is discriminatory. He said it may be challenged but he does not find it to be problematic. Supervisor Ewbank said he had a conversation with the chief today who told him that two people had said they built their homes in Westfall and that they were going to burn they did not care if the smoke went into Matamoras. Supervisor Ewbank said that is what they are trying to prevent. They are not trying to discriminate against anybody.
Debra Banach said there are penalty provisions set up in the ad. Are we setting them up tonight and have we budgeted for them, asking what will it cost for enforcement. Supervisor Ewbank said we have a zoning officer and a police department. Mrs. Banach commented that if the zoning officer is called out on a Saturday to enforce this it is outside of his normal working hours and asked if that has been budgeted for. Solicitor Bernathy said this duty can be assigned to a Supervisor, a code enforcement officer or a zoning ordinance; there is an enforcement order section in the ordinance which specifies who will enforce it but this is echoing the cart before the horse comment. This may not pass. The enforcement order is in section six.
Mrs. Copertino said initially the Delaware Drive section was included and it was not now. Why is that? Who decided to drop this part of town and that part is still active. Supervisor Ewbank said as Solicitor Bernathy read it is because the Tenth Street area is very densely populated and the Delaware Drive area is not and that is why. Mrs. Copertino questioned if we are going to have a new zoning map. Supervisor Ewbank said we have a new zoning map.
Supervisor Banach said we are putting the cart before the horse. This has been going on since 2009 and even before that. There have been issues with who is going to pick up the leaves, who is going to enforce it, how are we going to pay for it and so on. Mr. Ewbank’s at the last meeting said there was an e-mail in 2006 at which time there were four road employees and we were working together with Matamoras Borough. At this time we have two road employees and the burden of the Katz litigation on the taxpayers, we can’t get Matamoras to go to Mashipacong Island to cut trees, so how are we going to get them to work together with us. Supervisor Banach thinks this should be tabled until all these items can be worked out and corrected. Further adding that if his taxes have to go up to hire people to pick up leaves he wants his 68 acres of leaves picked up also.
Mr. Adams asked if he could burn his trees because they are diseased. Solicitor Bernathy said he would ask the opinion of someone who is an expert disease or pest control. Further stating that if Mr. Adams can get some declaration that it is a fire set for the prevention and control of disease or pests, that would be an exception and he would be allowed to do it. Supervisor Flansburg asked when he plans to burn it, stating that if we haven’t passed the ordinance yet maybe he should get it done. Solicitor Bernathy stated if you were clearing a lot to build a house that is an exception also.
A resident stated if you live on Tenth Street all around it there are 4 acre, 2 acre, 1 acre, 2 ½ acre, there are no 50 x 100 lots unless you go up another 300 feet up the road. Solicitor Bernathy stated his understanding is that there are substandard lots he did not say they were all substandard and you have to take that into consideration with proximity to Matamoras Borough.
Linda Schutz asked how many board members live in proximity to where the burning ban will be. Only Supervisor Ewbank. Ms. Schutz said it is a whole ordinance to accommodate for one person. Supervisor Ewbank said it is not only for him there are people in the audience who are in favor of the burning ban. Mrs. Schutz said we are already paying millions of dollars for something that supervisors did not want in there own back yard. Further stating if you are going to do it, it should be all of Westfall or none of Westfall. Solicitor Bernathy said it is one out of five Supervisors. Ms. Schutz said that maybe Supervisor Ewbank should not be allowed to vote on it.
Mr. Banach said he agrees with Supervisor Banach that the cart is before the horse. First we need to get control of the dump or we’ll be back to Katz again. Solicitor Bernathy said he hoped that mentioning Katz was in jest.
Supervisor Ewbank asked Mr. Schneider for confirmation that Matamoras was part of Mashipacong Island.
John Shewchuk said Supervisor Banach has summarized his opinion. He is against the burning ban, believing there could be different times to burn.
Dan Lawless said if we are going to do this you should go a little further and include the trash which has to stop. Discussion followed about the burning of trash which is already illegal.
Public hearing closed at 8:17 pm.
Lisa A. Green