Upper Salford supervisors were petitioned Tuesday night to ban open burning in the township, a proposition which was met with opposition by several residents.
Denise and Michael Baron of Heflin Road told the board that for the past two years, a new neighbor has become a problem with constant burning of “incredibly large” piles of wood and related debris. Denise Baron stated that the marathon burning sessions can last as long as eight hours at a time.
And it’s not just yard waste from their property—the neighbor is also constantly cutting down the wooded area around his property, they said. The ongoing burning has resulted in unwanted smoke, causing respiratory problems and soot which contaminates the Baron’s property. The Barons both suffer from asthma.
Besides environmental concerns, the neighbor’s huge burn piles are reportedly dangerously close to the dense wooded tree line.
Denise specified that both she and her husband have approached the neighbor on at least one occasion about the issues and were assured that it would stop, but it did not. The individual did, however, comply with all burn bans issued by the township.
The Barons strongly urged supervisors to ban all open burning.
But other residents didn’t agree. Tom Brown of Old Skippack Road, Denise Hallman of Salford Street, and Cindy Gerhart of Salford Station Road all said they were in agreement that a total ban was unnecessary and would create a hardship for those who cannot afford to hire a professional tree expert.
The township also doesn’t offer a compost pile for residents to drop off yard waste.
Those residents said they thought the board should deal with the inconsiderate neighbor one-on-one and not penalize all township residents. They said they were sympathetic to the Barons’ situation and noted they always attempt to be considerate of their neighbors when burning.
Supervisors responded by saying they needed to do more research before making any decisions—which could include burn restrictions. However, the township does not have a fire marshal, making enforcement more difficult. Currently, the responsibility falls under the jurisdiction of the code enforcement officer.
The board, though, was hesitant to vote on an ensuing resolution to lift the current burning ban despite recent wet weather conditions.
None of the supervisors made a motion to approve the resolution, despite the recommendation of the fire chief to do so. When the board attempted to move on with the next item of business, the residents asked supervisors if the ban was to remain in effect; and, if so, how much more rain was needed to rescind the ban.
The ban was issued as an emergency declaration because of the extremely dry weather conditions, they noted.
Supervisor Richard Sachs, an active member of the Upper Salford Fire Company, made a motion to approve the resolution, agreeing that it was only an emergency declaration. Supervisors Kevin O’Donnell and Ted Poatsy agreed and the resolution was approved.
In other news, the board agreed to adopt initiatives to be recognized as an Audubon Bird Town municipality. In doing so, they will join the ranks of 13 others in the state, including neighboring Lower Frederick Township.
The program encourages municipalities and their residents with promoting bird health and life. Additionally, it promotes “green living,” cultural community conservation and proper native foliage management—which includes water run-off management and the reduction of synthetic chemicals in the environment.
Stephen Saffier, of the Audubon Society, was on hand to give an introduction presentation prior to the vote being taken. The resolution noted that the recreation committee will be the township’s liaison and representative to the society.