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New Franklin reviews open burning laws

9/27/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

NEW FRANKLIN — An expert on open burning regulations clarified current regulations on the subject and advised New Franklin officials on how to deal with residents who are flouting those laws at the Sept. 19 New Franklin City Council meeting.

New Franklin Councilwoman Judy Jones (at large) arranged for Debbie Wallen, an environmental specialist with the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District, Serving Portage, Summit and Medina Counties, to attend the meeting to clarify the issue in response to a number of complaints to city officials.

Wallen handed out copies of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on open burning at the meeting. Those regulations define open burning as lighting an outdoor fire without a chimney or stack. Open burning is a problem because it can release toxic fumes and pollutants that affect air-quality standards and the health of humans and also can corrode metal siding and damage paint on buildings, according to the material.

The regulations prohibit the burning of trash, garbage (food wastes) and residential waste, as well as certain materials, such as rubber and tires, cars and auto parts, plastics and dead animals.

Open fires that are allowed include: cookouts and campfires no larger than 2 feet high and 3 feet wide, using only clean seasoned firewood; agricultural waste and plant matter such as tree trimmings, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery, as well as fence posts and scrap lumber but not buildings, land clearing waste or dead animals; and ceremonial fires no larger than 5 feet high and 5 feet wide.

Homeowners must notify in writing and receive written permission from the Ohio EPA prior to burning agriculture waste and plant material, with the fire being set at least 1,000 feet from a neighbor’s inhabited building, and for ceremonial fires, which cannot be longer than three hours in duration.

New Franklin does not have open burning laws and uses state regulations, according to New Franklin Fire Department officials.

Wallen said violations, usually directed to offenders who ignore repeated warnings, are a misdemeanor and can result in a $1,000 fine. She also told city officials she can levy a fine either after personally witnessing a fire or based on a fire or police department report, but not based on a neighbor’s account of the problem.

For more details on open burning or to report a problem with open burning, visit www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/general/openburning.aspx or contact the Ohio EPA Northeast District office at 800-686-6330.

In other business during the meeting, Council approved the following:

• the purchase of property and liability insurance in the amount of $55,659;

• agreements with J.P. Farley as the third-party administrator, Excess Reinsurance as the stop-loss carrier and Cigna Health Network, for the city’s self-insurance plan covering medical benefits, effective Oct. 1;

• the transfer of $50,000 from the General Fund to the Dispatch Fund to ensure positive balances; and

• the transfer of $14,577 from the Income Tax Fund to the Franklin Park Civic Center Fund. Jones and Councilman Harry Gehm (at large) voted against the legislation after discussions raised concerns for bypassing the charter’s requirement that the 5 percent of the 1 percent income tax collected should go to parks.

Finance Director Susan Cooke stated that Franklin Park Civic Center, also known as the Tudor House, is a park, and thus the allocation was permitted.

Legislation to enter an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the Cleveland-Massillon Road resurfacing project involving the section of road within the city limits and estimated to cost $860,000, with 80 percent to come from ODOT and 20 percent ($168,000) from New Franklin, was placed on time.

Two rezoning ordinances, including changing the classification of 105 waterfront lots from R-3 (High Density) to R-L (Lakefront Residential) and two parcels on the southeast corner of Manchester and West Turkeyfoot Lake roads from B-2 (Heavy Commercial) to R-2 (Medium Density), also were placed on time pending recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The next regular Council meeting will be Oct. 3 starting at 6 p.m. with committee meetings and at 7 p.m. for the regular meeting in City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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