U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Harrisburg area
 [Register]
Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
Old 09-06-2015, 10:04 PM
 
40 posts, read 78,272 times
Reputation: 41

Advertisements

Just looking to get some helpful advice here. This will probably sound like a strange question but I have lived in many areas of this country and in other countries and I know that traditions and customs may vary from location to location. I do not want to offend my neighbors by saying the wrong thing.

I have lived in Newville town, in Cumberland County for the last 6 months. Since moving here there seems to be constant wood smoke in the air that just sits around the buildings and leaves black residue on our car and patio furniture. For the longest time my husband and I thought that it was from the surrounding farms and such, just cleaning up debris but it seems to be only on weekends. Last weekend my nephew came to visit and had to leave because of breathing difficulties the smoke was so heavy that the air conditioner does not remove it from the air. We took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered that two of our neighbors had huge campfires in their backyards. Since then we have noticed more of the neighbors doing the same thing. These are big fires that you can see from a block away. Not little cooking fires. My one neighbor has a small metal fire container that they cook food on and sometimes I smell marshmallows in the air, a very nice smell. This weekend the wood smoke started Friday night was Saturday evening and night and all day Sunday and is still going at 11 pm. We have not been able to open our windows all weekend.

I did stop by the fire department last week to ask if this is a normal thing and they said it is and it's ok. I just wonder if this is a normal situation in all the towns around this area. Would you mention it to the people that are burning that it bothers you in your home? I have friends that live in other parts of PA that don't seem to have a problem like this. Any advice or opinions would be appreciated. I don't think it's healthy to live in this kind of environment and we might have to look for another place to live.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 09-08-2015, 08:36 AM
 
4,267 posts, read 10,388,879 times
Reputation: 3840
Open burning trash (sometimes brush with poison-ivy, often plastic, sometimes hey, look at the cool colors from burning electronics, pass another Coors Light) seems to be looked on as some kind of constitutional right by many folks in rural PA. If it is regulated it is by local ordinance (local, meaning by specific township or borough). Time, place, or manner of burning regulations vary widely. In one municipality I deal with, there is supposed to be by township ordinance a 2 acre minimum lot size to burn, and no burning after 6 pm, but the person who enforced the ordinance died last year and has not been replaced. Another time we were on top of a mountain and had a birds' eye view of someone starting a forest fire from burning brush in a corner of the yard.

Attempts to regulate open burning in many truly rural municipalities seem to bring certain backlash. If the ordinances aren't online, even going to the township secretary's office to look up the ordinance will probably get people talking about those city people who just moved in who want to send the black helicopters around to stop burning like we always did. Not many would paus to reflect that grandpap had a 100 acre place and yours is 1.65, and grandpap didn't have plastic and Chinese rare-earth elements to burn either.

After numerous trips through the wringer the PA DEP web page on this issue looks like General Information

Municipalities that have communal brush piles and flat-rate collection contracts have a lot less open burning going on. In some really rural areas the counties step up to assist the individual municipalities, and even can set up arrangements like Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority after some forethought and a lot of battles along the way. By contrast, even though you are in one of the fastest growing and wealthiest counties, compare https://www.ccpa.net/124/Recycling-Waste
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-10-2015, 02:32 PM
 
Location: PA
963 posts, read 517,997 times
Reputation: 1662
Quote:
Originally Posted by PABlondie View Post
Just looking to get some helpful advice here. This will probably sound like a strange question but I have lived in many areas of this country and in other countries and I know that traditions and customs may vary from location to location. I do not want to offend my neighbors by saying the wrong thing.

I have lived in Newville town, in Cumberland County for the last 6 months. Since moving here there seems to be constant wood smoke in the air that just sits around the buildings and leaves black residue on our car and patio furniture. For the longest time my husband and I thought that it was from the surrounding farms and such, just cleaning up debris but it seems to be only on weekends. Last weekend my nephew came to visit and had to leave because of breathing difficulties the smoke was so heavy that the air conditioner does not remove it from the air. We took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered that two of our neighbors had huge campfires in their backyards. Since then we have noticed more of the neighbors doing the same thing. These are big fires that you can see from a block away. Not little cooking fires. My one neighbor has a small metal fire container that they cook food on and sometimes I smell marshmallows in the air, a very nice smell. This weekend the wood smoke started Friday night was Saturday evening and night and all day Sunday and is still going at 11 pm. We have not been able to open our windows all weekend.

I did stop by the fire department last week to ask if this is a normal thing and they said it is and it's ok. I just wonder if this is a normal situation in all the towns around this area. Would you mention it to the people that are burning that it bothers you in your home? I have friends that live in other parts of PA that don't seem to have a problem like this. Any advice or opinions would be appreciated. I don't think it's healthy to live in this kind of environment and we might have to look for another place to live.
Welcome to living in the country in rural PA. Unless there is a local ordinance there is nothing you can do. I live in a subdivision in the Appalachian Mountains in southern PA and my neighbors are just like yours. I am one of the fire guys too. Normally weekend nights from just befor dark till 1-2am in my neighborhood. Campfire and Beer ...a normal thing where I live. Nobody says anything. If it bothers you and you mention it to them, it will probably not go well. If you don't like the smell of woodsmoke, you are probably not going to enjoy living there.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-13-2015, 09:51 PM
 
40 posts, read 78,272 times
Reputation: 41
Thanks for the info.

There is an ordinance against it. It's even posted on the town website but no one will enforce it. The neighboring town, Carlisle, made a nuisance ordinance last year to address these kinds of issues. I live in the part of town where there are 15 foot wide row houses for four blocks. Many of these row houses have two or three apartments in them. Last weekend there were fires burning all weekend, sometimes 3 at a time. We could not even go outside and enjoy our patio. We had to leave.

The issue is not whether I like the smell of wood smoke, it's that when you inhale large amounts of it for 8 hours a day 3 sometimes 4 days in a row it can make you sick. In close neighborhoods like this people need to have more respect for their neighbors, especially elderly and small children that might have breathing issues. Back in the day my mother would have been out the door with a bucket of water if someone would have lit a fire to mess up her wash on the line. What a shame people don't have enough common sense to understand the impact of what they are doing.

The bottom line is if you do not want to be able to open your windows all summer long or you have family members that are sensitive to wood smoke you do not want to live in the town of Newville, PA. No matter what their website says, they do not enforce their ordinance against open burning. We are actively looking for another home. Our health is our first priority.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-14-2015, 08:37 AM
 
4,267 posts, read 10,388,879 times
Reputation: 3840
If you are actually within the borough limits (the term "town" is not generally meaningful in PA, some nits meed to be picked, as exactitude is important in dealing with legal authority) and the burning is also within the borough limits, given the tiny lot sizes in the borough it is possible the borough council has some common sense folks on it. I see today that the borough website has no minutes since 2014 posted, which may indicate some administration issues

Try the following:

1. Attend a borough council regular meeting (not planning commission, not workshop - borough council regular meeting) to get a sense of how their meetings proceed. Count the number of people around the front of the room including empty seats in the middle, this number is X.

2. Contact the borough secretary a couple of weeks before the NEXT meeting and ask to be heard for public comment. Typically you get 5 minutes, even if there is no limit say that's what you'd like.

3. Prepare a handout - first page has the date of meeting, your name and best contact information, a fact based description of the situation you're encountering with dates (approximate if needed, but state so), second page is their ordinance from the website with their existing provision circled, third page is a news story or other source regarding what happened in Carlisle, there is no fourth or more page. Avoid naming names of neighbors in the handout, state street addresses. Bring X + 4 copies.

4. Rehearse a presentation to take no more than two to two and a half minutes. Be respectful, courteous, but clear and firm in stating your point. State the same point three different ways, don't have three different points.

This approach would probably work to get some action in about 3 out of 4 towns that I deal with. But I don't deal with Newville.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-21-2015, 08:18 AM
 
40 posts, read 78,272 times
Reputation: 41
Thanks for the helpful detailed advice. Yes we do live in the borough. I will give it a try although we have already spoken to everyone involved in the city council on an individual basis. The borough manager says that the ordinance does not refer to recreational burning which is allowed. The deputy fire chief went out and looked at one of the fires and apparently told them to go right ahead and burn because they started burning more frequently and longer, sometimes all day long. The borough code enforcement is actually the police officers and we have called them repeatedly. We do not know if they have ever spoken to anyone.

On Friday evening the air quality in this area was at code orange level according to the EPA website. It was reported on the local news stations and in most areas burning is prohibited during these times. The air at those levels is dangerous for elderly and children or those with asthma. We had two fires burning all evening, one right across the street and another two doors away. Possibly a third at the end of the block. These are big bonfires, not tiny cooking fires. The smoke was heavy until the early morning hours.

Saturday night we had another similar experience. We now have to close up the house and go inside as soon as the sun goes down because we know the fires will start. In all the places I have lived I have never experienced such a miserable situation. It really is a very unhealthy environment. Hopefully anyone considering moving here will read this and know about the situation before they purchase a home as there are homes for sale in this part of town. I would not want anyone else to have such a miserable time of it. Although being very healthy and active otherwise we are both having respiratory problems after an entire summer of this. We have plans to got to a hotel next weekend if the fires start. I am working on an exit plan for us. I appreciate all the help on this forum. Very good advice.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Settings
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Pennsylvania > Harrisburg area
View detailed profiles of:

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top