Weekly Feature

2018-09-13 / Editorial

Code updates a necessary safety measure

You’ve likely heard the adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but have you heard the one about a neighbor’s friendly bonfire smoking out the town?

If you summered in West Seneca, you more than likely dealt with one of several neighborhoods where reportedly large and smoky fires ruined the outdoor fun for more people than it gave enjoyment to.

Good weather months in Western New York are few and far between, and residents take advantage of them in many ways. Now, the West Seneca Code Enforcement Office is working to ensure everyone can enjoy their outdoor space.

The town’s current code is lacking, to say the least.

According to information on the town’s website related to fire pits, fires are to be made only in appropriate devices, must be at least 15 feet from a structure and must be attended while burning. Fires are not permitted on wood decks or balconies and not allowed in waste drums, and there must be an available means of extinguishing a fire. Also, burning cannot be objectionable or offensive due to smoke or odor emission and is prohibited where circumstances make fires hazardous.

This is where the town’s stance on recreational fires and fire pits currently ends.

The town’s Code Enforcement Office, Police Department and attorney are working to establish a comprehensive and robust fire pit code that will give the town the authority to regulate such activities and intervene when fires are deemed excessive or unsafe.

As of now, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is the deciding factor on whether actions are authorized. What’s surprising is that it took this long for the town to conclude that the code must be updated.

Bee Heard calls to The West Seneca Bee, complaints lodged at Town Board meetings and reports to the Police Department of unbearable parties involving a bonfire and intrusive smoke have been fairly common for many years. Residents have cited noise complaints, health concerns and difficulty breathing, the restrictive nature of not being able to open windows at night for fresh air, and out-of-regulation fire pits summer after summer.

It’s good to know that the town will get to work when asked, taking on the onerous task of trying to pore through the many intricate chapters of a vague ordinance.

Residents who have complained in the past should now pay attention for the public hearing on fire pit code amendment.

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