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Village Law Proposed For Recreational Open Fires

The Village of Waterville doesn’t want to stop backyard campfires, but wants to better define them for safety and annoyance purposes.

Waterville Village Board members met last week and as part of the one-hour meeting conducted a 25-minute hearing on the updates to the 1985 law that sets restrictions on open burning in the Village.

The original law puts bans on what can be burned, such as garbage, construction materials and leaves and brush. Those follow state regulations prohibiting such burning.

But the 1985 law did not define what rules recreational fires should follow. The proposed law does that.

Proposed is that all recreational fires take place within a container designed for burning, contain a screen and be at least 15 feet away from buildings, driveways and property lines. Only seasoned wood can be used for fuel. A fire extinguishing device also needs to be nearby.

Mayor Gene Ostrander said he gets calls from residents who are bothered by the size, smoke and odor of a neighbor’s fire. The law states that a fire that becomes a bother is prohibited and can be extinguished by the village Codes Officer, Fire Department or law enforcement.

Changed is a section that says the Waterville Fire Department will inspect fire pits to see if they follow the new regulators. Waterville Fire Chief Jarrod Waufle said no one in the department is certified to decide that.

Waufle also raised concerns that some people would call about a fire just to complain or make trouble for a neighbor. He said a couple of years go the department was called five times about a situation on Upper White Street where the homeowner was within regulations of what to burn.

Ostrander said when smoke drifts and becomes a bother, some people would rather not shut their windows but want the fire put out. “There’s a way to do this so it’s not a bother to anyone else,’’ he said.

Waterville’s proposed law changes come from laws in place in Hamilton, Clinton and New Hartford. Ostrander will ask those places how their laws are enforced.

The topic will resume at the Board’s next meeting July 10.

In other matters at the meeting, the Board approved a resolution for…


The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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