[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Highlands 9-8-1998 by L.L. No. 4-1998; amended in its entirety 8-9-2010 by L.L. No. 3-2010. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to permit open burning in the Town of Highlands, only in accordance with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) laws and regulations, only upon issuance of a permit and only when such burning does not put in jeopardy the health and safety of the residents of the Town and their property.
No person shall set, cause or permit an open fire in the Town of Highlands without obtaining an open burning permit from the Building Inspector. Permits will be issued between May 15th and the following March 15th to allow burning of downed limbs and branches, including branches with attached leaves or needles, which limbs and branches are less than six inches in diameter and less than eight feet in length.
No permit for an open fire shall be issued in the Town of Highlands on a property which is less than one acre in size.
The issuance of a burning permit will be in the sole discretion of the Building Inspector, based on weather conditions, general condition of grass, trees and other vegetation in the area, wind, and the characteristics of the proposed burning site. The Building Department, Fire Department or Police Department may suspend a burning permit and require the fire to be extinguished immediately based on conditions as of the day of the burning.
This permit is nontransferable and may be revoked or suspended if the permit holder fails to comply with any permit condition.
Permits under this chapter shall not be required for the following open fires:
Barbecue grills, maple sugar arches and similar outdoor cooking devices when actually used for cooking or processing food.
Small fires used for cooking and campfires, provided that only charcoal or untreated wood is used as fuel and the fire is not left unattended until extinguished.
On-site burning of agricultural wastes as part of a valid agricultural operation on contiguous agricultural lands larger than five acres actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use, provided such waste is actually grown or generated on those lands and such waste is capable of being fully burned within a twenty-four-hour period.
The use of liquid-petroleum-fueled smudge pots to prevent frost damage to crops.
Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires where not otherwise prohibited by law, provided that only untreated wood or other agricultural products are used as fuel and the fire is not left unattended until extinguished.
Small fires that are used to dispose of a flag or religious item, and small fires or other smoke-producing processes where not otherwise prohibited by law that are used in connection with a religious ceremony.
Burning on an emergency basis of explosive or other dangerous or contraband materials by police or other public safety organizations.
Prescribed burns performed according to Part 194 of the New York Code of Rules and Regulations.
Fire training, including fire-fighting, fire rescue, and fire/arson investigation training, performed under applicable rules and guidelines of the New York State Department of State's Office of Fire Prevention and Control. For fire training performed on acquired structures, the structures must be emptied and stripped of any material that is toxic, hazardous or likely to emit toxic smoke (such as asbestos, asphalt shingles and vinyl siding or other vinyl products) prior to burning and must be at least 300 feet from other occupied structures. No more than one structure per lot or within a three-hundred-foot radius (whichever is bigger) may be burned in a training exercise.
Individual open fires as approved by the Director of the Division of Air Resources as may be required in response to an outbreak of a plant or animal disease upon request by the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, or for the destruction of invasive plant and insect species.
Individual open fires that are otherwise authorized under the Environmental Conservation Law, or by rule or regulation of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Fires and salamanders or other similar devices used by construction workers or other workers for heating purposes or fires essential to street installation or paving activities, the repair of utilities or other similar work.
Before the issuances of any permit under this chapter, the applicant shall pay a permit fee of $35, which fee shall be delineated in Chapter 109, entitled "Fees," of the Code of the Town of Highlands. Annually, the Town Board may review the fees set forth in this chapter. If it is determined that a change or changes be made in such fees, the Town Board may adopt such changes by resolution to be incorporated in the Fee Schedule of the Town of Highlands.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Building Inspector may refuse to issue an open burning permit if, in his/her sole discretion, its issuance would be in violation of the requirements of the New York State DEC or:
A hazardous health condition will be created by such burning.
The burning would, because of weather conditions, cause an undue hazard to the residents of the Town and their property.
There is a determination of forest fire danger in any part of the Town of Highlands or in the Palisades Interstate Park.
All burning permits issued pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to the regulations, conditions and requirements of the New York State DEC.
In addition to any New York State DEC requirements, each permit holder will comply with the following conditions:
Grass clippings and fallen leaves shall not be burned (except leaves attached to branches being properly burned).
Household garbage and/or yard waste shall not be burned, regardless of whether it is contained within a barrel or other enclosure (including outdoor wood boilers).
Tree trunks, stumps and roots shall not be burned.
The permit holder shall notify the local Police Department and Fire Department in writing prior to burning and shall display the burning permit at the burning site.
Materials to be ignited shall be isolated to prevent spreading, and sufficient help must be present at all times to control fires.
No fire shall be unattended at any time or left unattended until entirely extinguished.
The permit holder shall be liable for any damage to property or trees resulting from fires ignited by the burning.
Should it become necessary to extinguish any fire by the local Fire Department, the permit holder shall pay the entire cost of a suppression and shall be responsible for any damages and or lost fire-fighting equipment.
This permit is valid only at the designated location of the permit holder's property or where the permit holder has secured written permission from the property owner. The permit does not authorize any trespass on private property.
A constant source of water with sufficient pressure or other suppression method approved by the Building Inspector must be on site at all times and be attended by the permit holder.
All burning which is subject to a permit will only be allowed from 7:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
The permit duration shall not exceed two weeks.
Every person convicted of violating any provision of this chapter, including any condition of New York State DEC regulations, shall be guilty of a violation punishable as follows:
Any refusal to immediately extinguish a fire as directed by the Building Inspector, Fire Department or a police officer shall be punishable by a fine of $500, suspension of burning privileges for 12 months, and/or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days.
The continuation of an offense against this chapter shall constitute, for each day the offense is continued, a separate and distinct violation hereunder.