[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Muhlenberg 11-19-2001 by Ord. No. 364; amended in its entirety 9-15-2014 by Ord. No. 535. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 57, Burning, Outdoor, adopted 6-21-1971 by Ord. No. 107, as amended.
This chapter shall be known as the "Township of Muhlenberg Open Burning Ordinance."
As used in the Township of Muhlenberg Open Burning Ordinance, unless the context compels otherwise, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- An outdoor fire which is not contained in an incinerator, fixed outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, cooking grill or outdoor wood boiler and which is for the purpose of pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, disposal of brush, warmth or similar purpose.
- CODE OFFICIAL
- The Code Enforcement Official or a Muhlenberg Township police officer.
- COOKING GRILL
- An outdoor man-made appliance which uses charcoal, natural gas or propane as the primary fuel source and is designed and used for the purpose to cook food outdoors.
- EXCESSIVE ODOR or EXCESSIVE SMOKE
- Odors or smoke that would be offensive to the typical human being and which prevails longer than momentarily.
- FIXED OUTDOOR FIREPLACE
- An outdoor, solid-fuel-burning, charcoal-burning, propane or natural-gas-burning fireplace that may be constructed of stone, brick, steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material that is fixed to the real property.
- OUTDOOR WOOD BOILERS
- An outdoor man-made appliance or structure which uses solid fuel, charcoal or propane as the primary fuel source for the express purpose of heating a residential or commercial building.
- Any individual or individuals, partnership, limited partnership, association, corporation or other entity singular or plural, including the responsible officers of any such entity.
- PORTABLE OUTDOOR FIREPLACE
- A non fixed, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material. A portable outdoor fireplace may be of open design or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney.
- The Township of Muhlenberg, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
No person shall burn any material of any kind in the Township, except as authorized by this chapter.
Subject to this chapter, an adult property owner or other adult authorized by the property owner may conduct or allow an open burn on his or her property, in a fixed outdoor fireplace, a portable outdoor fireplace, and/or a cooking grill. However, if, in the Code Official's sole judgment, the open burn poses a risk to life or property and to prevent or abate the nuisances caused by such burning (a nuisance would be defined as ash fallout, smoke accumulation in the area, or excessive odor), the Code Official can require the immediate extinguishment of the open burning. In addition, the Code Official may condition future use of the fixed outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, or cooking grill on such reasonable precautions (such as relocation, type of fuel, etc.) as in the Code Official's judgment would eliminate the nuisance during future use. Failure to comply with the direction of the Code Official shall result in penalties as set forth hereinbelow.
Except as set forth in Subsection A hereinabove, no person may allow a bonfire on his or her property without a permit. A permit application shall be obtained from the Township office. A person must allow at least 10 days for the application to be reviewed and the site inspected. Upon verification that the proposed open burning complies with this chapter, the Code Official shall approve the application or provide a written explanation for denying the application. The permit will be issued for a specific date and time and will expire at the end of the permitted time frame. The following requirements must be met for the issuance of a permit for all other open burning:
The lot must be at least five acres in area;
The burn must be located 30 feet from any building or property line;
The burn must be located at a place where no fire may endanger any structure, building, or other property;
The burn must be supervised and maintained by an adult from the time the burning commences until total extinguishment;
The permit shall expire between sunset and sunrise; and
A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher with a 4A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose, or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.
An annual permit (for a permit year of July 1 through June 30) is required for any outdoor wood boilers. The permit must be renewed annually and expires on June 30 of each permit year. The following requirements must be met for the issuance of an outdoor wood boiler:
The outdoor wood boiler must be located a minimum of 30 feet from all property lines and structures;
The chimney of the outdoor wood boiler must be a minimum of 12 feet high measuring from the connection point of the chimney to the outdoor wood boiler to the top of the spark arrestor;
A spark arrestor must be installed on the top of the chimney;
Compliance with the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code; and
The outdoor wood boiler is not likely to cause a nuisance.
Any permit issued may be revoked, requiring the immediate extinguishment of the open burning, for violations of the issued permit, for burning prohibited materials, or if, in the Code Official's sole judgment, the fire poses a risk to life or property and to prevent or abate the nuisances caused by such burning (a nuisance would be defined as ash fallout, smoke accumulation in the area, or excessive odor).
Permit fees will be set from time to time by a duly adopted resolution of the Board of Commissioners.
Acceptable materials to burn when authorized to burn by permit are charcoal; natural gas or propane; dry, clean logs, twigs or other untreated wood products. Only smokeless fuels or small kindling such as sticks and newspaper may be used to start a fire.
Prohibited materials to start or maintain a fire when authorized to burn by permit are paints; painted or chemically treated wood; railroad ties; telephone poles; plastics; cardboard boxes; paper or paper products; garbage or any other household or residual waste; oil; grease; gasoline; asphalt or products or other petroleum products; rubber; tires; tar or tar paper; dead animals; animal or human waste; pathogenic waste; insulated wire; toxic or noxious materials; cloth; leaves; green yard waste; or any other materials that tend to cause excessive smoke or excessive odor.
The Board of Commissioners may declare a fire ban emergency in Muhlenberg Township with or without consultation with the Emergency Management Coordinator and/or fire chiefs of the local fire companies, during a period of drought or other periods of high risk to woodlands or property within Muhlenberg Township.
Any person convicted of violating any of the provisions of this chapter, or neglecting to comply with any order or notice issued pursuant hereto, upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000, and in default of payment such person shall be committed to the Berks County Prison for a period of up to 30 days.
Each day's continuance of any violation of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense, punishable by a like fine and imprisonment in default of payment thereof.
Any person convicted of violating any of the provisions of this chapter, or neglecting to comply with any order or notice issued pursuant hereto, upon conviction thereof, shall be required to reimburse any fire company and/or Muhlenberg Township for any and all expenses incurred by them in responding to and containing said fire.
The proper officials of the Township are hereby authorized and empowered to take such additional action as they may deem necessary or appropriate to implement this chapter.
The provisions of the Township of Muhlenberg Open Burning Ordinance shall be severable, and if any provision hereof shall be held to be unconstitutional, invalid or illegal, by any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of any of the remaining provisions of the Township of Muhlenberg Open Burning Ordinance.
The Township of Muhlenberg Open Burning Ordinance shall become effective immediately upon enactment or, if later, upon the earliest date permitted by law.