Whitehall Council to Consider New Fire Pits Ordinance

A draft ordinance is being prepared that may be made available to the council in time for its Feb. 20 meeting.

The issue over backyard fire pits in Whitehall Borough is coming to a head.

Borough Manager James E. Leventry said that a draft ordinance regarding fire pits is being prepared and may be made available to the Whitehall Council before its next meeting—Feb. 20.

While the new Whitehall ordinance might not be enacted for some time after that, the borough council could start discussing the pros and cons of the draft after being presented with it.

Fire pits were a major topic of discussion at the council's June 20 meeting when some council members admitted to personally enjoying pits while, at the same time, acknowledging why other residents might not.

Councilman Philip Lahr said at the time, for example, that residents have told him that they can't open their windows when a neighbor starts a fire (due to the smoke).

Councilman Glenn Nagy opined that some residents are perhaps just as (if not more) concerned with the "beer-infused noise" that often accompanies the use of backyard fire pits as they are with the smoke.

Leventry said that the new ordinance being drafted for Whitehall will mirror Hampton Township's ordinance regarding open fires and open burning, "with a few tweaks."

According to the Hampton Township website, Hampton allows for "the use of 'small open fires' such as grills, outdoor barbeques, fireplaces or similar devices to cook food with charcoal, natural gas, or wood; or any other fire from which the properties of combustion are emitted directly into the air without first passing through a 'structural chimney.'

"An adult property owner may authorize and allow on his or her property small open fires solely for the purposes of:

  1. Warmth of outdoor workers (only at temperatures below 40-degrees Fahrenheit); and
  2. Non-commercial preparation of food for human consumption, light, ornament, or recreation."

Restrictions exist in Hampton regarding sizes of fires, as well as locations.

As the website states, "Fire pits can be no larger than 4 feet in diameter and no less than 18 inches deep.

"In all cases, the fire must be completely contained within the perimeter of the authorized receptacle. In no case may the combustible material and flame be greater than 16 square feet in area or higher than 3 feet. Also, you may not allow or maintain a fire that creates excessive smoke, excessive odor, or malodorous emissions. Smoke and odors will be considered excessive if they are perceptible beyond the property line of the source of the fire.

"Grills, outdoor barbeques or fireplaces used strictly for cooking shall be a minimum of 10 feet from a house, structure, inhabited area, roadway, utility or property line. In all other cases, the fire shall be located a minimum of 15 feet from the nearest house, structure, inhabited area, roadway, property line, utility, trees or other combustible materials."

In Hampton, "Any police officer or other duly authorized law enforcement officer of the township may, upon investigation, order that any fire be immediately extinguished, abated, diminished, or corrected (in his or her sole discretion) if, in the officer's sole judgment, the fire:

  • is emitting excessive smoke, excessive odor or malodorous emissions;
  • contains prohibited materials or is using a prohibited containment device;
  • is in a prohibited location or size;
  • is emitting sparks or hot ashes that may pose a threat."

You can read guidelines for legal open burning in Hampton here.

"The intent is not to eliminate fire pits," Whitehall Councilman and newly elected Public Safety Committee Chair William J. Veith said in an interview, "but to provide common courtesy to our residents when they are in use.

"Besides the safety committee, we had input from our police and fire chiefs."

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cc February 09, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Ask ne12ukid where no firepits is they seem to be one in the same person.
cc February 09, 2013 at 12:04 PM
Same here Jon and I did go to Whitehall before I had it built to get a permit.
cc February 09, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Margaret we use ours in the summer when it gets down in the 70's at night after we get out of the pool (heated). We do a lot of cooking on it also at night also when we have it going.
cc February 09, 2013 at 12:07 PM
nofire pitts, people that live in townhomes don't have more then 10 feet in the back yard, once again your so clueless.
cc February 09, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Wonder if no fire pitts rides around Whitehall at night just to smell the smoke from fire pits burning and calls the police on them. Most people don't have their windows open at night when people are using their fire pits. NEXT YOU'LL be calling the cops when people use their fire places in their homes and you'll want them stopped also. BTW, my grandmother is 105 and she has burned a fire in her home every day during the winter months and still living and going strong, also lives on her own but does have someone go in and clean for her every week.
NE12Ukid February 09, 2013 at 01:17 PM
but we were told that Whitehall is so CLASSY!
Ken S. February 09, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Why is it that some people in this boro think that we are Upper StClair. We are not! For god's sake it's Whitehall Boro. Granted, it is a wonderful little community, which is one of the reasons it's so charming. Why can't we just keep things the way they are? I don't believe the size of the ordinance code book needs to be enlarged.
Margaret French February 09, 2013 at 02:41 PM
cc WOW Glad to hear your grandmother is doing so good. My mom was 93 the other day.
Margaret French February 09, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Another thing too, if it is hot, most people have AC and have the windows closed anyway.
Margaret French February 09, 2013 at 02:45 PM
My grill has been on my porch for almost the whole time I lived here (30 years). I am not putting it in my back yard or anywhere other than where it has been all this time.
Margaret French February 09, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Amen old man! If it keeps getting much worse then mine will be one of them too. I would hate to move though since I have such good neighbors except for the two crackpots.
Vincent Bereznicki February 09, 2013 at 03:07 PM
I use to use my fire pit year round, I was cautious of my neighbors and burned only dry wood and kept my music low, in 16 years I never had a complaint. I no longer do this because of pollution. Not from the smoke mind you, I,m talking about noise pollution. For the past 8 years from May up until November every Sunday. Caste host a event that drives us inside. I am talking about the car cruse,s The noise from the music may sound good in the parking lot but by the time it reaches my house its noise pollution. I and my neighbors cannot enjoy our yards we are forced inside, On nice cool days in spring,summer and fall we cannot open our windows to air out the house we have to run our a/c's to cool our house, if your watching TV you have to turn it up. I and my neighbors have complained to the point that we gave up. The Police say its not their problem and they are no were to be found when people leaving the event go racing up Baptist. Others say call Frishes restaurant they sponsor the event, tried that it did not work. So me and my neighbors will stay inside and pray for rain each Sunday. PS I don,t even want to get started about the vac trucks and leaf blowers at Caste between 5 and 5:30 AM each morning.
Margaret French February 09, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Vicent-I am the opposite side of Caste Village that you are and we hear it up here too but not as good. I can imagine how loud you hear it. How about light pollution? (yes, there is such a thing!) My one neighbor has such a bright spotlight on during certain hours that it blinds me when I walk out my front door. It also has to be annoying for anyone driving along this street. He needs to aim them down and not straight out. Talking to him won't do any good, he is that type of person... just like the crackpot on the side of me. I have a couple HUGE lights in my garage and when it is nice out I am going to set them up and blind him back. LOL When he complains to me I will tell him about his blinding everyone. That might be the only way to get through to people like that.
susan February 09, 2013 at 04:19 PM
i would really like to know more about the halfway house on provost and the address if you would please reply to this Deb!
bd February 09, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Just a few weeks ago, there were comments posted of how Whitehall Borough was so "classy." Crackpots, light pollution, noise pollution, etc. doesn't sound too classy to me.
susan February 09, 2013 at 04:45 PM
could you please tell me more about this issue as i thought we had to all be informed of such a place being brought into our neighborhood
old man February 10, 2013 at 02:18 AM
It doesn't matter what municipality you live in. They all have there share of idiots and troublemakers. As for the fire pits I am sure by the time they get done regulating the location, how big they can be and the times you can use them, not to mention the permit you will have to purchase it will not be worth having one. You have to understand government whether it be local or federal, wants to control every aspect of your life.
cc February 10, 2013 at 02:24 AM
Margaret happy birthday to your mom. My grandma is special, she still cooks everything from scratch and doesn't buy any process foods. All fresh fruits and veggies, nothing in cans or processed foods. Think this is the way to live a long healthy life.
Margaret French February 10, 2013 at 04:45 AM
old man- Yep, you are right, every neighborhood has their share of idiots and/or troublemakers. It is just a shame they make things miserable for the rest of us.
Vincent Bereznicki February 10, 2013 at 02:32 PM
old man- Whitehall council is just like those in Washington, They make up feel good regulations and laws to please the squeaky wheel while the silent majority lets it happen. Besides, Whitehall does not enforce the codes already on the books. What makes them think they can enforce this new one, form a fire pit patrol?
dl February 10, 2013 at 02:48 PM
The halfway house is listed on the web too. Just Google Provost Rd Pittsburgh halfway house. Six months and no response. It's called Fresh Start House! Ive got a revolving door of drug addicts, alcoholics and very unseemly looking people trolling up and down my street from the bus stop in front of my house every day. Not even licensed and I've contacted the dept of health too. No one cares I guess but me and my neighbor. Yeah, fire pits are of the utmost importance. More regulations to pay peoples salaries so they can keep making more regulations to fine us for.
cc February 10, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Sandra I have the same question on that one. My grill is built in on the patio with natural gas going to it and would hate to have to move it along with a gas line to the middle of my property. We installed that 20 years ago and we cook out all year on the grill even if there is 2 feet of snow and sub weather.
cc February 10, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Don't forget about them picking garbage up down in Caste Village at 3-5 am in the morning.
cc February 10, 2013 at 04:18 PM
There is 3 Half Way homes in the Baldwin/Whitehall area. 2 in Baldwin and 1 in Whitehall. The one on Provost is called Fresh Start. "Welcome to the Fresh Start House...... The Fresh Start House is a women's sober living home. Our program is structured to provide a safe and supportive living environment for our residents. We strive to help people achieve lasting sobriety while learning how to live a life of integrity and purpose." These halfway homes started popping up in neighborhoods when our Government started shutting down mental hospitals, as the government felt these people need to be out living in the real world.
Dave Green February 11, 2013 at 05:14 AM
nofire pitts: GET A LIFE! Or go live in a bubble!!
NE12Ukid February 11, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Off your meds again? So sad about those hallucinations you get, cc!
NE12Ukid February 11, 2013 at 01:41 PM
If you are trying to say that townhomes have less THAN 10 ft. depth in back, THEN that is true about some townhomes, not all. It is also true about some single family homes.
NE12Ukid February 11, 2013 at 01:47 PM
It's some of the responses here that lack class IMO, bd.
Margaret French February 11, 2013 at 04:27 PM
cc- are you going to go to the meeting to see if they discuss it? I am going to try to make it.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 22, 2013 at 02:49 AM
UPDATE: "Whitehall Council Posts Open Fires Ordinance" - http://patch.com/A-2jpL


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