By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
FULTONVILLE -- The village's strict policy against open burning is being modified to allow for restricted recreational open fire pits and barbecues.
The village board of trustees adopted an ordinance last week that requires residents to apply for a permit if they want to have such recreational fires.
"I think this is something that has been needed in the village for a long time," Mayor Robert Headwell said. "Right now there is no open burning in the village of Fultonville at all. What we are doing is opening it up to allow people to do it legally and follow the rules where you can and can't have it."
Residents can get applications through the fire department. After filling out the application, a firefighter will make an appointment to inspect the area and verify that it is safe.
As a reminder, a statewide burn ban is in effect through May 14.
According to the ordinance, fires must be contained in an approved fireplace or similar device, and must not be closer than 15 feet to any building, structure or property line.
Fires can't be larger than 2 feet in diameter or larger than 2.5 square feet in area. The fires also can't extend more than one foot above the burning surface.
The device can't be placed on a combustible surface, such as a wooden deck, nor can it be used on any balcony, porch or deck above grade level. It must be in the vicinity of a reliable water source or fire extinguisher.
The ordinance prohibits open fires if the weather produces wind that causes the embers or smoke to be carried toward a building or combustible material. If there is a complaint about smoke being a nuisance to neighboring property owners it has to be extinguished immediately.
Finally, at least one person older than 18 must be present at all times, from the start of the fire until it is extinguished.
Anyone in violation of the ordinance can be subjected to a fine up to $250.
Trustee Brian Kearns said to some degree, the restrictions may be a little excessive.
"Let's say I live next to Linda, we hate each other, and I am cooking hot dogs on an open burner. She says it's bothersome, so now I have to stop. Do you see how ridiculous this sounds?" he asked.
Headwell said right now, the ordinance allows the village to monitor what is going on, and make sure fires are being handled the way they should be.
"We didn't have anything in place before and if it doesn't work we can do something differently," he said.
Headwell said the ordinance mimics one used by the city of Johnstown, where open burning was also prohibited.
"They went to something like this, and people were happy. They want to have a fireplace," he said.
Trustee Lou Romano raised a concern about getting the word out.
"I have neighbors who don't even know what is going on," he said. "But I am sure they are not the only ones."
Headwell said he would make sure that something was sent out to the residents to inform them of the ordinance.