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Regulations for recreational fires on hold in Massena

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MASSENA — A code change that would have allowed recreational fires in the village with regulations was placed on hold Tuesday after a resident raised concerns. Ruth Elmer, who said she has asthma, spoke out against the change.

“I am very much opposed to this,” she said. “I don’t usually make waves, but tonight I want a tsunami to put out all of those little fires you want to build.”

The prospect of more fires should be troubling to other people suffering from lung ailments, she said. “Breathing is our innate right. We should be able to breathe fresh air,” she said. “I can’t enjoy the outdoors because there is too much smoke. I have to close up all my windows and doors just like in the winter. If people want to have a campfire, they should go camping.”

Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld said he had not thought about such concerns until Ms. Elmer brought them up.

Later, after also hearing from former Fire Chief Thomas C. Miller and Fire Chief Ted Krywanczyk, Mr. Ahlfeld made a motion to table the law.

Mr. Krywanczyk said the matter should be jointly discussed between the village and town, as the fires would still be illegal outside the village.

Trustee Francis J. Carvel also voted to table the law. “The lady here comes with a good point,” he said.

Mayor James F. Hidy, who was joined by Trustee Albert C. Deshaies in voting against tabling the law, tried to ease the concerns raised. He said the law would require people to burn wood, while also requiring fires to be contained in a fire-burning apparatus.

“It addresses the problems of the pungent cardboard,” Mr. Hidy said. “If you have a neighbor burning something other than wood, call the fire department or code office.”

While the mayor said he understood Ms. Elmer’s concerns, he also said the village includes 10,000 other people who might want to have fires in their backyards. “Everyone’s entitled to enjoy their backyards. We have people with kids who want to roast marshmallows or whatever,” he said. “We can’t discount them.”

With Trustee Patricia K. Wilson absent, the vote to table the measure ended in a tie.

Section C of the proposed ordinance states, “A recreational fire that is hazardous, offensive, objectionable, or unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property due to smoke or odor emissions shall be prohibited.”

Section D reads, “The Code Enforcement Officer, Fire Chief or Chief of Police or his or her designee is authorized to order the extinguishment of a recreational fire which creates or adds to a hazardous, offensive, or objectionable condition.”

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