There’s a burning issue growing in the town of Peru.
The Peru Town Council addressed an issue during its meeting Monday night of recent agricultural burning by a local farm. The burnings have spread ash and smoldering leaves over the area for the past two weeks and have resulted in numerous complaints from residents, according to Town Supervisor Peter Glushko.
The burning of brush and other organic matter is normal this time of year, said Glushko, and agriculture establishments are exempt from New York State burning regulations. However, this year, instead of burning brush and small twigs, a local farm, Adirondack Farms, is reported to have been burning large amounts of tree stumps from clearing an estimated 120 acres of land.
“Normally, you get your burning over and done with in one day and you don't get a lot of complaints about that,” Glushko said. “The problem is these wet stumps are just burning and burning and there is a lot of them.”
The first complaint came to Code Enforcement Officer Frank Slycord Oct. 11. Since then, at least six complaints have been made.
According to a state Department of Environmental Conservation open fires regulation, exemption for “on-site burning of agricultural wastes” states as long as said waste is grown or generated on at least five acres of land, is used for agriculture and can be fully burned within a 24-hour period, it is permissible to burn.
“We’re getting all kinds of complaints here and we don't have anything to deal with this,” Glushko said. “All we can do is refer them to DEC and [the Adirondack Park Agency] and tell them to give those people a call, maybe if enough people give [the DEC] a call, even agriculture will have to take a back seat to this and do something other than burning all these stumps.”
The burning has sent smoldering leaves into residents’ yards, ash has stuck to cars, and has irritated residents who suffer from respiratory issues, stated Glushko.
“We can’t regulate agriculture, and we certainly don’t want to discourage agriculture, we just hope there can be a solution,” said Glushko.
DEC regional air pollution control engineer Jim Coutant said the burning of tree stumps is a “gray area” of the exemption.
“We don’t want things smoldering for days and we prefer not to have people burn stumps because it is unlikely to completely burn within 24 hours due to the amount of moisture stumps hold,” said Coutant.
Because of the agricultural exemption, the town is not permitted to take any action against cases such as this. Coutant said the best way to handle open burning complaints is to contact the DEC dispatch line at 897-1326.