Southampton County Board of Supervisors to consider open burning ordinance

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

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The Southampton County Board of Supervisors asked County Administrator Brian S. Thrower to gather some information that would help the board determine if it would like to craft an open burning ordinance that could place some restrictions on the practice within the county.

Alan W. Edwards

Central District Supervisor and Board Chairman Dr. Alan W. Edwards added the subject of open burning to the agenda of the board’s Oct. 24 regular meeting.

“I brought this up because I received two phone calls from Courtland, one from Sedley and one from Indian Town Road about open burning that’s taking place over there on the other side of the river,” he said.

Southwest District Supervisor Lynda T. Updike later mentioned that she also received a couple of phone calls from people complaining about open burning.

“It wasn’t the paper that (people) were burning,” she said. “It was plastic and ordinary trash, I guess, but the plastic was giving off fumes.”

Edwards said, “Burning plastic and things like that — I’m five-and-a-half miles as the crow flies from that, and you walk out in my backyard, (and) it hits you. And you get the humidity, and the temperature gets right and the barometer goes down, people in Courtland and out toward Indian Town Road out there really get hit with it. I think (Northwest District Supervisor and Board Vice Chairman) Mr. (William Hart) Gillette’s been contacted from several people out that way.”

Lynda T. Updike

Edwards added the topic to the agenda to get Thrower’s thoughts on the matter.

“I’ve worked for cities and towns,” Thrower said. “Generally, cities and towns, because the development is more compact and residences are on top of each other, a lot of cities and towns do have open burn prohibitions. I think when I was in Emporia, we just basically outlawed them altogether except for entertainment purposes if you were having a fire barrel or something like that.

“Being in a county, obviously, we have a lot more space here,” he added. 

He said that a lot of localities do have restrictions on open burns, but he stated that some localities have no open burning ordinance, and he suspected this would be true of counties in particular, noting that Southampton does not currently have such an ordinance.

“But if that’s something the board would like us to look at, we can bring back some information in the next meeting or two, and you all can figure out if you all want to pass anything and what level of restriction you would like to have, if so,” he said. “Obviously, it does impact more residential areas. So we can bring back some options and have you all look at it at least and see if that’s something you would like to pursue on how other localities, in particular counties, handle open burning.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Edwards said. “We’ll look at that next meeting. Get that information together.”