Surf City’s Proposed Fire Pit Ordinance Aims to Protect Air Quality, Maintain Neighborhood Feeling

Mar 06, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

If the cold weather expected this week is any indication of how wrong Punxsutawney Phil was a month ago, the borough council might be right on the mark discussing fire pit usage in Surf City.

“No person shall authorize or create, kindle, or maintain any open burning or fire unless conducted or permitted and/or approved,” according to proposed Ordinance 2019-05.

Under the zoning measure proposal, permitted outdoor fires are limited to recreational fires entirely contained within approved portable and permanent fire devices. It determines fires can only be started and maintained with clean firewood, charcoal, manufactured logs, propane and natural gas.

“All other fuels, including, but not limited to, brush, leaves, trees, trash, refuse, and treated and wet wood are prohibited,” according to the proposed measure. “All permitted outdoor fires shall be maintained in a manner that ensures any smoke and embers arising therefrom do not interfere with the air quality, peace and quiet enjoyment of neighboring residents.”

All fire pits, with the exception of grills and other permitted cooking appliances, must have an ember-suppressing lid, according to the proposal. All solid fuel-burning (wood) fire pits, open wood burning, and/or open and unenclosed, and/or contained burning of any kind not in accordance with this section is prohibited.

Before a permanent fire device is constructed or installed on any lot in the borough, a permit must be issued by the zoning officer. A survey and a survey affidavit of no change, indicating the type of device and location to be installed, should be submitted with the permit application.

“The location of the required fire extinguisher or working garden hose, as per this section, shall be shown on said plan,” according to the proposal.

Portable fire pits are allowed under the proposed law and do not require a permit from the zoning officer. Still, use of such devices must defer to location requirements laid out in the proposal, including being a minimum of 5 feet from any building or accessory structure and a minimum 10 feet from any lot line. Permanent fire devices shall be a minimum of 5 feet from any building or accessory structure and a minimum often 10 feet from any lot line.

Permanent fire devices cannot exceed 3 feet in height or cover an area greater than 6 feet by 6 feet. Only one permanent fire pit is allowed on a lot or a series of continuous lots under the same ownership. Any permanent fire device in compliance with the ordinance will be excluded from lot coverage calculation, according to the proposal.

“Exterior masonry and wood burning fireplaces may be freestanding or attached to the principal or accessory buildings and shall comply with all fire codes, building codes and zoning regulations for masonry fireplaces,” the proposal reads.

The proposed ordinance is enforceable by the borough zoning officer, police and/or the Ocean County fire marshal.

A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is slated for 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 13 at the municipal building.

— Gina G. Scala


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