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Lower Macungie resident demands ban on all wood-burning, even fireplaces

By Randy Kraft, WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 02 2013 05:57:56 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 02 2013 06:15:55 AM CDT
Lower Macungie Twp. commissioners

Lower Macungie Twp. commissioners

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

If nothing else, Dennis Seman is persistent.

For months the 73-year-old Lower Macungie resident has been going to township meetings to demand that the five commissioners implement a total ban on all wood burning -- indoors as well as outdoors.

Seman was back before the commissioners Thursday night, repeatedly insulting them while again warning that smoke from burning wood is toxic.

He said commissioners are failing to protect the health of township residents by not passing a law addressing “the extreme hazards” of burning wood.

Seman accused all the commissioners of speaking “with a forked tongue” and listening with “deaf ears.” He also told them that they need to “get their heads out of the sand.”

“One who is deficient in judgment, sense or understanding, one who acts unwisely – that statement applies to all of you,” he told commissioners. “Shame is what you bring to Lower Macungie Township on the issue of having a total ban on wood burning outside and inside the home. Your actions are deplorable.”

Commissioners usually just listen politely to Seman, but do not respond.

But on Thursday, Ron Eichenberg, president of the commissioners, asked: “You’re suggesting we ban all wood burning, which means that everyone who has a fireplace in their house may not use their fireplace?”

Replied Seman: “That is correct.”

“That would make us very popular,” responded Eichenberg sarcastically.

“You’re not here to be popular,” said Seman. “This is not a popularity contest.”

“People have purchased homes with fireplaces,” said Eichenberg, “and they have a right to use those fireplaces.”

When Seman returned to his seat, resident Julie McDonell stood to say it was upsetting to hear him insult the commissioners and “respectfully disagreed” that people should be prohibited from using fireplaces in their own home.

“This is about our health,” said Seman, who maintained wood-burning fireplaces are health hazards.

After the meeting, Seman said he is not giving up his one-man crusade for cleaner air in Lower Macungie “because of health. I want health for everybody.”

He hopes two new commissioners coming in January, to replace Eichenberg and Commissioner Roger C. Reis who lost their bids for re-election in the May primary, will be more receptive to his demand for a smoke-free, clean air ordinance in Lower Macungie.

On another fire-related issue, at their Aug. 15 meeting commissioners will vote on a new ordinance requiring mandatory fire safety inspections of all commercial structures in Lower Macungie.

The township has been working on developing the ordinance for nearly a year.

The inspections will be done to protect lives and property by reducing the hazard of fire or explosions from stored materials or other conditions in buildings.

Fire code officials will be designated to do the inspections of all buildings at least once every two years.

Owners or managers of commercial structures in the township will be required to pay an unspecified fee for fire safety inspections. The proposed law also includes penalties up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail for violations.