ELKTON — The Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton discussed a 24-year old law in the town’s code and promised to further look into the matter after one town resident presented recommendations to change the code section.
Town officials discussed the town’s code section on burning rubbish as part of the mayor and commissioners’ work session Wednesday afternoon. The discussion was brought about due to one town resident, Rod Burr, who serves as the president of Kensington Courts Community Association, suggesting possible changes to the code provision.
Burr said his association has been monitoring the issue of burning rubbish for some 15 years. He noted the way the code section currently reads practically burning any item would be illegal.
Code section 8.1250 states:
“It is unlawful for any person to burn any trash, rubbish or other matter out of doors within the corporate limits of the Town of Elkton. It is unlawful for any person to allow any accumulation of, or to burn any vegetable or animal matter upon any property within the Town of Elkton.”
Burr noted the phrase “or other matter” includes basically everything, while the phrase “any vegetable or animal matter” would also include such things as barbecue meats.
He stated that his intention and the intention of his association was to help draw a line on what is reasonable burning and what is not.
He referenced regulations of both Cecil County and the State of Maryland noting that he would prefer an ordinance that is more restrictive than the county, but not as restrictive as the town’s current rules.
He noted that in recent years, items such as chimineas have become more prevalent, but that as currently written, chimineas would be in violation of the law.
In support of his proposal, Burr offered the mayor and commissioners some language revisions to the code which would limit items that cannot be burned to “prohibited items” which have a specific definition based upon state and county regulations. Burr said that the residential burning of leaves and grass should be prohibited as they produce a thick dense smoke, but smaller recreational fires might be acceptable.
Elkton Mayor Rob Alt said that Town Administrator Lewis George would need to review any possible changes to the code. George noted that the regulations were originally drafted as a health and safety measure and that any modifications would not only apply to Kensington Courts, but would apply to all residents of Elkton. He noted that he was not a doctor and could not definitely say what measures may need to be in place to protect the health and safety of residents as it pertains to smoke inhalation and other similar health risks from burning rubbish.
Elkton Alliance gives updates
In other matters before the mayor and commissioners:
• Elkton Chamber and Alliance Vice President Danielle Carroll gave the board members an update regarding where the alliance currently stands, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carroll first discussed a memorandum of understanding between the alliance and the town that she said was recommended as part of the alliance’s affiliation with the Main Street Maryland program. She said the proposed MOU does clarify some issues such as the relationship between the town and the alliance. Alt said the town would do whatever it needed to do with respect to the MOU and that George would review the document.
Carroll said even with COVID-19 the alliance is doing well budget wise. She noted the alliance provided around $14,000 in emergency grants so far this year. She said the alliance also distributed the Cecil County Arts Council grant to the tune of $8,000. Carroll added that the alliance also provided some $27,000 in facade grant funds.
Carroll said that while the alliance decided not to move forward with the Elkton Fall Fest, the alliance would be offering a free Scarecrows on Main St. event as well as several events for Halloween. Carroll said the alliance is working on having a Halloween drive in movie event on Oct. 17 as well as a pumpkin carving contest.
Carroll also spoke with the mayor and commissioners about the possibility of extending downtown outdoor dining and what that might look like on an ongoing basis.
“I think it has made a difference downtown,” Alt agreed, referring to outdoor dining.
Carroll said that restaurants were still limited in the number of customers they could allow in their establishments and the outdoor dining arrangement has definitely helped them during this difficult time.
Carroll also offered a suggestion on how to continue to improve the downtown area, namely a downtown lamp post style speaker system that could play music, especially during holidays and special downtown events.
The election for two commissioner seat will be held Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Elkton Municipal Building at 100 Railroad Avenue. The two seats, which will serve until June 2024 are currently held by Charles Givens and Earl Piner. Challenging Givens and Piner will be Ed Giblin and Cody Kirk. Qualified voters of the town may opt for in-person voting or can request a mail-in ballot. Completed mail-in ballots must be received at town hall by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Ballots received after the deadline will not be counted.