BRISTOL BOROUGH >> If you’re thinking about releasing helium-filled Mylar balloons to mark that special occasion or sending sky lanterns towards the heavens in memory of a loved one, you better think twice.
Under a new ordinance now on the books in Bristol Borough, planned or intentional releases of balloons filled with helium or other gases, sky lanterns and other similar airborne luminary devices are now banned.
The borough council on July 9 gave its unanimous approval to the ordinance “to prevent the devices from becoming dangerous pieces of litter, creating a serious fire and safety hazard and potentially causing harm to animals.”
“The problem is once you let one go you have no idea of where the air currents are going to take them,” said Fire Chief Herb Slack. “At 10 feet they are going in one direction and at 30 feet up they could be going in a completely different direction. On the ground you think the wind is blowing out to the river and then it goes up 20 or 30 feet in the air and all the sudden it’s coming out over the Borough,” he said.
“We had an incident last year where we found one on the roof of Selecto,” said Slack of a grocery store on Pond Street. “It’s banned in 20 states because of the hazard. The only states on the East Coast that haven’t banned them are Vermont, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky.”
Slack said there was another incident a few years ago in the third ward at a substation near No. 3’s fire station. “A Mylar balloon got into the substation, shorted out wires and caused a power failure,” said Slack.
There are three exceptions to the new ordinance - a balloon release by a governmental agency or pursuant to a government contract for scientific or meteorological purposes; hot air balloons that are recovered after launching; and balloons released indoors.
Anyone who violates the new law faces a fine of up to $500 plus costs and in default of the payment a term of imprisonment not to exceed 90 days.
In other business, the borough council voted unanimously to amend its sewage facilities plan to provide service to a parcel in the Route 13 Industrial Park East.
The parcel, located in neighboring Bristol Township, is in an area where sewer service is provided by the Bristol Borough Water & Sewer Authority.
The 30 acre “Ampol Development” will be served by the installation of a new pump station, gravity sewer main and forced main.
The company that will be moving in has designed a new window made out of plexiglass rather than plastic, Bob White, the executive director of the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority, told council two days before his retirement. “It’s going to be something different and they want to get started,” said White, who encouraged council to pass the resolution.
Under the mayor’s report, Joe Saxton announced that this year’s free outdoor movie will be held Friday, July 20 from 7 to 10:30 pm at the Wharf. There will be drinks and popcorn and all ages are welcome. Bring beach chairs.
The movie is presented by the Bristol Borough 21st Century Community Learning Centers.