TOWANDA - Faced with complaints about the noise and fumes caused by idling, parked diesel-fueled pickup trucks, the Towanda Borough Council has begun work on an ordinance that would limit the amount of time that diesel-fueled vehicles could idle in the borough.

"What we're trying to do is eliminate the unnecessary idling in our borough that disturbs the peace and quiet of our residents," said Towanda Borough Councilman Rex Klinger.

The council had discussed the issue last summer after receiving numerous complaints about diesel-fueled pickup trucks idling excessively in the early morning hours in the area of Lombard and Fourth streets.

At the time, Klinger said there was no reason for the trucks to be idling for long periods of time at that time of the year.

The complaints about idling trucks, which have continued to occur, center on vehicles idling in the pre-dawn hours for extended periods of time, such as a half-hour or more, borough council members said.

Residents have complained about noise from the trucks when they are trying to sleep, and also about fumes from the trucks entering their homes through open windows.

And idling a pickup truck for a half-hour or an hour is much longer than they need to idle to warm up, even in cold weather, Klinger said.

In cold weather, 10 minutes is sufficient time to warm up a diesel-fueled pickup truck, he said.

There already is a law on the books in Pennsylvania that limits the idling time of trucks that weigh over five tons.

However, the law does not regulate the idling time of diesel-fueled pickup trucks, which weigh less than five tons and which have generated the most complaints in the borough, borough council members said.

The proposed borough ordinance would limit the idling time of any diesel-fueled vehicle, including pickup trucks, vans and buses, Klinger said.

The proposed borough ordinance would allow diesel-fueled vehicles to idle for a period of time, but it has not been decided yet what that period will be, said Borough Councilman William Kovalcin Jr., who added that it is not known yet whether the ordinance would allow idling for longer periods of time in colder whether.

Work on the ordinance is still in its very early stages, he added.

Klinger, who a member of the borough's Code Enforcement/Public Works Committee, said his committee will recommend that diesel-fueled pickup trucks be allowed to idle no more than 15 minutes at a time, but he stressed that that proposed time limit could be changed in the final draft of the ordinance, which he said "won't be a hardship for anybody."

Klinger said that people who own diesel-fueled vehicles "have to use common courtesy ... especially in warm weather when people's windows are open. We're not trying to tell them they can't warm their vehicles up. But if they won't use common courtesy," the ordinance will be on the books to protect the neighbors.

At its most recent meeting, the council directed various borough committees to begin work on drafting the ordinance. Those committees include the Police Committee, the Towanda Borough Planning Commission, and the Code Enforcement Committee/Public Works Committee.

In order to get direction on how the ordinance should be drafted, borough officials have begun looking at similar ordinances that are in effect in other communities, Kovalcin said.

After the drafting of the ordinance is complete, the proposed ordinance will be made available for public review.

A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will then be held. The council will then take a final vote on whether to adopt the ordinance.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.