Shady Cove brings up old burn issue; remains unresolved

Almost exactly a year later, the issue of open-burning rose from the ashes to be brought once again before the Shady Cove City Council by Councilor Gary Hughes. During the March 6 study session Hughes stressed, "Health and safety outweigh anything else." This time around, however, Hughes offered three solutions to help residents in the disposal of yard debris.
    
Residents who testified were almost equally split in their opinions. Sharon Powell said, "I am here to ask you and beg you, give me my yard back." Powell moved here to work in her yard but when her neighbor burns she sometimes cannot see her fence because of smoke.

"I’m against the city burning at all," emphatically stated DeLores
Williams who cited asthma as a health issue. When her neighbor burns,
it invades her yard and her lungs.
   
"I like burning," said
Harvey Lowe who has over two acres. He suggested periods during the
year to burn or certain months with no burning rather than a total ban.
   
And Inez Lew wondered why the proposed ban on burning came up again after the council turned it down a year ago.
   
A
letter to the council had the strongest impact because it addressed the
plight of children. The missive from Shady Cove School Principal
Tiffany O’Donnell and signed by most of the staff, told how she is
deeply concerned about air quality this year at the school. When
burning is allowed during the school day, students and staff are
adversely affected, she wrote. Large number of staff and students with
allergies and asthma don’t function well. She also mentioned the
burning of poison oak that is toxic when airborne.
   
Activist
Dale McCuistion pointed out Shady Cove already has ordinance 172 but it
is not complete or enforced. He feels the ordinance should be refined
or burning should be banned.
   
Mayor Ruth Keith asked Hughes
if he had looked into a plan that limits burning instead of stopping
it. Hughes answered, "I am a no-burn person. I look at this as a health
and safety issue. I don’t know how we can deny that it’s not."
   
But
Hughes also said he talked with Southern Oregon Sanitation about
recycling yard waste, in addition to the citywide spring cleanup and a
fall trash and leaf pickup sponsored by Fire District 4. He spoke with
both Fire Chief Bob Miller and Police Chief Rick Mendenhall about
enforcement. Mendenhall said a ban would not put an extra burden on the
police department that now has more staff because of the public safety
fee. He would like to educate the public for a year before issuing
citations.
   
Miller said burning is banned already for about
six months a year during fire season. He also said the fire department
has no rules about smoke and no enforcement authority. Last year there
were 64 calls on confirmed illegal burns, he added. (An alternative to
calling 9-1-1 to report an incident is to call dispatch at 776-7206.)
   
A
buffer area around Shady Cove would address the problem of smoke
drifting into the city from outlying areas, Hughes said. He would like
to approach the Jackson County Board of Commissioners with a proposal.
Daniel Hough from the Department of Health and Human Services offered
the city help in approaching the commissioners.
     
Except for Councilor Alison Curtis, the others and the mayor did not seem to have much enthusiasm over
 the
proposal. It was almost a replay of last year’s discussion. Curtis
said, "I would like to see a total ban on outside burning" but
qualified that by saying alternatives are first needed to get rid of
yard waste. Curtis expressed concern over the effects of smoke on the
health of residents but said it needs to be equitable for everyone.
   
After
discussion of costs for trash bins and recycling, Hughes was directed
by Keith to get more information for the next study session.
   
A
FEMA update from Public Works Management showed productive dialogue
with most of the residents that were contacted in December. More than
half are willing to comply with the planned action. All but one have
contacted them, wrote Joe Strahl.
   
Council passed resolution 08-02 honoring the fallen public servants of Kirkwood, Missouri.
   
In
answer to a question from resident Jane Hagan, Keith said public
comment will not change on the agenda but that she (Keith) would be
lenient in allowing questions from the audience.
   
There are
several openings on the budget committee. Applications are available at
city hall. March 14 is the deadline to apply. The next council study
session and regular meeting are March 20 at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
respectively. Both meetings are at city hall, 22541 Highway 62.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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