Majority of SC Council support open burning

A proposed ban on open-burning was extinguished by the Shady Cove City Council at a public meeting on April 17. After two motions failed for lack of a second and a third failed in a three-two vote, Councilor Gary Hughes apologized to the people because the council did not step up and vote on the issue. "It is a sad day for Shady Cove politics," he said with a bleak look on his face.

Public comment was divided equally for and against, with many opponents
from Rene Drive. Opponent’s statements ranged from blaming transplanted
Californians to telling the school to keep children inside on smoky
days. One unhappy man asked for an end to the "bloody bickering." But
there were productive ideas from the audience also, such as rethinking
whether Shady Cove is still a rural area and enforcement of the
ordinance already in place.
   
Shady Cove Police Chief Rick
Mendenhall did not give an opinion on burning but urged citizens to
call either 9-1-1 or the non-emergency number 776-7206 when illegal
burning takes place. He stressed that ordinance 172 is not enforced
because citizens do not call. Councilor Bill Kyle pointed out that a
fine up to $500 is written into the ordinance and then garnered
laughter when he said a fine is an education. "We do have problems in
town, no doubt about it." But as he compared the Shady Cove tax base to
that of other cities, he said the city cannot afford to help citizens
at this time. He, too, urged residents to call the police.
   
Mayor
Ruth Keith said she had done a lot of research and found what she had
learned to be very troubling. She cited EPA when she said that burning
of land debris emits carcinogens that land on the ground and in the
river. "I’ve struggled with this, believe me." She sees both sides of
the issue but could not side with either because of the lack of a plan.
   
Her
research found that Biomass would permanently leave a bin for yard
debris but the drawback is the $80 pickup fee the city cannot afford,
she said. And the bin would have to be monitored 24/7 to keep residents
from throwing in trash. Co-ops for leaf pickup would cost people also.
And after a talk with school District 9, Keith found there would be no
financial help from them although the district would like something
done.
   
Like Kyle, Keith cited the low amount of tax the city
gets (54.7 cents per thousand dollars) and suggested that residents
might want to get their streets done instead.Keith would like to see a
plan before taking another step. There are no answers on how to take
care of the problem. And she has difficulty with edicts from all levels
of government telling people they have to do something but offering no
solution for paying.
   
Councilor Lois Holland was adamant the
issue should go on the ballot for the people to decide. She was alone
in her opinion, however, because when she made a motion to put the item
on the November ballot, it failed for lack of a second. Keith remarked
if the issue got on the ballot, the problem could come back to the city.
   
Councilor
Gary Hughes, the lone proponent of a ban, made the motion to write an
ordinance totally banning open-burning. And that motion also died for
lack of a second.
   
The third motion to form a citizen
committee to explore solutions failed in a three-to-two vote. Keith,
who had cast the deciding vote, said all options had already been
explored.
   
An update on FEMA by Public Works Management
(PWM) did not offer much new information. Joe Strahl said the number
one goal is to avoid suspension by NFIP (National Flood Insurance
Program). Although suspension is a possibility, he does not think it is
a probability but probation could be extended for one year. The state
NFIP Coordinator Christine Shirley is a conduit between the city and
FEMA.
   
Dialogue continues with homeowners, including the
noncompliant, Strahl said. Some have building permits for violations
that previous owners did not disclose. The city and county are working
on a Memorandum of Understanding for a coordinated effort in the
issuing of permits. And a procedure is in progress to document and flag
deeds to alert buyers to special needs or conditions.
   
PWM
will prioritize by working on the most serious and life threatening
violations first because it is fiscally impossible for the city to
handle all violations simultaneously. PWM is also working on a way to
acknowledge properties that have been corrected. So far, compliance has
been voluntary but refusal could mean going to court, said Strahl.
Corrections of violations will be paid for by the property owner.
   
The
new FEMA Technical Bulletin 1-08 with information for homeowners is
available to download online at
(http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/floodplain/techbul.shtm). June 5 is
the next FEMA update to council.
   
Former Mayor Tom Anderson
and City Administrator Elise Smurzynski were designated as a team to
negotiate with representatives for a labor agreement that council will
approve.
   
Resolution 08-03 adopted the Deadly Physical
Force Plan that provides a framework when deadly force is used by a law
enforcement officer. This is in compliance with Senate Bill 111.
   
Mayor Keith proclaimed April 20 to April 25 as Respite Care Awareness Week in Shady Cove.
   
A presentation on the Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline will be April 23, 6:00 p.m. at the Grange, 95 Chaparral.
   
The
next city council study session and regular meeting will be May 1 at
1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively, at city hall, 22541 Highway 62.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent

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