SC Mayor suggests open burning compromise

Margaret Bradburn

the Independent

            The issue of open-burning in Shady
Cove continues to smolder. At the May 1 city council study session, a
"compromise" ordinance was proposed by Mayor Ruth Keith. Public input on April
17 had failed to establish a clear-cut course for the city to follow in a
proposed ban on burning. At that meeting, Keith said she had done a lot of
research and learned information about health hazards that troubled her. She
had struggled with the issue. But the council did not take a stand that night
and the idea of a compromise ordinance was conceived.

            As Keith introduced a plan that
might work for all, almost simultaneously two citizens filed a petition with
the city to let voters decide, once and for all, the future of open-burning in
Shady Cove. The ordinance that Keith is proposing would be a viable alternative
if voters strike down the initiative in November.

            Keith’s proposal calls for a $150
yearly permit. Councilors Lois Holland and Bill Kyle feel the fee is too high
and Kyle said the hours are too early and too short. He said burning from 7:00
a.m. to 10:00 a.m. may be too early to know if it is a burn day. The
information is not always available at 7:00 a.m. And for residents who burn large
amounts of debris perhaps less frequently, three hours is not enough time, he

            Because enforcement is a key issue,
Holland (using her famous expression) said, "I have a burr under my saddle
because residents are already paying the public safety fee." She added that
residents will probably have burrs under their saddles also. The city already
has controlled burning. "It needs a lot of thought."

            Councilor Gary Hughes, who initiated
the proposed ban on open-burning, feels the compromise ordinance does not solve
the problem of health and safety. If it makes it harder to burn, however, he
will support it, he said. Kyle, who supports open-burning, did say the start
time should be delayed until children are in school because of the smoke.

            In the compromise ordinance, burning
would still be restricted to the Department of Environmental Quality approved
burn days. Some exemptions would apply such as outdoor cooking and ceremonial
fires. However, ceremonial fires would require permission in advance from the city
with a possibility of waived fees.

            The present ordinance has a $500
fine for illegal burning but the compromise ordinance raises the amount to
$1,000. Anyone failing to obtain a permit could be fined and the permit must be
visible at the site.

            The proposal is still in the talking
stage because two councilors were not at the May 1 meeting. Doug VanGordon, an
initiator of the petition to place the open-burning ban on the ballot, feels
the compromise ordinance is only permanent until November. After the election,
a new slate of city officials could undo the new stricter regulations. And the
ordinance still does not address the issue of unhealthy smoke, said a concerned

            Resolution 08-04 that lists the cost
of city fees was passed by council on May 1 and is available at city hall.
There are fees listed for copies of the budget, audit, city council agendas,
business licenses for the Grower’s Market, Sidewalk Café Vendors and much more.
Listed in the schedule is also the cost of administrative fees of $45 per,
hour, per person, after the first 15 minutes. And even the cost of driver
license reinstatement is covered in this thorough document.

            The next city council study session and regular meeting
are May 15, 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively at city hall, 22541 Highway

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