Source: Sherman Publications

No change to open-burn ordinance this year

by Mary Keck

June 13, 2012

When Independence Township Board brought a revised open-burn ordinance up for first reading, June 5, residents pushed back.

According to the revised version, fires can only be five feet in diameter. That's not enough for residents Mary Brower and Warren Nessbit, who live in rural areas, who said they use controlled burns to clear brush, dispose of fallen leaves, and avoid using sprays.

Martha Newstead pointed out residents who need to remove trees and leaves don’t have many alternatives.

“If they can’t dispose of them, they’re going to end up in places where they shouldn’t be,” she said.

However, locals who don’t live in rural areas like Neil Boggemos are concerned about the smoke.

On June 5, Boggemos’s wife, who teaches at Clarkston Elementary, had to leave school and one of her students needed a breathing treatment because Clarkston United Methodist Church across the street was having a fire. The church had been issued a burn permit and their fire was contained, but the smoke was not.

From Boggemos’s perspective, there should be more burn limits on smaller properties where neighbors are closer to one another rather than holding citizens who have larger swathes of land in rural areas to the same standards. The revised ordinance restricts fires to a distance of at least 25 feet from a neighboring dwelling.

Currently, the township fire department hasn’t issued any 2012 burn permits because of the pending revision of the Open Burning ordinance.

After almost two hours of discussion, the board voted unanimously to extend the 2011 burn permits to December 2012 and the ordinance did not receive its first reading.