Source: Sherman Publications

Burn revision fizzles out

by Mary Keck

July 25, 2012

It wasn’t leaves that went up in flames at the Independence Township Board meeting, July 17, but the second reading of the Open Burn Ordinance. It was voted down, 3-2.

Revisions to the ordinance would have included tougher penalties for burn violators, lower age limit for those supervising a fire, ban of leaf burning on lots less than an acre, and restriction of burning 50 feet from a building or structure, as opposed to the current ordinance’s 25 feet.

A second reading of the ordinance would have made the change official; however, some members of the board weren’t ready to commit. Clerk Barb Pallotta and Trustee David Lohmeier, who had voted in favor of the first reading, wanted to postpone the ordinance change.

“I’m not hearing that the residents are opposed to banning burning,” Pallotta said. “What everyone seems to be saying unanimously is that what they need is this board to make a plan for them to dispose of their leaves economically.”

Pallotta wanted the board to wait on the decision until an alternative was devised that wouldn’t ask residents to choose between “putting food on the table or getting rid of leaves.”

Trustee David Lohmeier agreed.

“I really want us to do something to alleviate the folks who are burdened by this health wise . . . but I don’t think this gets us there,” he said.

“I am not for this ordinance change,” said Treasurer Curt Carson, who voted against the revisions previously. “We need to provide an alternative.”

Trustees Neil Wallace and Larry Rosso didn’t think the decision should be postponed.

“There’s a cost of us doing nothing, and that’s the health, safety, and well-being of people in this community,” Wallace said.

“We’re weighing convenience with quality of life,” added Rosso.

In the end, Rosso and Wallace voted for changing the Open Burn Ordinance and Pallotta, Carson, and Lohmeier voted against it.

Trustee Mark Petterson did not attend the meeting. When the revision was not approved, the decision was met with applause from many of those who attended.

The board’s next meeting is July 31 at 7pm in Township Hall.