Source: Sherman Publications

Changes could water down local burning

by Mary Keck

September 26, 2012

Township Trustee David Lohmeier says he isn’t trying to reignite a revision of the burn ordinance. Instead, he hopes to implement a new “policy direction,” restricting who can get burn permits.

If Lohmeier’s burn permit policy revision passes, residents can inform the fire department of a medical condition aggravated by smoke, and anyone living within 800 feet of them won’t be issued a burn permit. In addition, burn permits that have already been issued will be revoked if a resident within 800 feet provides documentation of their health issue to the fire department.

“I felt we should do something for folks with serious medical conditions,” said Lohmeier.

“The 800 feet would do me immeasurable good,” said Sandra Boggemos, who has a serious health condition exacerbated by smoke. “In the fall, I usually can’t be outside. I can never open my windows, but this will allow me to stay in my house.”

Boggemos urged the board to accept Lohmeier’s proposal. “The board moves on many issues for potential health risks such as the [K2] Spice, fireworks, and safety lights. This is not a potential hazard, this is a hazard.”

Because the fire department only issues approximately 1,400 burn permits and most residents don’t have sensitivities to smoke impacting their health, Lohmeier expects the policy will only impact the few who need relief from smoke.

“The odds that we’re going to have a lot of permits denied by this is probably pretty small,” Lohmeier said.

Fire Chief Steve Ronk voiced his concern that people who do not have a legitimate health issue might abuse the permit process.

“I just don’t want it to be, ‘I don’t like smoke, so I’m going tell you my kid has an inhaler,’” Ronk said. “If it’s legitimate, fine.”

While Lohmeier admits, “this isn’t going to fix everything,” he hopes it will “decrease the probability that there will be a problem.”

Lohmeier introduced the permit policy revision at the board’s last regular meeting on Sept. 18, but the board postponed a decision on the matter in an effort to give locals an opportunity to voice their views on the change.

Lohmeier said, “I’m hoping it passes at the next meeting,” which will take place on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Township Hall on Waldon Road.