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Burning to be resticted, not banned

SOLON– An ordinance revision to seasonally restrict the burning of landscape waste will come before the Solon City Council at an April 4 meeting.
Council members last week endorsed a proposal limiting burning to three days a week between April 1 through May 25 and Oct. 1 through Nov. 25. If adopted by the council, residents would be allowed to burn plant material generated on their property on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. during those periods.
And that may be as far as it goes, at least for a while.
While the proposed restrictions are a step toward an eventual ban on burning, Solon city administrator Cassandra Lippincott said the city is not likely to move further for several years.
If the restrictions are approved, the city will proceed with plans for a municipal compost pile, but will not implement curbside collection of garden waste, as had been previously discussed.
The city has been discussing a possible ban on the open burning of plant waste since February, and agreed in early March to consider allowing burning on selective dates.
Those dates, recommended to the city by council member Mark Krall at the March 21 meeting, will be put in ordinance form for a first reading April 4.
Krall compared the regulations of other communities and presented his findings during last week’s meeting, along with his suggestion for a compromise.
“I kind of like it,” said council member Brad Kunkel, who originally brought the issue to the table.
Krall indicated the city could continue its monthly collection of brush and branches, as well as its seasonal curbside collection of leaves. Once a compost pile is established behind the city’s public works building, residents will have three options for disposal of landscape waste, he said– bagged and tagged for collection with refuse, burned during selected dates, or dumped on the city’s pile. That’s as much or more than is offered by most communities he surveyed.
Mayor Cami Rasmussen allowed council members to discuss the proposal before opening the floor to public comment.
All seemed agreeable with the dates, so the conversation focused on enforcement.
Most members supported a tiered system of fines. A first offense would bring a $65 fine, the second, $100 (in addition to court costs). A third offense would become a municipal infraction, requiring a court appearance.
“You don’t want to make it ten dollars,” Kunkel commented.
All would be enforced by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, represented at the meeting by Lt. Gary Kramer.
Kramer requested clarification, and in response, councilors determined the revised ordinance would require yard waste fires to be completely extinguished by the 7 p.m. deadline.
When the floor was turned over for public comment, former council member Sue Ballantyne spoke in opposition. She continued to question why recreational fires are not facing the same type of restrictions, noting some of the communities contacted by Krall also regulated backyard campfires.
Some of the community wants the city to consider similar limits for recreational burning because of health concerns, she said.
Tiffany Meyer and Julie Kunkel, both residents in an area where the burning of yard waste is a concern, applauded the direction taken by the council.
Meyer’s family is sensitive to the issue because of their daughter’s serious health concerns. She reported only two days when there wasn’t anyone burning in her neighborhood so far this spring.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said of the limits being considered.