Permits needed to burn now
Maple Leaf is over again and Baldwin City's plethora of leaves are starting to fall. It's time to burn again, but this year will be different.
The Baldwin City Council passed an ordinance at its Oct. 15 meeting that limits the amount of leaf and yard debris fires to 25 per day. Permits are now required to burn leaves and residents who burn without one and are caught face a $25 fine.
The ordinance took effect last Thursday after it was printed in the Signal. It didn't take long for the first permit to be issued.
"We had the first permits, one for Saturday and one for Sunday," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.
The permits are free and Dingman said he thinks the process to handle them is in place.
"I think we've got it worked out," he said. "Most of the issues surround how we're going to keep track of them internally."
There are two ways to obtain permits.
"People can print them off of the Web site or get one by visiting City Hall," said Dingman. "Fill it out and it gets recorded and approved."
That's when the internal tracking comes into play.
"City Hall staff will verify that there aren't 25 issued for the particular day requested and that the applicant hasn't already had 10 permits for the year," he said. "Then we will track a permit number, date of burn requested and name and address of the applicant."
The Baldwin City Police Department will enforce the ordinance. For additional infractions after the first offense, punishment will be at the discretion of the municipal court judge with possible fines as high as $500.
Although the police are enforcers, Police Chief Mike McKenna said it's up to residents to report fires.
"On a misdemeanor, you have to have a complainant," said McKenna. "If someone calls in a report that a neighbor is burning, we will then check to see if that person has a permit. We will take appropriate action."
The police won't be out looking for violations, he said.
"If an officer is out patrolling and sees someone burning, he will use his discretion on whether to stop and check," said McKenna. "But, citizens can call in and report it and we will respond to it.
"We are charged with enforcing the ordinances adopted by the city council," he said. "We will enforce it."