Leaf fires to linger for awhile
After several changes in wind direction regarding the regulation of leaf burning in town, the Baldwin City Council approved the measure on a 4-1 vote at Monday's meeting.
How much did opinion change on the leaf-burning ordinance? Tony Brown, who heads the city's safety committee and drafted the ordinance, was the lone dissenting vote.
Mayor Gary Walbridge opened the discussion on the controversial measure which will limit the number of leaf fires to 25 per day in a city where the rite of fall passage has been around forever.
"It has no teeth, it can't be enforced and puts the pain on those people who will try to work with it," Walbridge said of the ordinance. "I don't know what we should do with it."
Council member Doyle Jardon thought otherwise.
"I think this is the next step we need to do," said Jardon. "I don't think we can take the drastic step of today you can burn, tomorrow you can't. I think we've got to take some sort of step toward no burning in town. I think this is that step."
There was discussion about how if a person got a permit for one day, what would happen. A three-day window permit was the answer.
"We talked about that," said Council President Amy Cleavinger, who was the lone dissenting vote at the first reading of the ordinance. "The administrative side of that is probably a headache."
That's when Brown suggested another alternative.
"In the committee, we were striving for a compromise," said Brown. "I was hoping this would create awareness on the issue. I think it should go back to committee. Honestly, I don't know where we go with it, but I think the safety committee needs to take a longer look at it."
Other council members didn't agree, stating that the matter had come up a year ago because of a resident's complaint and that something needed to be done before the burning season starts soon. Currently, the plan calls for people to obtain permits -- which are free -- at City Hall. They will be limited to 25 per day. Those burning leaves without a permit face a $25 fine. A second offense would draw a fine at the discretion of the judge up to $500.
"This lets people burn," said Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. "I think this is something we should try. If it doesn't work, we can change it."
The ordinance won't go in effect until it's published in next week's Signal.