A Batesville resident appeared before the Batesville City Council last night in opposition to the current open burning ordinance now under consideration and submitted a proposed alternative version to council members.
The citizen, Dan Reed, told the council he appreciates the service of all city employees and the council to help improve the city. He said he does support a “burn ordinance” since the city has no rules on burning, but he said he does not support the proposed ordinance in its current form.
The ordinance seems to be written to discourage burning versus giving “common sense” guidelines to burning within the law, Reed said.
Reed said the ordinance is very complicated and over-restrictive with detailed specifications including restricting the height of a fire. Reed’s question: How do you judge the height of a fire?
“I think navigating through this ordinance for a common citizen is going to be very difficult,” Reed told the council.
Reed also noted the use of permits puts an unnecessary burden on residents who just want to burn in a responsible manner. He says the current version of the ordinance provides few details about how the permit process will work; its language comes across as “threatening”; and fines — from a minimum of $150 to a maximum of $500 — are too high.
Reed also said the fines and enforcement of the ordinance should only be handled by the Batesville Fire Department, and it should not involve enforcement by police and code officers who may not be in a good position to make such judgment calls involving burning.
Reed told council members he believed his suggested changes to the ordinance were designed to provide more clarifications. He said he simplified several sections of the ordinance, and he also reduced fines to what he considers a “reasonable” amount, noting he believes his changes give residents a good chance to successfully interpret the ordinance and comply with the law.
He added that his proposed version of the ordinance still gives the fire department “some teeth” to enforce. Reed also suggested that whatever version of the ordinance is approved, it should be made available on the Batesville Fire Department website with a preamble on responsible burning and being considerate of neighbors.
After Reed’s comments, the city’s burn ordinance was read in full for a second time. It will be on the next meeting’s agenda for the third and final reading.
Reed’s proposed ordinance with his suggested changes is below. Reed presented a copy of his proposed revisions to the ordinance to the council at last night’s meeting.
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