The city could end yard waste burning

Stephanie Ivankovich
The city could end yard waste burning

Council could put out yard waste burning.

City council members talked about the possibility of putting an end to yard waste burning at their meeting on Sept. 21.

The original plan for council was to set fall yard waste burning dates and procedures. The resolution changed to being tabled following open forum when Eric Vaughn, chief of the Perry Police Department and Perry resident, voiced his concern about it as a citizen.

He said over the last several years the police department and city has spent a lot time, effort and money on the attempt to go green, however, every year the city rubber stamps burning.

“It’s time we spend time, money and effort to eliminate that,” Vaughn said. “It’s a health problem. I know it’s a money issue but we spend a lot of money in other ways. But every year we have this issue.”

Every year the police department takes calls about people burning after hours, before hours and structure fires that follow burning, he said. “I would like us to look at it to see if there’s an alternative,” the police chief said. “We talked about this several years ago, but probably over the last four or five years, there hasn’t been a discussion.”

Vaughn said he would offer to help find an alternative to burning.

“Most other metro cities do not allow burning,” he said. “I know in Polk County you can’t burn without a permit. I don’t know… Is there something else we can do?”

Randy McCaulley, 2nd Ward council member, said he would rather do an alternative route of disposing yard waster instead of burning, if there was one.

“There’s people that have done a very poor job of following the guidelines,” McCaulley said.

Chuck Schott, at-large council member, said he understood the 2nd Ward council member’s concerns. Schott then said speaking personally in his own yard he has dozens of trees and each day he could pick up wheel barrels full of trash from the trees.

“What am I supposed to do with that for two weeks in between the time that I tie it in a neat little bundle so they can throw it in a truck, you know?” Schott said. “It’s a huge responsibility and I really look forward to stockpiling some of it so in the fall I can light a match to it, carefully.”

Schott said for years he has also taken 50 percent of his yard waste to his barn to get rid of it. “It’s out of the city limits,” he said. “I stock pile it out there just so I don’t have to have that kind of fire in the neighborhood. When we shut down the burning area it creates a huge headache for some of us that have a lot of trees on our properties and want to keep it neat and tidy. I never bundle and trust it. I have hundreds of bags of leaves each fall. I stack them, fill them and wait for the city to pick them up. But the brush that falls out of my trees… I don’t know what to do with it.”

Mayor Jay Pattee responded to the at-large council member and said the city has pick up options for branches and brushes, however he said it’s more work.

The Mayor said more than 10 years ago people would fill the seats at council meetings when this topic was up for discussion.

“Parts of that group had a spouse that was on oxygen,” Pattee said. “They said it was overwhelming when that stuff hit the air.”

He said the group isn’t with Perry anymore, however, it was important to them at the time.

“We encouraged people to find alternate methods,” Pattee said. “I know that when councilman Roberts was on council he suggested maybe there were better ways to burn. It is interesting someone would come to this meeting and bring it up again considering the past history of it.”

The Mayor suggested mulching leaves and said the topic does deserve discussion.

“There’s no doubt it’s a concern,” Schott said. “I’m not trying to minimize that. The other side of that is we don’t have viable options to throw on the table in place of burning debris.”

John Andorf, at-large council member, said he also owns a large yard and he mulches his leaves.

“It does work out well,” Andorf said. “I personally haven’t burned for 20 years. I concur, but at the same time I am concerned with the burden it puts on people that don’t have other options. If we tell people to buy the bags, that’s the only way the city will pick up leaves, they are costly. It could be a very large financial cost.”

McCaulley suggested tabling the resolution. Council members agreed to tabling the item to week after public works members could study other options. The resolution will be made at the Oct. 5 council meeting.