BOONE, Iowa—The Boone City Council voted this week to continue with the city’s current ordinance that deals with the burning of yard waste. Boone Mayor John Slight has said repeatedly that the issue of open burning of yard waste has always been controversial. He said many people, on both sides of the issue, are very passionate about their position. This year, the Council received a number of requests to consider alternatives to allowing open burning. Several petitions were submitted. According to Slight, he and the council members received numerous phone calls on the matter supporting both sides of the issue.
At Monday night’s City Council Meeting, Slight explained the recommendation made by a committee he put together to try and look at alternatives. He said they investigated having the city do the pickup of leaves. They talked about using stickers for the local solid waste haulers, something that is currently available. Slight said they even considered removing the ordinance and allowing burning year round so it wouldn’t be so concentrated in the spring and fall. They even investigated the cost of putting the matter up to a vote of Boone residents. In the end, Slight said his committee was firm on the fact that the city should not subsidize the removal of leaves. He also said the committee felt more needed to be done to educate the public about alternatives to burning and the city needed to also step up it’s enforcement of the current ordinance.
After discussion by the Council, and questions and comments from a number of residents, many that had been campaigning to eliminate at least the open burning of leaves, Council member Fenner Stevenson moved to develop and ordinance that would have prohibited the burning of leaves. That was seconded by Council member Greg Piklapp but failed on a 2-to-4 vote. Piklapp then moved to have staff develop recommendations for an educational program about the dangers of burning leaves and also recommendations to increase enforcement of the current ordinance. Slight noted that the current fine is $90.00 with a $60.00 charge for court costs. Recommendations on fines are unknown, but it does seem like staff will recommend making the citation a civil penalty instead of a criminal penalty. That way when no one is around, the violation will go against the property owner.
City Administrator Luke Nelson also invited those that asked for the ban on burning leaves to assist with the development of an educational plan about alternatives. Many of those were involved in health care or had family members or themselves had respiratory health issues affected by the burning of yard waste. It’s not known at this time when the recommendations would be available for the council. The next Council meeting will be August 4th.