2010 March 22: IA Clinton: considers burn ban

2010 March 22: IA Clinton: considers burn ban

Steven Martens | Posted: Monday, March 22, 2010 2:00 am | (4) Comments

 
CLINTON, Iowa — Some city leaders in Clinton are trying to lose the distinction of being the largest city in the state without a ban on leaf burning and improve air quality at the same time.
City Council members say they have received many phone calls from people either for and against tighter restrictions on burning that were added to a proposed ordinance earlier this month. The ordinance is scheduled for its second of three readings at Tuesday’s council
meeting.
In its original form, the measure would have restricted leaf burning to six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall and restricted the size and contents of recreational fires.
Taking it a step further, Mike Kearney, 2nd Ward, offered three amendments that would ban leaf burning and the use of burn barrels, and limit recreational fires to between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., unless the fire is in a city-owned campground or by special
permit.
Council member Bev Hermann, 3rd Ward, who voted in favor of the amendments, said she is concerned about the city’s air quality, noting that leaf burning and burn barrels could be one of several contributing factors to Clinton’s air quality problem.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources monitors particulate matter in the air in two locations in Clinton, Chancy Park and Rainbow Park, said Mindy Kralicek the DNR’s air quality information specialist.
In the 2006-08 testing period, Clinton had the third-highest levels of particulate matter in Iowa, Kralicek said. The Environmental Protection Agency allows for 35 micrograms per cubic liter of air, and Clinton’s level during that testing period was 34, Kralicek said.
When the numbers for the 2007-09 testing period become official in May, it is possible Clinton will have exceeded that number, which will make it more difficult for local industries to get permits to build new factors or expand existing facilities, she said.
“It should be a top concern for them,” she said.
Kralicek said it is impossible to know what impact a burning ban would have on the air quality in Clinton because there is no data on how much burning is contributing to the problem. But she said leaf burning is the least healthy contributor to poor air quality because it occurs in residential neighborhoods near people such as children, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions who can be affected by the smoke.
Bob Betsinger, vice chairman of Clinton’s EPA Advisory Committee, said Clinton has air-quality problems, but he believes banning the burning of leaves would have little impact.
After receiving about 50 calls on the issue, Hermann said she thinks there should be more discussion on the ordinance.
Mark Vulich, At Large, the sponsor of the original ordinance, said he has received many phone calls from constituents who shared his concerns about how the ordinance was amended or oppose the tighter restrictions.
“My answering machine has been full,” Vulich said. “Every time I come in the door, it’s full.”
Some constituents have told him 10 p.m. is too early to stop recreational fires.
Chris French said he called Vulich because his family makes frequent use of their backyard fire pit and chimney during the summer to roast marshmallows and pop popcorn.
“They’re trying to take that away,” he said.
Vulich said he is not opposed to banning leaf burning, but wants the city to have a system in place that would allow residents to get rid of leaves easily and without charge.
Currently, the city picks up leaves placed in designated bags that must be purchased at local stores.

Posted in Local on Monday, March 22, 2010 2:00 am | Tags: Burn Ban, Leaf Burning, Clinton City Council, Mike Kearney, Air Quality

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