The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

March 24, 2010

Burn ban sidetracked

CLINTON — CLINTON — A proposal to place tighter restrictions on burning in Clinton got sidetracked Tuesday after about 100 residents, mostly protesters, crammed City Hall to voice their opinions.

Seventeen of the 20 people who spoke at Tuesday’s city council meeting disagreed with the council’s plan to ban leaf burning, burn barrels and late-night campfires.

After 45 minutes of listening to residents, the council voted 4-3 to send the issue back to the Rules and Regulations Committee for more debate.

Bev Hermann, Third Ward; Mark Vulich, At-Large; Paul Gassman, Fourth Ward and Margaret Klaes, First Ward, voted “yes” to send it back.

 Objectors to tighter burning restrictions mostly pointed the finger at big businesses as the reason Clinton had high levels of particulate matter, not residents burning leaves.

If particulate matters reach a certain level, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources could place sanctions on Clinton that make it more difficult to attract businesses.

Robert Betsinger said Davenport and Bettendorf have the same problem with air quality as Clinton even after banning leaf burning.

“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a sore throat,” Betsinger said.

Not having an inexpensive way for residents to dispose of yard waste concerned many.

“I’m totally against it,” said Edward Karr. “You can’t make complete ban without alternative ways of disposal.”

Others came to Tuesday’s meeting to say 10 p.m. was too early a stop time for backyard fires.

“We need to come up with a proposal beneficial to everyone,” said Corena French.

Harry Rutenbeck called the council’s plan a classic example of overkill and said a better alternative would be to ban the burning of wet leaves.

Lou Ellen Stoddard said she collected signatures from 1,100 residents opposed to the changes being considered.

But opponents of leaf burning said they deserve clean air to breathe.

“One of the most fundamental qualities of life is fresh, breathable air,” said Douglas Hill.

“It would be good for the welfare of all citizens,” added Tom Crider.

Approving a ban on leaf burning could be difficult moving forward because two of the three members on the Rules and Regulations Committee objected to the ban.

The plan approved by that committee would have restricted leaf burning to six-week stretches during the spring and fall. It did not place time frames on backyard fires or ban burn barrels.

Mark Vulich, an At-Large Councilman who serves on the committee, said he could support a ban on leaf burning if the city offers a better disposal method for yard waste.

Currently, the city picks up leaves as long as they’re placed in special biodegradable bags found at local stores. Residents can also drop off leaves at the Second Avenue compost site.

The Rules and Regulations Committee will meet next month. 

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