City council rejects amendment to city’s burning codes

The+DeKalb+City+Council+rejected+an+ordinance+to+amend+the+city%E2%80%99s+burning+of+leaves+and+garden+debris+code+at+Monday%E2%80%99s+City+Council+meeting.+

Patrick Murphy

The DeKalb City Council rejected an ordinance to amend the city’s burning of leaves and garden debris code at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Kierra Frazier, Managing Editor

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council rejected an ordinance to amend the city’s burning of leaves and garden debris code at Monday’s City Council meeting. The Citizen’s Environmental Commission recommended the ordinance to prohibit the burning of leaves and yard waste in the city.

The City Council unanimously rejected the ordinance, while Second Ward Alderpseron Bill Finucane wasn’t in attendance. Most council members said they rejected the ordinance because they haven’t heard many complaints from community members.

“I’ve not had any issues brought to me, so I’m thinking that the existing ordinance works,” Sixth Ward Alderperson Mike Verbic said. “If that didn’t work then I probably would have heard things during my first four years of service.”

Clare Kron, chairperson of the Citizen’s Environmental Commission, said pollution comes off of burning garden waste which is one reason they recommended the ordinance.

“It’s not simply smoke, it’s a pollutant that is damaging to people,” Kron said. “Our job as a commission is to protect the environment for the good of the environment including the people.”

At the March 8 City Council meeting, council members said to prohibit leaf burning but to allow reasonable amounts of yard waste to be periodically burned in backyard fire pits as long as there wasn’t any smoke or odor.

First Ward Alderperson Carolyn Morris said after speaking with residents about the issue, it appears as if most residents want to leave the ordinance as it is.

“It is a really difficult spot to be in, as it sounds like the majority of residents that we’ve heard from are in favor of leaving the ordinance as it is,” Morris said. “There needs to be the public will as well, to move forward with this. I would love to have less pollution, but I think that the public is pushing in the other direction.”

The current burning of leaves and garden debris code states small amounts of burning is allowed 30 feet from any house, fence, accumulations of combustibles and other buildings.

DeKalb resident Barbra Larson said she burns leaves all the time because it’s easier than raking the leaves into a pile then letting them blow away back into the yard.

“I’m a leaf burner,” Larson said. “We back up to the forest preserve and we have lots of trees in our yard.”

Other business

Council members approved a consideration for a contract with Gehrke Construction to repair and remodel for DeKalb Fire Station One, 700 Pine St., originally built in 1972.

The cost to remodel the fire station will total $139,205, according to the March 22 City Council agenda. The city’s fiscal year 2021 TIF#1 budget allocates up to $150,000 for the substantial remodeling of Fire Station One.

The remodel will include upgrading of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, replacing the water and waste piping for the first-floor shift bathroom and upgrading the kitchen and dayroom and adjacent hallways, according to the agenda.