Open burning at dump is issue at LS Council meeting

By Marcie Klomp

Resident Russ Theis came before council on Nov. 5 to ask about some burning taking place at the tree dump/compost pile, just north of the river on the east side.

“A week ago, I drove to the dump and saw some flames. We went to dump our leaves in the compost pile,” Theis began. He said he called the mayor to let her know about the fire. She advised him it was moldy record retention papers that were scheduled to be destroyed.

He then called Fire Chief Roberts to find out the law on open burning at the dump. “I was dealt with extremely rudely,” he said.

Robinson gave a brief explanation of what was being burned. Ed Hampe had been incinerating the old records in a barrel behind the library and thought he was discarding ash at the dump, when a few embers must have been present.

Theis cited Iowa Administrative Code [567-23.2(455B), part of which states, “The open burning of trees and tree trimmings not originated on the premises provided that the burning site is operated by a local governmental entity, the burning site is fenced and access is controlled, burning is conducted on a regularly scheduled basis and is supervised at all times, burning is conducted only when weather conditions are favorable with respect to surrounding property, and the burning site is limited to areas at least one–quarter mile from any inhabited building unless a written waiver in the form of an affidavit is submitted by the owner of the building to the department and to the local governmental entity prior to the first instance of open burning at the site which occurs after November 13, 1996.”

“The reason I raised [the issue] is it’s unattended,” Theis continued.

Audience member James Lieder said a solution in Preston, Minn. was to give $5.00 for the deposit on a key to the dump to be able to use it.

Theis asked if there was a better way to destroy the records, other than burning. Some pieces of the papers were not burned and blowing around the dump.

Robinson responded the papers were moldy and couldn’t be shredded. She admitted all the records should be burned to ash.

Theis again mentioned how he felt he was treated poorly by the fire chief. He had the recording of the telephone conversation and a transcript of the call, which he handed to council and audience members. In the call Theis asked about the fire and if it should be unattended. Roberts never gave him a definitive answer.

Council member Corey Gates admitted, “I guess it was sort of unprofessional. Yes. We should set a precedent [on conduct] in the future.”

Sebastian added he had burned some trees at the dump as well. “It rained all day.” When he left it was still smoldering.

“I saw it flaming up,” said Theis. He went on to say, “Just monitor it. Don’t light it on fire and let it burn for two weeks—that’s just common sense.”

Gates volunteered, “I think we all agree it isn’t right.”

Robinson concluded, “Give me 30 days, and I’ll see what I can find out [about the section of code Theis recited]. Are we going to fence the area or figure what direction we are going? It may be that (the dump) will be something the city no longer owns.”

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