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No changes made to Toledo burn barrel ordinance

August 22, 2012
By Jimmy Gillispie - Staff Writer , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Burn barrels around the City of Toledo were a hot issue during the Aug. 13 Toledo City Council meeting.

As he promised, resident Bill Maertens was at the meeting to recommend the city council ban burn barrels in the city. Maertens brought the issue up at the previous meeting and said he'd be back until they are banned.

"It's really simple," Maertens said. "Just get rid of the burning barrels. My main idea for this whole thing is cleaning up the neighborhood and cleaning up the city. Burning barrels are not pretty to look at and they are dangerous. I have neighbors that fill them full, go in the house and go to bed. They are unattended.

"We've got an excellent place for recycling and an excellent place to get rid of our brush," he said. "We have our spring clean-up. I took a drive around town after our last meeting and I only counted 16 burning barrels. Six of those are in my neighborhood and some of those look like they haven't been used in years. We don't need burning barrels. They degrade the neighborhood."

Maertens met some opposition last week. Dorothy Zmolek expressed her opinion in being favor of allowing burn barrels. She uses one for her yard waste and doesn't see a problem with them.

"I do some trimming on the dogwood hedge that I have," Zmolek said. "I let it dry and then burn them in my burning barrel a little bit at a time. It's also good for shredded personal papers. I have so little that I burn that I don't think it's worth it to hire a pick-up to take to your site. I'd like to see the burning barrels kept."

Zmolek was told by the city council that burning her shredded paper is burning trash, which isn't allowed in the city. They suggested she take the paper to recycling or have it picked up as trash.

After slight bickering back and forth between residents, some city council members expressed their opinions. Council member Jeff Filloon suggested those against burn barrels should call the Toledo Police Department if the smoke or fire is a nuisance, since there is a nuisance ordinance on the books.

"If it's a problem, call it in," Filloon said. "You can call it in and say there is a nuisance smoke coming in my yard and they come put it out. I don't think we can write ordinance on top of ordinance, because I don't think we're going to cover everything. There are ordinances for barrels that are rusted out or have weeds growing up around them."

Other city council members agreed with Filloon's suggestion, but said if they ban burn barrels, they're going to need more pick-up days for yard waste because many elderly residents don't have the vehicles necessary to haul branches and yard waste. Council members also said the police department will notify the neighbors causing the nuisance without telling them who complained. Police Chief Bob Kendall said they never tell who called in the nuisance.

The council took no action on the issue, but did table it until next meeting, because Mayor Dave Svoboda suggested a committee look into the issue. However, no one volunteered for the committee. The city council did say that unused burn barrels, which have tall weeds growing around them, will be addressed or removed on the fall clean-up day.



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