Talks on campfire regulations on hold in Centerville

Sep 16 2011 - 12:21am

CENTERVILLE -- Talk of changing regulations regarding campfires has flamed out as officials are unable to reach a consensus.

Discussions began because the fire marshal and police chief were concerned about the risk of wildfires created by fireworks and open burning in the city. They recommended restrictions on open fires.

The city has an ordinance that prohibits fires on vacant property within the city limits and is intended to prevent wildfires on the mountainside. However, it does not stop fires in the residential areas, park fire pits or grills as long as they meet the fire code.

There was talk of changing the ordinance to allow churches and businesses to use approved fire pits and grills by adding a phrase "on private property operating as commercial, residential or church use."

However, there was concern voiced by at least one city council member that this would prohibit fires at a campsite often used by Scout troops on the north end of the city.

This led to the suggestion that the ordinance be changed to allow fires in supervised situations during times of low fire danger. This would have allowed use for Boy Scout activities.

City Manager Steve Thacker said this issue and proposed changes were discussed at the last three meetings with no resolution. Staff had spent time reviewing ordinances of neighboring cities and provided suggestions, but discussions yielded no agreement.

Thacker explained there was conflict between the police chief's recommendation to adopt the regulation consistent with what the county has done outside of city limits versus the desire to allow campfires on undeveloped, private property.

The county regulation is that no fires be permitted between April 1 and Oct. 31.

It was proposed to have this same rule on vacant land.

"There will be no more discussion this year," Thacker said.

"The mayor and police chief agree that it is spinning the wheels on the subject. There appears to be no consensus."

Because no progress has been made on the subject, Thacker added, it is best to wait until maybe next year to discuss it again.

"We just don't seem to be getting anywhere," he said.

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