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Smoke a hazy topic

By Staff | Jun 3, 2008

Estherville Council Chambers Monday was filled to capacity with residents who, for a variety of reasons, asked members of City Council to redefine the ordinance and make the section on recreation fires less hazy.

At a recent meeting, the council was alerted to a resident’s dilemma of smoke infiltrating her screened-in porch and home when neighbors burned recreational fires. The woman added she doubted the neighbors were burning the right materials.

Monday’s contingent urged council to go after the few people who are the problem; those who are ruining it for everyone.

Councilman Gene Haukoos said the amount of smoke really depends on what is being burned.

City Administrator Steve Woodley asked if flames are shooting 20 feet into the air, is that a recreational fire? He received a resounding no for an answer.

Mayor Lyle Hevern said he can see how it would be frustrating to neighbors who have to close windows and turn on the air-conditioning unit when other neighbors start recreational fires.

“We are trying to define recreational fire,” said David Forsyth, city legal counsel. “It really is a nightmare to enforce.”

He said that while this city council doesn’t want to ban recreational fires some other Iowa communities have for the right of everyone to have peaceful enjoyment.

“It is hard to put rules on this and the person who is sneaking dirty diapers to the bottom of the fire pit isn’t here,” Forsyth said, noting the definition on compliance must be fair to the enforcers and county magistrate. “This is not a really easy issue.”

The attorney said the city of Pella has made it quite clear– “Burning tires is not a recreational fire.”

According to Councilwoman Lori Donovan, the police were alerted to 17 recreational fires on Saturday night.

“The teeth are not in the law but we will make it part of the law,” Mayor Lyle Hevern said.

Woodley added there’s little regulation on recreational fires. “The city attorney’s office and the police department will have to come up with a reasonable and enforceable resolution on recreational fires because a few have ruined it for many.”

It was decided a proposed list of regulations will be presented to city council at an upcoming meeting. Following publication, the community will have time to digest the proposal with adoption to follow at a later date.

Turning attention to improvement issues, the West South Ninth Street paving and drainage job was awarded to low bidder Tug Helmers Construction at a cost of $26,974.05. It is council’s hope the adjacent property owner, Highway 9 Antiques, will pave its parking area by Oct. 15 as well.

In other business, the council:

n OK’d a sign permit application for the Emmet County Agricultural Show Board for property located at 1686 Third Ave. S.

n Supported a request for an awning/sign permit for Beltone at 209 N. Sixth St.

n Heard the initial reading for the first consideration of the amendment to clarify what structures are intended to be covered by the city’s commercial building standards. The first consideration was approved.

n Gave the nod to close several streets and approved a fireworks permit for Sweet Corn Days at the request of the Estherville Area Chamber of Commerce.

n Received an update from city finance director Vaughn Brua the Federal Aviation Administration will not provide 95 percent of the funding for the airport hangar project. It has been removed from the current construction season.

n Was made aware property owners on First and Second Avenue South received correspondence from the city about the information meeting slated for Thursday, June 5.

n Was informed a work session is set for Monday, June 23 to initiate the search for Woodley’s replacement.

n Approved an application for renewal of a Class C Liquor License for Timothy P. Brashear dba Top Hat Lounge and an application for renewal of a Class B Beer Permit and Sunday Sales Privilege for Comes Investments dba Pizza Hut.