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Council asks for more options for burn ban

Gresham Fire Marshal Gus Lian will present an ordinance banning backyard burning to city councilors on Tuesday, March 20.

After four citizens testified against the idea with one testifying in favor of it during a Tuesday, March 6, Gresham City Council meeting, councilors made a few suggestions.

They want Lian to explore making a city wood chipper available to residents. The chips would then be available to citizens. Councilors also requested a transition period, or 'honeymoon phase,' to ease residents into the change, as well as top-notch communications to notify citizens regarding the ban.

In response to residents who are angry they won't be able to burn large amounts of tree branches, hedge clippings and the like, Lian said they can apply for a $75 open-burn permit, good for up to a year. Nurseries also can use agricultural burn permits to burn their debris.

Lian proposed the ban on fires in residential areas, also known as backyard burns, due to the once-rural city's growth, increasing density and a rising number of citizen complaints. Noxious smoke from fires pose health concerns, ranging from itchy eyes to breathing problems, Lian said.

He wants Gresham to completely ban such burning, but he plans to allow 10 spread-out days of burning in autumn and spring. Gresham is one of the last cities in the Portland-metro area to allow burning in residential areas.