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City Council passes limits on backyard burns

Nurseries, others with large properties can still burn debris with special permit

A Gresham ordinance that limits burning yard debris to 20 days a year passed its final round of approval.

Gresham city councilors on Tuesday, April 3, unanimously approved a second enactment reading of the ordinance, which limits yard debris fires in residential areas to 10 spread-out days in autumn and spring.

The ordinance, drafted by Gresham Fire Marshal Gus Lian, takes effect in mid May.

Lian proposed the limit 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, say those who support the ordinance.

Some residents whose property generates too much yard debris to recycle curbside encouraged the council not to move forward with the restriction.

Lian, however, said residents will still be able to burn large amounts of tree branches, hedge clippings and the like if they get an open-burn permit. The permits cost $75 and are good for up to a year. Nurseries also can use agricultural burn permits to burn their debris.