New fire pit rules get hearing at City Hall
September 02. 2014 1:16PM
A committee of aldermen considering an ordinance to stiffen fire regulations in Dell Rapids is being urged by administration at City Hall to pass the new rules.
Earlier this summer a resident asked the city council to review its smoke nuisance laws and fire pit regulations because current rules don’t go far enough in protecting residents from obnoxious neighbors.
Russ Miller, 407 east Ninth Street, suggested amending the city’s nuisance list to include smoke. Existing nuisance and fire pit ordinances stipulate what can be burned, but not the smoke recreational fire pits produce. When a complaint is made, the fire department doesn’t have the authority to extinguish the nuisance-causing fire, Miller said.
The majority of aldermen and Mayor Scott Fiegen weren’t thrilled with the idea of regulating fire pits or the smoke they produce – Fiegen said it would be too difficult to enforce. But city administrator Justin Weiland said last month that councilors should consider giving the fire department more discretion when complaints about are received.
At the recommendation of Dell Rapids Fire Department Chief Mike Steen, Weiland on Monday, Aug. 4 suggested creating an ordinance specific to recreational fires to prohibit burning anything except charcoal, manufactured fire logs and clean, dry, unpainted and untreated wood. All fires would have to be contained within a pit, ring, chiminea or outdoor fireplace; and all burning would have to occur at least 15 feet away from any buildings. Burning would also be prohibited within six feet of a property line.
“The fire department … highly recommended to the city council that we do something,” Weiland said. “Their problem is when they are called out to one of these fire pit incidents in someone’s rear yard because of a complaint … we don’t have any teeth in our existing ordinance.”
The proposed ordinance calls for $100 fines for first time violations. Subsequent violations increase.
Despite the push for a new ordinance, the tone coming from the mayor’s office hasn’t changed. Fiegen said the setback requirements are too burdensome.
“There are a lot of people who’ve built homes and specifically built pads like that,” Fiegen said.
Alderman Lee Burggraff agreed.
“There are a lot of fire pits that are within 10 feet of the house – permanent fire pits,” Burggraff said just before making a motion to table the measure for further review.
The motion carried. Fiegen referred the proposed ordiance to the policies and procedures committee.