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Local

Lee County Board spurns burn ordinance

Members reject fire chief's, county attorney's push for local enforcement

DIXON – The Lee County Board extinguished its proposed burn ordinance that was geared toward making it easier for the county to police repeat offenders.

Open burning is regulated by the Illinois Pollution Control Board and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, but a local ordinance would have given the county more teeth to enforce fines, which can be as high as $500 for general violations, State’s Attorney Matt Klahn said Tuesday.

“Having this ordinance will make it easier to prosecute,” Klahn said.

Former longtime County Board Chairman Rick Ketchum told the board he was concerned for a few reasons, including a provision that restricted burning from dawn until dusk when it could take 3 to 5 days to burn a brush pile, and requiring a special containment area when burning for commercial purposes.

Klahn said he would be open to changing or omitting the dusk until dawn rule, but the ordinance mirrors state law and was based on a similar ordinance in Stephenson County.

“All of this is in the state law,” he said. “We’re not creating something that’s not already there.”

Sublette Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Schultz said every fire chief in the county is in favor of the ordinance, and that’s a group with more than 250 years experience.

The ordinance is meant for those “who willfully neglect the rules,” he said, and targets people who illegally burn things such as tires, plastics, and materials containing asbestos.

Board members Tom Kitson and Tim Deem said they shouldn’t be doubling a law that already exists.

“I’m concerned we’re headed down a slippery slope,” Kitson said.

The board rejected the ordinance in a 16-4 vote.

NEXT MEETING

The Lee County Board next meets at 6 p.m. June 19 in the third-floor board room of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St. The agenda will be posted at leecountyil.com 2 days before the meeting.

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