Council chooses minimal burn law

RIDGEWAY – The Ridgeway Town Council agreed to amend their current fire ordinance last week after much squabbling last month over another proposed amendment that would have outlawed burning within 350 feet of another residence without permission from the non-burning party. Council’s agreed-upon amendment requires residents to do no more than call the South Carolina Burn Permit Office, leave their name on a recording and check the weather conditions before setting their rubbish ablaze. There were no other stipulations.

“Follow the instructions.” Councilman Heath Cookendorfer said. “I mean, we’re adults. We can all take risks. I think as long as the person takes the initiative to call [the Burn Permit Office], then it’s ok to burn.”

Councilman Doug Porter saw the move as a step to establish security for the town. “I’ve been around long enough and I’ve seen some poor decisions made by people. We’re passing an ordinance to protect us and our safety and our citizens.”

Town Council torched first reading of the previously proposed burn ordinance during its June 8 meeting. While that ordinance, proposed by local attorney Robert Hartman at the May meeting, restricted burning anywhere in the town within 350 feet of homes unless permission to burn had been granted from the non-burning parties, Hartman told The Voice that the 350 feet was just a suggestion.

“They could have adjusted it to 100 feet or 50 feet,” Hartman said. “But that reduced it to zero.”

Hartman’s ordinance also made an exception for backyard cookouts and cooking fires during the town’s annual Pig on the Ridge festival in November. The ordinance set punishment for illegal burns from $250-$500 per occurrence.

Hartman said he recently became concerned about the lack of a burning prohibition in the town when a neighbor proceeded with a rubbish burn within 20 feet of his office, despite winds that he said were over 20 miles per hour. Hart

man said he is concerned about the age of the buildings

Council voted to omit a section B from the new amendment that would have established a minimum footage requirement from someone else’s property before starting a burn.

“One or two people having a discussion should not affect the whole town. We have a good ordinance. I think adding section A is enough,” Cookendorfer said. “We’re adding that element now that people have to take responsibility for what they’re doing.”

“That shouldn’t punish all of us,” Councilwoman Angela Harrison said. Council passed the amendment unanimously.

Council did not mention an updated penalty for the new amendment