Ferrisburgh adopts trash burning ordinance

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh selectboard at its May 3 meeting adopted a law that bans burning of trash in the town without a Department of Environmental Conservation permit and requires residents to get permits from the Ferrisburgh Fire Warden before starting most outdoor fires. Per state law, the new town ordinance will take effect on July 4 unless it is petitioned.
Ferrisburgh Selectboard Chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said the board adopted the law, essentially modeled after a recommended Vermont League of Cities and Towns ordinance, at the urging of Fire Warden Mike Coyle, also a fire department member.
“It’s a safety issue,” Lawrence said. “It’s certainly coming from a safety point of view.”
Lawrence said fire officials were concerned about existing issues and wanted to protect the town from future problems.
“We have ongoing problems in town with people just burning without permits. It is becoming an issue,” she said. “And it is also a preventative measure to give us some teeth in handling those situations.”
The key provisions of the law read:
• “Unless a permit is obtained pursuant to this ordinance, the disposal of solid waste through open burning or incineration is prohibited in the Town of Ferrisburgh unless the practice has been approved by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.”
• “Fire may be granted by the municipal fire warden for the following types of open burning, provided no public nuisance is created.” The law then lists holiday bonfires; brushfires; fires related to property maintenance, logging and farming, and wildlife habitat maintenance; and several uses that also require state approval.
Any such fires require residents to tend the fires and to have needed equipment to put them out if necessary.
The law also allows the town’s fire chief to act as the deputy fire warden and enforce the law if necessary, an addition to the VLCT model ordinance.
Penalties are town tickets of $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $150 for a third offense, $200 for a fourth offense, and $300 for all following offenses.
 The law exempts campfires, barbecue pits or bonfires, as long as they are in pits that are “no less than two feet deep and less than three feet” wide. Also allowed are the use of wood in outdoor fireplaces and bonfires smaller than three feet wide “when the ground surrounding the area where the burning is to take place is covered with snow.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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