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Will County open-burning changes nearly finished

Updated: January 14, 2014 1:03PM



JOLIET — After months of debate, the Will County Board’s public health and safety committee is close to crafting a revised ordinance governing open burning in unincorporated areas.

At Thursday’s meeting, committee members agreed to one final rewrite of a draft ordinance.

While committee members had previously considered banning outside fires within 100 feet of structures, including fences and railroad tracks, that limit was rolled back to the original 50 feet after the Will County Farm Bureau objected.

However, the amended ordinance would prohibit open burning within 1,000 feet of a school, park, hospital, nursing home or residence of a person with chronic respiratory disease.

Committee members also discussed how the new rules would be enforced. Sheriff’s police Lt. Robert Contro said in 2012 there were 131 burning complaints and 22 tickets issued — all to people or businesses who were burning tires, garbage or waste materials, but none for leaf burning.

Contro expressed concern that it would be cheaper for businesses to burn debris and pay a $50 fine than to hire someone to properly dispose of the material. As a result, the committee agreed to increase the fine for businesses violating the ordinance to $250.

Bruce Friefeld, the county board’s chief of staff, urged the committee to finalize the ordinance for now and amend it later if necessary.

“Give this a try and see how it works,” he said.



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