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October 22, 2012

Duncan city code on controlled burning could get revision

DUNCAN —

Coming on the heels of the state-issued burn ban being lifted, the Duncan City Council could alter its process for open burning to make it more lenient.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the council will consider modifying the permitting process or granting a variance to the ordinance to allow for a controlled burning on a property smaller than established in the current city code.

The City of Duncan received a request from Norman Lewis, who lives in the 3300 block of Elk Avenue to allow him to do a controlled burn. The city code was revised in 2009, to allow controlled burning on tracts of land 10 acres or larger. The Lewis property is 5.2 acres within the Duncan city limits.

Lewis has cleared and prepped the site to conduct a controlled burn. This meets with all of the city ordinances except the code requiring a tract of land at least 10 acres.

This means, according to the city code relating to controlled burns, Lewis has applied for a burn permit and his property is at least 500 feet away from the nearest residence or business structure.

The city council revised the controlled burn section of the city code in 2009, following a rash of wildfires across the State of Oklahoma.

According to a memo by City Manager Jim Frieda, “Some of these fires were directly contributed to controlled burns that quickly became uncontrolled, resulting in loss of property of both the tract owner and that of the surrounding owners.

“With the requirement of having 10 acres or more to burn, the city drastically reduced the amount of controlled burns occurring within its limits, thereby providing an additional level of protection from a controlled burn becoming uncontrolled.”

The request from Lewis keeps in step with state and county burn codes, which up until recently wouldn’t allow for burning from several counties in the state.

On Oct. 4, Gov. Mary Fallin lifted a burn ban on 33 counties, including Stephens County. This came only days after the burn ban had been lifted over 22 other counties.

Without a statewide burn ban in place, activities such as controlled burning are left up to the municipalities and counties. Stephens County does not have a burn ban in place.

According to the Oklahoma Forestry Service website, there are no county burn bans in place. Because Fallin no longer has a state-issued burn ban in place, it is up to the counties whether to establish a burn ban.

The Duncan City Council will meet at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Duncan Council Chambers to discuss this item and several other items.

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