A new ordinance approved by a vote of 8-6 by the Batavia City Council on Monday reduces the distance required between an open fire and a flammable structure.
Open burning must be 15 feet from any structure, down 10 feet from original required distance of 25 feet. The city has not changed the 25-foot distance that should separate an open fire from a nearby residence.
Batavia's open-burning ordinance was one of the models for Geneva's open-burning changes that made fire pits an allowable use. Geneva adopted the new regulations in November.
According to Batavia Alderman Jim Volk, the city has received “a constant stream of complaints” about smoke coming from backyard fires. One resident requested a variance from the fire code that states that open burning must be at least 25 feet from any structure. The resident wanted the change because he was found in violation of the rule after his neighbor complained about the smoke.
Alderman Eldon Frydendall voted against the ordinance at Batavia City Hall because it “doesn’t address the real issue … we did this based on the smoke complaint. We’ve done nothing to solve the problem.”
Mayor Jeff Schielke said he expected some residents to be upset about the restrictions of the ordinance and to raise the issue again.
“We aren’t done with this yet,” Schielke said after the ordinance passed.