Prompted by town residents’ requests, Chelsea officials are considering the creation of an ordinance to allow controlled burning within the city limits.

“I’ve been approached by several people in town about the open burning of leaves and brush,” Chelsea Fire Chief Tim Schulze told the Chelsea Board of Trustees Monday night. “The old burn barrels are not what we’re going for here. Instead of piling up the leaves and brush and waiting for the county to come pick it up once a year, this gives them an opportunity to get a permit from the town to burn it off in a controlled area.”

Schulze presented several sample permits, ordinances and regulations he compiled from other towns, including Edmond, Choctaw and Neosho, Mo.

In issuing a permit for controlled burning in the city limits, if the ordinance is adopted, city officials will have to decide whether a fee will be imposed. Some of the samples included $20 or $25 permit fees.

“I think $25 is high,” Trustee Howard Drake said. “Some of these towns have no permit fee.”

According to Schulze, the permit would be good for a one time controlled burn. If a city resident, “burned on a Monday and wanted to burn again on Wednesday, they’d have to get another permit,” according to Schulze.

Schulze told the board he would like to see several regulations included in the ordinance, such as distance a burn could occur from a structure, size limits for burning tree limbs and a limit on the size of the burn pile. No trash would be allowed in the burn piles, according to Schulze.

He added that some samples he compiled included a humidity level and wind speed that would not allow burning because of fire danger, and what materials would be needed before conducted a burn — a bucket of dirt, shovel, water, etc.

The biggest concern Schulze had was enforcement of the ordinance.

“I would like to put a stiff penalty with this,” he said. “If someone does not have a permit or violates the permit, I think there should be a stiff fine.”

If the ordinance is drafted and adopted by city officials, Schulze said he anticipates cleaner yards around town and less fire hazards.

“Right now, small piles of brush are a fire hazard,” he said. “They’re just sitting around under trees and if those piles catch fire, it will catch the tree on fire and then we’ve got a problem.”

Members of the board agreed that the ordinance sounded like a good idea.

“If the fire chief supports it, then I have no problems supporting it,” Trustee Norman Wooten said.

It is not know when the board will present an ordinance regarding burning permits. Currently, the town bans any burning within the city limits.

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