Council votes against revised text
After another public hearing to consider a Weddington burning ordinance, followed by a discussion about new tweaks to suggested ordinance language, the Weddington Town Council voted 2-1 Monday, March 14, against adopting a resolution to restrict open burning.
Furthermore, a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Daniel Barry to table further discussion on the topic for six months also failed, with council members Jerry McKee and Werner Thommiser voting it down.
Back in November, council voted to table a burning proposal, but asked Barry to tweak the language such that it “enhances the state law to address safety concerns,” McKee explained.
The proposed text also included a “Penalties and Remedies” section complete with monetary fines. “Our purpose was to create a Weddington ordinance aligned with state codes so that firefighters can put them out and that our sheriff has the right to enforce,” Barry added.
All residents who spoke out during the public hearing portion of the meeting did so against a burning ordinance, questioning its ability to keep neighborly peace.
“I’m not convinced neighbors want an ordinance,” Weddington resident Walker Davidson said, “and this regulation would not solve problems between two neighbors. ”Furthermore, Davidson expressed his opinion that the proposed language was confusing.
Town Planning Board Member Jeff Perryman questioned the proposal’s “creating a nuisance” verbiage and expressed concern that the town deputy would have to arbitrate between neighbors.
McKee stressed a primary concern about safety. “I don’t want someone starting a fire and then leaving to go to a kid’s ballgame,” he said.
McKee advocated for composting as an alternative to burning. “I’m in favor of composting with leaves – you can always throw them in the woods,” he said.
Prior to the vote, council members discussed further text amendments. Thomisser proposed adding language to prohibit the burning of grass, weeds and leaves. “This is as much about air quality as it is about safety – not one neighbor versus another,” Thomisser said. “People shouldn’t have to tolerate air pollution.”
Perhaps to address neighbor arbitration issues, Mayor Nancy Anderson proposed a “friendly amendment” to delete phrasing where the word “nuisance” appeared.
In the end, Thomisser voted in favor while both Barry and McKee voted against a burning resolution that took into account text amendments suggested by Anderson and Thomisser.
The issue could be brought back up at a later meeting.