Mellowing out with friends around your backyard fire pit is likely to be legal soon in Geneva.
The city council will vote Nov. 7 on a proposal to allow fires in stationary and portable fire pits. The committee of the whole passed the measure 7-2 this week.
The only outdoor fires Genevans can have are ceremonial; licensed bonfires, such as the one conducted at Geneva High School during homecoming week; and to cook food.
Under the proposed new rules, people could have fires in permanent pits or portable devices such as chimneys. The pits and devices have to have a chimney, flue, baffle, screen, grill or hood to detain smoke.
Portable pits would have to be placed on a hard surface.
A fire could burn a maximum of four hours in any 24-hour period. And it would have to be doused by 11 p.m., as the rules would prohibit burning from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. You also couldn't burn if it is a cloudy day, if there is an ozone action alert, or if winds are greater than 10 mph.
Fires could be no closer than 15 feet from a building, 25 feet for larger fires. They also would have to be at least 10 feet away from property lines.
And a person 18 or older would have to attend the fire at all times.
The council studied the matter at the request of a resident, who pointed out that consumers can buy fire pits at Geneva stores and that many residents probably aren't aware that the now-popular practice is illegal.
But Geneva Township Supervisor Patrick Jaeger has spoken out against the measure. As supervisor of a township that has a senior center, he defended the need of older adults who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders to breathe smoke-free air. As a private resident of Geneva, he and his wife complained that during the spring and summer, smoke from their neighbors' fires enters their house many evenings, depriving of them of the ability to sleep with windows open without ingesting smoke.