Open burning ban relaxed in unincorporated Lake County
In an easing of restrictions enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic, open burning of landscape waste and woody materials will resume in unincorporated Lake County from sunrise to sunset three days a week.
Residents will be allowed to burn shrubbery, cuttings, grass clippings, leaves and other materials during those hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The relaxed rule approved Tuesday by the Lake County Board is a compromise permitting residents to clear their properties of debris.
"We're trying to give residents the opportunity to get rid of what they've accumulated since March," said board member Linda Pedersen of Antioch.
Pedersen represents District 1, which includes Antioch, Old Mill Creek and portions of Fox Lake and Lake Villa. The district includes largest amount of unincorporated area in Lake County.
The county board on May 12 enacted a temporary ban on open burning due to increased health risks for those infected with COVID-19. The restrictions were extended twice but were set to expire today.
The revised measure expires Oct. 14 and, like the previous ban, allows for recreational fires no larger than 3 cubic feet that do not contain garbage, junk and debris, tree trunks or landscape waste.
The revised rule approved Tuesday was discussed at length in committee meetings before the vote. Pedersen and others said the issue of open burning will be considered in more depth going forward.
"There's going to have to be a lot more discussion and research on this," she said.
News of the change will be made known through the county's website and other channels. Information will include details of what is allowed, how enforcement will work and a hotline number to report violations.
In previous discussions, some board members questioned whether burning rules should be governed by environmental factors, such as wind speed, but were ultimately found to be unwieldy.
"The restrictions that we proposed were designed to be very black and white in terms of our ability to determine a violation and simple from the standpoint of the resident," Eric Waggoner, the county's director of planning, building and development, said last week.
He noted that some fire protection districts ban open burning entirely, while others have some or no restrictions.
"My concern is there will be two sets of standards -- one with the county and one with the fire districts," said board member Judy Martini of Fox Lake.
Waggoner said trying to mirror the rule in individual fire districts would be a "very significant challenge from the standpoint of uniformity for the county and also of predictability for residents."
Residents still will have to comply with local fire safety requirements for open burning, he added.