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Bloomfield Hills to allow limited open burning

By Kevin Elliott

A move in May by the Bloomfield Hills City Commission that inadvertently restricted the use of some wood-burning fire pits in the city was amended on Tuesday, December 13, to make the city’s ordinance more lenient.

City commissioners in May banned the burning of leaves and yard waste in the city, citing health and safety concerns. The change was intended to curb the burning of refuse and the spread of air pollutants that can impact the health of neighbors. However, the ordinance change ended up prohibiting recreational fire pit use.

Residents irked by the restriction of fire pits addressed the city commission in November, and again on December 13 to voice their frustrations. However, commissioner Sarah McClure said the commission was already aware of the issue and planned to amend the ordinance to allow the use of fire pits.

“It was never our intent to not allow the use of fire pits, and our city manager actually caught that, but everything kind of blew up through the residents before we actually had a chance to make that correction,” she said.

City commissioners on December 13 unanimously approved an amendment to the open burning ordinance to allow the use of fire pits. Under the amendment, fire pits must be limited to four-feet in diameter, height and length. Further, only dry, seasoned firewood and kindling may burned, with a ban on lawn waste, leaves and refuse remaining. The amendment allows fire pit use without obtaining a special permit.

“This is actually more lenient than most communities,” McClure said. “It may not make everyone happy, but I think it makes the majority of people satisfied.”

Commissioners initially considered restricting open burns to four hours; however, several residents requested longer times, of up to eight hours. Commissioners relented on that point, but made it clear the city would enforce the violations related to unattended fires.

Bloomfield Hills City Manager Dave Hendrickson said in-ground fire pits, as well as removable pits, are permitted under the changes, but are limited to the four-foot restriction in size.

“Any larger than that, and you start to get into brush fires,” he said.


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