The City of West Tawakoni has been working on a new outdoor burning ordinance for quite some time. It has been quite a difficult issue, to say the least. The main problem is the fact that there are State of Texas statutes that basically say incorporated municipalities cannot permit outdoor burning. State law does give Counties, in unincorporated areas, the right to allow outdoor burning. However, there are very strict guidelines that have to be followed in order to abide by those laws.

What we have attempted to do here in West Tawakoni is to create an ordinance that follows State statues for Counties. That has not worked out very well for us. We have deleted requirements from the County regulations that we felt would have , in all essence, prevented burning in our City. In addition, there are some in West Tawakoni that do Not want outdoor burning, in any situation. Then there are some that say they have no other way to dispose of their brush, except by burning. I think you can drive around town and see areas that have many, many trees and some that have very few trees.

We have talked with our contractor that picks up weekly garbage from in front of your homes. They will pick up to 10 bags of leaves or house hold garbage per week. They will also pick up small bundled and tied amounts of limbs. But they do not have the equipment or ability to pick up larger amounts of brush. They also have a contract with us that does not expire for another couple of years and we cannot “force” them to do anything more than what their contract requires. If we did “force” them to pick up larger amounts of brush, then, as you can understand, the cost would go up dramatically. Then, the citizens in town that did not have the need for tree limb disposal would be very unhappy when they received their sanitation rate increase.

We have also investigated renting a large mulching machine once a month to place somewhere in town. Citizens could bring their tree limbs to that site to be mulched. However, that involves the cost of the machine, the cost of city personnel, the ability of the citizens to get the trees to the site and then the process of disposing of the ground wood. All of that is also very expensive.

So we have came up with the “New Burn Ordinance”. It does have its flaws. It is pretty hard to comply with. Keep in mind that we took out several provisions that would have made it next to impossible to comply with. One of the requirements says that wind speed has to between 6 and 23 miles per hour, and other certain atmospheric conditions. I do not know how the City could determine the wind speed and make that information available 24/7.

Therefore, I admit that this is not a perfect solution to disposing of brush and trees. The City Council is open to any and all solutions our citizens have. Please let us know your thoughts.

Calvin Travers