The Wilkesboro Town Council adopted an ordinance Monday night dictating what can and can’t be burned outdoors within town limits and establishing civil penalties for noncompliance.
“This ordinance really just gives our fire marshal (Tony Hayes) the ability to enforce the state code (addressing outdoor burning) through our local rules,” said Town Manager Ken Noland during a council work session Monday morning. Hayes, also a member of the Wilkesboro Fire Department, drafted the ordinance.
Noland said town hall received complaints from someone at the Holiday Inn Express on Winkler Mill Road about smoke from open burning on the Wilkes Community College campus settling over the hotel.
Noland said town staff have told WCC staff multiple times that this isn’t allowed under state law without a permit and that the town planned to adopt an ordinance including this.
Wilkesboro Mayor Mike Inscore replied, “I can only speak, based upon where I live, that (WCC) is one of the biggest culprits of why we need this (ordinance). In the summertime, with stagnant air, you would go outside and it would cut your breath off.” Inscore lives in the Beacon Ridge subdivision adjacent to the WCC campus.
Councilman Andy Soots, who is on WCC’s horticultural department board, stated, “I can assure you” that open burning on the WCC campus has been addressed.
The new ordinance prohibits burning rubbish and yard waste in portable outdoor fireplaces or fire pits, stationary outdoor fireplaces or fire pits.
The new town ordinance prohibits open burning, including bonfires and as part of land clearing, unless the Wilkesboro fire marshal has issued an open burning permit for it.
Open burning is defined by state code as “the burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber.”
The new town ordinance says that recreational fires, portable outdoor fireplaces or fire pits, stationary outdoor fireplaces and stationary outdoor fire pits are regulated by the state fire code and don’t require an open-burning operational permit from the town.
The ordinance defines a recreational fire as three feet or less in diameter and two feet or less in height and used for “pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.” It says outdoor fireplaces, barbecue grills and pits and bonfires aren’t considered recreational fires.
The penalty for a burning violation is $100 for the first offense in a 12-month period, and $500 for each subsequent offense in a 12-month period.
Penalties may be appealed in writing to the town manager within 15 days of the assessment. The town manager’s decision may be appealed to the Wilkesboro Town Council within 21 days of the town manager’s or designee’s decision.
The ordinance says fire safety is the responsibility of the individual setting a fire, regardless if a permit is required.
The council also approved:
• satellite annexation of the InterFlex Group manufacturing plant property at 3200 N.C. 268 West. An InterFlex official requested the annexation, saying the company believed it would receive faster response to fires there from the Wilkesboro Fire Department than the Goshen Fire Department. This was the town’s first satellite annexation. No one spoke during a public hearing on the request;
• rezoning .47 of an acre at 1406 Worldwide Lane (formerly Golden Needles Street) from M1 (industry) to B2 (general business), allowing the Robert Duncan Ministries Inc. office to move there. No one spoke in a public hearing on the request, made by Robert Duncan of the Oakwoods community;
• having a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. March 2 on a rezoning request from Randy and Tammy Bowlin of Millers Creek. The Bowlins requested that the western side of a 3.72-acre parcel they own at the intersection of U.S. 421 West and North Minton Road be rezoned from R20A (residential/agricultural) to B2 (general business). They want to move their business, The Logger Shop, from 5875 U.S. 421 to a yet-to-be-built facility at the new location a half-mile east.