No more burn permits

Published 12:00 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

For years, the city of Oxford often would allow developers to burn off construction waste like trees and limbs on site in lieu of having to haul it off the property, even though there are city ordinances against burning.

As of Thursday, that is a practice of the past.

“We would tell the contractor we would issue the permit; however, if we get complaints we’re pulling the permit,” said Oxford Fire Chief Cary Sallis.

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With so much construction going on south of town, with the development on Callicutt Farm and in the Grand Oaks subdivision, residents in the area were starting to feel like they were living inside of a chimney.

“It’s been really bad for the last week,” said Virginia Welch, a Grand Oaks resident.

Welch spoke to Sallis and Mayor Pat Patterson about the heavy smoke in the area and all around Oxford.

“It’s not just Grand Oaks, it’s everywhere,” she said. “At night, it settles all over the place. You can’t sit on your porch and kids with asthma can’t go outside to play.”

On Thursday, Sallis said he made the decision to no longer issue burning permits inside the city limits.

“It’s just becoming a hassle,” Sallis said. “As population increases, so does construction and the number of residents already living in those areas who are affected by the smoke. It’s generally not as bad in the summertime, but when the weather cools down like this, it pushes all that smoke and it just hangs in the air.”

Sallis said he had to tell construction workers at the Callicutt site to put out its fire Wednesday after numerous complaints.

“Today, we had complaints with the Grand Oaks burning,” he said. “We told them to put the fire out by 4 p.m. and that’s it. We’re not issuing any more burning permits.”

Sallis said if a developer is unhappy with his decision, a complaint can be taken to the Oxford Board of Aldermen who could override his decision.

“I will, of course, explain to them my reasoning and I can’t imagine they wouldn’t agree with me,” he said.

Welch was informed Thursday that there would be no more permits being issued to allow contractors to burn off waste.

“It’s not just about annoyance, it’s a health issue and a fire hazard,” she said. “No one should be burning anything right now with it being so dry.”