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Oxford Fire Department looks to refine burn permit policy

With more development going on in Oxford, the Oxford Fire Department is looking to refine and regulate the city’s burn permit policy in an effort to dissuade contractors from dumping timber and debris at the city landfill.

OFD Chief Mark Heath said several contractors and developers have recently inquired about burn permits.

“There’s been some inconsistency in the past on how those have been issued,” Heath said Tuesday at the Oxford Board of Aldermen regular meeting. “In the past, we had basic guidelines. This new policy has specific regulations on how the burns will be done, what the contractors must do and it includes measures for noncompliance.”

Heath said there are two preferred ways for contractors to dispose of debris — burning and chipping.

“But most contractors don’t have the means for that,” Heath said.”When too much gets dumped into the landfill, it can cause problems with foundation settlement issues. Burning promotes and benefits good land development.”

The proposed policy would require a 48-hour advance notice to schedule a permit inspection that comes with a $200 fee. After the permit is issued, there will be an inspection of the site. The permit would be good for 10 days unless an extension is granted if weather conditions prohibit burning.

No burning will take place during any burn bans issued by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors or the Mississippi Department of Forestry.

Anyone burning done without a permit, or done improperly, can be issued a cease and desist, and the fire will be extinguished. Contractors not following the city’s procedures can also be faced with a fine up to $500.

A public hearing will be held on the proposed policy at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 at City Hall. The aldermen are expected to vote during their March 7 meeting.