Plan to haul yard waste won't be easy to pull off

info@islandpacket.comAugust 12, 2013 

Hilton Head Island's Town Council got the changes it asked for in an ordinance to ban open burning, but the council upped the ante with a new request.

Council members gave the first of two approvals needed for an ordinance that would prohibit the burning of yard waste in areas of the island where it is not already banned. But they said they also wanted a mechanism to haul yard waste for those who didn't have a way to haul it or the money to pay someone else to haul it.

The council is to be applauded for trying to accommodate those who have long used burning as a way to get rid of yard waste and for recognizing that many outside the island's gated communities, where open burning already is banned, don't have an easy or affordable way to get rid of yard waste. But determining who that is won't be as easy as saying, "do it."

And at this stage, the cost of offering this service has not been quantified. A realistic figure should be in hand before the council votes on this proposal.

The second and final vote on the ordinance is expected at the council's Sept. 3 meeting, but town manager Steve Riley said he doubted staff could have a plan worked out by then. As he put it, "There are going to be a lot of moving parts."

That's very true, and this ordinance already has a lot of moving parts that will require diligent enforcement if it's to accomplish its goals.

Town Councilman Marc Grant, who represents the area where the new ordinance will have the most impact, asked that it not be enforced until the plan to offer hauling is worked out. But if the council thinks it's important to stop open burning because of the risk of wildfires and the negative impact on health from smoke in the air, then its enforcement shouldn't be delayed.

And the council may find out after staff works on the idea that figuring out who qualifies for the extra help is more difficult than they thought. In that case, there's no reason to delay an ordinance council members think is needed for the health and safety of island residents and visitors.

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