The Windsor Village Board is getting closer to instituting an open burn ban.
By a unanimous vote, the board approved a motion at its meeting on Thursday, May 7, to direct village staff to draft an ordinance to eliminate burning in the municipality’s urbanized area, with an exception for fire pits that use clean wood or charcoal.
In a related move, the board is also seeking a recommendation for the possible expansion of recycling center hours to be brought forth at the next village board meeting, scheduled for May 21.
Village President Bob Wipperfurth said the time had come for a resolution on the matter.
“We’ve talked about the ban for over a year now,” said Wipperfurth. “It’s not ideal in our current circumstances, but we have to make a decision at the same time, whether we like it or not.”
Village Administrator Tina Butteris wrote a memorandum about the issue, recounting the open house on the issue that took place in December. A survey on the recycling center and open burning was conducted in February.
Improvements and suggestions included widening the road into the recycling center, since the space is too small for vehicles to maneuver. Survey results also supported expanded hours, the addition of cardboard collection and other items, including electronics collection and better signage detailing the rules for speed limits, where to place items and what to do with full dumpsters.
Normal operating hours are Saturdays April through November from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., the first Saturday of the month from December through March 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Wednesdays April through September from 2:30-6:30 p.m. and October through November from 12:30-4 p.m.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center was closed until the middle of April, before reopening recently.
The hours through May are Tuesday 2:30-6:30 p.m., Wednesday 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The busiest day at the recycling center is Saturday. For the two Saturdays since it reopened, total vehicles have numbered 130 and 117, respectively, compared to 65 and 75, respectively, on Sundays, 48 and 38 on the two Tuesdays and 61 and 74 on the two Wednesdays.
The average number of vehicles per hour at the recycling center is 20. The board still has to determine what the hours at the center will be starting in June.
One of the biggest issues, according to Public Works Director Davis Clark, is that the dumpsters are completely filled on Saturday, leaving no place on Sundays to put waste materials. A loader is used to then pick up the material outside the dumpster.
“That’s one of the challenges we’re going to have to find solutions for,” said Wipperfurth.
Trustee Brad Mueller wanted to clarify that it’s not a total burn ban.
“We’re talking about leaf burning,” said Mueller, adding that it is a public health concern and should be positioned as such.
Mueller said he’d heard from a resident that if Windsor did impose a burn ban that it should be the village’s responsibility to get rid of homeowners’ leaves. Mueller explained that he didn’t agree with that notion.
“It’s part of the homeowners’ process and not the village’s obligation,” said Mueller.
Trustee Monica Smith agreed, saying leaves were the responsibility of homeowners. Fellow Trustee Don Madelung had earlier wondered if the village could provide residents with bags for their leaves that they could bring to the center. Smith argued that the village didn’t need to provide bags or a service for leaf removal.
Expressing support for expanded recycling center hours, Trustee Bruce Stravinski also proposed adding more recycling center days in the fall and additional hours in March. Mueller also liked the idea of expanded hours in the fall.
Before the vote, Madelung said he was leaning toward a burn ban. Stravinski also indicated he thought Windsor should eliminate the burning of leaves. Smith said she wanted that, too, and Wipperfurth said, “The time has come to eliminate open burning Windsor.”
Butteris said staff needed to talk with Public Works about recycling center hours.