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— Soon, Benton County residents will be able to apply for permits to burn dilapidated structures and rotting chicken houses on their property.

The process of creating and refining the burn ordinance began in March when Justice of the Peace Dan Douglas brought forward the idea to the county Environmental Committee.

Allowing residents to burn the dilapidated buildings will help eliminate fire and health hazards presented by the buildings, while saving taxpayers a little money.

"We have a lot of buildings that are unsightly and unsafe," Douglas said. "This (ordinance) gives us a means to control what is being burned and to make sure something that is not supposed to be burned is not being burned."

Under the terms of the newly adopted ordinance, residents will pay a one-time $25 fee per building they would like to burn. Beforethe permit is approved, the building will be inspected by county Fire Marshal Will Hanna for asbestos and other materials that might prevent the building from receiving a permit.

After a burn permit is issued, the applicant will need to wait an additional 10 days and call Central Communications to check weather conditions before lighting a match, according to the ordinance.

When all is said and burned, Hanna will once again inspect the building site to ensure that nothing was burned that was not previously approved.

Violators will be subject to a $500 fine and prosecution if a state law is violated.

"Everybody I have talked to out in the county that has an old building are all very happy this passed," Douglas said. "This is really a winwin for the county because it gets rid of the buildings and a win for the property owners who can get rid of them without it costing them a fortune."

News, Pages 8 on 08/12/2009

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