Alta City Council discusses tree burning on golf course

Friday, March 5, 2021

Tree burning within Alta city limits was discussed at the March 1st Alta City Council meeting where Clyde Bartel requested permission to burn trees at the Alta Golf and Country Club. He is a board member at the club.

“The country club has quite a pile of dead trees that they want to burn like they’ve done in the past, and I think Clyde was ready to get it burning when he got wind to be sure that you come to the council first,” Mayor Kevin Walsh said. “The country club has been under the impression that with permission they can burn trees, so it’s just a matter of how we’re going to address it going forward.”

“I checked with Storm Lake and they don’t give permission out anymore. There’s absolutely no burning in Storm Lake at all,” Council Member Tom Lane said.

A discussion ensued about an alternative measure to possibly allow residents to retrieve wood from the golf course which Mayor Walsh said there seems to be an interest in. Bartel agrees with that to a point. “As long as they don’t track up the golf course. That’s going to be a problem as we get into spring. We don’t want that kind of damage, because then we’re talking a lot of money to repair that.”

“Would there be any thoughts of us getting approval to burn what we have and then from then on trying to get rid of it another way?” Bartel asked. “I am not in favor of burning,” Council Member Willie Lang said. Lane was in agreement. “We decided on piling that wood up based on the previous council’s decisions. It would have been nice to know that there was such a great concern for that,” Bartel said.

Council Member Molly Elston said if the council wants to change the code it should be discussed. “Our code says no fires in city limits and we really should go by that code,” Council Member Les Mann said. “Unless you have special permission,” Elston said. Mayor Walsh said that in the past, the council has given permission. “The council has to decide. I know the country club has a lot of trees to get rid of.” he said.

Lang said that if smoke starts coming into town, people complain. It was discussed that once a nuisance call goes to the fire department from someone in town complaining about smoke, the fire department would go to that location which in this case would damage the golf course. Bartel said that the last time they burned, they were required ahead of time to communicate with the fire chief and the communications center so that everybody knew what was going on. “That seemed to work very well.” he said.

Bartel asked if the city has a location to burn brush, and Alta’s Garbage/Street Department Supervisor Brad Pedersen said the city rents a spot to burn. Another alternative was given by Lane who suggested Bartel contact the recycling center to see what they say.

A motion was made to allow a one-time burn on the golf course and after that, residents must ask for special permission from city council to burn within city limits. The motion failed with 3 no and 2 yes votes. The mayor said Bartel will have to find another alternative.

In other city council news -

Council members adopted the FY22 budget with Les Mann the only opposing vote.

The City plans to form a committee as soon as possible to begin working on plans for RAGBRAI (The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) coming through Alta on Sun. July 25th. The decision from RAGBRAI about whether the bicycling event is definite this year will be made at the end of March. If anyone wants to volunteer for a committee, contact Alta City Hall.