September 05, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

It will cost La Grande residents $5 to burn yard debris, the city council decided Wednesday night.

But the council could not agree on the format of the informational packet it decided to provide for those who get burn permits.

The $5 fee will cover administrative costs of issuing the permits, which previously have been free. A higher fee of $10 was suggested, but council members said they did not want the fee to be a disincentive to burning or to impose a hardship on people who couldnt afford it.

The vote to impose the fee was 3-2, with two councilors absent. Mayor Colleen Johnson and Steve Clements voted against it because they wanted the $10 fee instead, they said.

At a previous meeting, the council had ordered Fire Chief Bruce Weimer to prepare an open burning policy to tighten the enforcement of existing open-burning regulations. He presented that policy to the council Wednesday, including listing types of materials that can be burned and recommending penalties for violation of the policy.

However, after about an hour of discussion, the council decided to establish a committee to finalize the policy, which will be handed out to those who apply for a burn permit. The informational packet will be called guidelines for open burning in La Grande.

The committee of two councilors, two citizens and the fire chief was instructed to have the packet ready by Oct. 1, which is the first day of the fall burning season in La Grande. Residents can burn two months in the spring and two in the fall.

The final informational material wont come before council for a vote again, it was decided, but they will all see it before it is distributed.

Weimer said the policies he presented are already in the states Uniform Fire Code, adding that he has the authority to enforce the (state) fire code as written and the ability to be more restrictive locally than the code is written.

In other action Wednesday night, the council:

Instructed City Manager Wes Hare to proceed with the purchase of the Bohnenkamp property on Adams Avenue. A Nov. 30 closing date is anticipated.

Passed two resolutions initiating annexation proceedings for two areas of the urban growth area. One is eight lots of .9 acres each off Gekeler Lane and South 20th Street and the other is a large lot at 2600 East L Avenue.

Agreed to send $3,000 to the League of Oregon Cities to help defend a lawsuit brought by Portland against Qwest, which has stopped paying its telecommunication franchise fees to that city.

Appointed Don Keeling, Richard Hermens, Sandra Ellston, Marianne Sipe and John Turner to a new Landmarks Commission in anticipation of the city receiving recognition as a National Register Historic District.

Appointed Charlene Bates and Karen Fullmer to fill vacancies on the Air Quality Commission.