An ordinance to increase the fines for burning trash and yard waste in Magnolia was introduced at the April City Council meeting.
The new ordinance will modify Ordinance 572, passed in April of 1964, which makes it unlawful to burn trash and yard waste except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day.
The original ordinance imposed a fine of no less than $10 and no more than $25 for each offense.
The new fines will be $250 for the first offense and $400 for subsequent offenses, plus court costs.
Mayor Parnell Vann said, "We seem to have more people in our community with asthma and breathing problems. Children want to play outside after school and folks want to raise the windows in their houses to let it air them out, but they can't do it because burning is going on after hours."
Vann said that the city is lenient on this ordinance and only responds to violations if someone calls and complains.
When the fire department responds to a violation, they do not immediately give out tickets but will ask residents to put out the fire or let the fire department put out the fire. If residents refuse to put out the fire, the city will then write a ticket and with fines being low, most people finish burning their pile of waste Vann said.
Joel Hutcheson, an Associate at Bell & Boyd and legal counsel to the city, said that during a recent incident, a man refused to put out a fire that was in violation of the ordinance and received a heavier fine than normal from Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge David Graham.
Following the first reading and discussion, the city council voted unanimously to hold the second reading of the ordinance during the April meeting.
The next scheduled city council meeting is on May 22 at 5 p.m.