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Mancos approves permanent fire ban, but with exceptions

New ordinance permanently bans open fires
Stephanie Alderton/The Journal<br><br>Fireworks explode over Boyle Park in Mancos on July 4, 2017.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Mancos town board approved an ordinance permanently banning open fires and fireworks within town limits, except under certain conditions.

The board has discussed the possibility of modifying the municipal code on fires and burn bans at several meetings this summer. On Wednesday, the trustees unanimously approved Ordinance 734, which amends Section 7-9-50 of the municipal code to make the town’s burn ban permanent. The ordinance allows the town board to temporarily lift the ban under certain circumstances, as long as Montezuma County is not under a red flag warning, and permanently suspends the ban for the official Mancos Fourth of July fireworks display.

“Now, in the event of an emergency, the trustees can pass a resolution to stop the fireworks,” Interim Town Administrator Heather Alvarez said. “Otherwise, the fire department can host a Fourth of July celebration every year.”

She said this approach would be easier than requiring the Mancos Fire Protection District to request a temporary lift of the burn ban every summer.

The ordinance defines “open fires” as any fire in an outdoor location, with the exception of barbecue grills and supervised fire pits. It prohibits burning trash or leaves outdoors.

After passing the ordinance, the board voted unanimously to temporarily lift the ban in order to allow the Mancos High School homecoming bonfire on Sept. 26, which will be supervised by volunteers with the Mancos Fire Protection District.

The Mancos Fourth of July fireworks this summer were interrupted by a small brush fire, apparently caused by sparks from the display. Firefighters extinguished it with no injuries or major property damage.

The new ordinance does not allow anyone other than the fire department to set off fireworks in the town, although the board of trustees can grant permission for a display if they find enough evidence that it will be safe. But the board cannot suspend the ban if Montezuma County is under a red flag warning.

During their meeting, the trustees also unanimously approved a contract with the planning company SAFEbuilt to consult with Alvarez on zoning development permits.

They voted to support a Great Outdoors Colorado grant application from the Mancos School District that would fund the construction of a new athletic field, one of two project grants the district is applying for through the Montezuma Inspire Coalition. They also received a trustee protocol update from Alvarez, who told them trustees are allowed to participate in public meetings by telephone.

Alvarez also presented an early draft of the town’s 2018 budget. It included a 3 percent bonus for all town staff, in lieu of a salary raise, and accounted for an expected decrease in revenue from mineral lease and severance tax revenue, among other changes. The board will continue discussing the budget at its meeting on Oct. 11.

This article was reposted on Sept. 15 to clarify the purpose of the SAFEbuilt contract.

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