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Eagan Council Changes Burning Ban Rules

Eagan council members voted last night to give Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott the sole authority to place or lift citywide burning bans. Councilors hope the shift will make the city more responsive to quickly changing fire conditions.

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Eagan City Council members voted unanimously on Tuesday night to give the city's fire chief, Mike Scott, the power to enact or lift temporary burning bans.

Previously city ordinances dictated that only the council could approve or remove citywide burning bans. But that approach, city officials believe, lead to unnecessary delays.

Typically, city officials follow recommendations issued by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is considered to be the statewide authority on fire conditions.

"The problem is that the DNR can lift the ban, but we have to come back to the city council to have official action to undo it on the city's part," Eagan City Administrator Tom Hedges explained during the Tuesday meeting. "That could be a couple of weeks later, 10 days later or a week later."

That issue came to a head earlier this fall, when the DNR lifted a burn ban before Halloween, but the city of Eagan couldn't follow suit until its first meeting on Nov. 7.

Under the new rules, Scott will have the sole authority to place or remove a 30-day temporary burning ban in Eagan. The fire chief said he will continue to follow DNR recommendations regarding fire conditions when considering whether to enact such a ban.

"Council meetings don't always go when we want to start or stop a ban," Scott said on Tuesday.

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