DNR forces closure of city tree dump

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Effective immediately, the City of Monticello’s public-access tree dump is permanently closed, per an order by the DNR. This is in reference to the tree dump located near the city’s wastewater (sewer) treatment plant.

     In early September, representatives from the DNR were on site at the sewer plant to discuss a separate complaint unrelated to the tree dump site. However, when on location, the DNR witnessed smoke coming from an area south of the plant, the tree dump.

     In a letter dated Sept. 24 to city officials, Amber Sauser, DNR environmental specialist stated, “No one was observed attending the fire. It was noted that access is not restricted with a fence or separated from the wastewater treatment plant.”

     On Sept. 17, the city received an opening burning complaint, stemming from the tree dump. The DNR letter stated, “The complaint indicated that they have discussed this issue with city officials in the past, but nothing has been done to improve the situation.”

     This resulted in the City of Monticello being in violation of Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 567-23.2(3) “Opening burning trees and tree trimmings for failure to properly administer a tree and tree trimming burn site.”

     In detail, the DNR shared that in addition:

     • The site does not control access as it is not fenced

     • The city doesn’t schedule regular burns, supervise burning at all times, or ensures burning only occurs when weather conditions are favorable to surrounding residential properties

     • The burn site is within one-quarter mile of inhabited residences

     The notice said Sauser met with Monticello Wastewater Operator in Charge Jim Tjaden on site upon their visit in early September. “We discussed the fact that anyone has access to the wastewater plant while dropping off trees and tree trimmings. This is especially concerning after hours when wastewater staff are not at the plant. Access should be controlled at all time.”

     The city was asked to submit a plan for the tree dump site by Oct. 15, outlining how the site would be brought into compliance.

     During the Oct. 15 city council meeting, City Administrator Doug Hermann informed the council that a new tree dump site would need to be a priority soon.

     Herman said he’s identified two different locations in town that could serve as tree dump and yard waste sites: near John Drive (property owned by Tom Yeoman) and further back from the sewer plant (property owned by Mike Kraus).

     Herman also discussed the proposal of hiring a site manager for $25,000.

     The site would not only act as a tree/trimming dump, but would allow residents to get rid of yard waste and utilize wood chips and mulch.

     “It could be a site that people would get more use out of,” Herman said. He referred to similar sites in the cities of Dyersville and Manchester that offer such services to its residents.

     Herman said the city might have to purchase the ground for a dump site, install fencing, lights and a camera/recording system.

     No decisions were made during the Oct. 15 council meeting, with the tree dump site closed the next day.




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