By Kellen Olshefski


The City of Elkhorn Legislative and Regulatory Committee recently voted in favor of recommending an amendment to the city’s burn ordinance in an effort to expand hours for campfire permits on the weekends and allow campfires to be started earlier on weekdays.

Under the city’s ordinance, as it is currently written, campfires are allowed between 6 and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Former Elkhorn mayor, police chief and current resident John Giese spoke before the committee Monday night to request it expand the hours for campfires on weekends.

Giese said at the Oct. 4 meeting he’s been using a campfire permit for the past couple of years, and one of the things he’s experienced is when he has company over, the 6 p.m. time slot for when fires can be started is often too late.

“(On the) weekends, if you have family and company over, and you want to have a campfire, and the kids want to make s’mores… some of those types of things, or maybe you want to cook something on your campfire. By the time you’re able to do that, your family and company is gone,” he said.

Giese said he had no complaints in keeping the same ending time on the weekends, but would like to see the ordinance changed to allow for campfires to begin at noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

“That way, we would be able to get our family and our friends over to enjoy a campfire. There’s something to be said about sitting around a campfire and talking with family and friends,” he said.

Giese said he discussed the topic with some of his neighbors – and with Elkhorn City Administrator James Heilman and Elkhorn Fire Chief Rod Smith – and all of them were OK with the change he was proposing.

Committee members agreed that it was a reasonable request. Alderman Gary Payson Jr. said he wanted to take it a step further by allowing campfires to begin earlier than 6 p.m. on weekdays as well.

Payson pointed out that with the change of seasons, it’s getting dark earlier, and before long, it will be dark before 6 p.m.

Payson followed that up by recommending the ordinance be amended to allow fires to start at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with campfires allowed from noon to midnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

A motion to recommend approval of the updated ordinance was approved unanimously by the committee. The recommendation will now go to the full council.

Read more coverage from the meeting in the Oct. 7 Independent.


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