PHOENIX — After months of deliberation over whether to ban outdoor burning within city limits, City Council members Monday called for a study session to iron out final details and find a resolution.

PHOENIX — After months of deliberation over whether to ban outdoor burning within city limits, City Council members Monday called for a study session to iron out final details and find a resolution.

The meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Jan. 28, at the public works annex, 1000 S. B St.

The proposed burning ban has been a hot topic in town for a year, and the measure has been tabled from meeting to meeting over the past few months.

A full ban would end leaf burning, barrel burning and other types of residential outdoor burning, though city officials plan to review ordinances from at least a pair of local cities to determine if a compromise could allow certain types of burning at certain times of year.

Councilman Mike McKey, who opposes a full ban, said the Department of Environmental Quality should regulate burning at the state level rather than ask cities to make local laws.

McKey voiced frustration about new government restrictions on residents and said a compromise would be more palatable than a full ban.

Councilmen Mike Stitt and Stan Bartell said Monday they'd gone door to door polling citizens on the matter in recent weeks, and found supporters for both sides of the issue.

Bartell, who favors a complete ban for residents' health reasons and improved air quality, reported residents in favor of a ban, while Stitt, who opposes a full ban, said those he spoke with leaned toward a compromise that would allow limited burning.

Dan Marshall, chief of Jackson County Fire District No. 5, which provides the city's fire protection, said fire officials prefer a "burn-or-no-burn" approach. He said a compromise would be more difficult for his agency to enforce and could be confusing for residents.

Marshall said the fire district would abide by whatever the council decides.

"You want non-fire-hazard months where you encourage people to burn in terms of reducing fuels and reducing fire hazards, but there's not as much reason in a city for those types of burning," he said. "And, certainly, we have escaped burns every year due to high winds."

John Becker, DEQ's air quality manager for Southern Oregon, said he was optimistic that the council was coming closer to resolution on the issue. If the council fails to act, burning would be allowed in March under a Jackson County ordinance. Becker said he hoped the council would move toward a total ban.

"I would like to see the city come up with some kind of restriction on open residential burning because the less open burning we allow the better our air quality will be," Becker said.

"There is some evidence that the federal government is going to lower the standards for air quality," he noted. "If they lower those standards, we're close enough to the limits that we would be in nonattainment."

Mayor Carlos DeBritto said there should be little doubt the matter has been thoroughly discussed.

"We're really trying hard to come up with something that's going to work for everybody, and it's not easy," DeBritto said.

"At this point, hopefully we'll get it resolved when we sit down and work out all the little bugs that seem to be coming up," he said. "It's a no-win situation, really, but at least we've spent enough time deliberating on this issue so hopefully we'll come up with something that will work for our citizens."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.