Burning leaves and other yard debris is now banned in North Charleston.

City Council on Thursday passed a no-burn ordinance after a public hearing in which opponents said they were losing a right to control their property, and advocates said it meant the end of nuisance runaway smoke.

"When you burn on your property, you cannot contain the smoke on your property," said Councilman Kurt Taylor, who backed the measure.

The maximum fine for anyone caught operating an illegal burn runs to $500. Mayor Keith Summey said a first offense could result in a warning.

The ban takes effect immediately.

Opponents cited decades of leaf-burning practices in the city and yards overrun with leaves.

"I think this is taking away one of my individual freedoms," said Jimmy Fitch of the Wando Woods subdivision.

Proponents said burning is unnecessary, given that city trash trucks pick up yard waste weekly. They also cited it as a deterrent to accidental house fires.

The ban passed on a 7-3 vote, with council members Rhonda Jerome, Bobby Jameson and Dorothy Williams voting against it. Jameson called it an overreaction "to an issue that is not a problem."

Under the ordinance, most all types of outside burning would be outlawed except in certain instances, such as grilling food or when someone is using a portable fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Fires for oyster roasts also are permitted.

Some opponents questioned whether it was also a double standard by the city to ban outdoor smoke-producing fires while the city is not taking steps to ban indoor cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants.

Summey said the difference is that patrons have the option to enter a smoke-filled bar, while breathing smoky air inside your home or out in a yard is not, since oxygen is a necessity.