Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wellsboro Suspends Outdoor Wood Burners Again

Wellsboro enacts three-month moratorium on outdoor wood furnaces

By BRYAN G. ROBINSON Sun-Gazette Correspondent

WELLSBORO — Borough Council is enacting a moratorium on outdoor wood furnaces — again.

Monday night, council enacted a three-month moratorium on the installation of new outdoor wood furnaces within the borough limits. In April and September of last year, council had enacted six-month moratoriums. September's moratorium officially ran out Monday night.

Since last fall, council has been working on a draft of an ordinance to regulate the furnaces, by holding a series of meetings with the public. The last such meeting took place in late January.

“I haven’t seen anything back yet from our solicitor,” said Susan Stephens, secretary-treasurer for the borough. “As soon as I receive something, I’ll distribute it.”

Council President Mike Wood said at the late January meetings that residents would be shown a final draft before adoption took place.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Muncy mulls outdoor furnace use

By PATRICK DONLIN pdonlin@sungazette.com
POSTED: March 5, 2008
MUNCY — Outdoor furnace use continues to be the burning issue in Muncy Borough.

With spring fast approaching, more warmth likely will come from the sun rather than fuel heaters by the time a decision is made, but most members of council voiced opinions on Tuesday.

Considering municipalities such as Lock Haven that are banning outdoor furnaces, Councilman Rodney Knier said, “I have a problem with these ordinances.” Newly produced backyard burners produce emissions as clean or cleaner than conventional furnaces, according to Knier.

“I just think an outright ban is, to me, ludicrous,” Knier said.

If the furnace is properly maintained and placed a generous distance from neighboring properties, such a form of alternative energy should be allowed, in Knier’s opinion.

Several years from now, the furnaces may not operate as clean as they do new, according to Councilman Galen Betzer.

Enforcement of what is and what isn’t a nuisance, such as smoke, is subjective to each person, he added.

Although there is nothing on the borough books about outdoor furnaces used for home heating, burn barrels — historically used to burn garbage — were banned years ago.

Betzer said he has yet to see an outdoor furnace that doesn’t emit irritating smoke.

Doing away with offensive odors was a primary purpose of the burn barrel ordinance when it was passed a few years ago, according to Councilman Dana Bertin.

Use of the outdoor furnaces can be considered, according to Councilwoman Karen Richards, but provisions have to be put into place.

Not wanting to see massive stockpiles of wood and coal in residential yards, Richards said, “We can’t just deal with piles of (it) in somebody’s yard.”

From what he’s seen published, resident Barron Zimmers said a variety of fuel options can be considered, including corn pellets, coal and wood.

Chimney height of the furnaces also has to be discussed to ensure they’re high enough to not blow smoke throughout the neighborhood. “I think that’s the biggest issue,” Richards said of the smokestacks.

Letting it be known she agrees with Knier on the issue, Council President Vivian Daily reminded that many families may feel the economic crunch of high heating costs and the affordability of outdoor furnaces may be explored by some.

Borough Solicitor Carl Barlett urged the council to continue to relay ideas to him.

Designed to protect the health and welfare of residents, the ordinance will strive to further regulate outdoor burning.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lock Haven Bans Outdoor Furnaces

Lock Haven bans all new outdoor burning devices

By WENDY STIVER wstiver@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — City Council had no good news for residents trying to save money on heating fuel bills.

Council voted Monday night to ban all new outdoor fuel burning appliances. Anyone thinking about installing such an appliance, which can be used to heat a house, will have to change plans.

Opponents of outdoor burners pointed out their flues usually are lower to the ground than that of a traditional indoor burner, and the smoke the burners emit can stay low, making the neighborhood unpleasant and causing a health hazard for any neighbors who suffer from asthma. The burners, which aren’t regulated by the EPA, also tend to put out more smoke than in-home burners.

Their owners may be tempted to use the burners to incinerate garbage and anything else they can get away with because the smell won’t be inside their house, some council members said.

Bellefonte already has banned the burners.

Coudersport, however, has not, reported Councilman William E. Baney. That borough chose to pass an ordinance regulating the burners instead, he said. Those regulations require the flue to stand 25 feet tall and have a scrubber and a fan or blower. The burner must be EPA-certified, used to burn only wood and stand 25 feet from the property line.

Baney voted against the ban as did Councilmen Alan D. Black and Richard L. Conklin.

Black said he voted against it because he believes council did not receive enough information from enough different sources to make a decision.

Any existing outdoor burners may stay in place, according to the city ordinance, but must have a flue that is 20 feet high.