Friday, August 29, 2008

Mansfield Says Yes To Outside Wood Burners

Mansfield council to draft ordinance allowing outdoor wood burners


MANSFIELD - With only councilwoman Marianne Bozzo casting a "no" vote this week, the borough council voted to have its solicitor draw up an ordinance to allow outdoor woodburning furnaces within the borough limits.

After listening to a presentation on the appliances by Mark Wilber, owner of This Warm House outdoor woodburning furnaces, which is located in the borough on Route 6 West, council discussed the issue for about a half hour before voting.

With energy prices soaring and heating bills expected to increase substantially this winter, more people are likely to become interested in purchasing a wood burner than ever before, but other boroughs in the county have had problems with people burning things in them that should not be burned, such as garbage.

Bozzo said that was her biggest concern, that people will burn "anything" in them to save money on their heating bills, causing smoke and pollutants to fill the air and become offensive to neighbors.

Burning only seasoned cord wood is the key, and burning it at 2,000 degrees creates a secondary burn, he said, which Wilber said emits no smoke, only carbon dioxide and water vapor.

"But how are you going to control what people throw into these things?" Bozzo wanted to know, adding "I just can't see having them in our close proximity here."

Wilber said with his units, the warranty is voided if anything other than the proper fuel is used, which makes it self-enforcing.

Wilber said his units, priced between $7,500 and $13,000, pay for themselves in five years and burn at nearly 100 percent efficiency.

The furnaces Bozzo was talking about are not capable of burning at the high temperatures his units are.

"Right now there are probably 200 companies peddling these units. By 2010 there will probably be fewer than a dozen, but until then it is a grave problem," Wilber said.

And, he added, EPA standards that will become mandatory in 2010 are now only voluntary.

The EPA also is getting ready to establish efficiency standards possibly by the end of this year, Wilber said, which should help to educate the public even more.

Council also looked at a recently passed ordinance created by Wellsboro borough, which they will have their solicitor model Mansfield's on, according to the motion made by councilman Dr. Robert Strohecker.

"We could make the setback a little less stringent than 500 feet, I would think," he said.

"But we shouldn't keep people who might live on the outskirts of the borough from having one if they want one," he added.

Codes officer Shawn Forrest will have input into the language used in the ordinance.

"We can revisit this ordinance in 2010, and see if it needs updating then," council president Steve Gee said.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wellsboro Regulates Outdoor Furnaces

Outdoor wood-burning furnace ordinance adopted

By BRYAN G. ROBINSON Sun-Gazette Correspondent

WELLSBORO - Wellsboro Borough Council on Monday adopted an ordinance that regulates outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

The ordinance regulates new and existing furnaces that are used to heat interior spaces, and establishes setbacks of 500 feet of a neighbor's property line. It takes effect immediately.

Just like households with new furnaces, each owner of an existing furnace will be required to apply for a permit to operate furnaces within 30 days of the ordinance being enacted. However, the $25 fees for application and permit, which council also established by resolution Monday night, will be waived for owners of existing furnaces.

Other fees include $25 for an inspection fee, and $250 each for a variance and appeal.

"I know it's not what everybody wants, but it's a starting point and is something for us to work from," said Michael Wood, council president, before the vote was taken. "If it does pass tonight, I would like to see people who have woodstoves and those who don't on the appeals board."

Other key provisions include:

Outdoor furnace owners will be allowed to burn only fuels designed for the furnaces and which are approved by the manufacturer, with a restriction on 14 different materials that might not be burned, from garbage to tires to leaves.

All outdoor furnaces will be prohibited from operating between May 31 and Aug. 31 each year, to cut down on smoke in residential areas during the summer when more people are outdoors or have windows open in their homes for ventilation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Outside Furnaces Good Option As Fuel Prices Soar

By James Jones
As natural gas prices continue to rise, and the price of fuel oil goes out of sight, more and more people will be looking for a safe and efficient way to heat their homes.

For many that choice will be wood. Wood stoves in the house have traditionally been a dangerous way to heat a home. Improper chimneys build up with creosote and explode in flames burning over 1600 degrees, often catching nearby combustible surfaces on fire.

To eliminate that problem, many homeowners are switching to outside furnaces that provide hot water which can be tied into existing hot water and forced air home heating systems, burning forest waste and turning it into heat.

Pole materials that would be chipped or left to lay on the forest floor can be used in kind of a recycling operation that lets material from the forest be used to provide heat.

Although many areas are regulating the outside furnaces, which usually produce excess smoke
when refilled in the morning, they are a great safe alternative in home heating.

Manufacturers have been working to cut down on the emissions from these stoves. Many are designed to burn at higher temperatures to cut down on smoke and unburned particles.

Municipalities should co-operate in redesigning these burners for efficiency as they are a great option for those who would otherwise have to pay high gas and oil bills.

Those with electric heat are expected to have to bite the bullet in the next few years as deregulation takes place in Pennsylvania.

Opposition to outdoor furnaces have led to bans in some areas of central Pennsylvania, and others have adopted regulations on new installations. Residents should not have to be smoked out by their neighbors, but care in placement will help prevailing winds from carrying smoke to neighbors homes most of the time.

While smoke in the Wintertime may not impact neighbors whose houses are closed up, users may have to find other means to heat residential hot water to lessen the impact in the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall when windows are open.

Modifications would allow a loop of plastic pipe laid out on or under a south facing roof to circulate sun heated water into the boiler to store heat for the night hours and help provide hot water for residential use.

Rather than banning these safe outdoor units, more thought should be given toward improving these systems for the betterment of all residents.

Legislation, if any should be directed on an individual basis toward those who use these furnaces to burn noxious material, irritating to their neighbors, while encouraging their use by those who do not cause problems for others.

Sandy Township Residents Ask About Outdoor Furnaces

Courier Express
DuBOIS - An outdoor furnace in the Oklahoma section of Sandy Township is causing a stir once again.

Several residents attended the supervisors meeting Monday to find out the status of the outdoor furnace ordinance.

Paul Gulvas of Maple Avenue said he hopes he will not have to spend another summer with his windows shut because of an outdoor furnace in his neighborhood. He said this issue was brought to the supervisors last year and he wants to know where things stand.

Supervisor Brady LaBorde asked what type of ordinance everyone is looking for, one that regulates furnaces year round or just for the summer.

Ron Reed said he would like to see an ordinance that is in effect year round.
"The smoke is a nuisance year round," he said. "I understand people have rights, but one person's rights shouldn't overrule a whole community's rights."

LaBorde said the board has been looking into an ordinance, "but maybe not as intensely as we should have been."

Reed said he thinks the supervisors have been dragging their feet.
"Maybe the neighborhood should get a lawyer and get an injunction like other neighborhoods have done," he said.

Supervisor Dave Sylvis said the supervisors are not ignoring the request.
"We have been checking into the legality of your request," he said. "We want to make sure (an ordinance) would be sound. I agree you should be able to breathe clean air. We don't want this to end up in court being challenged."

Solicitor Greg Kruk said there is not a lot of law on these types of ordinances.
"We don't want to draft an ordinance against one person," Kruk said. "We want to write it for the entire community. This hasn't been forgotten."

"Maybe it hasn't been forgotten, but it hasn't been put up too high on the burner," Gulvas said.
LaBorde said there is no time line for an ordinance being passed; "we have just discussed some ideas.

What you must understand is that any ordinance we draft and pass must cover the whole township," he said.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Muncy Says No To Outdoor Furnace Ban

Muncy: No to ban on outdoor burners


Sun Gazette
MUNCY — Choosing an open-minded approach to outdoor burning, Muncy Borough Council will consider restrictions on the burners after rejecting an outright ban.

Solicitor Carl Barlett will draft an ordinance outlining reasonable requirements on outdoor furnace use.

Based on environmental guidelines, use of such furnaces could be contingent upon a permitting procedure yet to be detailed.

Failure to comply will force legal deployment of significant penalties, according to Councilman Rodney Knier, who made the successful suggestion Tuesday.

Council favored Knier’s motion by a vote of 4-3, with Councilman Galen Betzer and Councilwomen Karen Richards and Linda Stein dissenting.

Suggested by Richards, a plan to ban outdoor furnace use was denied by council, with Council President Vivian Daily and Councilmen Michael Fornwalt, Dana Bertin and Knier opposed.

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

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.