Town Board drafts OWB policy

ELIZABETHTOWN With a moratorium on outdoor wood boilers soon ending, the Elizabethtown Town Board is working quickly to put firm regulations in place. The group held a special meeting on Aug. 27 to draft a proposed law regarding OWBs. When finished, the proposed law will be available for review by the public in anticipation of a public hearing. A moratorium has been in place for the past 18 months, barring any additional outdoor wood boilers in the zoned hamlet. Though some have suggested the new law extend regulations to the town at large, board members expressed opposition to that idea. Though the draft for the proposed law is yet to be finalized at the time of this report, discussion at the meeting indicates that it will be based heavily on OWB laws from the Town of Champion and other municipalities in northern NY. Such laws generally allow outdoor furnaces with requirements for placement, burning material, and smokestack height. Specific requirements for setbacks were discussed at length as councilman Ken Fenimore expressed concern for smoke-spewing boilers being placed too close to neighboring home. Town Supervisor Noel Merrihew noted that the current setback requirement for construction of new structures is 25 feet, and there are several residents who use wood-burning devices in their garages. Board members ultimately agreed to use the same 25-feet requirement for wood boiler setback requirements. Most board members agreed to allow exceptions in the proposed law for OWBs already in place, not requiring them to be moved in order to meet the setback requirements. Fenimore initially opposed this as well. Were talking about a health issue, he said. If somebody is burning one of these things within 25 feet of somebodys residence, I would expect to try to find some way to accommodate the concern of the neighbors. While laws in other municipalities included a minimum lot size requirement for OWBs, the Elizabethtown Town Board opted not to include one in the proposed law. Merrihew explained that the average lot size in the hamlet was less than an acre and setback requirements would likely prevent OWB placement on smaller lots. Recently extended, the current moratorium expires at the end of September. Councilman Phil Hutchins stated that the moratorium may need to be extended further if a law regarding OWBs is not in place by the end of September. Hopefully clarity will come to us at a public hearing, said Fenimore. A Sept. 3 meeting was scheduled to finalize the draft, and a public hearing is expected to be scheduled for sometime within the next two weeks.

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