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Moriah to take action on outdoor wood boilers

PORT HENRY The town of Moriah is about to regulate outdoor wood boiler furnaces. Supervisor Tom Scozzafava has appointed a committee and asked for recommendations to be presented at the Oct. 14 town board meeting. As a town board we have to do something, Scozzafava said, noting many complaints from residents about smoke from the boilers. Every community around us has done something. Weve been waiting for New York State to take action, but theyre doing nothing. The state is taking action, although slowly. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has started working on regulations that could be put in place within the next year, and the state Senate and Assembly both have bills dealing with the subject at the committee level. An OWB, as the boilers are commonly called, is a freestanding structure that contains a firebox surrounded by a water reservoir. Water is heated, then circulated through the home. They are being touted as an alternative means of providing heat for buildings during a time when the price of oil is climbing. The purchase price of them is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. DEC spokeswoman Lori OConnell said regulating OWBs is part of a larger plan, noting that the DEC is also working on stricter rules for outdoor burns. Especially at a time when heating costs are so high, I hate to tell someone how to heat their home, Moriah trustee Tom Anderson said. Perhaps we should look at the height of the smokestack or the months of use. We can regulate those. Scozzafava noted the village of Port Henry has regulations in place requiring a 25-foot setback from a property line, a specific chimney height and banning OWB use from May to September. Trustees Paul Salerno and Tony Harvish agreed regulations are needed, but OWBs should not be prohibited. Lets not kid ourselves here, Salerno said. We have people in the center of Grover Hills using outdoor wood boilers without a problem. We have a few individuals who may ruin it for everyone. Scozzafava agreed. He said most of the complaints could be avoided if people would follow manufacturers guidelines for installation and fuel. But, he said, many people dont. The supervisor said after the committee reports back in October the town board can schedule a public meeting on the issue or proceed to drafting a local ordinance. This has been an issue in the town for several years, Scozzafava said. Weve put off dealing with it because we dont like to tell people how to heat their homes, but the time has come to act. Proposed state regulations would control what is burned and when that material could be burned. Essentially all materials except clean wood and starter materials such as newspapers couldnt be used in the OWBs, according to a copy of the 13-page draft regulations. Garbage, tires, manure, animal carcasses, plywood and yard waste are among the 20 items that would be banned from being burned in OWBs. New and existing OWB usage wouldnt be allowed between April 15 and Sept. 30 unless it met certain criteria, including emission standards, allowing it to be certified. New OWBs would also have to be located at least 100 feet from property lines. New OWBs would be required to have a stack, or chimney-like structure, no less than 18 feet from ground level. In New York State 35 municipalities have banned outdoor wood boilers while 27 have imposed regulations, according to statistics provided by the DEC.

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