2010 March 10: PA Upper Mount Bethel Township: COMMENT on Township punts on wood-fired boiler vote

2010 March 10: PA Upper Mount Bethel Township: COMMENT on Township punts on wood-fired boiler vote

 
COMMENT
The state is working on regulations as we speak. Because of irresponsible owners they need to be regulated. Set backs, distance from buildings and stack height must be regulated.

2Aluvr (03/10/2010, 6:05 AM )

Upper Mount Bethel supervisors say need to regulate isn’t imminent.

 

By Tom De Martini SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL

March 10, 2010

Regulation of outdoor wood-fired boilers, a hot-button topic in many Slate Belt communities, won’t happen right away in Upper Mount Bethel Township after supervisors declined to move forward with a proposed resolution.

Supervisors voted by a 3-2 margin to kill a regulation worked on by a committee of township officials and citizens for more than a year.

Supervisor Chairman Ed Nelson, along with Jerry Geake and Joe Batillo voted to not move forward with the resolution. Supervisors Judith Hinckel and Bob Gerwig cast votes in favor.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers are an increasingly popular low-cost means to provide heat and hot water to homes and small buildings.

Typically the boiler, which is fueled by wood, is placed in a small, insulated shed with a smokestack. Fires in the unit heat water, which circulates to homes and buildings through underground pipes.

Critics say the boilers produce dense smoke, causing health hazards to neighbors.

The proposed ordinance was designed to help limit smoke emissions and chimney height, promote the burning of clean fuels and possibly prohibit use during summer months.

Neighboring Washington Township, Bangor Borough and Plainfield Township already have outdoor wood-fired boiler ordinances in place, while Lower Mount Bethel Township and Bushkill Township are considering such measures, supervisors said.

Also, the state Environmental Quality Board is currently reviewing its own set of regulations. Among other things, the rules would establish emission standards for newly installed units and regulate the stack height and fuel requirements for all new and existing outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Nelson said he didn’t feel a dire need for the wood boiler regulation ordinance, despite some support from community members.

”How in the world are we going to police it?” Nelson said. ”I don’t see a clean way for us to do this. If a problem comes up, we’ll deal with it. If it’s a mistake, I’ll be the first one to admit it.”

Geake said he felt the ordinance wasn’t doable and the majority of citizens he spoke with said the law wasn’t necessary.

Proponents of the proposed regulations weren’t happy with the board’s decision.

”Heaven forbid one of your neighbors gets one of these now and smokes you out,” said Frank Ogoreuc, a township resident who supported the ordinance. ”Look at surrounding townships. By not taking action, you are allowing someone to possibly come in and start creating a nuisance. It’s ridiculous and you’re not being environmentally friendly.”

Township resident and former supervisor chairman Loren Rabbat told the board it was sad that they were opting to disregard the work performed on the ordinance.

”It’s your job to look into the future,” Rabbat told board members. ”It’s a public health and safety issue and I can’t believe you’re letting it die for lack of [supervisor] support.”

Tom De Martini is a freelance writer.

 
COMMENT
The state is working on regulations as we speak. Because of irresponsible owners they need to be regulated. Set backs, distance from buildings and stack height must be regulated.

2Aluvr (03/10/2010, 6:05 AM )

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