2010 April 14: NY Potsdam: Furnace Ban Proposal Tabled In Postdam

2010 April 14: NY Potsdam: Furnace Ban Proposal Tabled In Postdam

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010

POTSDAM – The town board has voted to table a proposed draft law governing the use of outdoor wood furnaces as one council member continues her quest to ban the devices.
Councilwoman Judith R. Rich continued to push Tuesday for an outright ban on outdoor wood boilers town-wide, citing environmental concerns and a lack of state and federal standards for the units.
Mrs. Rich said 35 municipalities across the state, including the neighboring town of Canton, have passed laws completely banning the installation and use of outdoor wood boilers.
Mrs. Rich also quoted from a recent newspaper article she found in which an organization known as Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management claims some outdoor furnaces produce 20 times more emissions than wood stoves, and may emit as much particulate matter as 50 to 500 diesel trucks, depending on the truck age and other variables. 

"The air is everywhere," Mrs. Rich said. "Somebody can be being poisoned and not know it; just because you’re not gasping or smelling something toxic doesn’t mean that it isn’t in the air. These are just things that are waiting for somebody to throw something into them they shouldn’t throw in."
Others on the board, including Supervisor Marie C. Regan, expressed concerns over details of a draft law regulating outdoor wood boiler use, including a section of the proposed law that if passed, would allow boilers in the town of Potsdam to be located within 30 feet of another home. Mrs. Regan said it was an eye-opener for her to find out that the state of Vermont sets the distance between an outdoor boiler and a neighbor at 200 feet.
"Thirty doesn’t seem like very much compared to 200," Mrs. Regan said. "Do you think that 30 feet is enough? To me that doesn’t seem like a lot of space between these things."
Town councilman Harold D. Demick agreed, and said he would like any law the town creates regulating wood boilers to be based on lot size and acreage, and not on various zones as now stipulated.
Mr. Demick said he would like to see the units only allowed on rural properties in the township of two acres or larger.
Mr. Demick is expected to meet with town planning officials in the coming weeks to talk about changes to the proposed law before bringing the document back to the full board next month.
Town officials have spent more than six months developing a draft law regarding the outdoor boilers, but officials said they would like to wait longer to rethink the best way to govern their use.
In the meantime, Mrs. Rich said she will continue lobbying to have the units outlawed in Potsdam.
The outdoor furnaces are gaining popularity annually, climbing from 1,800 units sold across the state in 2004 to roughly 7,500 units in 2008, according to town planning officials who are drafting the proposed law.
There are currently about 15 of the wood boilers in use in Potsdam, according to officials.
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