ALLEGANY - Residents looking to switch their home-heating source to an outdoor wood-burning furnace have to reconsider their options.
The Allegany Village Board Monday night approved a six-month moratorium, or a suspension, on the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces. The moratorium applies only to outdoor, not indoor, wood-burning furnaces. The board will take the six months to decide whether or not it should ban the outdoor furnaces.
The board began talking about how to deal with the outdoor furnaces after a recent complaint by a resident of bothersome smoke in the village. The complaint ended up being for an indoor furnace that is legal to operate as long as proper wood is the only fuel source, said Lance Jobe, village code enforcement officer. There currently are no outdoor wood-burning furnaces in the village, he said.
"We're not trying to stop the person who puts the indoor units in, it's the outdoor ones that we don't have any regulations on," Mr. Jobe said.
Eric Wohlers, director of the Cattaraugus County Health Department's Environmental Health Unit, came to the meeting at the invitation of the board. He said that there is currently no state or county regulations on the outdoor furnaces, which have become more popular as energy costs increase. The county Health Department has had some complaints about smoke in Allegany and some of the other nearby municipalities, he said.
The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation currently has no intention of regulating the outdoor furnaces so the village has to rely on state building code, Mr. Wohlers said.
"As long as they are installed properly according to the building code and the people maintain and operate them properly … they shouldn't create a smoke problem," he said, adding that many owners don't run their furnaces efficiently, which creates a smoke problem.
Other states have taken a proactive stance at regulating the furnaces, Mr. Wohlers said. There have also been a number of municipalities around the state that have regulated or outright banned the furnaces, he said. The furnaces can be used in the warm-weather months to heat water. Some municipalities have only allowed the furnaces to be used in the winter so as not to create a smoke problem at times of the year when people would have their windows open.
"In absence of any New York state regulations, the only way you're going to control this is to eliminate these complaints by regulating it locally or banning them," Mr. Wohlers said.
The health department will soon mail out some information to all the municipalities in the county about the furnaces, Mr. Wohlers said. The department will probably recommend that the cities and villages ban the furnaces altogether because homes are so close together that the furnaces could not meet any of the setback requirements in the state building code. It is also tough to get the smoke stacks high enough to get above the roof level where it wouldn't be as much of a smoke nuisance, he said.
The department would also recommend that any municipality that allows the furnaces should only allow energy-efficient furnaces because they create less smoke, Mr. Wohlers said.
The village will send notices to village residents as well as suppliers of the outdoor wood-burning furnaces informing them of the moratorium.
In other news, the board commended Pamela Withers, village deputy clerk/treasurer for securing a New York State Unified Court System Grant of about ,20,500 that will go towards the installation of new doors in the village Municipal Building, which is also used for village court. Ms. Withers has obtained nearly ,70,000 in grants for the village this year, including money for a court security system and new computers for the village Police Department vehicles.
(Contact reporter Brian Lothridge at firstname.lastname@example.org)