2011 Aug. 26: CT Woodbury: Two neighboring families harmed by wood smoke
Yet another person harmed by OWF in CT
To Environment and Human Health, Inc. August 26, 2011
This is to provide additional information on the OWF about which Mr. Gelada wrote you on August 24, 2011. (See his letter below)
It has been nearly two years since we began this quest to shut this OWF down.
I initially contacted the DEP (Mr. Phil Schell) and he investigated, spoke with our neighbor and negotiated an agreement with same to only burn in late Fall and Winter.., so as not to impact the neighbors.
Mr.___ agreed, and once Mr. Schnell left, the OWF was in full burn. We reported it, and were told there was nothing that could be done. We then contacted our First Selectman and the Attorney General’s office.
The Atty General’s office suggested we hire a lawyer and sue, but when investigating this option, we were told that the best that would happen is that we would stop any future furnaces from being installed, but our neighbor’s would most likely be “grandfathered.”
The First Selectman directed me to the Pomperaug Heath District. I worked with a gentleman there, Neil Lustig… I have made repeated reports to his office, per his direction, but the noxious odors are usually very early in the morning, or later in the evening, when the offices are closed. So at best, our complaints are logged on an answering machine.
He did finally come up to observe the situation and very candidly told my husband that the DEP will not enforce against a homeowner. We once again called the DEP, as the stench and smoke was not getting any better, even though Mr. ___ raised the chimney stack and relocated the unit. Once again, a DEP rep came up to check out the placement and the installation of the OWF.
He turned the investigation over to Tim Marsh and Mr. Marsh contacted me and said that Mr. ___ was in compliance and that nothing more could be done. He even provided me with a surveyor’s report showing that Mr. ___ had installed everything correctly and was in full complaince.
Well, this is not exactly true. I found out quite by accident that Mr. ___ had never obtained a town zoning permit. I spoke with the zoning officer and she showed me the regulation that states the smoke must not cross property lines or be a nuisance. It does both of these on a regular basis. I believe this is the regulation that Mr. Gelada is citing on his initial out outreach to you, and was never investigated or mentioned by Mr. Marsh.
My husband reacts very Also, there have been many times, when we would be entertaining on our deck and pool, and have had the go inside because of the smoke and smell. Sometimes it’s choking. If you were to come to my home and “sniff” my drapes, upholstered furnishings or rugs, you’d notice the smokey smell. I have to clean much more often as my husband could have a reaction. It’s getting very tiring. I often joke that we live in a perpetual forest fire… but it’s no joking matter. We are completely frustrated at this point.
I understand Mr. Gelada has asthma.. .and the other night he had a coughing attack. We are all at our wits end. We cannot understand why this OWF has been allowed to pollute the air for so long without anyone doing anything about it. By the DEP’s own information, the smoke can contain carcinogens, toxins, particulates, etc… and yet, we are having to deal with this nearly every day. Will we have to become seriously ill before it will be shut down? We log complaint after complaint… and now, even though he has no permit, he is still buring.
We would be forever in your debt if you could please help us in this regard. We have a lot invested in our homes and would like to be allowed to quietly enjoy them, free of any fear of health risks or noxious odors. I often ask those with whom I am working one question, and I’ll ask it of you…. what would you do if it was your home and family? Would you want to live in this situation?
Thanking you in advance for your anticipated help.
Please feel to contact either myself or my husband, Bruce, should you like to discuss the situation or stop by…
66 Cross Brook Road
Mr. Gelada’s letter of August 24, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
The purpose of this email is to voice a concern regarding poor air quality as a result of smoke from an outdoor wood burning furnace (OWF) on me neighbor’s property. My wife and I are located at 64 Cross Brook Road, Woodbury, CT 06798-1504. My neighbor is located at ___. The neighbors are ___.
Last evening (Tuesday August 23, 2011), my wife and I both noticed the smell of wood smoke passing through our upstairs windows. We had several of our windows open on the front side of our home. Unfortunately, due to my asthma, the smoke caused me to get into a coughing fit.
Based on my understanding of Connecticut General Statute 22a-174k (regarding Outdoor Wood Burning Furnaces), it is illegal for a person to “cause or permit the emission of any substance of combination of substances which creates or contributes to an odor, in the ambient air, that constitutes a nuisance. Additionally, an odor constitutes a nuisance if present with such intensity, characteristics, frequency and duration that; it is, or can reasonably be expected to be injurious to public health or welfare, or it unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of life or the use of property.
I have lived in this house since May 2004. I enjoy living in the country for many reasons, but especially for the clean, fresh air. The onset of the OWF at ___Cross Brook Rd, Woodbury has created a nuisance for my wife and me and has made it difficult and sometimes impossible for us to enjoy having our windows open for the purpose of having fresh air.
The town fire marshall, Janet Morgan, has asked that I log a concern each time I notice it. Unfortunately, she also stated that this issue is between me and my neighbor. I respect her opinion but I don’t agree with it. I believe that the smoke emanating from their OWF is a health hazard, is injurious to the citizens in the area of their home/OWF and needs to be shut down.
I would appreciate it if someone from your department would follow up on my concern.
Thank you for your attention to this important health matter.
Louis & Sarah Gelada
P.S. I am cc’ing my neighbors, Bruce & Andrea Fitzgerald, 66 Cross Brook Rd, Woodbury, CT as they have experienced the same concerns regarding wood smoke from the OWF