2011 Sept. 9: NJ Erma Township (Lower Township) (Cape May County): COMMENTS on Backyard Burner Has Neighbors Steamed
Cape May County Herald (press release)
Burning wood (a totally renewable resource) results in no net increase in carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas emission. At a Sept. 7 meeting, Township Council discussed creating an ordinance to govern outdoor wood-burning boilers. …
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ERMA — Neighbors of Pawel Banach have complained to Lower Township Council about the wood-burning boiler he has in the backyard of his S. Andrielle Lane home.
Adjoining property owners and folks who live down the street have complained to the township that the boiler sends smoke inside their homes.
Banach told the Herald the wood-burning boiler is no different than a fireplace. Everyone else in the neighborhood has a fireplace, he said.
It carries a price tag around $10,000.
At a Sept. 7 meeting, Township Council discussed creating an ordinance to govern outdoor wood-burning boilers.
Township Solicitor Michael Donohue said enforcement was a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) mechanism in terms of regulation of the units. He said training was necessary to enforce rules on outdoor wood-burning boilers.
Donohue said a current township ordinance deals with smoke and fumes. He said the best the township could do, if council was inclined to create clearer regulation on the devices, was to clarify the ordinance and add a specific provision for outdoor wood-burning boilers.
“And make it clear that those units have to stick to the DEP standards, if they’re not and if the neighbors want to sign a complaint, they’re entitled to do that,” said Donohue.
He said if a township official makes a sufficient observation and can form an opinion that the boiler is in violation of the ordinance, the official could sign a local ordinance complaint as well.
The proposed ordinance clarifies an existing ordinance and expands it to include the boilers and include a provision that a township official in addition to a citizen, after proper observation, may sign a summons. Donohue said the township would not be enforcing DEP regulations but would observe if there was an “offensive or obnoxious quality” to the smoke from the unit.
Donohue said there was a penalty provision in the ordinance, a $100 fine for the first offense which increases with subsequent incidents.
During public comment, Michael Hayko, who said he lives 50-feet away from the boiler, said he couldn’t keep his windows open last summer due to the device.
Mayor Michael Beck said it would be a good idea to send the matter to the zoning board and perhaps require a larger lot for a wood-burning boiler.
“This thing belongs in the Poconos on a 30-acre parcel, not in a residential neighborhood like we live in,” said Hayko. “I can’t sell my property because of this wood burner, somebody is going to have to pay.”
Councilman Tom Conrad said Banach’s wood burning boiler may be “grandfathered in” under any new regulations.
Neighbor Nick Thompson said the effort put forth on the proposed ordinance was “very cursory and elementary and missed a lot of key elements.” He asked who he should call if the burner is operating at night.
Beck told Thompson he could call police and neighbors could sign a complaint as a group and go to court.
Banach told the Herald after initial complaints, he traded the boiler for a different model. He said he increased the height of the smoke stack from 4 feet to 40 feet tall.
The boiler heats his house, water and swimming pool and reduced heating costs from $1,000 to $8 last year. He said he hasn’t run the boiler this summer and would only use it from Nov. 1 to May 1.
Sat, 09/10/2011 – 8:40am – Posted by: marmoracat
The homeowner stated the smoke stack is now 40 feet tall. Did he get a variance for a structure more than 35 feet tall? I believe Lower Township limits structures to 35 feet tall without a variance. Also wouldn’t there be some FAA regulations or model ordinances to cover this type of device in such proximity to an airport? The height of the smoke stack for one, and secondly smoke could be a hazard/obstruction for aircraft to see runway lighting. The FAA has a model ordinance for height restrictions in an “airport zone” which I’m almost certain the property in question is included in some part of, but I’m unaware if Lower Township has adopted one for the airport area: http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/advisory_circular/150-5190-4A/150_5190_4A.PDF