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City Acts On Wood Boiler Issue

By Staff | Feb 4, 2009

For centuries people have been using wood burning stoves to produce heat to warm their homes in spite of the many hazards and nuisance cause by smoke output. But recently, with the invention and addition of wood burning boilers to some homes, residents in Paden City have sought the guidance of the mayor and city council on the issue.

One resident in particular, Sue Flesher, spoke openly during the most recent regular session meeting. “I’d like to thank you all for working so hard on the outdoor wood burners,” Flesher stated, “but there are a couple things I still have a concern with. You really need to take some careful consideration into the burners that are already in existence. I have two on my street. And as you all know it is very uncomfortable at times. It’s really a health hazard and unless we can come up with something that is going to benefit our whole community, the only recourse I have is to file nuisance complaints.”

Flesher went on to quote the ‘Clear Air Act of 1970’ claiming the right to breathe clean air.

“I have the right to have my windows open. I’m not begrudging anyone if they want to heat with a wood burner but, they could put it in their house and run it through their chimney.” she added. “There are things that can make it better for your neighbors like attaching a blower to it or raising the stacks.”

She asked for the council’s consideration. “We all need to work together because I have just as much a right to open my windows as other people have to use wood burners to heat their homes.”

Flesher also stated concerns with regard to what is being burned in the wood burners and asked the council to consider stipulations on what type of wood should be burned in the burners. “It is recommended that people burn only seasoned wood; not wood that is sitting outside getting wet,” she said. “I know it’s going to be hard to have someone police that. I have seen people put leaves in there and that is not what is supposed to be in there. I know you don’t want to ban these burners, but they have banned cigarette smoking in some places and I am getting some of the same chemicals from these burners that I would get from a cigarette.”

“The EPA told me my only recourse is to file a nuisance complaint and I don’t want to be the nasty neighbor. But I want to be out on my deck and I want to open my windows when I want to. I don’t want to stuff a towel under my door so the smoke doesn’t come into my house.” Flesher concluded.

Linda Duke, a wood burning neighbor, added her two cents to the public forum, stating, “We put seasoned wood in our burner. It hardly ever produces any smoke. Occasionally we have problems lighting it and then it will produce a little smoke, but normally you can’t see any smoke coming out of the burners.”

She continued, “If someone complains the smoke is harmful to them, they need to bring some documentation to a city council meeting that backs up anything they have suffered because any of the wood smoke that comes out of any wood burning stove in a house. If they have a problem that has been documented by a doctor or they have had something happen to their personal belongings, they need to come to a meeting and they need to document it before they show up complaining.”

“We have walked around at night with our dogs. There are other people in this town who have wood burning stoves in their homes or right on the edge of their homes and I have witnessed a lot more wood smoke coming from them than I do from my own,” she said.

Restating her original point, Duke said, “If someone has a medical condition documented by a doctor, they need to provide that information to the city council, otherwise this matter needs to be dropped, because people have been inhaling wood smoke for centuries.”

Duke’s husband Charlie commented, “I am trying to secure a small piece of tower to raise the stacks. It’s not going to do much good because a low pressure system will just drive the smoke to the ground. But I’m going to try to help out by raising it.”

Mayor Bill Fox said, “We are not going to outlaw these things. This is something that is sold out on the market; it’s got safety features on it. Just look at the people in Paducah, Ky., and look at some of the people down in Alabama who will not have electricity for six weeks. What are those people doing down there? We don’t know that the future holds for any of us. If you can afford a wood burner and you have access to wood – a lot of people may be doing that down the road. For us to tell them they can’t do that…we do not have that right.”

“What we need to do is legislate, make guidelines and stipulations for safety. We need to say we want the stacks so high; you need to burn a certain type of wood; it’s not a garbage incinerator – and all of these things are going to be incorporated into building this ordinance. We are not going to ban these things. We’re not going to do it.” said Fox.

Later the council as a whole entertained and accepted the first reading of the ordinance entitled: Outdoor wood burning stoves/furnaces; and providing specific penalties, article 1761.

Councilman Clyde Hochstrasser had a few questions with the ordinance in regard to existing boilers. “Are they going to have to move existing boilers? I don’t believe we touched on that.”

Fox replied, “No, they are grandfathered in.”

As for the height of the stacks, all wood burner must have stacks that rise above the neighboring dwelling, even those already in existence.

The months of operation according to the proposed ordinance was Sept. 1 though May 31. The council decided to amend that language to state wood burners could be used Oct. 1 through May 1, unless the wood burner is the only source of heat for hot water tanks.

In other business, Fox read a proclamation stating June 4 as the next election in the City of Paden City. Four seats will be up for grabs – recorder and a member of the city council from each ward will be elected to a two-year term.

All candidates are required to file for office and pay a filing fee of $10 no later than April 3 at 4 p.m.

The council voted to contract C.I. Thornburn to repair a separation in the sewer line after an odor of sewer gas was discovered in the restrooms in the city building.

In a roll-call vote, it was decided that the Paden City Volunteer Fire Department would foot $1,000 of the $4,000 repair cost for the project since they share a sewer line with the city building. Eileen Smittle, Jarrell Bailey and Glenn Casteel voted in favor of the split; Roger Spragg, Cherita Daugherty and Hochstrasser voted against the motion. Fox broke the tie with a yes-vote.