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Wood burner ordinance under fire

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 4:14 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 4:26 p.m. CDT

MANLIUS — The Manlius Village Board continues to work on solving a nuisance issue with outdoor wood burners.

While the village had previously agreed to draft an ordinance that would better regulate outdoor wood burners — some which are causing a nuisance in neighborhoods — it’s been currently brought to light the ordinance would affect more community members than expected. Adding fuel to that fire, it might not fix the issue of one specific outdoor wood burner the board was hoping to target.

Village attorney Mick Henneberry had been working with village engineer Jack Kusek on an ordinance that ruled all outdoor wood burners would have to be U.S. EPA certified and follow guidelines of the U.S. EPA air standards.

The question brought up at Tuesday’s board meeting was what if residents followed EPA guidelines, and there continued to be nuisance smoking issues with outdoor wood burners.

Village board member Darrall Anderson said everyone has to look at the whole picture before making an ordinance on one issue in the village.

“You’ve got to be careful when you put an ordinance out there,” he said. “When you start opening this can ... there’s a lot of things to think about, and I don’t think we could make an ordinance for one thing.”

Creating a wood burner ordinance in the village sparked earlier this spring when a village resident addressed the board saying his neighbor had built a homemade wood burner that produced a lot of smoke that was blowing right at his home and effecting his family’s health.

The same resident was at Tuesday’s meeting and was backed up by another neighbor who addressed issues she has witnessed with the homemade wood burner. Her concerns were similar to her fellow neighbor’s issues. She said she has seen sparks flying out of the chimney of the homemade wood burner and land on dry leaves, and she fears a fire could easily be ignited by the wood burner.

The owner of the homemade outdoor wood burner was also at the meeting and backed up his side of the argument by asking what’s the difference between a homemade wood burner and an EPA certified wood burner?

While village board members listened to complaints, they ultimately decided the neighbors should somehow work together to solve the nuisance issues.

Village board member Jan Williams pointed out if the board passes the ordinance, they would have to go to every residence in the village who didn’t have an U.S. EPA certified wood burner and enforce the guidelines stated in the village’s ordinance.

Board members questioned what would happen if the owner of the homemade wood burner did become EPA certified, and his wood burner still created a lot of smoke in the neighborhood.

Anderson said he understood everyone’s point of view, but the board would have to be precise on the ordinance because it involves everybody’s outdoor wood burner, not just one wood burner.

“It’s why we’re sitting here because (the neighbors) didn’t get together and work on it. It’s not a yes or no thing,” he said.

Williams said she hopes the neighbors can work together on the matter and come to some kind of resolution.

“It brings stress to the village board because it involves more than one person, and now it’s a whole community effected. We understand that you don’t want your children harmed, but it feels like one person is being singled out on this matter,” she said to the neighbors.

The board asked if the owner of the homemade wood burner could try raising his chimney a little taller to see if helps the smoke issue, and they decided to continue working on the matter and tabled the agenda item until next board meeting.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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