Zoning Law for Outdoor Wood Furnaces Discussed

Codes enforcement would need DEC Method 9 training

By Margo Frink

(Oneida, NY – Feb. 2013) One of the items on the Oneida Planning Commissions agenda Thursday (Feb. 21) was a zoning ordinance amendment recommendation to add a new section to regulate outdoor furnaces.

Planning Director Cassie Rose said the Common Council requested the Commission review a proposed Local Law that would be added to the zoning ordinance deleting the city’s chapter section added in 2009. The purpose, she said, was to allow residents to request variances.

The state Department of Conservation requires that outdoor furnaces be 100 feet from a neighboring boundary line. The city’s code is 200 feet. City law also states an outdoor wood furnace cannot be placed on property less than three acres.

Madison County Planning suggested the Planning Commission review the DEC’s regulations regarding outdoor furnaces.

There was a lengthy discussion and several suggestions made at the Feb. 21 meeting. Mayor A. Max Smith, Councilman Jim Chamberlain and Tim Cowan from the fire department were in attendance.

Rose said she didn’t want to get into a situation where the city had issues enforcing the law.

Commission Chair Fred Meyers brought up Method 9, used by the DEC to determine opacity – meaning the state or quality of being opaque – of smoke from outdoor furnaces.

The DEC’s website reads, “No person shall operate an outdoor wood boiler in such a manner as to create a smoke plume with opacity of 20 percent or greater (six minute mean) as determined using EPA Reference Method 9 (or equivalent).

To use this method, a city employee or whoever enforces the code, would need field training in “smoke reading.” Rose and members of the Commission said it would most likely be codes enforcement Officer Pat Baron, and training is required every six months, Rose said.

Also cited from the DEC is no person shall allow or cause emissions of air contaminants from outdoor wood furnaces/boilers to the outdoor atmosphere of a quantity or duration which injures human, plant or animal life or to property that unreasonable interferes with comfortable enjoyment of life or property.

“Are we getting complaints from residents?” asked Commissioner Kipp Hicks.

“We do,” said Commissioner Geoff Snyder.

An emailed letter from a resident in the southern end of the county circulated. The resident claims “severe” health issues related to a neighboring outdoor wood furnace.

The opacity from outdoor wood boilers could change or increase if a resident is not following guidelines to what is burnable. Clean wood or wood that has not been painted, stained or treated is a factor. Residents are also not allowed to burn garbage. The DEC’s website lists numerous dos and don’ts regarding the purchase, installation, use and care of these heating sources.

Chamberlain made a suggestion the code allow the furnace to be installed 150 feet from the neighboring boundary line instead of 200 feet.

The Planning Commission documented everyone’s concerns and suggestions and plans to hand the information back to the Common Council to address.

Other Business

The Commission gave sketch plat, preliminary plat waiver and final plat approval for the three-lot minor subdivision located at Messenger and Cedar streets, zoned commercial by the city of Oneida. The property is the parking lot behind the Oneida Plaza building. The city is transferring the property to the Madison County Industrial Development Agency who in turn brokered the sale of the building to John Costello Jr. to relocate his dental practice. The city accepted the appraised offer of $41,000 for the property.

Hicks said the new property owner will allow the public to use the lots after business hours and on the weekends. They cannot, however place a fence around the lots as it violates fire department codes but can enforce parking with signage or other means.

The Mayor said the city has plans to create 30 to 50 new parking spaces near the Phelps Street area to replace what will be lost.

Site plan approval and a conditional use permit were given to establish Nicole’s Studio of Dance at 149 Cedar St. zoned commercial by Nicole O’Hara.

At the meeting, the Mayor also presented plaques to members of the Commission honoring years of service and thanking them for volunteering for the job.

“I admire and respect the job that you do and express my gratitude on behalf of the constituents of the city,” Smith said.

Margo Frink is vice president of M3P Media LLC and publisher of the Madison County Courier. She can be reached at Margo@m3pmedia.com or 315-481-8732.

 

 

 

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