LOWER TOWNSHIP — Council is considering an ordinance to regulate outdoor wood-burning boilers, but enforcement against those that emit too much smoke would still be up to the state.
“We don’t want the township to become smoke police,” Mayor Mike Beck said.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Lare said there are state Department of Environmental Protection regulations on the boilers, which typically use wood to heat water that can then be used to heat a home or buildings on a property. Lare said he read the state regulations and they are “pretty detailed.”
“I don’t want to see us try to enforce or interpret these DEP regulations. I’m not Albert Einstein and I think Albert Einstein would have a problem enforcing these regulations,” Lare said.
The ordinance, which is up for a public hearing and vote at council’s Oct. 3 meeting, spells out how complaints can be made if an OWB, as the ordinance terms the boilers, is emitting too much smoke. A township official can be called to begin the process, but Township Solicitor Mike Donohue said the state DEP would then be called to investigate.
A push for the ordinance began after a group of residents on South Andrielle Lane complained about a wood-burning boiler owned by neighbor Pawel Banach.
Neighbors complained that since Banach began running the boiler in June 2010 they have had problem with smoke and fumes, and that the problem was affecting the value of their properties. The group had sought a stricter ordinance than the one council is considering, such as a ban in residential areas or possibly restricting the boilers by lot size, setbacks from property lines and times of use.
South Andrielle Lane is a residential neighborhood, and OWBs are reportedly more popular in rural areas where residents have larger lots and cheaper sources of firewood. Banach could not be reached for comment Monday.
Nicholas Thompson, of South Andrielle Lane, wanted to know who would come investigate if “my house is filling with smoke.”
Beck said under the ordinance Thompson could call the local police or simply sign a complaint himself. Beck said the township cannot ban them but in the future could put in an acreage restriction.
Contact Richard Degener: