Friday, August 29, 2008

Mansfield To Allow Outside Wood Furnaces

Mansfield council to draft ordinance allowing outdoor wood burners


MANSFIELD - With only councilwoman Marianne Bozzo casting a "no" vote this week, the borough council voted to have its solicitor draw up an ordinance to allow outdoor woodburning furnaces within the borough limits.

After listening to a presentation on the appliances by Mark Wilber, owner of This Warm House outdoor woodburning furnaces, which is located in the borough on Route 6 West, council discussed the issue for about a half hour before voting.

With energy prices soaring and heating bills expected to increase substantially this winter, more people are likely to become interested in purchasing a wood burner than ever before, but other boroughs in the county have had problems with people burning things in them that should not be burned, such as garbage.

Bozzo said that was her biggest concern, that people will burn "anything" in them to save money on their heating bills, causing smoke and pollutants to fill the air and become offensive to neighbors.

Burning only seasoned cord wood is the key, and burning it at 2,000 degrees creates a secondary burn, he said, which Wilber said emits no smoke, only carbon dioxide and water vapor.

"But how are you going to control what people throw into these things?" Bozzo wanted to know, adding "I just can't see having them in our close proximity here."

Wilber said with his units, the warranty is voided if anything other than the proper fuel is used, which makes it self-enforcing.

Wilber said his units, priced between $7,500 and $13,000, pay for themselves in five years and burn at nearly 100 percent efficiency.

The furnaces Bozzo was talking about are not capable of burning at the high temperatures his units are.

"Right now there are probably 200 companies peddling these units. By 2010 there will probably be fewer than a dozen, but until then it is a grave problem," Wilber said.

And, he added, EPA standards that will become mandatory in 2010 are now only voluntary.

The EPA also is getting ready to establish efficiency standards possibly by the end of this year, Wilber said, which should help to educate the public even more.

Council also looked at a recently passed ordinance created by Wellsboro borough, which they will have their solicitor model Mansfield's on, according to the motion made by councilman Dr. Robert Strohecker.

"We could make the setback a little less stringent than 500 feet, I would think," he said.

"But we shouldn't keep people who might live on the outskirts of the borough from having one if they want one," he added.

Codes officer Shawn Forrest will have input into the language used in the ordinance.

"We can revisit this ordinance in 2010, and see if it needs updating then," council president Steve Gee said.

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