Following a Monday, July 2, public hearing on outdoor wood boilers, the Malta Town Board decided to discuss the matter further at a future workshop rather than adopt the proposed legislation, which would require a permit for all units by October 2008 and a complete ban on the units by June 2015.
At least a dozen people spoke on the subject, most of them against the proposed legislation, which was originally suggested when the town discovered that the number of existing units exceeded the estimate.
We thought there were about six, but there are probably more like 20, said Heather Mallozzi, director of building and planning for the town.
With no current permitting process in place, the town has no way of knowing exactly how many outdoor wood boilers are being used.
Resident Ernie Coons has heated his home for the past 20 years using an outdoor wood boiler system and said, in a letter read by Supervisor Paul Sausville, the proposed legislation was `too restrictive.`
Those comments were echoed throughout the public hearing.
`It is an abundant renewable source of energy. We cannot see any reason why wood furnaces should be targeted,` said Walt and Audrey Fitzgerald, also in a written statement.
The Fitzgeralds, who have been using an outdoor wood boiler for more than 14 years, were at the hearing, at which time Walt Fitzgerald questioned some of the definitions and stipulations included in the legislation.
`When the people made this up, they didn’t really know how a wood furnace works,` said Fitzgerald.
The proposed legislation was drafted after several complaints were made to the town regarding the use of outdoor wood boilers. Mallozzi said the complaints had been investigated and no citations had been handed out.
Resident Bob Lavery said he is one of the people who has lodged complaints over the years, specifically about a unit near his home. Lavery said he has woken up with headaches in the middle of the night and has twice been hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Lavery also said his smoke alarms go off regularly as a result of the smoke in the air.
`I have asthma. It’s just a health problem when you have a high-density smoke-emitting system,` he said.
Lavery said he’s asked the Department of Environmental Conservation to correct the problems.
`I’d like to commend the board for tackling this issue,` Lavery said.
Homeowners using wood boilers acknowledge that there is the potential for problems if the user is burning something other than wood and indicated that use of the proper materials should be mandated.
`If you burn good clean wood, there is hardly any smoke,` said Tom Bradbury.
Ernie Balch added, `I can understand if you burn rubber tires, garbage or plastic. It can smell bad.`
Mary Ellen Ward said her family purchase an outdoor wood boiler 10 years ago when faced with replacing the home’s wood stove.
`It’s a more effective way to heat our home than the wood stove ever was,` she said. Ward said the board’s stated mission to preserve the town’s rural character was `questionable` when it comes to legislating the wood boilers.
`We’ve lost in Malta what rural America is all about,` Ward said.
Chris Raynor, who sells wood boiler units, told the board he agreed with placing restrictions on the units, but he did not think banning them was a solution.
`All wood boilers are not created equal,` he said.
Raynor said that manufacturing companies are working to make their products compliant with Environmental Protection Act requirements.
`They are going to be coming out with cleaner units,` Raynor said.
Resident Bruce Carlton said, `I think Malta would be well served by being cautious about restrictions.` He suggested the town look toward improvements in efficiency.
The discussion will continue at a workshop schedule for Tuesday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. “