Residents Speak Out Against Wood Boiler Regulations

Citizens slam NY State Department of  Environmental Conservation

BELMONT – So many residents turned out for the Wednesday evening hearing by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation that they had to move the meeting to the County’s main courtroom.

More than 150 people turned out for the meeting on proposed wood boiler regulations.

An engineer for DEC told the crowd there were four areas in which regulations were being proposed.

The first would regulate which type of fuels could be used. The second area would cover particulate matter emissions from wood boilers and property line setbacks. The third would set requirements for manufacturers of wood boilers in regards to certifications and emission limits, and the fourth area would prohibit use of wood boilers during summer, and addresses when boilers in use now must be taken out of service.

When asked why the DEC was proposing regulations, they responded that the agency had received, “hundreds of complaints.” They later rescinded that comment and said the number of complaints was between 100 and 200.

The DEC explained that the matter could go one of three ways. They could accept the current proposal, make minor changes to the proposal before enacting them, or make major changes which would call for further meetings.

The board said they didn’t expect to finalize the proposal anytime soon, and alluded to more hearings.

Wesley Sortore, an attending resident, stated that there should be a fourth option, “Scrap the whole thing,”. The comment was received with a long applause by the crowd.

Karl Kruger said, “I would suggest that 30 percent of your complaints are from one nosy neighbor who just really didn’t like their neighbor.”

It was pointed at that with 20,000 outdoor wood boilers in use throughout NY State, the amount of complaints resulted in less than “half a percent” that required remedial action.

In a slam on the DEC, Harry Whitehead said, “If a few complaints are the basis for an overreaching set of regulations, then how many complaints does it take to get rid of the DEC?”

That statement was met with a roaring applause.

Other residents said the rules were unfair and questioned why property line regulations would be imposed on those who didn’t even have neighbors. Most speakers also objected to older boilers being scrapped, and instead favored a “grandfather clause”.

“You don’t have the right to impose a $7,000 loss on me,” said Mr. Sortore.

Some said the proposed regulations requiring smoke stacks to be increased in height would create safety hazards, such that creosote could build up and create a fire.

Another speaker, Wendy Reinhold, talked about how a fire in her son’s bedroom started because of an indoor wood stove, and said they now have an outdoor boiler which they are quite happy with. She nows feels that her five children are safe from such a future disaster.

“Where is the common sense?” she said, “I am getting sick and fed up with all of these regulations that are getting put on us, of the DEC strong-arming us.”

Most residents left the meeting with renewed anger towards the DEC and frustration with ever increasing rules and regulations.

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