PORT HENRY - The town of Moriah will likely place limits on outdoor furnaces this spring.
The Moriah town board will hold a workshop Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m. at the town hall to review a proposed local law setting parameters on the heating systems.
The meeting will be open to the public.
"We want to get something on paper in a proposed local law form so we can go to a public hearing," Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said.
Scozzafava said he hopes to have a local law in place in April. That's when complaints about smoke from neighbors peak, he said.
"I never get any complaints during the winter," he said. "It's when people start to open their windows that smoke becomes a problem."
Scozzafava, trustee Tony Harvish and codes officer Richard LaPier have been studying the issue and local laws in other communities. They will make recommendations at the Feb. 24 workshop.
The use of outdoor furnaces has been an issue in Moriah for several years.
The village of Port Henry, located within the town of Moriah, placed limits on outdoor furnaces two years ago, but the town has not taken any formal action.
Some Moriah residents, particularly in the hamlet of Grover Hills, claim smoke from nearby units is a nuisance - and possibly a health hazard.
Harvish has noted that while there have been many complaints, there are only a couple of problem areas in the town.
Outdoor furnaces are gaining popularity with many, but to others they're a neighborhood nuisance.
The furnaces, mostly wood-burning, can be placed anywhere from 8-100 feet from a home. Manufacturers claim they're more economical than traditional furnaces and tout the safety aspects of having the units outside a home.
But like all furnaces, they create smoke and often the chimneys are much lower than those found on homes. That means the smoke is discharged much closer to the ground - and to neighbors - than conventional chimneys.
In New York State 35 municipalities have banned outdoor wood boilers while 27 have imposed regulations, according to statistics provided by the DEC.
New York State is also taking action, although slowly. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has started working on regulations that could be put in place within the next year, and the state Senate and Assembly both have bills dealing with the subject at the committee level.
An OWB, as the boilers are commonly called, is a freestanding structure that contains a firebox surrounded by a water reservoir. Water is heated, then circulated through the home. They are being touted as an alternative means of providing heat for buildings during a time when the price of oil is climbing. The purchase price of them is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.
DEC spokeswoman Lori O'Connell said regulating OWBs is part of a larger plan, noting that the DEC is also working on stricter rules for outdoor burns.
Proposed state regulations would control what is burned and when that material could be burned. Essentially all materials except "clean wood" and starter materials such as newspapers couldn't be used in the OWBs, according to a copy of the 13-page draft regulations.
Garbage, tires, manure, animal carcasses, plywood and yard waste are among the 20 items that would be banned from being burned in OWBs.
New and existing OWB usage wouldn't be allowed between April 15 and Sept. 30 unless it met certain criteria, including emission standards, allowing it to be certified.
New OWBs would also have to be located at least 100 feet from property lines. New OWBs would be required to have a stack, or chimney-like structure, no less than 18 feet from ground level.