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Ordinance proposed regulating outdoor furnaces

May 17, 2011

Russ Braun of the Fox Twp. Planning Commission explained the township's new zoning ordinance, which addresses outdoor furnaces, gas well sites and windmills. Photo by Amy Cherry

The Fox Township Planning Commission has recently prepared a draft ordinance amending the zoning ordinance to address outdoor woodburners, oil and gas wells and windmills.
Russ Braun of the Fox Twp. Planning Commission was in attendance at the meeting to discuss the changes to the ordinance, which would conform to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations. In turn, the DEP standards comply with the manufacturers' installation guidelines.
He noted Fox Twp.'s new ordinance is modeled after nearby Sandy Township's.
"A good part of what is being required by the township will become state law on May 31," emphasized Fox Twp. Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Rob Singer.
Supervisors approved the changes addressed in the ordinance. A public hearing on the matter will be held on June 9 at 6 p.m. The final adoption of the ordinance will take place after the hearing is held.
The ordinance notes that the basic design of some woodburners can cause fuel to burn incompletely, resulting in thick smoke and high particulate emissions. This problem is exacerbated when other materials such as wet wood and prohibited materials, including trash and food waste; wood that has been painted, pressure-treated with preservatives or composite wood; or any type of plastic or rubber are burned. Short stack heights and reduced draft may fail to disperse the smoke adequately, resulting in concentrated pollution at lower heights, impacting residents and neighbors and possibly causing a range of harmful health effects.
Braun explained there are currently two types of woodburners available, one being older models not Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Phase 2-approved and the other, newer models which are EPA-approved.
New requirements include that any new model not EPA-qualified must be located 150 feet from the property line, at least 200 feet from any residence not served by the furnace and have a chimney height of at least two feet above the peak of any residence not served by the furnace which is located within 300 feet of the furnace or a minimum of 10 feet above the ground.
Setbacks for EPA-approved furnaces include that it must be located at least 50 feet from the property line and at least 100 feet from any residence not served by the furnace. If there are residences not served by the furnace located within 100 feet, the chimney height must be two feet higher than the peak of the residence served or not served, whichever is greater. In addition, the chimney height must be at least two feet above the peak of the residence it serves if any neighboring residence not served is located within 300 feet. All chimneys must be at least 10 feet above ground.
Among the new requirements are that all woodburners must have a chimney height of at least 10 feet; all new woodburners must be constructed, installed, operated and maintained in conformance with the manufacturer's instructions; owners of any new furnace must produce the owner's manual and installation instructions to the Fox Twp. Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) to review prior to installation, while owners of existing furnaces must do the same if requested in order to allow the CEO to verify the installation and operation are in accordance with the manual and instructions; and all fuel to be burned must be neatly stacked and stored under cover while all ashes and other waste products burned cannot be accumulated by the owner and disposed of on a regular basis.

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