Potsdam Planning Board divided over wood boiler law

Watertown Daily Times (NY), 2014-08-06

Aug. 06 -- POTSDAM -- Town Planning Board members voted Tuesday to send the much-discussed local law concerning outdoor wood boilers to the town board for review.

Two members voted against doing so, Ann Carvill and Margaret W. Finen , who said the law needed more review by the Planning Board and a reduction in the fines and punishments attached to it.

The local law, which will align with state regulations, requires residents who own outdoor wood boilers to buy a permit and update them to code if they were installed prior to 2005. The law also allows the town to revoke permits if smoke from furnaces conflicts with the safety, property or quality of life of nearby residents.

Mrs. Finen said she went back and reviewed both local and state outdoor wood boiler laws and found a discrepancy between the state regulations and those of the Department of Environmental Conservation .

"I think we're passing the buck," Mrs. Finen said. "If you haven't looked at it, you can't say 'send it on.'"

Mrs. Finen also said she felt penalties for violators in the local law were too severe. People who do not update boilers installed before 2005 to state regulations by Aug. 31, 2015 , will face up to a $250 fine and seven days in jail.

"I think it's excessive on a local level," she said.

"How can you be serious?" said Planning Board Chairman Lawrence K. Averill .

He said Mrs. Finen had her chance to get clarification with town Attorney Francis P. Cappello and that the law already had been reviewed by a committee.

Mrs. Finen said she was dissatisfied with Mr. Cappello's response and worried that the town board would misunderstand the law.

"I've looked at it, and I would like the opportunity to look at it further," she said, encouraging her fellow board members to do the same.

Mrs. Finen said she plans to argue her case at the next town board meeting.


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