Responding to a complaint from a Rolla couple about smoke from a neighbor's outdoor wood-burning furnace, the Rolla City Council Monday night considered an ordinance that adds a section about operation of the units to the city code.
"We've seen this coming," City Administrator John Butz. "We think we have four in town" and more are expected as the price of home heating rises.
No action was taken on the ordinance. It was on the agenda for first reading, which was heard, and a motion to waive the rules and hear the final reading was entered.
Councilman Steven Leonard protested, saying another two weeks to allow public comment should be given, so the ordinance was set aside.
Leonard questioned the effect the ordinance would have on the original complaint registered with the council by Ken and Margaret Hawley, who live on Rolla Street.
"That was well-documented," Leonard said of the Hawleys' complaint filed with the council. "What happened?" No city official knew.
Whether the proposed ordinance would have an effect on the Hawleys' situation was not specified at the council meeting, for that furnace and the other three would be "grandfathered in."
The proposed ordinance lays down installation standards and rules of operation. Furnaces must be at least 150 feet from a property line or any home. Tops of the chimneys must be at least 15 feet above ground.
Only dried wood is allowed for burning. No treated woods, trash, plastic, asphalt, rubber, newspaper or anything usually burned in an incinerator is allowed.
The furnaces must be operated by the manufacturer's procedures. All furnaces are subject to building codes and permits are required for their installation.
The ordinance is designed to require any home that is served by an outdoor wood-burning furnace is on a big lot.
Responding to a question from Councilman Tony Bahr about whether this would allow use of the outdoor furnaces in most subdivisions, Community Development Director John Petersen said, "No."
Petersen said if outdoor furnaces were allowed on typical lot sizes, the numbers of the units in a neighborhood could conceivably make life difficult.
The Hawleys, speaking later to the council, noted life is bearable in their home currently. Their neighbor has shut down the furnace since June 26.
Margaret Hawley said the 150 feet requirement in the ordinance is inadequate. She said the furnace that sends smoke billowing toward their house is 200 feet away. The distance does not take into consideration elevation of land or prevailing winds. In the Hawleys' case, their home is downwind from the furnace and sits a little higher so the top of the smoke stack is level with their windows.
Kenneth Hawley said even when furnaces are used by manufacturers' standards, they can be a nuisance. In the case of the neighbors' furnace, correct operation allows the build-up of creosote, which burns off when the furnace is fired up full blast. That creosote causes a foul odor and smoke, he said.
Page 2 of 2 -