April 05, 2020

Millinocket OKs wood boiler restrictions

MILLINOCKET – Residents have 60 days to register their outdoor wood-fired boilers with the town under a new ordinance that bans the smokiest of the home heating units, town officials said Friday.

Unless it is appealed in court, the ordinance – which is probably the state’s first – goes into effect on Nov. 26. All residents who own boilers will need to seek permits with town Code Enforcement Officer Michael Noble within 30 days of that date or cease burning, the ordinance states.

Under the ordinance, boilers must be at least 50 feet from a neighboring home, be rated to burn no more than 27.4 grams of particulate matter per 100,000 Btu per hour, and be at least 24 inches above the roof line of the closest neighboring home.

Citing health concerns, the Town Council voted 6-0 to implement the ordinance Thursday. Councilor Jimmy Busque was absent.

Councilors complimented Councilor Scott Gonya for his work incorporating many changes into the final document through three public hearings and several meetings.

“This is an important ordinance that the council is passing,” Councilor Matthew Polstein said Thursday. “The town is setting a good precedent for the rest of the state.”

“I am very happy with how it worked,” Gonya said. “The council did a lot of hard work on this.”

Gonya proposed the ban in August, saying several Penobscot Avenue residents live near a resident whose boiler emits so much smoke that a smoky odor has infiltrated their homes. Penobscot Avenue residents have been complaining about the boiler since 2000 or 2001, Gonya said, but he didn’t know how local governments could stop their use. It wasn’t until the American Lung Association came out against such boilers in June that he was inspired to seek a ban, he said.

Town Manager Eugene Conlogue estimated that there are six boilers in town.

Most outdoor boilers are polluters, producing 100 to 400 grams of particulate waste an hour. By comparison, most wood-fired stoves today produce about 7.5 grams an hour. Retailing at $7,500 each, the Black Bear boiler made in East Millinocket is UL- and CSA-certified and recently passed weighted-average emissions tests that showed that the boiler burned 6.6 grams an hour.

Municipalities in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York have banned outdoor wood-fired boilers because they are such polluters. East Millinocket is among state municipalities considering a ban.

Under the ordinance, new boiler owners must pay a $50 permitting fee, but the council waived the fee for people who own boilers now. The owner of a boiler in violation of the ordinance shall be fined $100 a day but not more than $1,000 in accumulated fines.

Permits shall be suspended for malodorous air contamination caused by boilers burning nonpermitted materials, or by the improper operation of a boiler. Anyone who knows of a potentially offending boiler in Millinocket can call Noble at 723-7005.

Correction: This article ran on page C3 in the State edition.

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