- Last Updated on Thursday, 29 July 2010 19:52
- Published on Thursday, 29 July 2010 19:52
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The King George Board of Supervisors last week unanimously voted to give the go-ahead for a formal review of draft rules to address the use of outdoor wood boilers in King George.
The issue has been under review since last fall, after complaints had come to light about some users of wood boilers who have them installed close to property lines, creating a smoke nuisance for near neighbors.
Jack Green, Director of Community Development, had first provided reports to supervisors in the end of 2009.
Outdoor wood boilers are also called outdoor wood furnaces. They are freestanding units that provide heat and hot water for residences employing them. They heat water by burning wood or other fuel, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The hot water is generally circulated to and from the home through underground, insulated piping. Once inside the home, the heated water circulates through heat exchangers, radiant floor tubing, or radiators to warm the home and/or to provide hot water for residential use.
Problems can be caused for nearby neighboring property owners under current rules, which allow locating them as an accessory structure with only a three-foot setback from side and rear property lines.
Outdoor wood furnaces are currently unregulated, so they are allowed also to spew smoke close to the ground without the requirement of a chimney to raise the smoke above rooftops.
Homeowners who operate outdoor wood furnaces on some large acreage properties cause no evident problems to their neighbors, if outdoor wood furnaces are not sited near the property line.
But a few homeowners who operate outdoor wood furnaces on smaller lots can cause a smoke-filled outdoor environment for near neighbors, making enjoyment of neighboring yard and deck areas unpleasant.
One of the elements in the proposed zoning ordinance text amendment would require chimneys to be used on outdoor wood furnaces when houses are within 300 feet on neighboring properties.
TEXT AMENDMENT PROPOSED
There are several requirements being proposed for the county to regulate the use of outdoor wood furnaces.
Green told supervisors the proposed setback distances come straight from the best practices recommended by the outdoor wood furnace industry.
The text amendment is proposed to limit the use of outdoor wood furnaces to property zoned Limited Agricultural (A-1) or Rural Agricultural (A-2).
~ It would require a setback of at least 50 feet from the property line.
~ It would require outdoor wood furnaces to be located at least 100 feet from any residence that is not served by it.
~ The outdoor wood furnace is to be located on the property in compliance with manufacturer’s recommendations and/or testing and listing requirements for clearance to combustible materials.
~ Chimney heights for any outdoor wood furnace must extend at least two feet above the peak of any residence (not served by the outdoor wood furnace) within 300 feet of it.
~ Fuel burned in an outdoor wood furnace shall be only natural wood, wood pellets, corn projects, biomass pellets or other listed fuels specifically permitted by the manufacturer’s instructions such as fuel oil, natural gas or propane backup.
The next step in the process is for the county attorney to provide a legal review.
Following that, the proposal for a Zoning Ordinance text amendment is expected to be advertised for a public hearing by the Planning Commission, followed by a vote on whether or not to recommend the amendment for adoption by the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors will then advertise and hold an additional public hearing prior to action to adopt or not adopt the proposed text amendment.