VILLAS — In a unanimous vote, Lower Township Council passed an ordinance that would allow residents or township officials to sign a complaint against a neighbor operating a wood burning boiler in their backyard.
The ordinance states “No person operating an outdoor wood burning boiler, outdoor furnace, outdoor wood heater or outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters shall allow smoke or other products of combustion to escape in such a manner as to be offensive, obnoxious, injurious to any person or to create a nuisance of any duration that negatively impacts any property….”
The ordinance allows enforcement by the issuance of a “complaint-summons as attested by a private citizen” or by an appropriate township official “after personal observation of the offensive condition.”
Penalties may be assessed against the property from the township as well as any regulating government agency.
The ordinance is a result of complaints by residents of South Andrielle Avenue in Erma, voiced at previous council meetings concerning the Banach residence. Adjoining property owners and folks who live down the street have complained to the township that the boiler sends smoke inside their homes.
The boiler in question was a wood-burning, outdoor Central Boiler E Classic 2400 the Banach family uses to heat their home and swimming pool.
Last month, Banach told the Herald the wood-burning boiler is no different than a fireplace. Everyone else in the neighborhood has a fireplace, he said.
During public comment at Monday’s meeting, South Andrielle Avenue resident Diane Martin thanked council for approving the ordinance but expressed concerns a resident could get a permit to install an outdoor wood burning boiler if they met property setback requirements.
Township Manager Michael Voll said the matter will be discussed by the township Planning Board at its October 20 meeting.
“It has definitely changed our neighborhood, you don’t want it in your backyard,” said Martin.
She said neighbors would prefer an outright ban on outdoor wood-burning boilers.
“People weren’t supposed to smell smoke, that’s why they put warnings on cigarette packages,” said Martin.
Voll said he spoke with the chief of police about enforcement of the ordinance. Police will respond to complaints, said Voll.