Daily Courier-Observer: Fowler Awaits Decision On Nearby Boiler Fumes
(April 7, 2011) -
By RYNE R. MARTIN
THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2011
MASSENA - A Massena man says he is looking for village officials to make a decision that will allow him to enjoy his George Street property.
Marty Fowler, 33 George St., told village board members he has shared his concerns in recent months with Code Enforcement Officer Gregory Fregoe and Mayor James G. Hidy about the fumes from a wood-fuel boiler at Alex's Ice House, located across the street from his property.
"I've got pictures. These aren't pictures of an industrial plant. Our entire house smells like smoke all winter long. We need to enjoy our property. We are tax paying citizens," he said, noting he has made improvements to doors and windows at his residence in an unsuccessful effort to eliminate the smoke smell inside his home.
"We're continuously smelling the wood boiler. We've been exposed to our share of toxins. We don't enjoy our property right now. I've talked to the mayor and the code enforcement officer, but I'm looking for a decision. I've tried everything I can, but it is a Catch 22," he said.
Mr. Fowler added he had provided the mayor with information from the American Heart Association and American Lung Association detailing the health issues facing his family as a result of the smoke issues.
"What you have sent me our opinions," Mr. Hidy countered, pledging to discuss Mr. Fowler's concerns with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department and the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Mr. Fregoe noted village officials had researched Mr. Fowler's concerns last fall. "We've done this once, but we'll go back and do it again," he said.
He said the village board currently has a moratorium on wood fueled boilers, but he said the boiler at Alex's Ice House is permissible since it was in place before the moratorium was approved. "We can control the future, but we can't control the past," he reminded village board members.
Village Trustee Patricia K. Wilson suggested the village code's heating section address some of the concerns raised by Mr. Fowler. She pointed to a subsection that reads fuel burning heat-producing equipment shall be installed and maintained so that the emission or discharge into the atmosphere of smoke, dust particles, odors or other products of combustion will not create a nuisance or be detrimental to the health, comfort, safety or property of any person.
"I feel your pain. It's something we need to look at," she told Mr. Fowler.
Village resident R. Shawn Gray, foreman for the village's paid fireman, noted he had been part of the committee that reviewed the village ordinances approximately 20 years ago.
"It's legal to have wood-fired boilers, but you can't impact your neighbors. It sounds like a code violation, nuisance to neighbors," he said.
Mr. Fregoe, speaking after the village board meeting, said village officials had received a complaint from a different neighbor about the boiler emissions approximately five years ago. he said he had discussed the issue with Ted Krywanczyk from the business. "They raised the stack to get the smoke higher," he noted.
The village's code enforcement officer said Mr. Fowler is currently the only George Street resident raising concerns about the emissions.
"We've received no complaints from any other neighbors. We've been trying to resolve this issue since at least last fall. We investigated it when the complaint first came in. We referred it to the Department of Conservation air quality people. They have investigated this, and the DEC environmental conservation officer has also been involved," he said.