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Communities weigh boiler rulesSaturday, December 30, 2006

WESTFIELD - The Whip City is joining the growing number of Western Massachusetts communities seeking to regulate the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces or boilers.

"They seem to be a popular thing right now," outgoing City Council President Brian P. Sullivan said yesterday. "We just want to look into it before it becomes an issue."

The Building Department reports just "two or three" permit requests for the outdoor furnaces over the past year.

Sullivan said, however, that some complaints of odor have already come wafting into City Hall. Sullivan and incoming Council President Charles W. Medeiros made a motion to their fellow councilors last week seeking to explore potential regulation of the outdoor furnaces.

Some residential zones, like the densely inhabited downtown areas, may not be suitable, Sullivan said.

The motion was referred to council subcommittee.

In West Springfield, the Board of Health recently issued a moratorium on outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

Furnaces that are already in operation may continue to be used, but any new furnace is prohibited until the board can further research the subject.

The Longmeadow Board of Health will hold a public hearing on Jan. 22 on a proposal to ban the installation and use of outdoor wood-burning boilers. The board is scheduled to vote following the hearing.

Earlier this month the Longmeadow board voted to ban the boilers, and is expected to repeat that decision, but move under a different section of state law that would allow for a fine of as much as $1,000 per day for a first-time offender. The current ban provides for a fine of $100 per day.

A Chicopee couple recently filed suit in Hampden Superior Court, claiming their neighbor's use of an outdoor wood-burning boiler created a nuisance and a financial loss when they sold their home.

The suit was filed by Edward J. and Paula Nowak, against their former neighbors, Robert M. and Andrea J. McKinney, of 21 Loveland Terrace.

The Chicopee Board of Health claims the McKinneys have failed to comply with a cease-and-desist order to stop using their outdoor wood boiler, and face possible court action. The board issued a ban on the boilers in November, preceded by a moratorium. The McKinneys added the outdoor wood boiler to heat their home after receiving a permit from the city in 2005, McKinney said.

The Nowaks now live at 73 Caddyshack Drive, Chicopee, but were living at 31 Loveland Terrace.

The Nowaks claim they had a purchase and sale agreement to sell their home on Loveland Terrace in April of 2006 for $222,000, but that the sale fell through due to the
McKinney's outdoor boiler. They sold the house at a reduced price of $195,000.

The Northampton Board of Health issued a moratorium through Jan. 31; its counterpart in Holyoke did so through June 30.

Belchertown selectmen have asked that town's Board of Health to look into the issue and Hadley is considering restrictions.

Reporters Michael McAuliffe and Peter Goonan contributed to this report

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