I am in litigation of an OWB

Personal Situations - Problems or Solutions.

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I am in litigation of an OWB

Postby MPA » Sat Jul 14, 2007 10:58 pm

I am a resident of Illinois, and to the masses here whether they are pro/con OWBs I am in current litigation with my neighbor and his OWB. Anyone who wishes to correspond with me feel free to send me a pm. My story is listed below:

To start I will give my background. I am an MPA, which for some if you don't know what that is, means that I received my education with a Masters Degree in Public Administration and policy analysis. I have worked with a U.S. Congressmen, and currently work with a city government. And before you all say "Oh you're one of them" I assure you I am not a typical bureaucrat. I do not live in the city I work in, but instead live in a rural community of about 900 in Southern Illinois.

Last October after my wife and I moved in our first home for some peaceful 8 months my neighbor decided to place a OWB (in which he installed) about 50-60 feet from our property and less than 100 feet from the house itself. The OWB has become a horror to us penetrating our home with smoke on a daily basis. It has created smoke soot discoloration of my home, damaging the siding and my front door, it has killed some of the plant life on my property, and has made us have bouts with nausea on many occasions.

As a normal calm individual my wife and I approached our neighbor about our concerns. He refused to appropriately solve our problems (raising the stack above the roof, burning dry seasoned wood) and basically told us to go to hell. I in turn began my own investigation on this individual and dually contacted every person possible who would listen to me at the federal/state/county/local levels of government. The reason I began this investigation was that prior to returning to college and finishing my education I was a private investigator.

My investigation found that not only does he burn wood, but just so happens to work for a pallet business his father owns. Well you can only guess what he was burning in his OWB then.... I in turn recorded at least 30 mins of video of this OWB crossing property lines and took some 200 pictures of my home, his OWB, and showed the gradual damage being done to my residence.

The long treacherous journey of contacting all of these government entities led them to all advising me to get my own attorney. My neighbor of course has strong ties to our community being a firefighter and Jaycee, so "he is such a great individual." So you can almost guess the approach that my local government took on handling this issue. In other words being I have only lived in this community for a year or so, my rights really don't exist in their eyes.

This led me to hire what is probably one of the best Environmental Lawyers in Southern Illinois. After 8 months of asking my government leaders for support I have given up faith in the federalism and bureaucracy that is taking place. Everyone locally takes the NIMBY "Not in my Backyard" approach to my problem. My attorney is filing three counts based on nuisance protected under my state constitutional laws and tort laws. We are basically fighting for our "entitlement to quiet enjoyment" which I guarantee that all of you who have a similar problem as mine will have these case laws or state laws in your respective areas. It might take a little work on your end to find these laws, as I as an MPA have the experience to look for this type of law, or hire an environmental lawyer to do it for you.

In closing after seeing some comments about some people talking about others throughout the country who are taking legal action I am one. And I will be happy to share the results of what is going with my case. This is a current situation and I will not stop fighting this until the day comes that his OWB is out of the ground. Also I want it to be clear I do not have a problem with people refining OWBs and making them positive useful alternatives to heating their homes, but I do have a problem with individuals encroaching on others rights. I am an advocate for freedom of choice, if you want to choose to use an OWB, all power to you, but I do not agree with individualistic rights that take away the rights of others. If you have the rural setting and the means of nobody who minds around you who cares, I don't, it is your choice to expose yourself to the effects of OWBs. Just like if you want to drink, use drugs, smoke it is your body not mine.

And the quote you ask from my neighbor's OWB manufacturer? "It is recommended you do not place any of our products within your neighbor if it is less than 100 feet from the property line"
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Postby FriendofAir » Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:04 pm

I feel for ya.

We had a similar situation but just the threat of lawsuit compelled the neighbor to change their fireplaces to natural gas.

Although potentially very costly, I believe you will prevail. It may cost you upwards of $5,000 to $50,000 in attorney fees. It may be more cost effective just to offer your neighbor some money.

Too bad your neighbor was just not playing loud music at night, that would be easier to document and fight. Have you invited your neighbor over to witness the smoke for themselves?

Keep us posted and best of luck to you!
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Postby MPA » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:55 pm

For inviting him over, he claims it doesn't blow at my house and down the alley. I forgot to mention above he controls the wind similar to the powers of God.

He claims it isn't blowing at our house despite it does.... Lies will only get you so far and as I know pictures/video don't lie.....

As I said I will keep you all posted... and let you know what the financial strain was on my checkbook in the end....
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Postby woodburner » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:34 am

I'm all for requirements regarding proximity of OWBs to other homes.

I did get a kick out of what a big deal you made out of your Master's Degree though. You even made your nickname MPA. Classic.
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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:52 am

woodburner wrote:I'm all for requirements regarding proximity of OWBs to other homes.


I am not sure what the OWB or firelace requirements are, or if they are even enforced. In my opinion the requirement(s) should be based less on proximity and more on impact to others.

A similar concept can be found in property rights law. Typically, if a property owner alters the natural course or flow of water from their property on to someone else's property, the party doing the altering is responsible. Altering the environment by adding smoke and soot should carry similar burdens to the polluter.
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Postby MPA » Sun Dec 16, 2007 11:37 pm

I have not posted on here as I have been advised by my attorney not to do so as we do not wish to compromise information in our case. However, to all of you who have contacted me over the last few months thank you for all of your kindness, and I have met many who share the same interests as myself.

I have worked very hard over the last few months in fighting this case. All of the money my wife received for our marriage in 2006 is now all gone in legal fees. We are really struggling to make ends meet and use breadcrumbs to get by month by month.

Regardless I have created a myspace page, and I encourage all of you to come visit and maybe create one yourself.... All of you here are invited to come to my page and visit and please feel free to message me any feedback you have on the page. Also if you have a myspace account feel free to become my friend.

In closing the fight is going on for me and thousands of dollars have been wasted on standing up for our rights.


The webpage: www.myspace.com/freedomofair
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Postby FriendofAir » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:47 am

Thank you for the update.

Hopefully, not only will you prevail, but also get your attorneys fees reimbursed.

Good luck!
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Postby MPA » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:41 pm

I wanted to announce I have another webpage which I created in addition to my MySpace page.

www.freewebs.com/freedomofair
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Postby FriendofAir » Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:44 pm

I watched your videos. Unbelievable and disgusting!

You must have a real idiot for a neighbor. At least in the cigarette smoking days people would ask "mind if I smoke"? If that was noise pollution your neighbor would have been shut down a long time ago.

(I have tried to leave similar comments to your videos on my space, but have been unable to do so).
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Postby Wilberforce » Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:45 pm

If this guy had dumped some chemicals in your well, wouldn't that amount to a crime?
I don't understand; why is air pollution thought of any differently than water pollution :?:
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Legal Ideas

Postby Ernest Grolimund » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:26 pm

Ideas: Lawyers letter with doctors letter from Am Lung Assoc doctor and with authority witness letter. Letter from you saying Dr. Brown writes that 30 mcg/c.m. of pm2.5 can cause heart attacks that can kill people with diagnosed or undiagnosed heart disease! Get pictures of smoke on your house and property, and get Vermont DEC pictures of OWB's, and others. Get evidence. A $300 Sears Envirosense air cleaner has two opacity meters that measure dust and odor or particulates and VOC's and read healthy, unhealthy, very unhealthy. Get NESCAUM report on OWB's that reports 6 out of 6 Conn. OWB cases were successful out of court because of a law that says any smoke going over a property line is a nuisance. It gives a precedent. Contact Am. Lung Association and form a group to write and petition the DEP and legislature to pass an OWB bill like Maines, but better. I did this and my neighbor dismantled an indoor wood boiler for insurance reasons, replaced a wood furnace or old large stove with a gas one and reduced fireplace smoke to occasional use. Maine also passed an OWB bill with my testimony combined with others and the Am Lung Association testimony. It can be done!
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Postby turning_blue » Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:19 pm

*High Fives Ernest*

Thanks for your contribution. Please continue posting!!!!
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Postby MPA » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:48 pm

This appeared in the April-June 2008 Newsletter of the Illinois Sierra Club:


Illinois Sierra Club Newsletter

Our story was recently published in the Illinois Sierra Club Newsletter (April-June edition). Please read the text version below and a scanned image of article below :

An American Dream Goes Up in Smoke

by Barbara Vrchota

Joel Laws has a problem. "My wife and I are a recently newly married couple and moved into our first home together in December of 2005. If you can, for a second, try to remember when you and your significant other first started out in the adult world. Imagine starting a chapter in your life of starting a family, moving into a new home and looking forward toward your future together."

"Now imagine having all that taken from you. This was our case, as we have had our clean air and enjoyment of our property taken from us without a choice. Additionally, we have been told by our community leaders and our state and federal public administrators that we don’t have a legitimate complaint for our clean air. This is what has happened to us by our neighbors’ actions by installing an Outdoor Wood Boiler."

What is an Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB)? According to Central Boiler and Outdoor Boilers of Michigan’s web page, it is an efficient way to provide your home with all your heating needs. A homeowner can eliminate problems indoors caused by the standard indoor wood stove. There is no more tending to the stove, or fire hazards. Outdoorwoodfurnace.com claims in its ad that it can lower utility bills, and heat water heaters, spas, pools, and garages.

Here’s another burning question. Is it an eyesore? Does it take up a lot of yard space? Surfing sites such as www.centralboilers.com, you’ll find photos of these heat sources, which resemble small aluminum or wood sheds.

It doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Well, shortly after Joel and Melissa moved into their home in Albers, IL, a neighbor installed an outdoor wood boiler. Soon came the smoke and soot. Joel says it killed the bushes around the house and turned their white-sided home yellow. Next, constant sore throats, coughing and headaches started. The only way to relieve the symptoms was to leave the house. They were sick of being sick, says Joel.

Sounds nightmarish, but it only gets worse. When Joel contacted his local municipality, he was told he has no complaint. He can’t do a thing to protect the air he and Melissa breathe in or around their house. Joel says, "I have become passionate about my freedom for clean air. I had this circumstance brought upon my wife and I without choice. I am looking for support in any way possible."

After the holidays, Joel and Melissa decided to move from their home. Their American dream has, unfortunately, gone up in smoke.

There is some good news in of all this. Joel and Melissa have created a web page on myspace to educate the public and hopefully make a change. "I want the state to at minimum require people to fall under what the U.S. EPA standards are for these things. Not within 100 feet of someone’s home, not be used as a primary heat source, and burn dry seasoned wood. If my neighbor did any of the above items, we may still be able to live in our home." Joel says.

Joel Laws is now the Central States Regions Director for the Clean Air Revival Now, a non-profit group in California. Learn more about OWBs at www.burningissues.com or myspace.com80/freedomofair.

This article was featured in the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club’s newsletter, Lake and Prairie, cited below:

Vrchota, Barbara. (2008). An American dream goes up in smoke. Lake and Prairie, 49(2), 34.

Note: The author accidently cited the websites incorrectly in the final paragraph. They should read http://burningissues.org and www.myspace.com/freedomofair


To view the actual article:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... gYear=2008



To View the entire Newsletter:
http://illinois.sierraclub.org/news/lak ... 2008hi.pdf
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Postby turning_blue » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:15 am

Great news story!!!!!!!
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Postby MPA » Tue May 06, 2008 2:01 pm

PLEASE VISIT MY FAQS PAGES AND MY STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF MY CASES OWB:

Statistical Analysis: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... gYear=2008

FAQs Page:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... gYear=2008

Personal FAQs Page:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... gYear=2008
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