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City tightly restricts use of wood-fired furnaces
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MONROE - The lone dissenter to amending the city's outdoor burning laws Tuesday said the changes discourage home owners and intrude into their private lives.

The Monroe City Council on Tuesday voted 9-1 to create a chapter in the city code that restricts the use of outdoor wood-fired furnaces.

"I wish now I had fought harder against it," Hanson said after casting the only "no" vote. "It's obviously a bad ordinance, and it slid right through."

The ordinance details material that may not be burned; open burning restrictions; burning permit requirements; and outdoor wood-fired furnace installation, maintenance and use regulations.

Hanson was mainly against the wood burning furnace restrictions, calling the ordinance "more intrusion into the private citizens' lives."

"It pretty much bans them in the city for most people," Hanson said.

The restrictions on wood burners also will discourage home buyers, he said.

"We're trying to encourage people to come to Monroe," Hanson said. "What good does it do to have all this economic development and then have all these restrictions?"

Hanson believes the ordinance would hurt mostly "people making less than $10 an hour and who have smaller lots, and who are more apt to want to, or need to, use cheaper heat (options)."

The ordinance restricts constructing, installing, establishing, operating or maintaining an outdoor wood-fired furnace "in any way other than in compliance with" the ordinance, and with manufacturers' instructions.

In the event there is a conflict between the instructions and ordinance, the stricter of the two applies.

Hanson pointed out three specific sections in the new ordinance that he found too restrictive.

Section 7-5-8 (F) requires a 50-foot distance from any other building not on the same property essentially "bans wood burners within the city," because of the number of small lots, Hanson said.

Section 7-5-8 (G) requires a 15-foot high chimney, unless there are residences within 100 feet, which then requires a chimney at least as high as the roofs of those residences.

"My neighbor has a house 40 to 50 feet tall," Hanson said.

Hanson's third objection focused on the nuisance abatement in 7-5-8 (H). The owner has four options to abate a nuisance: relocate the furnace; extend the chimney; both relocate and extend; or cease operation of the furnace.

That section, Hanson said, makes the ordinance the "nosey, busy-body neighbor ordinance."

"If one person doesn't like a neighbor and wants to go after him, there is no recourse. All it takes is one complaining neighbor," Hanson said.

Hanson said the whole ordinance "was initiated by one or two complaints" last summer.

Hanson said the ordinance also comes as a result of the city "jumping on the bandwagon" with other cities with similar burning restrictions, and "making restrictions because they can."

The ordinance also requires installers of a new furnace to produce the manufacturer's owner's manual or installation instructions to the city fire chief or his designee, prior to installation.

"We don't need the fire chief baby-sitting," Hanson said. "He has better things to do."

The ordinance creating Chapter 5 also triggered the need for an other ordinance to repeal Section 5-10.5-13, and 7-2-6, and recreating 9-4-8. Hanson also voted against the second ordinance. It passed 9-1.