October 8, 2008

Ligonier OKs Ordinance Limiting Outdoor Fuel-Burners

By AJ Panian

Ligonier Council on Monday unanimously voted to approve an ordinance regulating the use of outdoor fuel-burning appliances by borough residents in accordance with state and federal standards.

Borough Solicitor George V. Welty was quick to clarify that the move was not intended to ban use of any furnace, stove or boiler designed and constructed to burn oil, wood, coal or other fuels manufactured for placement outdoors for the heating of the living area of a structure.

Considering the dimensions of a majority of properties in the 2.2- square-mile municipality, one ordinance provision makes use of any such appliances by homeowners virtually impossible.

Such appliances cannot be located less than 150 feet from any property line or structure not occupied or directly controlled by the owner of the proposed appliance, the ordinance states.

"With a majority of borough properties being 50- to 60-foot-wide lots, this ordinance will make it difficult for those intending to use outdoor burners to do so," Welty said. "These types of appliances are better used on 50- to 100-acre farms than in densely populated areas like this borough."

Other statutes of the borough law require residents to acquire a building permit from the zoning office prior to installing such appliances and to comply with required specifications and limitations on the kinds of fuel qualified for burning. These include natural wood, coal, heating oil, natural gas or kerosene permitted in writing by the manufacturer of a product. All other fuel types are prohibited.

Jon C. Balson, chief of the Uniform Construction Code division of State Department of Labor and Industry, informed borough council via letter earlier this year that the ordinance amending the borough code equals or exceeds state and Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

Nevertheless, borough resident Betty Marky of East Main Street lamented that the ordinance did not prohibit use of the appliances altogether.

"I was actually hoping this activity would have been banned in the borough," said Marky, 81, adding that outdoor burning of various materials has occurred for some time near her home. "This is better than nothing, but we'll see where it goes from here."

The process of considering the ordinance began in April when a borough resident inquired of council President Dale Show about the legality of installing such an appliance. Show said yesterday that person has not sought further information on such a move.

Marky fretted that the effectiveness of the ordinance will rely on proper enforcement. Borough police Chief John Berger told her to report any continued outdoor burning in her area and the issue would be investigated.

Those violating the ordinance and its total of 21 regulations for new and existing outdoor fuel-burning appliances could face a $500 fine upon conviction before District Judge Denise S. Thiel.

Show said some properties in the northern and western portions of the borough may harbor the dimensions necessary to operate such devices legally.

"Whether residents do it there or not remains to be seen," Show said.

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