PEPPERELL — Acting on continuing complaints about foul-smelling smoke emanating from a outdoor wood-burning furnace on Hollis Street, the Board of Health has ordered the device removed from the premises by June 27.
In late April, the board had called in Michael Chase of Brookline, N.H., owner of a three-story house at 46 Hollis Street, to discuss allegations that painted wood and construction debris was being burned, creating foul odors and potentially-dangerous health conditions.
Outdoor furnaces are steel fireboxes wrapped in a water jacket and are situated on a concrete slab some distance from the building being heated. Fire heats water in the jacket, which is then pumped into the distant building through insulated pipes, providing heat and/or hot water.
Both Health Agent Edward Wirtanen and Fire Chief Costa Bozicas have inspected the property several times. The furnace is one of three in town but is the only one located in a densely-populated neighborhood.
Bozicas said the department has received smoke complaints from Hollis Street residents on foggy nights, when smoke hangs near ground level. One caller thought a nearby house was on fire. Health board Chairman Robert Lambert has also made inspections.
Chase said that a family member is usually the one who feeds the furnace and that he has added eight feet to the chimney in an attempt to decrease low-lying smoke problems.
Chase told the board he is using his furnace only for heat, not hot water, and that the heating season may be nearing an end. He was cautioned to burn only dry hardwood seasoned at least two years and to put inducers on the chimney.
Two weeks later, a Hollis Street neighbor, Peter Kudaraskas, asked the board to order the furnace shut down and removed because someone allegedly continues to burn painted wood, boxes and crates.
”I don’t want to start a neighborhood fight,” he said to the press, but told the board that Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont have legal limits on outdoor furnaces. He asked the board to prevent Chase from heating water with the furnace.
The Board of Health gave Chase until April 27 to cease burning and to clean up the yard.
Called back last week, Chase said he has “no problem” adding eight feet to the chimney height or “moving stuff.” He said he’d “like to run on seasoned hard wood next year.” Chase said the last time the furnace was used was May 1.
”If you burned May 1,” Wirtanen said, “that is a violation. It’s a violation of air quality and town bylaws which is up to this board to enforce. They’ve spoken and aren’t going to allow this to continue.”
Chase said he did not personally put the wrong combustibles in the furnace and that he didn’t intend to have that happen.
Kudaraskas was also present and handed Chase photocopies of billowing smoke overhanging the neighborhood.
As Chase viewed the pages, Malouin said, “It bothers me that you’ve already been in here. It seems a blatant disregard to our strong suggestion to burn hardwood, almost as if we weren’t here.”
Bradman said she’d like to see the yard cleaned up and the furnace dismantled and removed because houses are too close by and there is too much smoke.
”If I had one I’d destroy it to keep peace with my neighbors,” Lambert said.
When Chase repeated that he’d like to raise the chimney height, Bradman said that wouldn’t solve the smoke problem. “We’ve advised you and it was ignored. It’s in the wrong place,” she said.
Lambert offered to allow the furnace if Chase could guarantee there would be no more smoke and should any neighbors complain the furnace would be taken down.
Chase agreed but neither Malouin nor Bradman would go along.
”You have all the authority (you need) under air quality regulations and public health interests to make a determination,” Wirtanen advised.
Bradman made a motion to have the furnace removed by May 27, then amended that deadline to June 27.
The measure passed unanimously.