Larsons explore options; wood furnace debate goes on


CORNWALL — A one-month extension has been granted by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for modifications required to a local family’s woodburning furnace.

Ted and Donna Larson installed the free-standing furnace at their Jewell Street home in September 2005. They have been using it since then as a way to heat their home and provide hot water for the family of five. They were given a permit by the town prior to the building official being advised of a state law passed the previous June that specified larger setbacks from neighboring properties.

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Facts about the Larson outdoor furnace

It is well-established that outdoor wood furnaces (OWFs) burn inefficiently using a smoldering process that emits harmful particles. In the case of the Cornwall Village furnace, raising the stack height was never a resolution given the setback issue due to several residences within 200 feet - one of them only 30-40 feet away. (Yes, the Simmons/ Dunham studio/apartment is a legal residence.) In order to be legal, the furnace would have to be a minimum of 200 feet away from all of these homes.

In addition, this furnace failed a DEP emissions/opacity test coming in at a high emission rate of 70% 100% is smoke so thick you cannot see through it. 20% is the maximum allowable amount.

Considering the Town's error in issuing a permit for this furnace ( the permit may have been for an accessory structure without indication of usage), the Selectman certainly should not have tried to use the town's own blunder to support and condone a health hazard. Especially in a populated town center with several public recreational areas in proximity.

Nora Prentice, Cornwall