Truckee sets woodstove removal timeline
Truckee will be free of air-polluting woodstoves and fireplace inserts by July 15, 2006, if enforcement of an ordinance adopted by the town council on Thursday goes according to plan.
The council approval gives town staff maximum time to educate the public on the policy – a key to enacting it smoothly – and work out the details of enforcement, which would likely include inspections or registration.
Homeowners who do not remove non-complying stoves and fireplaces (devices without Environmental Protection Agency certification or town approval) by the deadline would face a first-offense fine of up to $1,000. Town Planner Duane Hall projected that it would cost a household $300 to remove a stove and from $1,500 to $3,000 to replace it with an approved appliance.
Zero-clearance units, which are manufactured fireplaces, and open masonry fireplaces are not required to be removed by the ordinance. Woodstoves and non-approved fireplace inserts, mostly those 15 years old and older, are the appliances that must be removed.
The ordinance comes more than a month after the town increased its rebates for stove removal and replacement. Those removing an unapproved appliance can receive up to $300 (up from $176), those removing and replacing the appliance with a pellet-fueled heater or gas stove can receive up to $500 (up from $276), and Southwest Gas will award an additional $200 if a replacement gas appliance is served by the gas company.
The policy is a key strategy of the Particulate Matter Air Quality Management Plan adopted by the council on July 15, 1999 to reduce air-polluting emissions in town. Stove and fireplace removal will be required across the board with no exemptions, however financial aid and short extensions will be granted in some circumstances.
“This really sends the message that you mean business when it comes to cleaning up the air,” said John Falk of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors during public comment. “It will bring about both aesthetic and health and safety improvements that we need.”
The council approval means that a current ordinance, which requires uncomplying devices be removed from homes prior to sale, will be abolished by April 30, 2005.
Hall estimated that there would be about 1,500 woodstoves and fireplace units that would be affected by the policy. A larger portion of these units are likely to be in low-income homes, he added, and some may be a primary source of heat for the home.
Anticipating the issues that stove removal may cause, town staff has proposed low-interest loans and other financial resources be made available to qualifying homes, as to not create an immediate financial burden on low-income households.
The ordinance still lacks the specifics of an enforcement program, which the council asked the town to complete by July 1, 2001. Funding for implementation and enforcement of the policy, financial assistance, and low-interest loan details will be decided by the Joint Financial Assistance Program which is expected to be adopted by early next year, according to Hall.
The council also approved a resolution that will require developers to mitigate particulate matter emissions that result from development. Fees will be collected from developers if no other satisfactory measures can be found to offset the pollution. A $300 fee will be levied for each solid fuel burning appliance installed, and a $7,366 fee will be required for each ton of particulate matter emissions generated by construction. Emissions will be calculated by traffic studies gauging vehicle activity and by other means. All fees will be deposited into the Town Air Quality Mitigation Fund, a fund dedicated to reducing particulate matter emissions.
More information can be found at http://www.townoftruckee.com/woodstove.html
In Other News
Truckee agreed to contribute money and equipment to two ski shuttles; one to Northstar-at-Tahoe and one to Sugar Bowl and other Donner Pass-area resorts. The money contributed to both shuttles will come from Truckee Transportation Development act funds, money which comes from the state.
“These are the same service routes that have been provided in the past,” said Town Engineer Dan Wilkins.
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