Woodstove ordinance returns for final vote
Truckee’s proposed point of sale woodstove replacement policy will return to town council tonight for further discussion and possible approval, as part of the town’s air quality management plan.
In the July 1 council meeting, the plan was given preliminary approval, with the addition of a seven-year time limit for replacing all obsolete woodstoves in Truckee. The vote on that motion passed 3-2, with councilmembers Maia Schneider and Don McCormack supporting it, as well as Mayor Josh Susman. Councilmembers Bob Drake and Ron Florian were opposed.
Many Realtors in the area are opposed to the point of sale provision, and say that it discriminates against home sellers and home buyers, and will not get the job done as quickly as a simple “date-certain” changeout that affects all obsolete woodstoves in town limits. Many members of the real estate community spoke in opposition at the last council meeting, when the plan was given preliminary approval.
If the point of sale and mandatory changeout provisions are included in the town’s air quality management plan, homeowners with older woodstoves will incur significant costs – some when they sell their homes and others at the end of the seven-year deadline.
The draft plan notes that homeowners will be responsible for the costs of removing the non-certified woodstove or fireplace insert from the home and disposing of it at an approved site. Removal may cost several hundred dollars, although town assistance may cover some of the cost. If a homeowner wishes to replace the obsolete woodstove with an EPA Phase II stove, pellet stove, or gas service stove, it could cost from $1,500 to purchase and install a new stove.
Susman said his desire is to see all people affected by the ordinance are treated fairly, and that no one group bears the brunt of the regulations.
“My whole position has been one of equity and fairness,” he said. “What I hope to come out of the meeting is to come up with a situation and plan that does not burden one group or sector of the community over another group or sector of the community. I think we have the ability to get there and that’s what I am striving for in my discussions and deliberations.”
Nelson Van Gundy, president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, said he is still opposed to the ordinances, and questioned the basis for the forced changeout.
“The location of the sensors is still an open question; i.e., there has not been an adequate study done,” Van Gundy said. “Assuming such a study is done and it demonstrates a need, then a comprehensive approach to the problem involving all of the contributing elements should be established.”
He commended town council for its attention to the issue of air quality, but said if the problem is serious, then it requires a serious solution – a shorter mandatory changeout time that seven years.
The Air Quality Management Plan lists advantages and disadvantages of the woodstove replacement policy.
– The control strategy will directly reduce particulate emissions from the largest source of emissions in the Truckee air basin.
– The control strategy will quicken the removal of non-certified devices in the Town of Truckee. Fine particulate matter emissions will be substantially reduced and this will allow the town to get a head start in reducing annual and 24-hour particulate matter concentrations to comply with the new National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
– The control strategy will create both short-term and long-term reductions of emission levels. The removal of non-certified devices prior to the sale of a home will result in immediate reductions and these reductions will continue to increase until all non-certified devices are removed by the end of the seven-year period. After the seven-year deadline, the town will enjoy substantial long-term reductions in emissions from existing development.
– The non-certified devices will be removed or replaced prior to the sale of a house, and the costs for removal or replacement may be handled through the home sale transaction, which may be a more favorable time for the property owner to remove or replace the device.
– The control strategy will be a regulatory measure, and will be an additional item for the seller to address as part of a home sale transaction.
– The town will have to undertake an extensive enforcement program at the end of the seven-year deadline, as up to 750 homes may still have a non-certified device and in violation of the ordinance.
– There will be substantial costs ($1,500+) to homeowners who rely on woodstoves as their primary heating source, as these homeowners must replace the non-certified device along with an EPA Phase II stove, or install and utilize another type of heating source.
The town council meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Town Hall on Donner Pass Road.
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