Health department proposing ban on wood-burning appliances
The installation of wood-burning appliances in new homes in the Snyderville Basin would be prohibited for six months if the Summit County Council approves a temporary ban this week.
"We’re doing it as a temporary ordinance because we need some time to figure out a plan to address wood-burning appliances," said Rich Bullough, Summit County health director. "We still have relatively good air in the western part of the county, but I think our future will be different if we don’t take some steps to prepare for that."
The County Council plans to hold a hearing and possibly vote on a proposal for a six-month ban at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11, at the County Courthouse, in Coalville. The ban would cover wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces and wood stoves.
"The Summit County Council has identified protecting air and water quality as very much in line with their priorities," Bullough said. "And we have some potential major developments coming online and we want to prevent a large number of homes from going into the Basin that would burn wood."
The ban would only apply to appliances in new developments in the Snyderville Basin, a low-lying area that is prone to atmospheric inversions and haze. It wouldn’t affect the East Side of the county or existing developments.
"One of the things we want to do is to address rapid growth areas and we want to focus on what we consider the most urgent, which is the Snyderville Basin," Bullough said.
The Snyderville Basin Development Code regulates the installation of wood-burning appliances and requires appliances to be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The six months will give county staffers the time to look at the current regulations to decide if they are adequate or if more restrictions need to be in place, Ray Milliner, Summit County planner, said.
"We are looking around and while we are not seeing a huge inversion, there is evidence that the air quality is deteriorating," Milliner said. "We thought this would be a good time to put regulations in before we have bigger problems."
While Summit County is within the federal standards for air pollution and ozone, it is surrounded by counties that frequently exceed those standards, such as Salt Lake and Wasatch counties, Bullough said.
Phil Bondurant, the environmental health director with the Summit County Health Department, said officials at the state level are already considering legislation concerning wood-burning appliances. It makes sense for Summit County to follow suit, he said.
The evidence suggests there is a significant health concern associated with wood-burning appliances, Bondurant said.
"One of the major concerns for inversion is wood burning and it seems to be a very easy and simple approach to put these requirements in place," he said. "It isn’t meant to take away from current residents, but to keep it from becoming a situation like Salt Lake has. As the Basin grows, if we can minimize what we bring in, we will be much better in the future."
To view the County Courthouse staff report prepared in anticipation of the hearing, visit the county website at http://summitcounty.org/ . Click on ‘Agendas and Minutes’ and scroll down to the County Council section. To view the staff report, select the Feb. 11 County Council agenda. The direct link to the staff report is http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/1609 .
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Summit County officials declared their potential conflicts of interest, with Councilors Doug Clyde and Chris Robinson offering the most extensive lists on the County Council.