Town of Johnston, RI
Providence County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Johnston 2-8-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-2. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fire prevention — See Ch. 172.
Housing standards — See Ch. 194.
Oil and Gas Heating Code — See Ch. 230.
The Town Council recognizes and finds that although outdoor hydronic heaters and outdoor wood boilers may represent an economical alternative to conventional heating systems, such systems should not be located or used in such a manner as to compromise the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Town of Johnston. Such outdoor furnaces can cause harmful emissions, offensive odors, smoke, soot, fumes and other conditions that may constitute a public nuisance.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ALLOWABLE FUELS
Clean wood; wood pellets made from clean wood; manufacturer-approved fuels, provided that they are not prohibited fuels; and home heating oil that companies with the applicable sulfur content limit or natural gas may be used as starter fuels for dual-fired outdoor hydronic heaters.
CLEAN WOOD
Wood that has no paint, stains, or other types of coatings, and wood that has not been treated with, including, but not limited to, sealants, copper chromium arsenate, creosote, or pentachlorophenol.
COMMERCIAL-SIZE HEATER
A heater with a rated thermal output greater than 350,000 Btu's per hour.
EXISTING UNIT or EXISTING OHH
An outdoor hydronic heater that has been legally installed prior to the effective date of this chapter.
HEATING SEASON
Period beginning October 1 and ending May 1, inclusive.
NEW OHH
An outdoor hydronic heater that is installed after the effective date of this chapter.
NUISANCE
An activity which substantially interferes with the right to use and enjoy property.
OPACITY
The degree to which emissions other than water reduce the transmission of light and obscure the view of an object in the background.
OUTDOOR HYDRONIC HEATER or OUTDOOR WOOD BOILER (SOMETIMES REFERRED TO HEREIN AS "OHH")
A freestanding accessory structure, as defined in the Zoning Ordinance, housing a wood-burning furnace, with a smokestack, used to provide heat or hot water to a building or accessory structure:
A. 
Designed to burn wood or other approved solid fuels;
B. 
That the manufacturer specifies for outdoor installation or installation in structures not normally occupied by humans (e.g., garages); and
C. 
Designated to heat building space and/or water via the distribution, typically through pipes, of a fluid heated in the device, typically water or a water/antifreeze mixture. This includes without limitation any structure, equipment, device, or apparatus, or any part thereof, which is installed, affixed, constructed or located outdoors for the primary purpose of combustion of solid fuel, including but not limited to wood, to produce heat or energy used as a component of a heating system.
PROHIBITED FUELS
Any wood that does not meet the definition of "clean wood"; rubbish or garbage, including but not limited to food wastes, food and beverage packaging, or food wraps; tires; lawn clippings, leaves, brush trimmings, or general yard waste; materials containing plastic; materials containing rubber; waste petroleum products; paints and paint thinners; chemicals; coal; any type of paper/cardboard; construction and demolition debris; plywood or other composite wood products; particle board; salt water driftwood; manure; animal carcasses; asphalt products; any material prohibited for combustion by state or federal law or regulation; and lighter fluids, gasoline or chemicals to start the flames are prohibited.
RESIDENTIAL-SIZE HEATER
A heater with a rated thermal output of 350,000 Btu's per hour or less as rated by the test method identified in this chapter.
UNTREATED LUMBER
Dry wood that has been milled and dried out but has not been treated or combined with any petroleum product, chemical, preservative, glue, adhesive, stain, paint or other substance.
A. 
Permit required; application.
(1) 
No person or entity shall construct, install, use, operate, or permit to be operated on his or her property an outdoor hydronic heater or outdoor wood boiler without first obtaining a permit from the Building/Zoning Official. Installation of all new units requires an initial permit application following the effective date of this chapter.
(2) 
Said application shall include a survey showing all property lines, the locations and distances of all dwellings or occupied buildings on adjoining properties within 300 feet of the property line, the roof peaks' elevation within the three hundred-foot radius, and the proposed location of the OHH. All units, new or used, shall carry a tag certifying that the OHH complies with the EPA Phase II emission standard, or higher as defined by the EPA, which standard is herein incorporated by reference. The application must show, in detail, the location of the proposed installation, as certified by a land surveyor, and certification by a professional engineer as to the structured stability of the installation.
B. 
Any OHH in existence on the effective date of this chapter which has been installed with proper permits and inspections shall be permitted to remain, provided that the owner complies with all conditions of this chapter within three months of the effective date of this chapter. If the owner does not comply with all of the conditions of this chapter within three months of the effective date of this chapter. If the owner does not comply with all of the conditions of this chapter within three months of the effective date of this chapter, the OHH shall be removed.
C. 
Any existing OHH that has been installed without the issuance of proper permits and/or inspections shall be removed.
D. 
An application fee of $100 shall be charged for the initial application for new units. This fee shall be in addition to all other fees for inspections for compliance with all applicable building, plumbing, electrical, fire and other laws as deemed necessary by the Building/Zoning Official.
E. 
The owner of the lot upon which an OHH is located shall apply for an annual operating permit. This permit is required each calendar year after the initial installation of the OHH. The permit shall be valid for the period from October 1 through May 1. The owner shall pay all fees imposed for the application for such operating permit as well as inspection fees to determine if the OHH complies with this chapter and all other applicable codes and ordinances.
F. 
A permit issued pursuant to this chapter may be suspended by the Building/Zoning Official to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of Johnston for the following reasons:
(1) 
Malodorous air contaminants from the OHH are detectable outside the property of the person on whose land the OHH is located.
(2) 
The emissions from the OHH interfere with reasonable enjoyment of life on neighboring property.
(3) 
The emissions from the OHH cause damage to vegetation on neighboring property.
(4) 
The emissions from the OHH are ormay be harmful to human or animal health.
(5) 
The burning of any prohibited fuels.
A. 
OHHs that meet the requirements of this chapter may be permitted in R-15, R-20 and R-40 Zoning Districts only if the subject lot contains a minimum of 15,000 square feet. OHHs are prohibited in all other zoning districts within the Town of Johnston.
B. 
The OHHs must be a minimum of 300 feet from any building not served by the OHH.
C. 
The OHH must be located a minimum of 100 feet from any lot line.
D. 
The height of the chimney shall exceed the height of the roof peaks of buildings located within 300 feet of the OHH and are not served by the OHH; provided, further, that in no event shall the height of the chimney be less than 16 feet or more than 35 feet from ground level.
E. 
The OHH shall be 30 feet from any structure that it services or such greater distance as shall be advised by the manufacturer.
F. 
The OHH shall be located in the rear yard only as defined in the Johnston zoning ordinances. The location of any OHH in any side yard or front yard as defined in the Johnston zoning ordinances is expressly prohibited.
G. 
All OHHs may be in operation from October 1 to and including May 1 only.
H. 
The by-products of burning wood in the unit such as ash or wood remnants must be disposed of in a manner that does not create a nuisance or adversely impact groundwater supplies or wetland resources and is in compliance with all applicable laws.
I. 
No person or entity operating an OHH shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the use of a fuel other than allowable fuels as defined herein. No person or entity operating an OHH shall cause, suffer, allow or permit the burning of any prohibited fuels as herein defined.
J. 
Manufacturer's standards. All OHHs shall, as a minimum standard, operate in compliance with the operating manual and standards of the manufacturer of the unit, including, but not limited to, the manufacturer recommended loading times and amounts.
K. 
Only one OHH is permitted for each property.
L. 
Particulate emission standards for new units.
(1) 
All new units, as defined in this chapter, shall comply, as of the effective date of this chapter, with the EPA Phase II emission standard, as defined by the EPA, which standard is incorporated herein by reference.
(2) 
No person or entity shall purchase, operate, install or allow installation of an OHH for use in the Town of Johnston unless it has been certified to meet a particulate matter emission limit of 0.32 lb./MMBtu heat output and satisfies the 2010 USEPA standard for same (commonly called "Phase II emission standard").
(3) 
The property owner shall, as a condition of continual operation, be responsible for providing annual certification from a qualified emission tester that the OHH unit is in compliance with the latest EPA standards.
A. 
All provisions of this chapter shall become effective three months after passage with respect to all existing units in use and operation before the effective passage of this chapter.
B. 
Any existing unit as defined herein that is to be replaced shall meet all provisions set forth in this chapter except as specified herein.
C. 
Compliance with this chapter shall not exonerate or insulate the owner of an OHH from the provisions of § 231-6 below.
A. 
Compliance with law. All OHHs shall be manufactured, constructed, installed, operated and located in conformance with any other applicable state or federal laws or regulations, including but not limited to those of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. In the event of any conflict among state, federal and local ordinances, the more restrictive law or regulation shall apply. All other provisions of the building code, electrical code or any other applicable codes shall also apply, as well as applicable subdivision and zoning regulations.
B. 
Nuisance or other condition. It is prohibited to use, maintain or operate any OHH, or use its ash or residue, so that it creates a nuisance or an interference with the health, safety and welfare of the Town of Johnston or of any person. Compliance with this chapter shall not otherwise exonerate or insulate the owner of an OHH from liability for the creation of a nuisance or other interference with the public health, safety and welfare, and it is intended that the Town of Johnston and its citizens shall have preserved any public or private right of action in nuisance or otherwise resulting from the operation of such OHH, either under this chapter or under any state or federal law or regulation, or the common law.
A. 
The Building/Zoning Official, or his designee, may issue an order requiring the immediate suspension of operation of an OHH should he determine that a nuisance is or has been caused by the use and operation of the OHH, as a result of any condition, including, without limitation, malodorous air contaminants detectable on land other than that of the OHH owner, emissions that interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of the life or property of any person; emissions that cause damage to the environment, vegetation or property of another; or for any other violation of the terms of this chapter.
B. 
The use of an OHH may be reinstated by the Building/Zoning Official, or his designee, once he determines that compliance has been established and the offending condition has been remedied.
A. 
Failure to comply with any provision of this chapter shall be a violation and a first offense shall be punishable by a written warning. Each offense thereafter shall be punishable by a fine of $100 per day. Each day of each offense shall constitute a separate violation.
B. 
The Building/Zoning Official, or his designee, shall be responsible for the enforcement of this chapter. The Building/Zoning Official shall have the discretion to forgo a warning for a first violation if, in his reasonable discretion, he is of the belief that the violation is unintentional and can be corrected in less than 10 days. Should the owner abate the violation within the time established by the Building/Zoning Official, it shall not constitute a first offense.
C. 
Any person or entity in violation of the terms of this chapter shall, in addition to the above sanctions, be liable to the Town of Johnston for all costs of remediation actions necessitated by the actions of the violator and for the costs (including reasonable attorney fees) of any action brought for equitable or legal relief against the violator, which costs and fees shall constitute a lien against the property on which the OHH is located.