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Neighbors, Township, Meeting

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by milner351, Mar 18, 2008.

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  1. milner351

    milner351 Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    Well

    The psycho smoke hating hypochondriac neighbors have successfully bugged the township
    (and wasted an incredible amount of time and resources of the township inspectors / supervisors, police, and fire departments)

    That I've been asked to go to a "mediation meeting".

    It will be THEM, me, the township supervisor, and some representative from the state.

    Tomorrow after work.

    Any advice from anyone here who's been through this type of thing before?

    I've printed out some EPA information showing the great emission numbers of the Summit insert, and I'm looking for some information comparing the new stoves to the old typical smoke dragon output - best I can tell the new ones put out 10% or less smoke than the old ones.

    Here's my agenda:

    1. the problem is not with our stove or chimney - it's with THEIR HOUSE --
    (why is outside air getting inside in sufficient quantities that they would notice?)

    2. my stove is one of the best on the market for emissions, it has been inspected, passed, I am breaking no laws regulations or ordinances.

    3. I VOLUNTARILY upgraded from an older "smoke dragon" to a new stove at my own expense to help eleviate this issue
    (and to save some work by hopefully burning less wood)

    4. at what point do their complaints become harrassment?


    any suggestions????

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  2. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    This is very ironic! A relative of mine is having the same problems with his neighbor and that is exactally what he has said, its the fact that the neighbors house is not very tight and the smoke does seep in..
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Much of the issue is probably that their house has a negative pressure as opposed to a positive one. That means anything from outside, including car exhaust from their garage, etc. is probably coming in.

    I don't doubt that they are smelling it and that it upsets them - so they do have a real point. But at the same time, as you say - it is not your fault that they are sucking the outside air into their house in vast quantities!

    I think you have already worked toward a solution, and they also have to do their part. That may mean an air to air heat exchanger which is set in such a way to make sure all cracks in the home send air OUT instead of in.

    Of course, the air to air must be installed at a part of their house where it is not exposed to the output of your stove, but that part should be easy. These things are not cheap, but they will have a lot of benefits in addition to the lack of smell.

    Examples:
    http://www.warmair.com/html/air_to_air_exchangers.htm

    My guess is that most houses bring air in through the soffit and roof vents and then once in the attic it is easy for it to enter the house. But if you can pressurize the house slightly - that should make all the difference.
  4. milner351

    milner351 Member

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    Thanks Craig!

    -I've printed out that web page, will bring it to the meeting and suggest it as a solution.

    AT $520 - for the pictured air exchanger - they're getting off over $1500 cheaper than what I've spent on my stove and chimney!
  5. pinewoodburner

    pinewoodburner Feeling the Heat

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    That I’ve been asked to go to a “mediation meeting”.

    ??

    Have you agreed to "mediation" or is this just a meeting?

    If you have done nothing wrong and have not broken any laws, I would not agree to any mediation.

    Good luck with the whole mess.
  6. milner351

    milner351 Member

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    Loc:
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    "mediation"

    is being used liberally here.

    There have been no lawyers involved, nor will there be if I can help it.

    The truth is, we have done nothing wrong, and I want this to be a line in the sand -- beyond which all further complaints are viewed as harassment
    (ie - giving me the ability to have their cars parked in front of our house with signs reading " the smoke is killing me" towed away)

    and, I'm really hoping that the township will tell them they will no longer respond in anyway to complaints about smoke from that address... PERIOD.
  7. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    One suggestion is to be sure to keep your calm during the meeting. You don't want to look like a hothead that refuses to listen. Show them your information and let them see what you have done. I doubt your neighbor has done much but complain, so it should work out in your favor (This is what I have done to help alleviate any problems, now what are you willing to do?). Try not to go on the defensive if you don't have to, it will make you look like you are in the wrong.

    What your neighbor is doing is kind of like complaining about someone smoking at the next table when you are eating in the smoking section. You have done nothing wrong, and at the same time you have done everything in your power to alleviate any effects your behaviors may cause.
  8. milner351

    milner351 Member

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    Thanks Leelli

    My wife is not going to attend the meeting -- she just wouldn't be able to keep her cool - so, it's up to me to try to be the "mature adult" in this whole thing.

    I assure you that I'll be stopping for a beer on the way home - these people do make my blood boil -- even worse he's tried to talk to me at other neighbors summer parties like I'm a long lost old friend..... what a two faced sonofa......
  9. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    thats a bad analogy Leelli, here in NYS, you cant smoke inside, the "smoking section" only turned into none at all!!!!!!
  10. Webwidow

    Webwidow Member

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    Loc:
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    Leeli has very good advice as does Craig. Once being on a town council I had to deal with a neighborhood feud over a BBQ Smoker in a town-home development. We had no jurisdiction, but it was getting ugly. We recommended mediation to get it off of our plate and put it back onto the homeowners to work out. We then said we tried when the nagging neighbor complained again.

    Bottom line is go to the meeting, be nice, listen to the neighbor, listen to the mediator, do not agree to anything , thank everyone and leave. It is now on record that you tried and were polite. End of story.

    Also bring in your approved permit or get a copy from the inspectors office, bring lots of paper and info on your stove, on your chimney, anything about EPA approved stoves. Dazzle them with knowledge.

    Some things to think about: are you burning trash in your stove or smoldering it for long lengths of time? Does the chimney need to be extended?

    Please post back and let us know how the outcome

  11. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

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    Yeah, definitely keep us posted.

    My neighbor has commented/complimented how cleanly my stove burns in general, but he can tell without looking out the windows when I'm reloading/building a new fire from cold. He's very cool about it, as in taking an interest vs. complaining. Another neighbor is less thrilled, but I continually point out that they are typically smelling a different neighbor who does have a smoke dragon. Fortunately, I have some leverage with the closest neighbor in that their son is a night owl and wakes me up past 11PM several nights a week when he comes/goes. So if they ever complain (doubt they will officially to the town), I can claim a give/take relationship. The cost savings of wood vs. oil far outweigh the occasional wake up late at night.

    As others have said, your neighbors dont have a lot of legal recourse since you are using an EPA-approved stove, and you clearly already made the effort to upgrade your older stove to appease them (even if it benefits you as well). The town would have to likely ban all indoor stoves as a blanket policy like the crackdown on outdoor wood boilers, and I doubt they are ready to do that.
  12. argus66

    argus66 Feeling the Heat

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    next step see a lawyer, before they do . sucks but i be prepared mayby there is one on here u could just talk to??? if this goes bad it might be good to have some legal advice.
  13. Chettt

    Chettt Feeling the Heat

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    You've done nothing wrong and everything right. Almost every house in Michigan has a fireplace and your's puts out less smoke than most.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  14. termv

    termv Member

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    Loc:
    Womelsdorf, PA
    If none of the other's advice works, see if your zoned ag and if you are, buy or borrow a bunch of pigs for your backyard and give them something to complain about.
  15. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    This meeting will accomplish NOTHING. Personally I would not go , I would tell my neighbor "have your lawyer call my lawyer" and I would hand him my lawyers card. A few weeks ago you posted that your stove and chimney was all on the "up and up". You are doing nothing wrong ,the town approved your permit and now your going to give them reason to take it away.If you do go "dazzle them with knowledge" like WW said and make the statement many times that "the town approved your permit and install". DO NOT GIVE ONE SINGLE INCH !!! You're already in the right, your douche bag neighbors have to prove you wrong! If this was an issue , you would have the building inspector, zoning, your local environmental police, and/or the EPA beating your door down. If it were me I would tell the town to write me a citation, I'll see ya in court, and shove your mediation. Check your local zoning ordinances . My town has their own set of laws but they were never approved by the state ,so they are not enforcable.
  16. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I don't think this has been mentioned, if it has, I apologize.
    If you have a video camera, or can borrow or rent one, start a fire and video tape the fire, maybe the secondary burn, and then the chimney to show no smoke coming out. Have the date & time rolling on it. Maybe shoot periodical shots from beginning to end stage of burning and keep showing "no smoke coming from chimney".
    As stated already several times, If you go in with a sheetload of info, you will prolly stump them with just the ton of info for them to review.
    Chances are, they will see how prepared you are, and like most non burners, not have the interest or patience to read all the info, and just try to get it over with A.S.A.P.
    IMO, in a case like this, you cannot have too much info. Is it too much for them to grasp or take interest in reading? One can only hope so in a way.
    As a last resort, if your neighbor does something that could possibly be against code/regulations, you might want to catch that in photos or video, then mention it to said neighbor, and use it as a bargaining chip.
    Of course thats just my opinion, there is no depth that I won't stoop when dealing with an Ahole. And as a last resort, theres always the Neanderthal way after all other options have been exhausted.
  17. steam man

    steam man Minister of Fire

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    One thing you could do is suggest that your neighbor have an air infiltration test of his house (at his expense) to see exactly what is going on. One thing I'd like to know is how far is your stack and the height of it over your neighbors house. What is the usual wind direction?
  18. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Maybe ask if they could move to a nice,non-polluting nuke plant neighbourhood?

    Oh, forget it,it would only be a matter of time before they were complaining about Hogwildz "hog". Demanding quieter mufflers,lower emmisions,etc :lol:
  19. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I can assure you, they would only complain 1X. After that, there would not be a peep, or they would no longer be living near "the nuke plant". ;)
    This is an Ahole free zone here. Of the 8 neighbors that make up the land here, only 1 is an ahole, and fortunately, he & I do not have a problem. Not yet anyways.
  20. Hestia

    Hestia New Member

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    Loc:
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    I like the idea of filming the exhaust from the liner/stovepipe. Do you happen to have photos of the signs that they put on their cars? Charts and pictures always help. If you have Excel, you could plug before and after numbers, then tell it to draw a chart - it creates bar charts, pie charts, any kind. If you don't have excel, draw charts. - I would bring in any numbers I could find addressing any and all concerns the neighbors have (don't know how you could address smell!)

    Comparison of emissions of your insert versus previous insert.
    Comparison of how much oil you used before the insert with how much you use now.
    Compare and contrast the money spent as well.
    Charts, charts, charts. Label well, and bring copies for all.
    If they are only concerned with the smell, it is hard to use numbers. The suggestions above in other posts are excellent.

    Do you have receipts from a chimney sweep? Those could be helpful in showing that you are a responsible burner.
    I would copy the information found at:
    http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/monitoring/programs/caa/whregs.html
    regarding EPA regulations for wood stoves.
    Also, do you have your manual you could bring? How about a photo of the stove?

    I would let the opposing neighbors present first, and they should, considering that they are complaining.

    Last, it is always helpful in these situations to throw it back at them with questions. They might just say enough to hang themselves.

    Something like "I'm surprised that you believe it is so polluting, since the EPA regulates these stoves - how would you compare the emissions from my stove to your car? (Hopefully, they have a gas guzzler, and/or have no answer. Just their gut feeling. That doesn't look good to a mediator, when you have all the numbers and charts.) Just sit there look very interested in what they are saying. From what you have said, they are ranters not interested in discussion and/or knowledge.

    Or, "You say I haven't listened to your concerns. I am sure that I have shared with you the cost of the new insert I purchased in response to your complaints?" Share the chart of choice.

    Or, "It was thoughtful of you to offer a monthly compensatory fee for me not to burn. If you look at these charts, you will see the amount of money I save each month by burning. I am also concerned that with the cost of fossil foreign fuels rising, I will not be able to afford foreign fuels at all." Maybe make a chart reflecting the rise in oil prices. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Oil_Prices_Short_Term.png shows one already made. Sobering. chart comparing their fee to what you save in fuel costs. Project oil costs for the next year based on the linked chart.

    Or, I'm very concerned about our reliability on foreign fuels. What are you doing in your home to decrease our country's dependence on it?

    Just ask questions, and let them talk. You might be surprised at what comes out.


    Hestia
  21. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    Hog your'e my kind of guy. There are always some little twerps out there who live to make life miserable for others. Since this is the USA and alternative forms of dealing with idiots are not legal; the best recourse would be to find a good lawyer and sue the idiot for harrasment. I think you would actually have a good case since you are within federal, state, local laws and permitted for your installation. I seriously doubt that he has a harrasment permit or that he has an idiot permit; but you never know.......
  22. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Obviously there is nothing legally they can do to you. But are you sure you are doing your best when it comes to smoke free burns? You should look at it from your neighbors point of view too. Their house may very well have a problem that needs to be addressed (yes, the air infiltration suggestion to them is a very good idea). But you should also examine your own burning practices to make sure you are doing your best to keep the emissions low. I don't care what the EPA rating on a given stove is, bad burning practices can throw all that out the window. If you can make a video demonstrating your low emissions, it might be helpful. I have actually done this myself. See:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/14536/
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    And it's always great to beat on their heads until they understand!

    :)

    In this case, though, it seems like we may be dealing with two reasonable people, so hopefully things can be worked out.

    Speaking of AH (code word), isn't it amazing how Hog was able to instantly suss out the offender? It's like a sixth sense. AH radar!
    I have rarely met an AH who was only one in my eyes. In fact, the very definition is someone who gets on EVERYONES nerves. I use the measurement as thus:

    1. If one person calls you an AH, shrug it off.
    2. If two people call you an AH, perhaps you should start considering it.
    3. If three or more people tell you this, you probably are one!

    Of course, that math doesn't work in large crowds....for instance, according to that measurement, yours truly would.......uh oh!
  24. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    HAHAHAHA,
    I do have a keen AH sense.
    When I moved in here, first I got the scoop on all the other neighbors from the previous owner here.
    But, trying to be open minded and fair, I did not take most of what was said to heart.
    I then got to know the other neighbors 1 by one over the course of a year. And got all the scoop from each one. At that point on the repeated stories from diff neighbors, I could slightly assume some things were true, and others opinionated. But one common factor always arose. The AH neighbor. I only spoke to the husband once, he offered to give me a lift from the end of our road to the house cause my lil POS 2 whl dr. Ranger couldn't make it up the snow covered road which is steep at the end. I declined, not wanting to leave my truck sitting in the middle of a fairly here & there busy back road.
    Our daughter hung with their 2 daughters in the beginning. Then as being teens, they had a spat. And the usual non friends fro a while. Well the parents decided it was a Hatfield & McCoy type thing, and decided since the teenagers were feuding, that they would treat our whole family like plague and ignore us waving when passing by etc. At that point I am thinking, wow I can understand the teens acting that way, but the adults? Oh well, I lost 0 sleep over it, and then finalized my conclusion, that there was indeed 1 AH out of the 8 neighbors on the land here. I still wave, and give their kids rides back to their house if needed when they get off the bus. The dad & mom waves to me now. But that is as far as that will ever go. I can just see confrontation in the mix if we were to socialize on any basis other than that. Its all good. The rest of the neighbors, are very cordial and nice to me. Actually in a non boasting way, I think some of them might be a lil afraid of me. But I have never given them a reason to be. I guess they haven't gotten past the looks and also spent enough time around me to get to know me. I love living in the woods.
    AH radar on 24/7, tolerated 0% ;)

    Edit: I must add that I can truly say, I can be a real AH at times. Usually when provoked. but once in a great while, just cause I enjoy it. Is it right? No, but I can't help myself sometimes, Its just my nature. :)
  25. loneeagle15

    loneeagle15 New Member

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    You know Hogz that is the beautiful thing about living in America it is your right to be an AH every once in a while
    ;-)
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