Presque Isle passes wood-burning stove ordinance

ROGERS CITY – Presque Isle County commissioners passed a new ordinance limiting the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces at their Wednesday meeting.

Commissioners passed the new zoning ordinance unanimously after county Building Official Jim Zakshesky presented it to the board. The county planning commission recommended it after holding a public hearing. The ordinance is intended to address problems with smoke from these furnaces.

“This section is intended to ensure that outdoor wood-burning furnaces are utilized in a manner that does not create a nuisance and is not detrimental to the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of Presque Isle County,” the ordinance states.

The new ordinance states that only those with lots one acre or larger will be able to use wood-burning furnaces. Furnaces must be at least 150 feet from any neighboring dwellings. The ordinance also establishes 50-foot setbacks from side and rear lot lines, and prohibits owners from putting the furnaces in their front yard.

Zakshesky said the ordinance is only for Presque Isle County’s 11 townships that don’t have their own zoning laws. This excludes Allis, Krakow and Presque Isle townships, although Commissioner Steve Lang said Presque Isle Township already has its own ordinance for wood-burning furnaces.

Those who already have wood-burning stoves won’t be affected by the ordinance, Zakshesky said. Commissioner Mike Darga also pointed out it only covers wood-burning stoves, and doesn’t outlaw outdoor fire pits or fireplaces.

Zakshesky told commissioners about complaints he’s heard from neighbors of people with the wood-burning stoves. The stoves typically have short chimneys, and some use them year-round to heat water for their homes. Smoke from the furnaces can linger and cause a nuisance for neighbors, and Darga said the furnaces aren’t designed to work with taller chimneys.

Board Vice Chairman Bob Schell said he doesn’t think the new ordinance will have an overly harsh effect.

“On small residential lots, unless you own your own wood, (the furnaces are) not very economical to install and buy wood,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to be a hardship. Most of the cities don’t allow them already.”

In other business:

Drain Commissioner Charlie Lyon gave his annual report to commissioners, and talked about some of the major projects completed in the county in the past year. These included the Silver Creek Super Project, and establishing a special assessment district around Lake Emma to pay for repairs to the dam that maintains its water levels.

commissioners appointed Irv Dedow to the Ocqueoc River Watershed Commission. He’ll fill a vacant position on the commission, and serve until December 2015.

commissioners appointed Tom Stone to serve on the county District Library Board of Trustees.

the county will spend up to $2,500 for a long-term financial plan. County Treasurer Bridget LaLonde asked commissioners to approve a proposal for an overall plan outlining the county’s financial goals for the upcoming fiscal year.

commissioners approved covering up to $1,000 in shortfalls for Case Township’s summer youth recreation program. Originally, township officials had asked for the money to help pay for the program. Chairman Carl Altman said he’d rather approve covering any budget shortfalls up to $1,000, and ask the township to coordinate with the 4-H summer youth recreation program in the future.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at