Old laundromat chimney not up to code, Standish ordered to stop burning wood
An issue that has been discussed the last couple months, came to a head March 8, during the regular GilmanVillage Board meeting, as it had been brought up by resident/business owner Steve Bornheimer, that a residence on Main Street was not up to fire code. Bornheimer contacted the village’s zoning administrator Jim Flood, because he was concerned about the wood burning chimney located in the old laundromat building, situated next to Bornheimer’s property (the old bowling alley).
Bornheimer felt the chimney in the building occupied by William Standish, was too low and had no spark arrestors, and reported seeing sparks coming out of the chimney that is a fire danger.
“After the phone call, I researched the village’s zoning code and found out that the building is in the village’s commercial district,” said Flood. “As such, in order for a building – in this case, the laundromat – to be used as a single family dwelling, the owner would need to get a Conditional Use Permit from the village’s Planning Commission.”
Standish admitted that his chimney has a crack in the outside brick, but said it is not a danger to the building next to it and that it was inspected by the state a few years ago.
“The flue that runs down the center of the chimney is in good shape,” he said.
However, the village’s fire chief, Brian Welch, is not so sure the chimney is not a safety hazard. In looking into the matter, Welch contacted multiple sources about how to handle it, including other fire chiefs and people at the state level. He found, that since Standish’s building is being used as a residential building, instead of a commercial one, it falls under different sets of guidelines, which is where the Conditional Use Permit comes in.
As for the chimney, if a property is used as a house dwelling, the chimney has to extend three feet above the highest point where the chimney passes through the roof and at least two feet higher than any portion of dwellings in view of the chimney.
“I personally have driven by in the last week now, and actually seen some sparks come out of the chimney,” said Welch. “Effective tonight, it’s going to be an immediate order that the wood burning stove not be used at that location, until it’s brought into compliance, at which point, it can be used.”
If that order is not adhered to, legal action will likely come into play, as it will be a direct violation of fire code.
“It’s been a really tough decision for me to go to this,” said Welch. “It’s not something that I took lightly, because I don’t want to be in the middle of putting someone out.”
On recommendation of Flood, the board is waiting on the Conditional Use Permit, as two other buildings are being used as living spaces that are in the commercially zoned district. The residents of those properties have until March 21 to respond, that they need a Conditional Use Permit, at which point, notices will be posted and neighboring properties notified of a meeting of the Planning Commission.
The commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday, April 12, at 5 p.m., prior to the regular board meeting. It will then be decided whether or not to grant any permits.