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Furnace request splits board

Marathon City trustees will return to issue in December

The Marathon City Village Board last week Wednesday split 3-3 over whether to create an ordinance exception that would allow Clayton Phillips to operate an outdoor wood burning furnace for his home on the southern border of the village.

Voting for the exception were village president David Bellanger and trustees Kevin Sorenson and Keith Paul. Voting no were trustees Mark Ahrens, Jeff Lawrence and Connie Ruplinger.

In board deliberations, trustees split 3-3 on a motion to grant Phillips an exception and, in turn, voted 3-3 to deny him the exception. Board members said they would return to the issue in December when a seventh member of the board may be seated.

In seeking the exception, Phillips told board members he purchased five acres and the house on the Knauf farm in the southern extremity of the village. Thinking he lived in the town of Marathon, Phillips said he purchased an outdoor wood burning furnace seeing that his immediate neighbors had one. Learning that these furnaces are not permitted in the village, Phillips said he used the home’s existing fuel oil furnace and learned it took a “ridiculous” amount of fuel to heat his home. Phillips said he has access to wood to burn for home heat.

Supporters of Phillips said the outdoor furnace on a large lot, given prevailing winds, would not bother any neighbors and should be allowed. Opponents said, however, people across the village would also seek to have the furnaces if they grant Phillips an exception and that the board would not be able to say no to their requests.

Trustee Paul said he had no issue with the Phillips’ request given the size of his lot. He said there would be no difference with Phillips burning wood in the outdoor furnace and if he had a wood-fired furnace in his basement.

Paul said if the village approved the ordinance few people would take the time to make, season and fire-up wood to heat their home.

Trustee Ahrens said there was a significant difference between an outdoor and indoor wood furnace. The indoor furnace, he said, would have a tall chimney to disperse smoke and, drafting correctly, chimney soot would not burn and smolder.

Trustee Jeff Lawrence said board members would be “opening up a can of worms” to allow the wood burning furnace exception. He said that many Marathon City residents, including himself, would “love” to install an outdoor wood burning furnace. “This will cause a lot of problems,” he predicted.

Board members suggested that Phillips look into Wisconsin Public Service extend natural gas service to his home.

Trustee Ahrens said Phillips could have LP gas deliv- ered to his home as a home heating option.

In other business, board members approved changing the zoning of Veterans Park from recreational to multi-family housing as recommended by the village planning commission.