HERKIMER — A Herkimer village trustee said she would meet with state and local officials in an effort to resolve problems a resident is having with a neighbor’s wood furnace.
Ronald Hess, Jr., of North Washington Street, attended the Nov. 18 village board meeting to ask what is being done.
He said he called the police at 7:44 a.m. on Nov. 8 when smoke from the neighbor’s wood boiler furnace began entering his house, but received no response. “We had to leave the house for the weekend,” he said. Later he found that an officer had left a message on his phone at 4 p.m. that day.
“Nothing is being done. It’s just unbelievable,” he said. “I like living here, but my quality of life suffers.” He said he and his family have the right to clean air. “My son gets more and more sick. When’s this going to end?”
Hess said the smoke has discolored the woodwork in his house and sometimes the family must retreat into a single room where they can be sealed off from the smoke.
Mayor Mark Ainsworth said the village has contacted the state Department of Conservation but has received no response.
“We should sit down with the DEC and the health department and the village health officer,” said Trustee Katherine Nichols, adding village Codes Officer Dave Kuehnle should also be involved. She said she would make the calls and set up a meeting.
Village Attorney Nicholas Macri suggested that if the matter cannot be resolved, Hess could consider filing a civil suit.
Hess said the New York state code prohibits people from negatively impacting the life or property of another. “That should apply to people,” he said. “We don’t have another two weeks.” He added the police would have responded more quickly to a noise complaint than they did to his request.
Police Chief Joseph Malone said police can’t handle codes issues and the officer may have tried to contact the codes officer and not been able to get in touch with him right away.
“Sometimes we don’t have the answer right away, but he did return your call,” said Malone. He added he would check into the matter.
Tina and Brian Cirelli, of Herkimer Now, were on hand for the meeting to ask if property owners had complied with the new village law requiring them to appoint a local agent as a contact person and if not, whether any fines had been levied.
Ainsworth said about 48 percent of the property owners had responded.
Tina Cirelli said the law called for two letters to be sent before fines were levied.
Village Clerk Amanda Viscomi said the first round of letters had been sent and said second letters would be sent to those who did not respond.
Page 2 of 2 - Macri said he would have to look into judicial procedures on handling citations. He noted normally a person being charged has the opportunity to appear in court. “They’re entitled to due process,” he said.
A question was also raised about the local law regarding the historic district, which calls for the appointment of a committee. Ainsworth said the village is waiting for state acceptance of the action before it can move ahead.