Mike Green handles a split piece of wood in the...

Mike Green handles a split piece of wood in the back of his Great Neck home. (March 21, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Great Neck trustees have withdrawn a proposed law that would have limited the amount of firewood residents can store to 1.5 cords and required it to be stored 6 inches above ground.

Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said recently that the intent of the proposal was to address a nuisance created by rotted wood, but some residents said such a law would have prevented people from heating their homes with firewood.

"We're not trying to penalize anyone here," Kreitzman said last month at a public hearing on the issue.

Had the law been passed, it would have been unique in the state. Chris Valens, spokesman for the New York Department of State, said a records search found no laws related to firewood storage in any other locality in the state.

Trustee Mitchell B. Beckerman said the board will now work to develop a balanced law that allows residents to heat with wood but also gives the village a way to control rotting wood issues such as odors, vermin and potential fire hazards.

The amount of wood burned to heat a home varies depending on the temperature, size of the house and other conditions. Resident Michael Green said he uses six to eight cords a season. For Richard Deem, that number is about 14 cords. A cord -- the standard measure of cut wood -- measures 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet.

Freshly cut wood must be dried for six to seven months before it can be burned as fuel, Green said. Under the law first proposed by Great Neck, both the fresh wood and already dried firewood being stored would have been limited to 1.5 cords total. Deem said he would go through that in about two weeks.

"I don't see any upside to this law at all," said Deem, Great Neck's mayor from 2003 to 2007. "I don't think they should have any restrictions as long as the woodpile doesn't become a safety hazard or nuisance."

The proposed Great Neck law grew out of circumstances where code enforcers had no means to order removal of rotted wood, officials said.

Wood-burners say they don't create any nuisance.

"Anyone who heats with wood doesn't rot," said resident Ronald Campbell.

Green, who is chairman of the Great Neck Alert Fire Co., said he doesn't recall, in more than 30 years with the company, responding to any firewood blazes.

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