The first shots of the newly revived liberty movement in Bellevue have been fired. If you were not present at last night’s Bellevue Council meeting, you missed quite a show. In all the meetings I’ve attended in the past, I’ve never seen so many people show up, and even better, I’ve never heard so many people express their disgust at our power hungry, tyrannical council. For over an hour, dozens of people approached the podium to be heard and challenge the council in their desire to rule over the private citizens of the borough. I was especially thankful that the Bellevue volunteer fire department and EMS made an appearance to stand against the ordinance as it was presented.
I’d like to take a moment to encourage you to continue supporting the Bellevue Fire Department. They had no input in the writing of the proposed burning ordinance and should not suffer by losing your support because of it. They are simply caught in the middle of this entire mess.
Not a single person stood up in support of the proposed burning ordinance. Not a single person stood up in support of our illustrious council. According to my count, which is not perfectly accurate, as I was scrambling to take notes, over 30 people stood up to speak during the meeting. Which, on its own, should tell us something about how ripe this borough is for a fresh liberty movement. In terms of the specific concerns that many of the people presented to the council, three seemed to surface as the most popular.
1) A lot of people expressed concern that the proposed location requirement of a fire pit being 15 feet from a structure or property line is too restrictive. Many properties in Bellevue are not 30 feet across. Unless a resident has spot on their property that is 15 feet from each property line, as well as 15 feet from a “structure” it is illegal for them to burn a fire pit on their property if this bill passes. You are allowed to have a fire in an interior, wood burning fireplace, but you cannot have a fire pit unless it is 15 feet from your house, garage, shed, or property line?! Does anyone need a better definition of idiotic?
2) Even more people were a bit irate about the call ahead portion of the burning ordinance which would require Bellevue residents to contact the borough and/or fire department at least one hour prior to lighting a small, outdoor fire. When most people decide to have a small fire on a warm summer evening after work, there is not time to arrange for a call one hour ahead of time. When people want to have a fire, they want to have a fire! I found it quite enlightening that the fire chief said openly to all in the room and directly to the council that he doesn’t care if you call or not, if there is an exuberant amount of smoke some where, he’s going to dispatch a truck to ensure it is not something serious. The fire chief flat out told the residents in attendance they might as well ignore this portion of the ordinance if it passes because it is irrelevant and stupid. Common sense dictates that you let someone know that you’re having a small fire. However, fining someone $1000 and/or sentencing them to 30 days in prison because the call came in 30 minutes prior to the fire rather than 60 minutes is ludicrous!
3) The third, and most repeatedly heard, concern that many residents expressed regarding this proposed burning ordinance is the fact that the policy and regulations already exist! Bellevue has a statement on its website concerning what you can and cannot burn in an open fire on your property. As far as I understand it, the policy on the borough’s website is a copy of the Allegheny County Health Department’s policy. If someone has a problem with a neighbor burning hazardous material, or if someone is filling another person’s home with dangerous amounts of smoke, a procedure already exists by which the problem can be resolved at the county level. Why do we need further restrictions? Why do we need new ordinances? Why can’t Bellevue simply enact a formal procedure to follow its already established policies and guidelines!?
The reason this council thinks it must reinvent the wheel, the reason this council thinks it has a right to further restrict its residents, is because this council views itself as the ruling party of Bellevue! While the myriad residents expressed their concern and outrage over this proposed ordinance, I watched the faces of our wonderful council members and many of them, well, actually most of them, sat there with a smug look on their face as if we were nothing but commoners telling our lords they were wrong. They honestly believe they know how to run this borough better than the people. They honestly believe they have an obligation to control and restrict us. It is evident in this bill and it is even more so evident in the ordinances restricting the economic freedom of our business district.
The warning shots have been fired. The “Liberty in Bellevue” movement has been noticed. The council and our mayor have been warned, either change your political philosophy or the revolution will ensure they are not in a position to do further damage to the borough we love.
Additional Information: The officially publicized date for a vote on this ordinance is Tuesday, June 12. Let’s bring the same heat to that meeting to ensure that everyone can see for themselves which members of council are fans of liberty and which members of the council could care less about the desires of the citizenry.