The Burning Debacle by Tom Fodi

As far as I can tell, just about every media outlet in the Pittsburgh region has covered the debacle that is the recently vetoed burning ordinance of Bellevue Borough.  And most are asking the same questions, “Why does Bellevue Council feel the need to regulate our grills?”  KDKA, WPXI, WTAE, writers of the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review, and others are running with this story because of how absurd this entire thing has become.  Instead of capturing the media’s attention over how Bellevue has taken creative and exciting steps to attract new home owners and entrepreneurs, Bellevue is the news because our council thinks its primary job is to protect us from ourselves.

No one questions the fact that burning toxic or dangerous materials should be regulated.  No one is bothered by giving our police or fire marshal the leverage they need to enforce common sense issues like putting out an open flame that is too close to a structure or spewing harmful fumes throughout the neighborhood.

However, most people with common sense and a willingness to speak up are very concerned about our council’s attempt to reach into the lives of private citizen’s wanting to cook on their grill on their decks.  The current ordinance threatens residents with a fine of upwards of $1000 and/or 30 days in jail if we cook our hot dogs a few inches too close to our houses.  The current ordinance requires that I invite the local fire marshal onto my private property to inspect my grill before I grill up some chicken.  The current ordinance enables disgruntled neighbors to threaten legal action against me if they are annoyed by me hosting a cook out.

This is the reason for the media’s attention.  This is the reason so many are getting involved at the council meetings and making their voices heard.  And yet, the current members of the council smugly respond with “We’re smarter than you” statements.  When will the insanity stop?!

If our council spent this much time exploring solutions to currently un-enforced code violations on rental properties, perhaps we wouldn’t need to knock down old, decrepit apartment buildings.  If our council spent this much time exploring solutions to our steadily declining business district along Lincoln Avenue, perhaps we wouldn’t be waving goodbye to yet another passionate business owner.   If our council spent this much time exploring solutions to the lack of involvement by the community at large, perhaps we wouldn’t have so many disenfranchised residents who are simply waiting for the perfect opportunity to get out of dodge.

Council, we encourage you to consider your actions.  Your job is not to legislate and regulate common sense issues in our community.  Get rid of the grilling portion of this ordinance.  Amend the  burning ordinance by removing any and all references to outdoor grills.   If this bill is not amended, then we strongly suggest you not override the mayor’s veto.  He vetoed it for a reason.  Please remember that you serve Bellevue residents, do the right thing, and actually listen to the myriad of people who are very upset about the overreaching nature of this bill.  Do not allow ego or pride to blind you to what you are doing.  Finally, and most importantly, we encourage you to move on from this largely irrelevant issue and put the same amount of time and effort into the things that might actually make a difference in our community.

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7 Responses to “The Burning Debacle by Tom Fodi”

  1. I had the opportunity to see the actual photos that were taken and submitted by one of Bellevues fine citizens, who shared them with our fine Bellevue Council, who claimed they were photos taken on MY property (in Bellevue) and showing a large fire billowing lots of black smoke, thus being accused, “by name”, by this “fine citizen”, of burning toxic materials in my little 3 foot round fire pit that I’ve had for approximately 9 1/2 years.
    Please allow me to correct this fine citizen, that these photos are NOT of my property, nor ANY of my responsibility, that the actual location of the photos was taken approximately 23 1/2 miles away from Bellevue, taken on a Memorial Day weekend 3 years ago….and that because we know who’s photos they were, one of MY family members placed the photos on “facebook”, thus making YOU (fine citizen) quick to grab them and try to punch me in the face.
    I pray,….and I mean this sincerely,….that I don’t have to take the necessary actions, that I’ve been considering, to put someone in their place. If YOU (fine citizen), choose to take everything you read and see on facebook so true and accurate, you had better do some homework before you start accusing people of wrongful doing. And, by the way,….it’s too late to apologize. To date, I’ve had too many people already approach me with what they have heard you say, whether directly or indirectly. I’m born and raised Bellevue, so most people in this little suburb know me.

  2. Anyone hear about the grill fire on someone’s deck? He sure was watching out for himself.

  3. Gayle, while there may be a few (literally, only a FEW) incidents of this happening…does that really warrant making a law that will be seemingly unenforceable? Do you really think that making a law at the expense of everyone in town due to a few people’s irresponsibility is going to prevent this from happening again? Last time I checked, there is no law on the planet that makes anyone have more common sense than the next person. The ordinance has two parts, one that regulates open burning (fire pits and such), and one that regulates where you can put your grill. While LiB fully supports the open burning part of the ordinance, as we feel that there should be regulations on WHAT you can burn (i.e. no plastic or garbage, ect… Dry wood only). We do not feel that regulating where someone can put there grill is a necessary part of this ordinance. People in Bellevue have had their grills in the same place on their decks and porches forever, do you really think that ONE or TWO people that are irresponsible should have the power over where you cook your dinner? The powers that be in Bellevue have been far too involved in telling the residents what they can and cannot do for far too long. I think it’s time that they pump the brakes a little with over regulation. Perhaps they can focus on the outrageous taxes, blighted properties, and the recent influx of drugs and drug addicts within the borough. I live and work here in town, I see things very clearly, and I’m around day and night to see how the town transforms once the sun goes down. There are far more important issues that this council should be focusing their energy on, and telling someone where they can and cant grill a burger isn’t one of them.

  4. Oh Nina, Nina! I’ve heard all the Liberty (?!) jibberjab I can handle. They talk alot and say nada. And why do you ass u me I’m unaware of the ordinance? Do you think I’m studip? Perhaps unlike council members (and mayor) who bend (butts showing!!) to Liberty’s (?!) every whim, I’m simply making a statement. Besides, if you want to bring statistics into it, how many people get killed by drunk drivers considering the number of people on the roads and sidewalks? Seems Liberty (?!) folks find fault with anyone who goes against what THEY want. Careful Nina what leaders you follow. And oh, ever notice how things turn out just the opposite of what politicians say? Liberty ?!

    • Gayle, I’m not sure what you are even upset about anymore. All we’re trying to do is promote community involvement and growth in Bellevue. If that scares you, then I suggest you offer up some better ideas than the one’s we’re working on. Feel free to continue to lob insults and derogatory statements towards LiB members. That’s fine. However, we will continue to work to improve Bellevue while you’re busy bullying people around.

  5. Gayle,
    I thought that my response to your original statement was tactful and informative. I didn’t say that you were stupid, or uneducated on the ordinance, i was simply clarifying that while the open burning section of the ordinance is necessary, the grilling section is just an overstepping of power.

    I’d like to hear a little more from you about your “warning” about what leaders to follow? I’m not a child in need of direction. Like I said in my response to you, the reason I’m doing this is because I see, on a first hand basis, with my own eyes what this town has become. Day & night…it’s not a good direction for a small town to go in.
    And I’d also like to hear your perspective on “personal responsibility”.
    And as I’ve asked many times before in the debate over Bellevue’s direction towards decline, please answer me this question: Who benefits from a declining town?

    Even though you tried very hard to insult and offend me, I’m still open to having a constructive, adult conversation with you about the issue of Bellevue as a whole, the bad direction of council, and the state of decline in town.
    As Tom suggested above, LiB is working towards bettering the town and bringing it out of decline. A combination of public education, transparency within the government (whether they choose to display it themselves or we are FORCED to report it from LiB), using technology to get the public involved from the comfort of their homes, encourage residents to voice their opinions, and demand that council members are held accountable for their actions/votes. Also, with the growing number of LiB members, we have many volunteer efforts in the planning stages, with our first community event beginning tomorrow. One of our goals is to have as many events and community volunteer events WITHOUT the help of council or any borough funds whatsoever. If you have an idea for an event or just a goal that you think the borough should strive towards, please let us know!

  6. doesn’t council have anything better to do than ruin peoples fun???

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