Neighbors upset with barbecue restaurant’s smoke in their homes

Posted at 9:16 PM, Sep 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-23 23:47:44-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah - A barbecue restaurant in Cottonwood Heights is gaining a lot of heat, and it has nothing to do with their brisket.

Local residents say H & D Barbecue is blowing smoke into their yards and homes on a daily basis, causing health concerns.

"I've been in this house for 43 years, this year has been my worst summer ever," said Myrna Hill, who lives behind the business, which opened on Fort Union Blvd. in December.

Hill said she can't sleep due to the restaurant's smoker, which is running an average of six nights a week, 14 hours at a time, sending a cloud in her direction.

"My nose would start stinging, my throat would start stinging, I wouldn't even have to look at the clock I knew it was 9:30 because the smoke stack was coming on," said Hill.

Lori and Allen Marler's back yard is about nine feet away from the smoker.

"Every day when I look out and see the smoke billowing I think I don't want to live here, who wants to live like that," said Lori Marler.

The Marler's have three children that suffer from asthma. They refuse to go in the yard, and sometimes, they aren't even safe in their own rooms.

"It's really frustrating to hear your kids coughing," said Lori. "I get out of my car, I grab my grocery bags, I walk inside and my throat is burning and my chest is tight, it takes just that long for it to affect us."

In June seven households submitted formal complaints to the city of Cottonwood Heights, accusing H & D Barbecue of violating the city's nuisance ordinance. The city said when they approved the business license they were unaware of the extent smoke would be billowing into the air. Now the city says their hands are tied.

"We have a difficult situation, we have a business that is legally licensed to be operating, they have their right, we have home owners who are being invaded by unwanted smoke and they have their rights," said Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore.

Residents disagree with the city's stance.

"I do not need to prove that smoke is a nuisance, the law in Cottonwood Heights already covers that, it specifically states smoke is a nuisance, so all I have to do is establish that it's getting in my house, it shouldn't take 105 days to establish that in our opinion," said Allen Marler.

The city said instead of penalizing H & D Barbecue, they prefer to work with them.

"We've talked to the restaurant, we've explained our concerns and they are frankly, actually sympathetic and they are working on trying to find solutions themselves," said Cullimore.

H & D Barbecue said they want to be good neighbors, but also say they've invested too much money to just shut down and restart their entire operation from scratch.

"It's a very small family business, it's a mom and pop set up, pretty much everything we have is into this restaurant, so we definitely want to make sure we are working with everybody because we want to be around for a long time," said owner James Parr.

D & H Barbecue said they plan on bringing in more eco-friendly equipment by the end of October which they believe will help solve this problem.