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Smoky Complaints

Nov 05, 2015 01:56PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Cassandra Goff

H&D BBQ began as a competition barbeque team. They decided to “bring quality competition barbecue to the table” and opened their doors to the public on Fort Union Blvd. in late 2014. The restaurant used a smoker that ran for the majority of the day, which created heavy smoke clouding the neighborhood behind it. Neighbors experienced the smoke in their homes and yards, so complaints to the city council were made.  

Lori Marler spoke to the council on Sept. 22 as a concerned resident. The “smoker is nine feet from my property line,” she explained. The smoke filled her property every day. Her three children would “cough and cough” as a result. She explained how going out to her car to bring in groceries was a huge hassle because the smoke would fill her house and burn her throat. 

“I have lived in that house for 13 years,” she explained, and for “over 100 days” smoke has invaded her life. She wanted the council to come up with an action plan in regards to the restaurant. It seems to her that “no one wants to shut this business down.” She spoke to council members, saying it seemed like “all of you are hoping that someone else will shut them down so you don’t have to get your hands dirty.” You are “worried about reputation” and “really, what about that is right?” She wants the city council to be aware of the problem and do something about it because “this is a great place but there is always room for improvement.”

In response, John Park, city manager of Cottonwood Heights, explained how they had been attempting to gain evidence for a public nuisance. They were using smoke readers to monitor the air, hoping for readings that would suggest a nuisance. Smoke from the smoker seemed like it would provide the evidence needed, but the wind kept blowing it away. Once the “monitoring air quality on smoke” was complete, the numbers went to the health department. Unfortunately, the smoke readings were for particulates that are picked up in big industry smoke and car exhaust so it did not pick up substantial readings from the restaurant smoke. Park explained they were “hoping for specific measures” with the smoke readings because the “only action can be taken with public nuisance.”

After this discussion, members from the city sat down with restaurant owners in hope for “voluntary compliance” to end the problem. They wanted to come up with an action plan in a “reasonable amount of time.”

H&D BBQ was attempting to work with the neighbors and city council to find solutions. They are a family business that invested time and money into their barbecue and didn’t want to completely shut down. “It’s a very small family business, it’s a mom and pop set up, pretty much everything we have is into the restaurant, so we definitely want to make sure we are working with everybody because we want to be around for a long time,” James Parr told Fox13 on Sept. 23. 

Despite the efforts of compromise from the restaurant and the neighbors, on Oct. 13, the Facebook page for H&D BBQ announced, “Due to unseen circumstances the new partnership has fallen through. It pains us to say that we will be closed quite possibly for good now unless a miracle appears. For those who have supported us we cannot thank you enough, those who have helped us to build up our dream, thank you.”  

The city council said they did not cite the restaurant and were unaware that the doors had been closed.  “We really feel awful,” public relations specialist, Dan Metcalf, Jr. said. “We were stuck in the middle of this situation and sympathize with the restaurant and the neighbors.”

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