This letter is in response to Madam President [Linda] Woshner's letter to the editor in the July 27 edition of The Citizen, where she attempts to clarify the recreational fire and grilling ordinance, which she and several members of council enacted into law. While I agree that we, as Bellevue citizens, should all grill responsibly, my question to Madam president, is "who was not grilling responsibly, that the council needed to spend borough residents’ tax money on an ordinance, that as I stated at the first meeting, was unenforceable?"
Interestingly, now that the ordinance is in place, Ms. Woshner now states that the borough will not, in fact, enforce this ordinance. We will only use it when someone is irresponsible. What kind of sense does that make? We have always, had in place, the Allegheny County burning ordinance that more than sufficed. But no, this council needed to protect its citizens from themselves by enacting an unenforceable ordinance.
I commend Ms. Woshner for wanting to clear up any misconceptions, but unfortunately, she has created a number of new misconceptions with her recent letter to the editor. She states that residents are permitted to use portable grills on their decks, but according to her ordinance, this is just not true. There are no exceptions listed. According to Ms. Woshner, fire resistant grill pads, concrete pavers and patio stones would be acceptable for grilling on your deck. Unfortunately exceptions are not mentioned in the written ordinance. This is misinformation. Ms. Woshner points out that there, on average, are 15 deaths a year related to grill fires in America. While any death is certainly tragic, FEMA, statistics show that lightning strikes cause 54 deaths per year, candle related fires in the home cause 166 deaths a year and there are 156,500 kitchen fires a year resulting in 331 deaths -- 90 percent related to cooking. So if we use these statistics, along with Ms. Woshner's, Bellevue Council has a lot more ordinances to enact in order to protect us from ourselves and the elements.
I guess council should have paid attention when 50+ borough citizens asked for the grilling portion of the ordinance to be sent back to committee. As far as the recreational fire that sent four children to the hospital, did anyone bother to enforce the, already in place, Allegheny County burning ordinance, and pursue the person or persons that were responsible for that fire? The answer to that is no. Ask why? Ask council.
I believe that council is not being good stewards of taxpayer money when we have to pay council and the solicitor to develop and debate an ordinance that was already in place and still appears to be unenforceable. I also would like for Ms. Woshner to identify the person or persons who she states are dragging Bellevue's name through the mud. I have been in contact with many people from within and outside of our community and only positive comments are being made about our borough. The negative comments are all directed at our council and their lack of ability to listen to the citizens.
Mayor of Bellevue
[Editor’s note: To be clear, the ordinance does create an exception for devices designed for deck use and used in compliance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. It also uses the standard of “combustible surface” for placement of grills, hence Woshner’s assertion that fire resistant pads, etc. will eliminate a combustible surface. Additionally, council is not being paid any more to develop and debate ordinances than if they simply sat there and did nothing. As to who has not been grilling responsibly, the borough’s fire marshals related a number of examples, including untended grills placed on porches surrounded by combustible materials.]