- Environmental Law
- Property Development
- Municipal and Government Entity Representation
- Appeals Court Advocacy
by Stuart Lieberman
International Real Estate Digest
I really love Texas barbecue. I could eat it every day. I travel miles out of my way to try a new barbecue place.
It’s one thing to eat smoke. It’s quite another to breathe it, day in/ day out. But some neighbors are so uncaring, that they allow their wood burning stoves and fireplaces to hurt their neighbors. I am talking about disabling injuries and emotional anguish. Some people just can’t handle smoke.
Ill functioning wood burning stoves and fireplaces can cause problems for neighbors. They can literally smoke neighbors out, making them helpless and sick in their own homes. Especially people located next to ill functioning stoves.
Wood can be dangerous when it is burned and the smoke is inhaled. Wood smoke contains poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals. Smoke can enter the lungs by attaching to tiny particles that are too small to be filtered by the nose and upper respiratory systems.
Breathing wood smoke can cause angina, irritate lungs and eyes,trigger headaches. The smoke can also hinder judgment, slow reflexes and worsen respiratory diseases.
Yes, this is America. Yes, this is your castle. Yes, you should enjoy your home.
But some people are allergic to the smoke from these burners. Do they have to move to a new home because you happen to like burning wood?
Most of us don’t have to burn wood. We usually can keep warm some other way. Usually, its done for mood and enjoyment. Which is fine.
But what happens when something you do for pure entertainment really makes your poor neighbor sick and even disabled? Oh, I’ll get emails over this, for sure. But the truth is some people physically can’t tolerate that smoke.
I do not think that one neighbor has the right to interfere with another’s use and enjoyment of his property. Ill functioning stoves and fireplaces must be fixed so that they do not cause harm to innocent neighbors.
If your ill functioning stove isn’t bothering any one — great, except to the extent it is polluting the air. But if you are placing others in harm’s way, or even just making their lives miserable, I think that you need to stop.
People need to be good neighbors. Never mind if what you are doing is legal. That is not the point.
No one has the right to unreasonably interfere with a neighbor’s use of his home, and his health. Since wood burning stoves are seldom absolutely required in modern society, if your smoke is hurting a neighbor, you simply have to stop what you are doing and find a way to fix the situation.
And, if your neighbor is driving you crazy and will not stop: First, consult with your local health ordinances. Some regulate these stoves specifically. Others do so in more general terms. If local ordinance does not help, consult with a lawyer. While there are never guarantees, a lawyer should know how to best deal with this kind of neighbor.
Never, never resort to “self help.” That will usually just make problems worse for you.
Its all simply about being kind, good neighbors.
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