Council committee decides BBQ smoke ordinance a bad idea

Before Monday night's Health and Human Services committee meeting, Skeeter Miller told us he was hoping the right decision would be made.
Miller owns the County Line Barbecue restaurants and he's the president of the Greater Austin Restaurant Association.

"Deal with it on a case by case basis.  That's the best way to deal with it.  Because this is one time, I've been here 40 years, I've never heard of this ever come up," Miller said.

A proposed resolution would have required some restaurants to move some of their smoke-emitting equipment, or install expensive smoke-mitigating devices.

"Well I know about smoke scrubbers.  And the cost of smoke scrubbers is about $60,000 to install on one pit.  I have 5.  And it costs $100,000 a year to maintain them," he said.

Recently, the Economic Opportunities Committee decided a city-wide ordinance was not the way to go.  Monday night, the Health and Human Services committee decided the same.  They'll recommend that to council.

"Historically, the city council has made some ordinances that effect all parts of the city without understanding the consequences of those ordinances," said City Council Member Ora Houston.

Committee chair Houston says the committee wants the city to better document the complaints and refer them as needed to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"I think this gives us data so that if members of the council want to check back in 6 months or a year and see... the number of complaints [that] have been received and how many have been referred to the state agency and how many have been resolved, then I think that gives us a place to start," Houston said.

As we reported last week, some neighbors of Terry Black's Barbecue are suing them for the smoke.