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Eat yourselves to death

Spring is just around the corner and everybody who lives above a neighbour with a barbecue knows exactly what that means.

QUESTION: Our 200-plus unit Strata Scheme has a bylaw that explicitly forbids barbecuing on balconies. However we also have units with courtyards and terraces which are huge and were built with natural gas connections and sinks. One owner believes barbecues should not be permitted on terraces either, insisting that a terrace is a balcony and that was what they intended when framing the by-law.

I have no intention of not barbecuing on my terrace and I have pointed out to my neighbour that they have a perfect right to complain if smoke or noise from large parties bugs them. Who’s right and who’s wrong and what do I do?
Hungry Heart, Sydney

ANSWER: For a start, HH, terraces often aren’t common property, in which case your neighbour’s argument won’t stack up. And even if they were common property, if the by-law doesn’t specify terraces and courtyards then they probably aren’t included.

And you’re right, if you are causing any kind of nuisance then they can complain about that specifically. Your neighbour could also put a motion at a general meeting, asking that the by-law be amended. But they’ll need 75 percent support so I reckon a pre-AGM barbie at your place would see you home and dry.

Now, terraces may be different but the whole idea of barbecues on balconies is nuts. Why should anyone have to breathe the smoke from selfish idiots below them who don’t know or care where their stinking carcinogenic fumes go.

Carcinogenic? According to the American National Cancer Institute, barbies create chemicals in the meat and smoke that can cause genetic mutations and the unrestrained cell growth that signals cancer.

A recent French study shows that smoke from a two-hour barbie has the equivalent of 200,000 cigarettes worth of toxins and closer to home the Cancer Council of NSW says there is evidence that heavily charring meat might produce carcinogens.

And if you think I’m nuts, check out what the New York City Fire Department says about barbecues http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/safety/barbeque.shtml but hey it’s not like they have tall apartment buildings there or anything, so what would they know?

So you barbie fans are free to eat yourselves to death (literally) but I can relate to anyone who objects to being subjected to the barbecue smoke from someone else’s balcony – for instance, when you’re foolish enough to leave a window open in summer. Open window? What were you thinking?

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