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Board OKs curbing of outdoor fires

Depew Village Board members tackled the outdoors in the form of fires and patios Monday night.

The board conducted hearings on a law restricting open burning in the village and a request for a special-use permit for a larger outdoor patio at Coyote's Nightclub in Urbandale Plaza.

The board voted unanimously to make bonfires and burn pits against the law. No action was taken on the special-use permit.

The only open fires that are allowed under the new regulations are grills or hibachis designed for outdoor cooking. They must be fueled by charcoal briquettes, natural gas or liquid propane gas. Fire pits with ceramic logs and recreational fires or campfires are permitted if fueled by natural gas or propane.

Bonfires for publicly sponsored events also are permitted, subject to an application filed with the clerk's office.

Fire Chief Peter M. Michaels, who helped design the new regulations, said he knows of at least two structure fires caused by fire pits.

While many residents said they favored the provisions, several were opposed.

Gary Pascucci, of Columbia Avenue, said he likes the smell of the fire from his outdoor brick fireplace, which has a grill for cooking.

"I find it's kind of strong you want to limit cooking fuel to eliminate wood completely," he said.

Raymond Kocialski, of Cornell Drive, agreed with Pascucci that the restrictions are too severe. "I think we're going overboard," he said. "There's ways we can make these things safe."

Others, like Gabrielle Miller, of Olmstead Avenue, said the smoke bothers them or their family members. Miller disagreed with residents who compared a fire pit to an indoor fireplace. "The smoke coming from a chimney is at a higher level," she said.

Meanwhile, residents along Meadowlawn Road asked pointed questions about the proposal to expand an outdoor patio to about 2,500 square feet. Joseph Cipolla, president of Bella Vista, which owns most of the Urbandale Plaza, said Coyote's Nightclub is seeking to enlarge the patio to the rear of the plaza. A 10-foot-high fence would surround the patio.

Residents said they were concerned about noise and lights coming from the patio.

"This would be an unwarranted expansion," said Cheektowaga Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr., who lives on Meadowlawn.

He said the noise would carry and the lighting would be visible. Residents suggested if a permit is issued that strict conditions be placed on it.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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