Friday, June 28, 2013

Where There's Smoke . . .

Last month, the long awaited and eagerly anticipated restaurant Fish & Game opened on South Third Street, to much hoopla and critical acclaim. No one who has dined there has anything but unqualified praise for the experience, which renders the plight of its near neighbors even more difficult. The widespread enthusiasm for the restaurant makes it easy to dismiss the people whose lives are negatively impacted by it as spoilsports or annoying cranks.

Fish & Game's cutting edge nose-to-tail cuisine involves a lot of roasting and smoking. The restaurant has two fireplaces, one of which is used for roasting meats, and what has been described as a "very serious smoker"--all of which produce smoke, and despite elaborate efforts to mitigate it, the smoke permeates the neighborhood. The restaurant's nearest neighbors complain that the smoke prevents them from opening doors and windows for ventilation and from using their backyards and outdoor spaces. When the smoke emanating from Fish & Game is at its worst, which often happens late at night, neighbors report that it seeps through closed windows and doors and causes burning eyes and throats, nausea, and headaches.

Earlier this month, responding to complaints from Michael Harris and Melinda Slover, who reside and have retail businesses at 253 Warren Street and 259 Warren Street respectively, Peter Wurster, Hudson code enforcement officer, issued to an Order to Remedy to the owners of Fish & Game "for smoke emission that adversely affects the surrounding area," in violation of Paragraph 325-27 (A) of the city code. In response to this action, the owners of Fish & Game are reportedly installing additional baffling and filtering, attempting for a third time to eliminate the problem.

Meanwhile, the complainants are investigating the permitting process for the restaurant to try to discover why the project was never the subject of a public hearing, so that some of the problems they are now experiencing could have been addressed before the fact. The restaurant is located on the edge of the LWRP Waterfront Revitalization Area, and the new zoning for the area, adopted in November 2011, designates the west side of Third Street from Cherry Alley south as Residential. Although the building has been used as commercial space since around 2005, it is not clear when the building was granted a use variance to be a commercial establishment.

Then there is the issue that Peggy Polenberg, who lives on Warren Street not far from Fish & Game, has brought up at Historic Preservation Commission meetings more than once. The alterations proposed for the building, among them converting what had previously been a kind of car port at the back of the building into kitchen space, came before the HPC in May 2012, and a certificate of appropriateness was granted. The drawings presented to the HPC with the application, however, indicate only an air conditioning compressor and an exhaust vent on the roof of the addition--nothing like the elaborate array of equipment that was ultimately installed there.


  1. The last space I had in NYC had back windows that were sealed shut due to smokestacks from the Irish pub that butted up against the building. I complained about the fumes and grease to the city - no help there, just red tape and BS. In desperation I called the EPA, described the situation and the guy on the phone said "that's gone." By the end of the day the whole thing was shut down and they had to install a new ventilation/filtration system, which didn't help that much and was even noisier. What can you do? Too bad Fish and Game isn't down in the Dunn Warehouse.

  2. Makes one wonder: If some neighbor filed a complaint under the same part of the code, §325-27(A), that Holcim and O&G's trucks are creating a “noxious, offensive or objectionable” situation by kicking up “dust” and “air pollution,” and also creating “noise,” would an Order to Remedy be issued?

    Isn’t that activity a “hazard” -- one “which causes... annoyance or disturbance to any of the surrounding properties or to their owners and occupants”?

    Isn't that traffic “unwholesome and noisome”, and arguably “dangerous or prejudicial to health, safety” and the “general welfare”?

    Someone might want to give that a whirl.