WEIRD NEWS
07/28/2015 11:20 am ET

Barbecue Smoke Sparks Feud Between Florida Neighbors

One resident has complained 14 times about her neighbors' cooking.

A longstanding dispute about backyard grilling has a St. Petersburg, Florida, neighborhood up in smoke. 

Cell phone video from last week captures a mundane confrontation between brothers Dwayne and Chris Matt, and Pinellas County environmental inspector Joe Graham, who visited their home to address a recent complaint about smoke and odor coming from their barbecue.

Graham asks the men to try to contain the smoke from their grill to their yardper a county ordinance he reads to them. Although barbecuing is legal, county ordinances prohibit air pollution.

This video shows that the Matts are clearly fed up. They've received more than a dozen complaints about the smoke, and all but one of them came from the same neighbor. 

"Everybody else cooks out around here, and nobody harasses them," Chris Matt tells Graham. He said he and his brother had lived in the area for years without a complaint until three years ago, when a new neighbor moved in.   

That neighbor, Sue Godfirnon, has filed 14 complaints against the Matts since September 2014, according to Bay News 9. She is also suing them, claiming that the smoke from the grill is poisoning her, according to Tampa Bay ABC affiliate WFTS. 

"This smoke permeates my house, and causes me to have health problems, including chest pains and asthma attacks," Godfirnon wrote in a February email to the county. "I am virtually a prisoner in my own home."

She also provided a photo of a carbon monoxide detector in her home that shows a reading of  170 parts per million, a concentration that can cause headaches, fatigue and nausea, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

A security camera on Godfirnon's house shows smoke billowing from the Matts' grill across the street, according to WFTS.

An antigovernment blog picked up on the footage and claimed it's the county that's cooking up trouble by trying to prohibit the Matts from grilling. That's not the case.

"Backyard barbecue grilling in Pinellas County is not banned. It is not illegal. It is absolutely legal," the county's air quality control manager, Ajaya Satyal, told WFLA.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the county hasn't issued a citation against the homeowners, only provided them with an "advisory letter" that lists guidelines and potential penalties for causing pollution or excessive odors. The brothers received one citation from the city of St. Petersburg last year for having a commercial grill in a residential neighborhood.

Chris Matt told Bay News 9 they don't know their neighbor personally. 

"One day maybe [I'll] cook for her," Dwayne Matt told WFTS. "I would just like her to see what all the madness is about. We're very good cooks." 

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