2011 Aug. 3: MN Oak Grove: A previous National Night Out in Oak Grove, in 2008.
A bank of opaque smoke some 20-30 feet thick and hundreds of feet long is slowly creeping over an adjoining property on a hot humid National Night Out. On our property, up a hill more than 300 feet away, the smoke is not high in the air, but at ground level, slowly drifting in the windows of our home. This will continue all night long into the next morning. Note at the end of the clip the white dot far below the 2.5 acre cloud. That’s the homeowner, Mr. ___, watching his water heater exhaust disperse onto our property. The smoke doesn’t bother him, because the OWB is on the edge of his property line. A slight breeze is keeping his air fresh and his yard and home smoke free.
Here in Oak Grove, Minnesota, we don’t take National Night Out for granted any more. It makes many of us think back to National Night Out just a few years ago when the smoke and odors from an outdoor wood boiler were so thick no one dared stand outside on Uplander or Swallow Streets. (See the video) This is on a night where we are encouraged to “take back the night”. This night, in fact, was the trigger to an eventual positive outcome. We went door to door in our neighborhood and learned a considerable number of neighboring property owners were fed up with the non-stop 24 hour a day large volume burning as much as we were. They said in no uncertain terms the smoke and odors are excessive, out of proportion and out of character with the surrounding properties and cause a nuisance on their own properties. Thanks to people who care about the neighborhood where we all must live together, we worked together to regain freedom and took back our own properties on National Night Out.
So here’s a serious question. What if National Night Out were changed to a different date? Maybe mid October, or in late April? The high volume burning in our back yards still takes place non-stop 24 hours a day between those dates. The smoke and odors are just as excessive, just as out of proportion and out of character; it continues to be just as much of a nuisance, costing many of us money out of pocket and takes a toll on our health. A date on a calendar has no effect in mitigating any one of those problems. What gives one person the right to infringe on the property rights of so many others with no responsibility for the consequences they are causing?
People have the right to burn. But like the proverbial throwing of the fist, their right to burn ends where my nose begins. They don’t have the right to punch me in the nose again and again just to save a buck. If they can’t keep it off our properties, it’s a violation of the law. Take back the night, and take back our property rights.