Marble won’t allow BBQ smoker exemption during fire restriction
Town of Marble officials on Thursday night discussed the possibility of allowing exemptions in some cases to the Stage 2 fire restrictions, as the ban on certain types of open burning, including charcoal or wood barbecue grills and smokers, heads to its third week.
Members of the audience, worried about the extreme fire danger, were not receptive to the idea.
However, Mayor Ryan Vinciguerra, owner of Marble’s Slow Groovin’ barbecue restaurant, which is seeking such an exemption so it can operate an outdoor smoker, proposed forming an intergovernmental agreement with the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District that would allow exemptions to be considered.
Vinciguerra explained that all of the Stage 2 fire restrictions he’s researched in other area jurisdictions allow for exemptions. He wanted to see if an IGA could be established for Marble.
Carbondale District Fire Chief Rob Goodwin was at the special Thursday town council meeting, held at the Marble Community Church, and said Marble has as many as seven different burn restrictions to look at under the ban.
Marble resides in Gunnison County, but it also neighbors Pitkin County to the north and has the town’s, as well as the Carbondale Fire District’s burn restrictions to consider.
While Carbondale, like the rest of Garfield County and neighboring Pitkin County, is in Stage 2 fire restrictions, Goodwin said he can still approve permits and exemptions, according to the district’s ordinance.
Vinciguerra hoped to open a similar door for Marble.
As Slow Groovin’ employee Nial O’Connor alluded to at the meeting, the restrictions have forced the restaurant to shut down its outdoor smoker, one of two the restaurant uses, which has caused “hardships” on the business. The second smoker is located in an enclosed area.
Stage 2 fire restrictions generally prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire, charcoal grill, coal, wood-burning stove or sheepherders stove, including in developed camp and picnic grounds, as well as smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle or building, among other prohibitions.
Slow Groovin’ stopped using its outdoor smoker since the town council approved the ordinance on July 5. Goodwin explained that exemptions are not approved quickly, but can be issued in the Carbondale district depending on the situation.
Some members of the audience requested Vinciguerra recuse himself from the hearing because of his connection to the barbecue restaurant, but because the hearing was just regarding a general ordinance, he did not feel that was necessary.
After council denied the ordinance change, Vinciguerra withdrew the next item on the agenda, which was an application from Slow Groovin’ for a permit to allow the outdoor smoker to be used.
Had the ordinance been revised and Slow Groovin’ permit application move forward, he said he would have recused himself from the subsequent hearing.
Slow Groovin’ also has a location in Snowmass Village but they use a different smoker than Marble, owner/operator Steven Horner said Friday. It is fully enclosed and all self-contained, but since the fire restrictions and because of the dry conditions they have been cooking everything on the smoker inside, he said.
Now in its eighth summer in Marble, Vinciguerra does not remember Slow Groovin’ ever having to stop using the outdoor smoker in the past.
He said the biggest effect the restrictions have had on his business has been capacity.
While the restaurant can still use the indoor smoker to cook meats, Slow Groovin’ uses its outdoor smoker for smaller cuts of meats, chicken wings, even tomatoes for their bloody marys, and more.
As a result, employees are working more hours to keep up with demand.
With only so much grill space for the indoor smoker, capacity limitations have started to hurt the business, Vinciguerra said.
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Several Carbondale businesses are scrambling to relocate and others are just plain calling it quits following plans for one of the town’s oldest strip malls to be redeveloped.