Smoke ready to clear in Cleveland Heights pizza oven case

Court case wrapping up after issue has been baking since 2017
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 12:02 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 12:20 PM EST
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CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - An outdoor pizza oven is at the center of a civil case out of Cleveland Heights. It was meant to bring together residents of Grandview Avenue in the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood, but it’s now driving a wedge between them.

“We have this unique of the oven and it’s really brought the community together except but for this fact that there’s a couple of neighbors that don’t appreciate it,” said neighbor Karen Rolfe. “It’s sad. It’s heart-breaking. It weighs on us daily.

In a lawsuit filed in July of 2021 in Cuyahoga County court, Brooks and Mika Jones said their house filled with smoke and fumes every time the outdoor pizza oven is used.

The complaint said nearby resident Paul Schambs constructed the oven in 2017, causing “intolerable” smoke and fumes multiple times since.

The Joneses said the smoke has not only caused medical issues, including sore throats, headaches, burning eyes and dizziness, but that they have been forced to leave their house due to fumes at least 15 times.

“I’ll feel it in my throat,” plaintiff, Brooks Jones testified, who lives two doors down with his wife Mika. “If my exposure is prolonged, I’ll get a gravely and hoarse voice.”

Court records said the oven is not regulated by the Cleveland Heights zoning ordinance because it is not considered a structure. The defense has argued a letter from the law department shows the oven is not in violation with any laws or codes.

The Joneses addressed the issue with Schambs and homeowner Mary Lynne Newsome after their first use of the oven, according to the complaint, but its use did not stop.

The Joneses said the smoke and fumes fill multiple rooms of their house, including the kitchen, living room, family room and back porch.

According to the complaint, the lot between the two homes does not block the smoke from traveling into the Joneses residence.

The trial could wrap up this week in Judge Shannon Gallagher’s courtroom.