Residents are right to raise a ‘stink’

Published 11:42 am Monday, June 19, 2017

City officials may not have been able to predict the outcome when approving an industrial expansion but now they have an obligation to help cleanup the mess, or in this case, smell.

Nearly two dozen citizens recently attended a city commission meeting, expressing concerns with the smell and dust permeating their neighborhood following changes at the Kentucky Fertilizer plant on Hill Street.

The city’s planning and zoning commission, as well as the city commission, approved a rezoning request from Kentucky Fertilizer that allowed an expansion that included the installation of a type of dryer.

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Soon after, the mayor and others began receiving complaints about odors from the plant.

Although hundreds of houses are in the vicinity of Hill Street and Mutual Avenue, you don’t have to live there to sympathize with the residents, many of whom have called the area home for several decades and had no issues with the plant until now.

A quick drive through the neighborhood with the windows down at the right time of day substantiates their legitimate concerns, despite the fact the plant has met all regulatory requirements from the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over air quality.

We appreciate the business’ willingness to invest and grow, creating important jobs. Kentucky Fertilizer officials say they want to be a good neighbor and we take them at their word.

Still, if this issue doesn’t get resolved it can drastically impact property values in the area and alienate an entire section of town.

We hope city leaders also look hard at the process when it comes to approving business expansion in areas that have essentially become surrounded by residential neighborhoods.

Was this thoroughly evaluated? Could questions have been asked to prepare for this? Could some other stipulations have been put in place that would give the city some recourse if these problems persist?

But the biggest question remains: What next?

The city is working to facilitate more conversations between DNR, Kentucky Fertilizer and residents, many of whom say they can no longer sit outside their homes.

We urge everyone to do this quickly and approach the process with an open mind. It will likely take some give and take on all sides.

The aroma of cooperation and collaboration can overpower anything else.