Denver City Council passes new odor rules

Posted at 12:33 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 14:33:04-04

When the wind blows just right in some North Denver neighborhoods, the odor is overpowering. Now the city is doing something about it.

Monday night, the Denver City Council voted unanimously on a new proposal to tighten regulations around businesses that regularly deal with items that produce potent smells.

Denver's Department of Environmental Health is responsible for regulating nuisance odors and the department proposed changes to Denver’s odor ordinance. Those changes were passed.

These changes include:

  • Who can complain – Business owners and employees, in addition to residents, would be able to file formal complaints.
  • Extend complaint time period – The time period within which five complaints must be received to trigger enforcement would be lengthened from 12 hours to 30 days.
  • Specific industries – Businesses within certain industry types (for example: pet food manufacturing, marijuana grow facilities, rendering plants, asphalt shingle manufacturing, sewage treatment facilities) would be automatically required to develop and submit an odor control plan for approval by Denver’s Environmental Health.
  • Odor control plan requirement – Facilities that exceed the complaint or dilution threshold standards, or fall within specific industry types, would be required to develop an odor control plan instead of receiving a citation.

Odors have been a chronic issue in the industrial corridor, amplified lately by a high concentration of marijuana grow houses.

Gregg Thomas, the head of Denver Environmental Health's (DEH) Environmental Quality Division, said odor was identified as a top priority of the community in the 2014 Globeville and Elyria Swansea Health Impact Assessment.

According to DEH, a recent door-to-door survey of residents from the Globeville and Elyria/Swansea areas, found that more than 80 percent of respondents noticed a smell that affects their quality of life when at home, and almost 90 percent said their lives would be better if odors in their neighborhood were reduced.

"The changes to the odor ordinance don't mean that the odors will be zero," said Thomas in a March interview with Denver7. "It's that odors will be minimized to the best extent practical."

Thomas said odor control plans would vary from industry to industry and would be based upon best practices for that industry.


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