Gree­ley strives to put smelly his­tory in past

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Sara Knuth

Joe Collins and Chancie Cavendish have av­er­age noses.

“We strive for be­ing av­er­age,” Collins, the city’s code en­force­ment su­per­vi­sor, joked. In se­ri­ous­ness, hav­ing av­er­age noses is a state health depart­ment re­quire­ment for their work as cer­ti­fied odor in­spec­tors.

If their noses aren’t sen­si­tive enough, Collins and Cavendish — the Gree­ley of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for deter­min­ing whether smells in Gree­ley vi­o­late city stan­dards — won’t be able to pick up smells Gree­ley res­i­dents call the city to com­plain about. Too sen­si­tive, and they’ll al­ways pick up smells even af­ter they’ve been fil­tered through their Nasal Ranger, a hand­held tool the team uses to de­ter­mine if a res­i­dent or com­pany has cre­ated a stench so strong that it vi­o­lates city’s smell stan­dards.

If Collins catches a cold, Cavendish is the one who has to in­ves­ti­gate a smell. It’s the rea­son the city has two work­ers trained to de­tect odors.

As ex­ten­sive as the reg­u­la­tions are, Collins and Cavendish don’t have to put them in use as much as in­spec­tors in Gree­ley did two decades ago.

Gree­ley has been on the down­swing of a smelly rep­u­ta­tion for nearly two decades, long af­ter the last feed­lot in the city lim­its closed and af­ter JBS, the city’s meat pack­ing plant, in­tro­duced scrub­bers and taller stacks to com­bat the smell.

Collins and Cavendish would know. Ev­ery time a res­i­dent calls into Gree­ley’s odor hot­line to com­plain about a stench, they’re the ones who go out to in­ves­ti­gate the scene with the Nasal Ranger in hand.

For Collins, who has been with the city for eight years, a smell has never been bad enough in the past decade to re­sult in a full-blown vi­o­la­tion that would re­quire the city to in­ter­vene and form a plan with the com­pany be­hind the vi­o­la­tion.

The num­bers back up the idea that Gree­ley isn’t as smelly as it was in the past.

In 2016, odor com­plaints in Gree­ley hit a record low of three com­plaints, and only one was con­firmed. Last year, the city re­ceived 30 com­plaints and con­firmed nine. So far this year, the city has re­ceived 14 com­plaints and con­firmed eight.

In the past five years, 2013 saw the high­est num­ber of calls at 47. Of those phone calls, six were con­firmed.

Those num­bers are still lower than what the city ex­pe­ri­enced in 1997, when the city’s odor hot­line opened. In the first year, the city re­ceived 650 com­plaints.

For Gree­ley Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Brad Mueller, that means the pro­gram is work­ing.

“It’s one of those sets of reg­u­la­tions and pro­cesses that’s in the back­ground that you don’t know about be­cause you don’t need to,” he said. “It’s re­ally do­ing what it was in­tended to do, which is to dis­cour­age odor vi­o­la­tions.”

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