Waukon City Council working with Aveka to find ways to reduce processing facility odor

by Bob Beach

The Waukon City Council was confronted Monday, June 2 by a group of residents who attended the Council's regular meeting in hopes of learning of some progress being made towards addressing the smell produced by the Aveka processing facility located along Allamakee Street on the north side of town.
While there were no representatives from the Aveka plant present, Mayor Loren Beneke reported that he and two members of the Council had met with three Aveka representatives about a week ago. Beneke said that the Aveka representatives said that they are looking into ways to reduce the odor and expect to present the City with options and associated costs, hopefully within a month's time.
Asked if the smell could be expected to persist throughout the summer, Beneke said he does not have enough information at this time to give a timeline for possible fixes. He said that the City does not have the legal ability to stop Aveka's operations and that "measuring odor is like trying to grab hold of fog," which would complicate the use of the City Code regarding nuisances.
City Attorney Jim Garrett said that there is no quick legal action that the City could take to force the plant to shut down without exposing the City to extensive legal liability and expenses.
An Aveka employee who said that she was at the meeting on her own and not at the request of management said that it's not true that the owners and management of Aveka don't want to do anything about the smell but that a million dollar fix to the problem was not something a two-year old company could bear on its own.
Pressed by those in attendance on how long they could be expected to tolerate the smell, Mayor Beneke said that hopefully there would be something more concrete to discuss at the Council's next  regular meeting. "We'll continue to work on it," he said. "We want to work with them [Aveka] as much as possible."
Turning to regular business, the Council held two public hearings, neither of which drew any public comments. The first regarded the general obligation loan for the funding of the new fire station slated to be constructed in Waukon and the other regarding a long-term lease with the Allamakee Community School District for the use of the north athletic fields. Following those hearings, the Council approved a resolution to enter into a loan agreement for the fire station and a resolution to approve the lease with the school district.
City Zoning Administrator Al Lyon reported that he has been unable to reach Don Fruechte regarding the building located at 35 West Main Street that suffered extensive flood damage nearly a year ago. Lyon said that part of the floor had collapsed during last spring's flood and that, to date, nothing had been done to repair the damage or clean up the basement. He said that the state of the building may present a hazard to neighboring buildings, and that there are growing concerns about possible mold and vermin.
City Attorney Garrett said that the City could make use of the State Code on dangerous buildings to have the building repaired by someone willing and able to do so and thereby acquire the property through a lien, assuming that the building, once repaired, would have a greater value than the cost to repair it. After some discussion, the Council directed Lyon to get access to the building for inspection.
In other business, the Council approved a resolution to open a new street, Park Place Court in southwest Waukon, which branches off of Second Street SW. The Council also set July 7 as the date for a public hearing regarding rezoning of the property recently acquired by Innovative Ag.