The 10 wildest odor complaints in recent Denver history

Can we admit something about ourselves? Denver is a very smelly place these days.

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Can we admit something about ourselves? Denver is a very smelly place these days.

If it’s not the Purina dog food plant wrinkling your nose, it’s all the construction and, yes, the pot. And this year, it’s really on our nerves. Denver already has 17 percent more odor complaints than last year.

Who could blame us? It’s on the brain since Denver City Council passed new regulations that require certain businesses (*cough* pot shops) to submit odor control plans and more.

But there’s also just no accounting for taste. Remember that famously stinky pizza shop? Somehow even pizza can smell bad?!

I’m here to tell you that it does get crazier, and I would know: I’ve read all 908 odor complaints from 2012 until now. Buckle up, here’s the wildest 10. Answers have been edited for clarity, length and to protect identities.

10. You know what I hate? Delicious smells.

Complaint: “Barbecue odors, all day.”

Investigator notes: “Spoke with complainant to get additional info. Advised regarding applicable regulations for BBQs and wood-fired restaurants. Will visit site and let BBQ place know of complaint.”

Later: “Visited site, [redacted]. Has two large smokers. Uses approximately one cord every six weeks. RIGI on opacity and consideration for residences nearby to not cook early am hours. opacity is not an issue, <20%. Call to complainant to inform. [No further action.]”

9. The spectacular clap-back

Complaint: “We have a popular Thai restaurant on our block, on 6th Avenue between Marion and Lafayette. It is a nice addition to our community, but in the early evening, the whole block smells of the cooking there. It is a powerful smell. I love their food, but haven’t eaten there in 2 years because the smell is so overwhelming all the time. I wonder if they could get a better filter so that the block doesn’t smell like the restaurant kitchen every evening.”

Investigator notes: “Called and left a voice message for the complainant to call me. Explained on voicemail that odors of food is not a violation. But will go out and inspect.”

Later: “Called and left another voicemail message for the complainant to call me.”

Later still: “No response from complainant. Close complaint.”

8. I think a lot of people disagree with this one

Complaint: “Caller says there is a group of guys roasting chiles in the Mar Lee Shopping Center between Tennyson and Quitman ON Florida.”

Investigator notes: “Chile roasting is intermittent and no roasting at time of inspection. Complainant lives over three blocks from source so moving roaster to another part of parking lot would not mitigate situation. Called complainant to inform and complainant was not happy. [No further action.]”

7. Ok, if that last one didn’t get you, what about this?

Complaint: “Odors from coffee roaster really strong and objectionable Friday 7/20 and again this morning, Tues 7/24. Noticed the odors sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 am.”

Investigator notes: None. Some investigative notes have been lost.  

6. A buddy cop movie I’d happily watch

Complaint: “Foul odor, Time of occurrence: once the weather warms up the smell starts. Every year I have to call and complain about the smell coming from the house next door.”

Investigator notes: “And every year I have talked to this complainant. No odor description and origin is really unknown. No odor detected emanating from house.”

5. The crazy rule about railroads

Complaint: “To Denver Environmental Quality Division:

During a visit by Councilwoman Ortega in Globeville this last weekend, residents showed her staff a standing water-logged ditch along Sherman Street between 43rd and 44th Ave and east along 44th Ave. The residents contend it is constantly filled with standing water and it was at this time. It appears to present a significant mosquito hazard and an unsightly, littered and smelly nuisance to the community. The ditch appears to be on Burlington Northern and Santa Fe property.

We are calling it to the attention the Division on behalf of local residents and ask that if this presents a potential public health hazard or is otherwise an improper condition or nuisance that the Division please take action to seek correction.

Please let this office know if there is any way we may be of assistance in this.”

Investigator notes: “Please see attached documents. Called council aide and informed had received inquiry. Advised that any action with [railroad] is request and no orders can be issued since [railroad] is exempt from any state and local rules and regs.”

Ed. The issue later appeared to be resolved. But here’s the full text if you want it:

Contacted PO for UPRR Cathy Norris and sent material. Cathy indicated that there was some effort with city to resolve earlier and indicated that issue is due to SW conveyance problem. I advised that it is not SW problem and stems from lack of gradient to flow properly on lot and may want to consider infill and regarding the property.
07/06, Update from UPRR

Our Structures team is currently surveying the site to establish the best flow lines. Once they finish that process, they will grade the area to improve the drainage. That was the latest from this morning. As soon as they update us, I’ll relay the information.

Ben Wilemon
Community Affairs Manager
BNSF Railway

Confident that RR is taking appropriate action to mitigate this issue. Have relayed information to council aide and to close out complaint at this time.

4. Don’t disappoint Simon Cowell please

Complaint: “Just a note, at about 9 a.m., I was driving by the Coliseum and smelled that smell Larry Stuck reported a while back. As it turns out the auditions for X-Factor are taking place there, with talented people from all over the country crowding the entryway. So, they’re all getting a dose of it waiting for Simon Cowell to invite them in: not the best experience of Denver for present and future millionaires, I expect.”

Investigator notes: None. 

3. The gross one

Complaint: “Human waste possibly from an RV”

Time of occurrence: Unknown but more recent.

General incident description: Caller reporting human waste in the alley. Said it’s about 20 yards long and with a dip in the street is gathering all the waste in a puddle. Said that it might have been an RV that unloaded it in the alley.”

Investigator notes: “Responded to site and saw small amount of white debris (possibly toilet paper) along with puddle in the middle of the alley.  There was a foul odor consistent with human waste.  Absorbed standing liquid with floor dry. Phoned complainant and informed him of our action and that odors should dissipate after liquid is dried up.”

2. The most alarming

Complaint: “[Middle school principal] states that students are coming into the school smelling of marijuana. He believes the smell is seeping into their clothing due to the proximity of the dispensary.”

Investigator notes: “Visited site as described. Dispensary being remodeled. No active grow at time of inspection. Spoke with councilman representative to gather additional info. Possibility that students live near area and no potential to smell from marijuana at grow facility rather may be from consumption within the household. Rep to call principal and relay info.”

1. The toughest one

Complaint: “Sinton Dairy has huge smoke stacks that emanate odor and air pollution. The smell continuously seeps into my house and makes it unbearable to breathe. They do it at what seems like all hours of the day and it wakes me up and keeps me up. I can’t go outside when this is happening unless very briefly. The residential area is just blocks away and mostly downwind. If I wanted to gag, I would move back to Commerce City. I am trapped here bc either I’m upside down on my house when the market is bad or when the market improves like it has — I can’t afford to rent or buy anywhere else — otherwise I would move due to the horrific smell and the headaches and inconvenience it causes.”

“Not only that but when I’m driving home on the highway, I have to close all my windows to prevent getting nauseous. I have had these problems since I moved in 08/1999 and have just been forced to tolerate it — but I’m fed up and can’t tolerate it anymore!”

Investigator notes: “Email sent to complainant to call me. Wanted to explain that odors are probably associated with other sources in area and not Sinton Dairy. Explain odor reg etc. No call back or email from complainant to date, 06/29. Close unless contacted.”

Know a smelly place in Denver? Tell us all about it right here.