Friday, March 27, 2009

The noise (and stink)

I live in what many people describe as an idyllic little New England style town. And this is true. The only thing that really has begun to upset me is a business which lies very nearby. It is by no means close to the idyllic downtown, but it does lie no more than about 1/4 of a mile from my home. It is a mulch and soil business and it has expanded in the past couple of years.

Early on, in our first years here, a strong smell of mulch would sometimes drift our way. Now that the business has expanded and the small hills of mulch have turned into steaming mountains, the strong smell of mulch has been replaced with a sometimes overpowering smell - what a friend of mine mistook once for the biting stench of what she thought must certainly have been a chemical spill in the area.

And now, for the past year, this enterprise has been experimenting with what is called Green Grinding. They take in food waste from local grocery chains, grind it up, let it compost, and use it as a soil additive. This is all very well and good, green-thinking and saving our landfills and all, except for one teensy detail.

It stinks.

Apparently it's not supposed to stink, but the way this business is doing it, we often smell the stench of a landfill blowing our way. And in the park next door, which is even closer to this business, the stench is sometimes gut-heaving in quality. Think of the rodents that this must be attracting.

To add to all of this, the expansion of the business means that they are often very busy adding to their mountains of mulch. This process has become excessively noisy. It doesn't take place all the time (please see this post about the pleasant quiet), but when it does, the noise is fearsome. Especially when it begins at 8:00 am.

I've uploaded a little snippet of video that I took this morning from my front porch. I used a digital still camera with a video feature. You know how when you take little video snippets this way, noises which aren't right up close to the camera sometimes aren't caught, and if they are, they aren't as loud as they were in person? Keep that in mind while you listen to the sounds. Be sure to turn your volume up:

On my walk in the park with the dog before I took the video, the noise was loud enough to make my head hurt.

I know that some people live in high traffic, high noise areas, but when we moved here we bought a house at the end of a dead-end street, up against a nice park. Not a high noise, high stink area.

My how things change.


aromatic said...

Oh my god... that would drive me insane!!! How on earth do you put up with it.... ??
The noise is just awful and its even drowns the bird song out.... and as for the smell.. well just thinking about it makes me want to heave...
Is there anyway you could complain about this... some sort of environmental agency.. if not for the noise factor the smell surely is unacceptable and if its encouraging vermin then that is really bad news....
Please keep us posted..
With Love, Jane (Basils sends doggy kisses to Strider!! xxx)

. said...

Dear Linda,
I share your pain and know what you are going through.
And one never gets used to it. For us it is low flying heavy aircraft, like pilot training for fuel carriers, with the kerosine fumes falling down on us.
Noise (engine) is bad, fumes are bad and the combination can drive one round the bend.

Visually our setting is idyllic, like yours. That is what makes it even more unbearable. Way out in the country is not enough to guarantee a healthful environment any longer. And to have it spoilt in the name of eco-friendliness is even more galling.

adrienne said...

Oh,'s scary to think you have no control over this. When we moved in we had a view, but we knew it was short-lived. At least we knew there would be houses there, not some commercial annoyance.

Maybe as aromatic said, (ironic name, BTW) there is some way to complain...?

ICQB said...

Hi Jane and Jo and Adrienne!

Yes, I've been complaining about the stink to the city council for several months now, but nothing has happened.

I even got so fed up with the stink one evening last fall/winter, that I marched over to the business and told them that their green grinding stinks and that every time I smell it I send off an email to the city council.

They weren't scared. In fact the man behind the counter never took his feet off his desk the whole time I was there.

And today my email to the city council included a link to this post so that they could hear a little bit of the noise. I told them that I wished I could post what it smells like over here sometimes.

They are "looking into it" and will "contact me" at some later date.

Kim said...

This is very sad, especially as I'm in favour of 'green' alternatives. It's helping the Environment at the cost of yours!!! The attitude of the person you spoke to is outrageous, they could at least try to show a little respect!

So sorry for you :(

ICQB said...

Hi Kim!

I'm all for green alternatives too. Apparently the green grinding, if done correctly, is not supposed to stink. If this business would get it together and make the changes they need to for it not to stink, I would be extolling its virtues to my community, instead of the other way around.