STINKY SITUATION: Businesses Raise Concerns

From this distance, it’s easy to smell the Darling International fat rendering plant, but in this industrial area, that’s not a big problem. It’s when the wind shifts and the smell wafts into downtown, the problems begin.

“Obviously this past weekend it was really bad and I recognized it at the time,” says Des Moines City Councilman, Brian Meyer.

“It’s a putrid, dead animal smell,” says restaurant owner, Bruce Gerleman.

“It was bad!” councilman, Skip Moore agrees.

Residents and business owners say the stink reflects on all of Des Moines.

“The odor is an embarrassment to our city,” says Gerleman, “it’s an embarrassment to my restaurant and every business downtown.”

In recent years, Darling, which renders fat from animal carcasses, has tried to cut down on the smell.

“I think they’re concerned. I really do,” says Moore.

“The reality is, the plant is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Gerleman says.

Tonight, Gerleman, owner of Splash and Jethro’s restuarants in Des Moines, appealed to city council to force Darling to relocate, but it’s not that simple.

“We just can’t force them to move,” Meyer says, “I mean, they’re there, they’re zoned properly, they’ve been there for 60 years.”

Gerleman says he’ll continue to fight the stink and will enlist the help of others.

“There are hundreds of business owners downtown, and I’m going to get them all involved. If Des Moines is going to be a world-class city, we have to solve this problem.”

Council voted unanimously to refer this issue back to the city manager’s office for a closer look.  It’s hoped that a meeting might be arranged between Darling and its detractors sometime soon. 

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