Air Quality - Morningstar Coffee
Since about June, my office has been receiving complaints from neighbors about nuisance odors originating from Morningstar Coffee Company, which operates a facility on Snelling Ave, near the Franklin LRT station. The smell of roasting coffee (for those of you who haven't experienced it) is surprisingly unpleasant, reminiscent of badly burnt toast. The odor is pervasive and widespread - you can smell it during certain morning hours at the LRT station, and it gets into people's houses and lingers. Those with chemical sensitivies and asthma find the odor particularly problematic.
I have learned that this is an ongoing issue that neighbors, the company and staff have been working on for over a year. The company has installed a "scrubber" technology to deal with the odors, which passes the smoke through water. This technology is clearly not working well enough. Many residents believe that the only technology that will fully address the odor is what most of the other coffee roasters in town use: an afterburner.
Working with the Seward Neighborhood Group (SNG) Environment Committee and their inestimable staff person Bernie Waibel, my office put together a meeting of concerned neighbors, Morningstar's owner and City Staff to talk about the complaints and possible solutions.
The upshot of the meeting is that staff will be writing an order to Morningstar, requiring that the company upgrade their odor control equipment. The nuisance odor ordinance (look here and search for Chapter 47) does not allow City Staff to require a specific technology, but to find that the current technology is not working and require improvement. My understanding is that the letter will require that a new odor reduction plan be submitted within a few weeks. If the plan does not offer substantive changes, it can be rejected.
My office will be paying close attention to this issue. My hope is that when residents of west Seward open their windows for the first time next Spring, they find the air fresh and free of coffee odors - permanently.