"The data I was finding on wind wasn't conclusive enough to rule out that the wind was either upwind or downwind," Siller explained. "It didn't matter, because there were moments where there was no wind.... Wind wasn't a factor in where the odors were determined."

Ensminger, the neighbor who made the final complaint on March 19, took the stand next. A photographer who lives and works at Silver Square, he described the smell that day as "putrid." "It's this horrible thing that sticks in your nose," he added. "It's not like a garbage smell; it's not like the Purina plant. It's this burnt smell. I can't describe it, but it's unique, and it never varies."

At the end of his testimony, Ensminger asked the hearing officer if he could add one more thing. "I just want to say that when I was looking at Mr. Kasel, he mouthed 'Fuck you' to me," Ensminger said. "I just wanted to make sure that that's in the record."

Kasel denied it, but the hearing officer warned him anyway. "Although this is an administrative hearing, I guarantee you I can get sheriffs up here and you'll have an afternoon where you don't want to be, okay?" the officer said.

Brown and vonSwearingen also testified. Brown admitted that she'd met in February with Linkhart, who told her about the five-complaints clause, and that she'd sent an e-mail to her neighbors on March 19, encouraging them to complain about Kasel.

"Ms. Brown, you personally dislike Mr. Kasel, correct?" O'Toole asked.

Brown's answer was short. "No," she said.

The man Brown swore she didn't hate took the stand next.

Kasel testified that he was indeed cooking pet treats on March 19. But not pig ears. "We can't get any pig ears," Kasel said. "We haven't been able to get pig ears or cook pig ears for a long period of time.... They're human-consumable, and they're very, very expensive."

Instead, the company's main product for the past six months had been chicken jerky.

"Are the chicken breasts that are used somehow spoiled or odorous?" O'Toole asked.

"It's 100 percent human-consumable, fresh, boneless, skinless chicken breast," Kasel answered. "It's human-grade — comes right from the same plants you get your chicken that's at Kroger, King Soopers, Safeway. Same chicken."

Kasel explained the cooking process. First the frozen chicken is sliced into strips. Then it's put into ovens, where it's baked at increasingly hotter temperatures for twelve hours. On March 19, his records indicate that the first oven was turned on at 10:32 a.m. But Kasel pointed out that the first two complaints came in at 9:40 and 9:53 a.m. — before he even started baking.

"When the product comes out of the ovens," O'Toole asked, "does it generate a putrid smell?"

No, Kasel answered. "If people open the bag [of pet treats] and it stunk the way it's been described here, do you think we would sell?" he said.

The hearing officer listened to the testimony and recommended upholding the violation. The facts were plain, he wrote: Five people filed complaints within a twelve-hour period identifying Kasel's factory as the source of a "terrible, awful, disgusting" smell. While Kasel argued that the complaints were bogus and that the city had "predetermined to cite him," he'd failed to prove it.

Kasel continued to fight. His lawyer appealed the hearing officer's recommendation to the Board of Environmental Health, which scheduled a review of the case for September 13. But Kasel didn't show up, and the board sided with the hearing officer. Kasel, who by then had likely spent much more money on attorneys' fees, would be stuck paying the $500 fine.

But he wasn't about to let the city have the last word. Kasel hired a different lawyer, Dick Campbell, to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on September 27 against Montero, Syner, Linkhart, Lasswell, Siller, Brown, vonSwearingen, Ensminger and the entire city of Denver. He's seeking "compensatory, consequential, incidental and punitive damages" plus attorneys' fees.

Campbell declined to comment for this story, saying, "I'm not going to be any help to you."

***********

Three neighbors were unlucky enough to get sued, but they're far from the only ones who complained. An open-records request turned up fourteen complaints in 2010, 47 in 2011 and 33 so far in 2012. Several complainants did not want to talk on the record, saying they were afraid of making Kasel mad. If he sued other people for calling 311, they figured, he could sue them, too.

But Misha Morrow wasn't shy. A tattooed project manager, Morrow rents a townhouse at 34th and Larimer, about a block east of Kasel Associates Industries. The place has a rooftop deck with a bar and a great view that he doesn't use as much as he'd like to because of what he calls "the funk."

"On a good day, it smells like a grease dumpster," says Morrow. "On a bad day, I'm not sure what causes it, but it straight-up smells like a dead body or an animal that's rotting."

Morrow says he's stopped into Kasel's offices to try to talk to him but has never gotten past the receptionist. He's called 311 to complain, fliered the neighborhood three times and e-mailed city council members. He says he's never heard back from anyone.

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17 comments
tkmsn
tkmsn

I am really angered by this article! A bunch of yuppy hipsters move into a "hip" new development and suddenly think they run the place! 

My one objection that I'm not too incensed over to put into words is these reports of the smell of human decomp. Really? I remain unconvinced these new residents have ever in their lives smelled a rotting body. Nevertheless, look around you! Do you not see the nearby neighborhoods? If you REALLY think that smell is a corpse, IT PROBABLY IS! I used to frequent an artist gathering at 35th and Walnut, only to stand at 36th and Downing later in the evening, awaiting the bus. At just the one bus stop, I have been both propositioned and threatened, and have seen drug deals going down. Imagine what could be happening at bus stops and back alleys across the neighborhood! Want to be an artist? Before you can portray life the way you can imagine it, you need to see it for what it is. You can give your little corner of town all the cutesy names you want, it doesn't change that it is a hard part of town, meant for industry, not young suburbanites.

I absolutely agree with Rick Corage: "People who have the money to live somewhere nice should live somewhere nice." (emphasis mine). Buying a loft gives you control of the loft, not control of the neighbors who were in their proper place before you edged in.

purplepomeranian
purplepomeranian

Gee you move into an area zoned nearby as heavy industrial what do you expect it to smell like roses.  This is the same reason why the industrial area of commerce city stinks its an industrial area.  Deal with it or move on out & go find a bed of roses to move into.

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator topcommentereditor

I'd love to publish some of these comments in our print edition -- ideally with the author's full name. If that's okay, e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com. And if you'd rather submit a different letter, that's fine, too!

globevilleneighbor
globevilleneighbor

I live nearby, in Globeville.  Our neighborhood is full of houses and is definitely zoned residential.  The smell is pretty awful there too.  I've always wondered where it came from.  

Petra7
Petra7

This is the reason that originally the zoning did not allow residential. The factory employs people in the area and zoning in other areas should avoid and restrict development like this to prevent further impacts like this one. Maybe they should move on and out. In addition, communities have been against developments for this very reason. They move into a community to push out what is already there,

suethebastards
suethebastards

As the Silver-Square dwellers set up their Christmas gear
Ray Kassel’s across the street, cooking a batch of fresh ear

Christmas is near and gifts require imagination
This year’s been rough, cause the lofts smell like bacon

Denver has an appetite and hungry for some tax
The developments approved, oh-yes…fresh green-backs

Historic factories built into lofts like new
With rail-yards nearby, what an impressive view

With the upcoming lawsuit and all that worry
The evidence smells good but not to the jury

And what about that clever gift fit for a friend?
Perhaps a wind sock located way downwind

A little something special for those RiNo tweeters
The hottest new gadget this year, “scentometers”

With the notion of Santa, and all his reindeer
Undergo a whiff, of flame broiled ear?

sandoze
sandoze

The Purina Plant is a welcome smell compared to the pig ear plant. My first experience with the stench I had considered calling 911 and reporting a dead body in one of the empty ruins of the 'hood. Needless to say it's affected where I patron. I can no longer go to the Walnut Room on days when the stench is in full bloom, it literally comes in through the air filters. I have a feeling the Populist will be the next victim.

As for the comments saying it's the fault of the people who moved there should realize that these areas of Denver are no longer 'out of town' just as LoDo is no longer a downtown ghetto, Brighton Ave is no longer home to a landfill and Stapleton is no longer far enough away to justify an airport that close to the city. Residential and commercial space in that area has been approved and some of it has been there before the pig ears began to roast. There's something to be said about being a good neighbor. Kasel should consider spending less money on lawsuits and more money on retrofitting his filtration system.

milleralexjames
milleralexjames

Instead of reading the entire 6-page article, let me sum it up for
everyone: douchebags moved into an industrial neighborhood, complained
about it's side effects from being an industrial neighborhood, and
doucebag industry owner is vindictive.

jennikoa
jennikoa

This is so reminiscent of when all those people moved out to the new housing developments by the airport and then bitched about the noise.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

I am thrilled to discover that scentometers exist. If they were available to the general public, I would purchase one.

robertpcollins
robertpcollins

I've never smelled a stench in that neighborhood!

admin174
admin174

I was on site for two and a half hours during business and didn't smell one thing. 

RiNoRes
RiNoRes

@tkmsnYou are grossly misinformed.  Silver Square residents bought for cheap years ago and before Kasel Factory was making "dog treats" that have been found to be contaminated with salmonella (google that). They were manufacturing non-odor producing industry when residents moved in then switched manufacturing later on. Doubtful you would enjoy a factory spewing out vile odors of dead animal parts after you had already been living in your residence.

tkmsn
tkmsn

@patricia.calhoun just posted a comment - still feeling pretty turbulent about the whole mess! so it may not be much good, but if you want to use it in print, go ahead. I'd rather not use my full name, but you can print it as T. Mason.

maryloudesign
maryloudesign

@globevilleneighbor 

The odors in Globeville used smell much worse, sickening really, with meat packing, tanneries and (gag) rendering plants. The meat packing industry began in 1882 and was viewed as an asset, attracting people to the area for the jobs and affordable housing. By the 1980s, most of those industries had disappeared with consolidation in meat packing and standards of what was acceptable from industry had changed as well. Although there is a city ordinance that deals with odors (in 1970 it was Denver City Ordinance No 760.12) there doesn't seem to be an effective way to measure odors. Decisions about enforcement depend on the kind of businesses already in the area.


Tally
Tally

@jenna-furrr Can't WW get one for you?  I am sure the cost could be justified as a business expense.  Just think of all the places you could use it.

tkmsn
tkmsn

@RiNoRes @tkmsn So... I googled salmonella. I'm not really sure what you were hoping to prove to me by having me do so. As my original post is concerned mainly with my doubt that the residents of the RiNo neighborhood know what a corpse smells like, I had supposed you hoped there was an article in existence to link the smell of salmonella poisoning to the smell of human decomp. If there is such an article in existence, I didn't find it. Go ahead. Call me misinformed.

I admit... I'm not all up-to-date on industry law. It may well be that manufacturing industries are legally prohibited from making any changes in manufacturing procedures when the consequence will be devastating to the highly-attuned senses of nearby entitled-to-the-world-on-a-silver-platter residents. It seems unlikely, but I do hear rumor of unlikely laws all the time.

Doubtful you know me at all, RiNoRes. Doubtful you know that I am all-too-familiar with general industry and the unpleasantness surrounding it. Perhaps you are right, though. Perhaps I wouldn't enjoy a factory spewing out vile odors of dead animal parts. Or, perhaps I would understand that buying "for cheap" always comes with hidden caveats, and that buying near an industrial zone is not bound to produce pleasant results. This all seems rather circumspect, but here's what I know:    Had I bought "for cheap" anywhere in town and been disappointed in the consequences, I would take responsibility for my poor-decision making and leave; I would not TAKE IT PERSONALLY and BULLY THE LOCAL BUSINESSES.

 
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