WILTON, Iowa — A new smell in Wilton is raising concerns from officials and residents alike. William Locey, who lives 406 W. Fourth St., told the Wilton City Council during its regular meeting Monday night that he's wondering about the smoke and smell that comes from the new Vitalix plant at 403 W. First St.

Vitalix manufactures animal food from corn and chemicals. City Administrator Chris Ball said when he visited the facility, he was assured the "smoke" is water vapor, and the smell is not from anything hazardous.

"It may not be hazardous, but if you're down there where I am, you can't breathe it," Locey said. "I have to run in my house to get fresh air."

"It kind of reminds me of the smell of Southend Muscatine," said Locey's wife, Karen.

Ball said Vitalix is considering two options. The first would capture energy from the stack and return it to the plant, which they intend to do, but the $400,000 price tag prevents it right now. The second, a water curtain to lessen the smell, would probably require altering city ordinance. "There will still be a little bit of smell, but it would be reduced," Ball said.

Council Member Bob Barrett recalled that Vitalix said that smell wouldn't be a problem when they first asked to locate a facility in Wilton. "We were pretty much assured it would be nothing," Barrett said. "They've got a chance now. This would be a good time to take care of it and be a good neighbor."

"We're going to have some unhappy citizens and an unhappy council if this is long term," added Mayor Ira Bowman.

On a related note, when the council later in the meeting passed the first readings of ordinance amendments regarding various nuisances, Council Member Keith Stanley noted the definitions of "nuisance" include dense smoke and noxious fumes. A first offense would be punishable by a fine of up to $750. Second and subsequent offenses would be subject to fines of up to $1,000.

Solid waste recommendations

Officials are pleased with an automated trash pickup system that was implemented in a Wilton trailer park last spring, but they believe additional money is needed to expand the system to more of the city. The tipper system involves the purchase of 65-gallon trash receptacles for residents plus the retrofitting of garbage trucks, but it will also save money by requiring fewer trips to the landfill when it is fully implemented, officials believe.

Ball reported the system is barely breaking even on a month-to-month basis, but over the long term, more money will be spent than taken in unless rates increase. A 50-cent-per-month rate hike is scheduled for July 1, 2014. Ball recommended a 75 cent rate hike Jan. 1, 2014, or 50-cent rate hikes on Jan. 1, 2014 and Jan. 1, 2015. "I think we want to accelerate that if we want to get ahead of the game," he said.

Council members were not opposed, but no action was taken. They did give Ball permission to negotiate for purchase of tipper system supplies.

In other business

  • The council approved a request from the Wilton Chamber of Commerce to hold the annual Christmas Window Walk from 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.
  • Ball announced hydrants will be flushed on Friday, Oct. 25.
  • Ball announced open burning will be allowed Oct. 20-Nov. 20.
  • The council decided to hold its regular meeting on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11.