“The city has a legal obligation to enforce laws that make Fresno a safe and healthy place for all its residents, no matter their income level, race, or the neighborhood where they live. West Fresno residents will seek to enforce that duty," says Phoebe Seaton of California Rural Legal Assistance, who is representing the CCWF.
April 9, 2012 Updated Apr 9, 2012 at 6:29 PM PDT
The West Fresno neighborhood near Church and Fruit is pretty quiet. There are no people in the park and the streets are empty. Residents say there's something in the air.
Arogeanae Brown said, "it smells like dog food mixed with throw up to me, it's very nasty.
Mary Curry said, "it's very sickening, it makes you want to up-chuck."
Marry Curry has been fighting the odor since 2005. She said it comes from Darling International, a meat rendering plant across the street.
"We recognize there's a need for the kind of work they do but they need to relocate. They're sitting in the heart of a community," Curry said.
She is taking the fight to the the courthouse. Monday morning she filed a lawsuit and announced it on the steps of City Hall, backed by her neighbors. They claim Darling has been operating without a proper permit and the city has done nothing about it for 40 years.
"We've been more than patient," she added, "our lives and our children are at stake and it's time someone stepped up."
City Attorney Jim Sanchez said Darling doesn't have the permit, The Condition of Use Permit to be exact. But he also said the lawsuit is unfortunate and premature-mature because the city has been going through a mediation process with both sides.
In a statement, Darling Management said quote, "Like the citizens group, Darling International urges the City of Fresno to stop the delays and do what is legally and morally required by honoring the permits it accepted years ago."
Darling has been operating in Fresno since the 50's. It was annexed into the city in the 70's. Management believes the original permit is still valid.