In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Fresno City Council approved the relocation of Darling Ingredients meat-rendering plant in Southeast Fresno.
The plant takes animal by-products and processes them into animal food, fertilizer, and fuel, providing dozens of local jobs but also a lingering stench on the neighborhood.
“We have a lot of industrial sites that have been created in West Fresno and at one time we were just the dumping ground,” said resident of more than 60 years, Mary Curry.
The Concerned Citizens of West Fresno community group fought for years to get the plant moved out of their neighborhood saying it impacted their health and quality of life.
“It was detrimental to everything we were involved in, going to church there was always a smell, and I met a teacher from Carver school who said he couldn’t open the windows at the school because of the smell was so strong,” said Curry.
More than a decade ago, the company attempted to expand their operations at their Southwest Fresno plant on W. Belgravia Avenue.
“They have been subjected to racially subjective land-use practices, housing practices and the resident of that community have really had to struggle and fight for generations for equality and justice,” said Senior Attorney at Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability Ashley Werner who represents the Concerned Citizens of West Fresno.
After several lawsuits between CCWF, the city, and the company, Thursday in a milestone vote, the city council approved a development agreement as well as permits for construction at a new location. The proposed site is on W. Jensen Avenue, city land near the wastewater treatment center.
The plant could potentially expand their operations at this new location so the community members hope it’s a win-win.
The current plant falls under Councilmember Miguel Arias’ District 3. The CCWF says the council’s vote wouldn’t be possible without community support from numerous organizations and advocates including the District 3’s former representative Oliver Baines who championed the move while he was on the council.