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Township to 'sniff out' offensive smell in Schuylkill County

A lingering odor is offending the noses of residents in one community in Schuylkill County. The smell is coming from a natural source, but an unexpected one.

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — Even with the windows rolled all the way up, you can still smell that smell as you drive up St. Clair Avenue in the hills just outside Pottsville. It's a familiar scent to some, but for the longest time, neighbors in East Norwegian Township couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

The community in East Norwegian Township outside Pottsville has been quiet for the past 20 years, at least according to Jeff Eibach. He's called this area near the corner of St. Clair and Chamberlaine Avenues home for decades. These homes are tucked in a wooded area up on the hill. When neighbors began to smell a foul odor, they thought it would be temporary.

"We have a lot of woods around here, mountains right behind us, we have deer in the yard, you know what I mean?" Eibach said. "I thought, 'man, these skunks are getting really bad.'"

The scent persisted, leaving residents unable to leave their windows open.

"Some days it's so terrible, you think there's a pile of skunks running around in your yard," Eibach said. "It's not every other day; it's every day 24/7, 7 days a week. What can you do?"

Soon, residents discovered the source. Just downhill in Norwegian Township sits a medical marijuana growing and processing facility. Doc House LLC opened on Ann Street in 2020. Locals said the wind carries the smell of marijuana right up the hill and into their homes.

"It got very strong at times," said Paul Androshik of East Norwegian Township. "The neighbors down the road, they have young children, and they came up and were signing a petition to try to get them to do something about it."

Norwegian Township supervisors said they've received at least a dozen complaints from East Norwegian Township residents about that smell, and they're preparing a new ordinance to sniff it out.

That proposed ordinance could mean fines of up to $1,000 for any company found to be producing offensive odors detected outside of company property.

Township officials said they notified Doc House that they'd been receiving complaints, and a company official told them a new $500,000 filtration system would be installed to take care of the problem.

Neighbors said the smell is still hanging around.

"I'd just like to see them try to get rid of this smell, try to do something to filter it out. It's not a nice smell," Androshick said.

"Here we stand, we have the smell, and we're still waiting," Eibach said.

Newswatch 16 reached out to Doc House LLC and its parent company Ayr Wellness for comment on this issue, but we have not heard back.

Norwegian Township supervisors don't know if the company has installed the new filtration system as promised.

Next month, Norwegian Township is expected to introduce that new ordinance that proposes to fine companies that emit offensive odors.

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