STUART, Fla. — Neighbors in Martin County are raising a stink about a fast food chain at the end of their street.
On Kanner Hwy. in Stuart, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen serves up authentic spicy chicken, but the restaurant is ruffling the feathers of neighbors down the street. Residents are fired up and claim the smell of chicken is taking over their neighborhood.
"It’s a heavy grease and it lays in the air and the whole area is just pungent with it," said Ron Taylor, who's lived on SW Willow Lane for about 25 years.
Taylor said he can’t even enjoy his own backyard because of the smell of chicken grease.
"If my wife and I are on the back patio and that wind is coming in our direction and the temperatures are the way they are now, we can’t be out there on the back patio," Taylor said.
The restaurant opened more than a year ago and after numerous complaints, Martin County made the owner install an air cleaning system. Charlie Rosseau, who lives down the block, said it hasn’t helped.
"It’s horrible. The smell is that bad you have to go inside," said Rosseau, who built his house 14 years ago.
County Commissioner Stacey Hetherington has been out twice to calm neighbors' concerns, and admits she could smell chicken.
"We checked to make sure that the agreement that they had to have the filter system in place and they have been maintaining it," Hetherington said.
The owner of Popeyes was not available for comment Wednesday.
Taylor and Rosseau argue the air filter system isn't being cleaned properly, which they believe is causing the foul odor.
"The odor, there’s no reason for it. He’s got the system, he just needs to know how to clean it properly," Rosseau said.
Commissioner Hetherington said she’s working towards some kind of compromise between the owner of Popeyes and neighbors. In the meantime, she’s collecting maintenance records of the filter system and checking with code enforcement to determine how often the machine should be cleaned.