Ever since she moved to her current home on Third Street in 2018, Challis resident Mary Ann Perrenoud said the smell coming from one of her neighbors’ homes has been a constant nuisance.

“From the first day we moved there, the odor was overwhelming,” Perrenoud told city council members at their Sept. 10 meeting. “You just want to vomit.”

The source of the smell, according to Perrenoud, comes from a mix of garbage, vegetation and cat feces that has been sitting on her neighbor’s property for years. She’s tried complaining to the city government about the smell in the past, but according to her little action has been taken.

Mayor Mike Barrett explained in a separate interview it’s a property rights issue. The city can’t just declare it disagrees with how a property is managed, he said, and then tamper with it. The city needs to get in contact with the property owner, try and get him to clean up the property by a set date and assist him him if he can’t meet that date.

“The process is slow, I know, but that’s how it has to be,” Barrett said. Over the years, city workers have managed to clean up the property little by little, such as when they removed dozen of feral cats living on the property with the assistance of Heart of Idaho Animal Sanctuary workers.

The cats were the worst part, Perrenoud told council members, because she’s allergic. “We need to clean it up, we need to,” she said. “For our health.”

North Custer Rural Fire Chief Larry Garey, who was at the council meeting to give his monthly report to the council, said he’s been to the property in question because the amount of refuse represents a fire danger as well.

“The furniture is the biggest issue I had out there,” Garey told council members.

Perrenoud repeated several times in her presentation she bears no ill will toward the property owner, who currently lives in Rhode Island and has told her he didn’t realize the property has gotten that bad. However, after speaking with her family members and other people who live in the vicinity of the house, Perrenoud said enough is enough.

One possible solution, Garey suggested, was that with the council’s blessing he write a letter to the homeowner. The letter would state the hazards the property currently represents and would strongly recommend the homeowner clean it up, Garey said.

Barrett said in a separate interview the city could also declare the property a nuisance, but at this point it is still better to try and work with the out-of-town owner to clean it up. Barrett said the property owner has given permission for hired workers to stop by and remove some of the garbage and dead tree branches, just so long as they don’t touch the home.