The new Northern Star Co. potato processing plant and its 400 jobs were received in Chaska with open arms 18 months ago, but the town didn't expect loud flushing sounds in the middle of the night.
The company violated state noise limits at least six times during April, city officials said. Company and city officials planned to meet again this week to try to resolve the problems.
"We just get noise day and night," said Bruce Perkins, one of six homeowners who lives near the plant on Chaska's northern edge, near the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Perkins described the sound as "a sharp, loud, mechanical flushing noise" that's as startling as a gunshot. It occurs irregularly, from once every five or 10 minutes to several times per minute. The noise may stop for minutes or hours, he said, and then begin again, waking up the neighborhood or keeping people awake as they try to drift off to sleep.
Company spokeswoman Diane Sparish said a consultant hired by Northern reviewed the "raw noise data" collected by the city and concluded that the firm has not violated any noise standards. Sparish said Northern has nevertheless installed silencers and pressure-relief valves and taken other steps to reduce noises.
"We're a manufacturing facility operating on land that is zoned for industrial use. We're putting extra measures in to be a good neighbor. But we are running a business and we are compliant," she said.