POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A foul smell is again the source of controversy in Lakeland as county code enforcement investigators take aim at an organic soil facility.
Polk County Code Enforcement has sent five new violations to BS Ranch & Farm alleging an “irreparable or irreversible” odor could be traced back to the soil farm.
The dates listed are Sept. 9, Sept. 12, Sept. 13 and Sept. 14.
The farm’s owner has described it to 8 On Your Side as a large-scale composting operation.
They take in the trash and human waste and process it into soil.
The odor accusations are not new and were the basis for prior odor violations and a lawsuit filed previously by Polk County.
A “failure to correct odor adversely affecting the facility’s neighboring developed areas” is count one in a complaint filed in January against BS Ranch & Farm by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
A motion hearing was held in Bartow Monday.
Owner, Brandy Stanton, declined to comment directly and put 8 On Your Side in contact with her attorney, Patrice Boyes.
Boyes claims the allegations come from a few vocal opponents.
“It looks like they’re mounting a witch hunt in my opinion against my client, blaming them for everything that creates an odor in Lakeland and that’s simply not accurate. It’s not well-founded and it’s not true,” said Boyes.
Boyes directed 8 On Your Side to a notice of pollution issued by the FLDEP that states there was an effluent release by Village Water from August 30 – September 9.
“I doubt the sewage released to the woods dissipated quickly,” said Boyes. “This is yet another example of baseless accusations against my client for sewage odors that were caused by another source.”
County code enforcement investigators insist they can trace the smell to the BS facility.
One investigator visits the area near the site every day.
“It’s a health concern for them,” said code enforcement director Autumn Fenton of the people filing complaints. “It’s their living condition. It’s their livelihood.”
“It’s just on your mind constantly – how can I put up with this?” asked Tom Deal, who lives nearby.
“The industrial stuff is the worst because it hurts your eyes. The poop just smells horrific,” said Kirk Sullivan.
Sullivan owns San Juan Fiberglass Pools, which is very close to the BS facility.
He has been a thorn in the company’s side for some time now.
“We’re arguing about how bad it smells. Why don’t we worry about where all this is going?” he asked about the material’s impact on nearby waterways.
Polk County code enforcement investigators are following up on reports that a berm was breached.
A special magistrate will hear the case between Polk County Code Enforcement and BS Ranch & Farm on October 17.
Each violation carries a maximum fine of $15,000.