BS Ranch, Polk Settlement Vote Scheduled

Polk commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a settlement designed to end the ongoing legal dispute with BS Ranch, a Lakeland composting facility that has been the subject of regular odor complaints and has a troubled regulatory history.

The settlement requires BS Ranch to submit a new permit application and the County Commissioner to consider it by the end of this year.

The details of the new permit deal with protection of wetlands and water quality on the site, reduction of odors and sanctions if the odor complaints occur too frequently, which the settlement agreement defines as eight legitimate complaints based on three separate events within any three-month period.

In addition, BS will be required to increase its monitoring and modify how and when it handles certain materials.

The case began as an effort to push an after-the-fact permit for the facility under the guise of promoting economic development.

Other Florida counties have been less accommodating, some going as far as requiring the operations to be located indoors to prevent odor problems.

But it became clear after commissioners revised its development regulations just to accommodate BS Ranch that the public relations tour commissioners and county staffers received didn’t reflect the true situation as odor complaints arose from area residents and business owners located in the same industrial park.

Commissioners responded by trying to walk back the earlier approval, which led to a series of legal disputes that the settlement is intended to end.

Meanwhile, the details of the conditions under which BS Ranch will be required to operate remain to be worked out.

The first public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 7 before the Planning Commission and Dec. 4 before the County Commission.