BS Ranch Saga Continues; DEP Suit Settlement Coming

The long-running dispute with Polk County code-enforcement officials over odor problems at BS Ranch & Farm, a soil manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Lakeland, continues going into the fourth year.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed against the company by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection earlier this year appears on the verge of being settled in a way that could solve the odor problem if BS Ranch’s owners abide by the terms of the settlement.

That would come from the construction and operation of something called an off-gas control and treatment facility.

If that facility, which was reportedly recommended some time ago as a solution to the odor problem, works as proposed, the strong sewage odors that have plagued area residents and employees at the surrounding industrial plant for years could end eventually.

The odor complaints were also the focus of a special master code enforcement hearing involving a series of enforcement cases involving recent odor complaints.

However, BS Ranch & Farm’s lawyer responded that the violation isn’t the odor, but the failure to correct the odor problems after being giving due notice, which she claimed did not occur.

Polk County’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to that claim.

Both sides are scheduled to file written closing arguments By Wednesday.

My main observation is that BS Ranch has had plenty of notice that it had a chronic odor problem, regardless of whether Polk County properly afforded the company its proper due process rights.

That’s meant not to diminish the importance of due process, which is a core constitutional principle, or to defend Polk County’s handling of this case, which has been a disaster from the onset.

It’s just that sometimes legal claims can tax our credulity.