Polk’s friendly handling of BS Ranch review fatal to code case

Polk County’s belated attempt to undo a bad zoning decision that it had promoted until a few months ago hasn’t turned out well.

Today code special magistrate Nicholas Troiano denied Polk’s request to temporarily shut down the BS Ranch and Farm soil manufacturing plant over its reported offsite odor problems.

The main reason for the ruling was that Polk officials had never actually proven to odor came from BS Ranch and had ignored the potential offsite odor problems as county staffed worked with BS representatives to grease the skids for their grand opening, amending the growth regulations for this single use (a not uncommon action in this county), which made the county’s efforts to reverse themselves hard to defend.

The odor issue is interesting because even the BS folks finally admitted that some of the odor came from their plant, but blamed it on the weather and received help from Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials (who, like Polk County, had bent over backwards to approve and after-the-fact permit for the plant) to abate the odors. However, as a matter of due process, anyone accusing someone of something in a formal proceeding ought to be willing to back up the charge.

That ruling led to the postponement of a related court case scheduled for Friday in which Polk County was seeking an injunction to shut the plant down.

During Friday’s agenda study session, the County Commission is scheduled to hear a presentation on the biennial review of the county’s development regulations. Be interesting to see if any lessons learned from this case will be part of the discussion.

Meanwhile, last week the County Commission approved a temporary moratorium on any more of these plants, though none is proposed at the moment.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.