Soil manufacturing plants seem to be popping up everywhere in Florida and some local officials may not be ready.
St. Lucie County officials approved regulations earlier this year after imposing a temporary moratorium to give them time to fairly consider the issue.
Polk County was caught flat-footed after a company opened a plant on the outskirts of Lakeland without getting state or local permits, sending state environmental regulators and county planners scrambling to deal with the operation after the fact because neither were willing to simply shut it down for operating illegally.
Polk officials became less sympathetic after odor problems that company reps claimed during a PR tour of the facility that such a thing wouldn’t happen did happen and now Polk officials are toughening regulations if anyone else seeks a permit.
More recently, Osceola County officials are dealing with a proposed plant near Kenansville in the Everglades headwaters in the rural southern part of the county. Osceola County officials are reportedly trying to come up with regulations to deal with this new land use.
The question is which could will be next on the list for some entrepreneur to propose a similar operation on an unprepared county commission and staff.
The lessons learned from activities so far are that local ordinances should at the bare minimum: deal directly with the odor issue by considering whether the operation should only take place indoors, require adequate bond or other financial assurance to take care of cleaning up the mess should the plant close unexpectedly and decide just where in the county such facilities should and should not be allowed and what kind of review they deserve.
The fact is that the material that is being processed in these plants has to go somewhere, but not just anywhere, anyhow., anytime.