Smell from human waste processing company reaches Polk County court

There's a stinky situation that just won’t go away in Polk County.

For a while now, residents near BS Ranch in Lakeland, which turns human waste into compost, have complained that odors from the operation keep floating into their neighborhoods, businesses, and homes.

“Last year in April, you couldn’t sit on our deck without your eyes burning,” Duane Witter, of the Cirus Woods Property Owners Association, told FOX 13.

He was one of the residents who attended a court hearing in Bartow Thursday to discuss what they say are ongoing problems.

Recently, Polk County got eight complaints from neighbors who said the smell of sewage was coming from BS Ranch.

“We smell these odors frequently,” testified Kathy Gore, who made one of the complaints. “Three days a week, four days a week, morning, afternoon, evenings, weekends.”

Kirk Sullivan, who owns San Juan Pools, which is located next to BS Ranch, also appeared before the magistrate.

“It's difficult to keep employees when the environment they are exposed to for 8, 10, 12 hours a day is the same as in the back of a septic tank toilet,” he said.

Attorneys for BS Ranch picked apart the way county code enforcement staffers investigated the complaints. They said the investigators simply smelled the odors but did not use any scientific equipment to analyze the air. The attorneys concluded the county’s investigation did not conclusively prove the smells were coming from BS Ranch.

The magistrate did not make a decision. However, she will after both sides send her their closing arguments in writing. If the magistrate rules against BS Ranch, the company could face a quarter-million dollars in fines.