Neighbors Feed Up with Bad Odor from Composting Facility
A composting facility in Marion County that had its county permit revoked in 2010, is still operating.
Compost USA does have a state permit to operate.
Neighbors believe the reason theres a bad odor in their community is because the company is composting leftovers from sewage treatment plants, also know as sludge cakes.
The neighbors said the smell has become unbearable.
" It was 167 days of that first year that it smelled," said Kelly Myers.
Myers has been living in the community of Santos for 10 years, but since Compost USA opened up in 2009, Myers said she and her kids can't enjoy a day outisde.
"Why you live in Florida is for the winter and I can't go out of my house because of this stench," said Myers.
More than 120 complaints have been reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection since 2009, when the facility started composting sludge cakes.
"DEP will say no to doesn't smell. I mean your smelling it as they are telling you it doesn't smell. You are smelling it," said Myers
"It smells like human sewage. You can taste it in your mouth, it burns your eyes somedays," said Pamela Dubois who works at Kenny's Place Nursery located right next to Compost USA.
Court records from 2009 show that Marion County informed the company that they were violating operation hours and that they didn't have approval to compost sludge cakes.
"The place in back of me that you can see, it's overwhelming and just unbearable as it is right now. I am feeling rather nauseous right now standing here talking about it," said Richard Carlson who lives nearby.
The county revoked their special use permit, but Compost USA and the property owner appealed it.
Attorney Joe Hanratty said the former zoning director Mike May told Compost USA officials they didn't need any special permit for their operation.
After spending more than one million dollars, Hanratty said the next Marion County zoning director told Compost USA they could not compost sludge cakes.
"The county created this problem and I want to see Marion County solve it. Step up county officials, county government and be responsible," said Ronnie Fullwood who lives in front of Compost USA.
Compost USA is open until the issue is settled in court and state officials said they don't have the authority to enforce local rules.
So the bad smell remains in the Santos community.
"There is plenty of land in this state, that it does not have to affect a residential community," said Myers.
Marion County spokesperson Barbara Hernandez said the next step for the county will be to send a notice to the courts to get on the trial calendar.
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