Back in 2018, Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey said the only vote he ever regretted was voting to approve a business permit to BS Ranch.
The owners said they wanted to start recycling sewage and yard debris to manufacture fertilized soil in Lakeland, a business located relatively close to the landfill.
Since the business permit was approved in 2017, there have been 15 code enforcement violations for things like “very strong sour-sewage smell” according to court testimony. Up until last week, no fines were issued.
On July 13, Special Magistrate for Polk County Code Enforcement Tiffany Hawks signed an order fining BS Ranch $11,000 for eight days of code enforcement complaints from 2019. The owners have 10 days to file an appeal.
BS Ranch is owned by William and Brandy Stanton. Phone calls to the owners were not returned at press time.
The county has spent quite a bit of money going after the Stanton family in court over the years. After the order was signed, Lindsey was asked if his 2018 belief had changed.
“Now in my ninth year on the board this continues to be the only vote I regret,” Lindsey said. “If I could back up time and vote no, I would. I have also stated publicly, this applicant has benefited greatly from deceit.”
Lawyers representing BS Ranch have been arguing that the exact source of the odor cannot be proven through scientific study and that the odors could be coming from the landfill.
There is no county ordinance that obligates county staff to prove the source of order through scientific study.
The code enforcement violations are based on a September 2019 intake of millions of pounds of sewage-type material at BS Ranch according to court documents.
Kirk Sullivan, of San Juan Pools, has testified in court against BS Ranch multiple times.
Sullivan testified that BS Ranch smells like a “mix of human feces and like a sour chemical.”
The code enforcement judge said BS Ranch staff did not appear to take any steps to curb odor violations.
“The violations that occurred cannot be undone and they have negatively affected the businesses and home owners in the surrounding area,” Hawks said. “These factors justify increased fines.”