Groves Council Gives First OK To Manure Dumping Ordinance

In a 3-2 decision Tuesday, the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved the first reading of a stronger ordinance to control illegal dumping of animal waste in the town. The new ordinance is designed to replace an existing one that has been ineffective.

Tuesday’s hearing was a second attempt at a preliminary reading after a version of the ordinance was rejected in March because council members believed it would have infringed on the ability of residents to move small amounts of animal waste.

The intent of the rules are to control haulers and property owners who allow dumping of tons of the material.

Councilman Tom Goltzené asked where the underlined portions of the draft ordinance came from, and Town Attorney Michael Cirullo said he had added them in keeping with commonly accepted best management practices and other regulations, including those of the state, county and Wellington, where most of the animal waste is believed to originate.

The additions included restrictions on where animal waste can be dumped on property, including distances from the edges of property, potable wells and water bodies, as well as fines for violations.

The new draft ordinance eliminated a permit fee for property owners but retained fines for haulers found to be dumping illegally.

Goltzené said he thought the draft ordinance was still too restrictive on property owners.

“It’s really excessive regulation; not at all what I’m looking to see,” he said. “It picks arbitrary numbers for no good reason, and it definitely interferes with the agricultural rights of people who are receiving and have the manure. I believe that it makes illegal the simple act of one neighbor taking a wheelbarrow from their property to the next without getting a permit from the town, and I think that is absurd. This town was not created to become a regulation nightmare.”

Goltzené said the ordinance should address only the original issue — controlling excessive dumping from outside the town, and that the draft ordinance would discourage agricultural uses.

“If we want to drive agriculture out, this is a good first step,” he said. “I don’t think this is what we had in mind.”

Town Manager Mark Kutney said many of the additions were from comments made by Planning & Zoning Board members, and Cirullo had incorporated them into the draft ordinance.

Cirullo explained that he had incorporated two concepts: controlling the haulers and land use to promote best management practices. “I don’t want to leave the impression that I did this in a vacuum,” he said, explaining that he had met with numerous agencies, including the Solid Waste Authority and the State Attorney’s Office.

Councilman Jim Rockett said he recognized many changes in the draft ordinance that council members had talked about at previous meetings. “There’s no charge for the permit,” he said. “That was a big issue that we touched on.”

He added that it gives relief to property owners who have suffered from having large amounts of animal waste dumped on neighboring property. “I’ve got to believe that some of this is pretty good,” Rockett said.

Rockett made a motion to approve the ordinance as presented by staff, and it carried 3-2, with Goltzené and Mayor Dave Browning opposed.

The second and final public hearing will take place June 3.

In other business, the council approved a professional services agreement extension with Underwood Management Services Group for an additional year.

The council also approved a piggyback contract with North Florida Emulsions for road microsurfacing and renewed agreements with four contractors for emergency removal, monitoring and grinding of storm debris.