The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council on Tuesday passed the preliminary reading of a solid waste ordinance after removing all references regarding the removal of livestock waste.
More than a dozen members of the equestrian community attended the meeting, loudly protesting the inclusion of horse manure as a portion of the ordinance.
Town Manager Bill Underwood said that the ordinance was the first reading of a franchise for solid waste to be removed from the town and control the flow of waste.
“It sets in place the ability of a franchise to providers,” Underwood said. “This puts it in place so that we can implement that franchise with solid waste haulers.”
Town Attorney Michael Cirullo said the ordinance also provides rules for providers related to collection and provides for designated places for collection and when it can be placed out, as well as the use of containers and regulation for permits.
“It does provide a franchise for not just solid waste collection, but also for livestock collection,” Cirullo said. “This does not actually grant any franchises. This provides your authority to grant franchises in the future.”
Underwood explained that the reason that the town can provide franchises is that people are using the town’s roadways in order to engage in profitable businesses.
“They do it on a regular and recurring basis,” he said, explaining that it is not different from FPL running power lines in the town and using the roads to maintain them. “The franchise is for the privilege of doing business in the town and using the town’s assets to do business.”
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she would like livestock waste stricken from the ordinance.
“I’m not sure how I feel about this franchise,” Maniglia said. “I was also told Waste Pro is raising its rates $200,000. Is that true?”
Underwood said the proposal was based on Waste Pro providing containers so that garbage bags and other miscellaneous items are not thrown out on the roadways or beside the roads.
“That prompted them to provide a proposal, which is in the agenda, but was not presented,” he said. “Their initial response to renewing it was roughly a 73 percent increase in rates.”
Maniglia said many people have complained about the trash on the roads but that she felt livestock waste removal should not be included in a discussion about solid waste.
“We’re all in agreement there,” she said. “How livestock waste got into this really upsets me. I’m happy to try anything to clean up our town, but you need to keep the livestock waste out of that. That’s a whole different ballgame. That’s a different business, and these folks, I’m sure have something to say about that.”
Vice Mayor Todd McLendon said approving the ordinance would still require enacting a franchise agreement with a waste hauler or haulers.
“We can come up with something that is reasonable,” McLendon said over equestrian residents shouting objections. “People are complaining about how bad the roads are because we’re out of money. If that vacant property now has 100 horses on it, they still pay the same amount. If we can get $20 a month out of them to help with the roads, I think we should try and do that.”
Maniglia pointed out that horses in a field is different than manure being taken from stalls, and that Waste Pro would not be taking it out to designated manure receivers. She added her opinion that residents with an agricultural exemption could not be told legally how to haul their manure.
“I’m not against a franchise fee for trucks coming into the town, but we have a different situation here,” Maniglia said. “I get my manure taken away for $50 a month. I have two horses. The problem is that these companies that have already paid to come to work in our town and got their permits, I don’t believe that once the town puts a franchise fee on them, you can’t combine garbage and debris and livestock. If this was a separate fee, where the livestock [manure] removers can still work in our town, I’m not going to object, but I would like livestock waste stricken from this ordinance.”
McLendon said he felt a separate ordinance could be crafted that grants manure removal specifically, but Maniglia said that more than one hauler is needed for manure removal in the community.
“It could be any number of franchises that the town wants to enter into,” McLendon said.
Maniglia was concerned that the ordinance would make it difficult for the manure haulers to do business in Loxahatchee Groves.
“I think what you’re going to have is a lot of people dumping manure on their own properties,” Maniglia said. “Right now, we’re all willing to take it away.”
Councilwoman Joyce Batcheler said that other municipalities, such as Wellington, have agreements with permitted haulers, so they know when they are in town and where they are putting the waste.
“They are very concerned about where that manure is disposed, to make sure it’s going someplace where it’s actually approved,” Batcheler said. “This has been talked about for some months about all the heavy trucks that come into town, whether it’s the delivery trucks or whether it’s dump trucks, or any kind of trucks. I think this is something that we’re feeling our way into.”
Several residents, mostly horse owners, spoke against including livestock waste in the current ordinance.
In the end, McLendon made a motion to approve the ordinance, but remove the references to livestock waste, which carried 5-0.