The Palm Beach County Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 3 recommended approval of an equestrian waste recycling facility in an industrial area on the east side of Benoist Farms Road about a third of a mile north of Southern Blvd.
The approval was made over objections from a number of residents outside the industrial area over concerns about odor.
Kevin McGinley, agent for applicant Horizon 880, HiPoint Agricultural Bedding and the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority, which owns the property being leased for the five-acre plant, said there is a great need for some type of treatment facility in Palm Beach County to handle equestrian waste.
“This is not just a Wellington problem,” McGinley said. “Only about half of the waste generated by Palm Beach County comes from Wellington. The other half comes from western Boynton Beach, western Delray Beach or Loxahatchee. Some have said, ‘Why can’t you just locate this out in Wellington? It’s their problem?’ It’s not.”
He pointed out that several applications in the agricultural area had been rejected previously for various reasons. After researching several other sites, planners concluded that a manure processing facility belonged in an industrial area, not an agricultural area.
“That’s why we’re back in an industrial area of Palm Beach County,” McGinley said. “The county said, ‘We’ll try to work with you. We realize this is a county problem.”
The county put out requests for proposals for a possible five-acre site, and the one under discussion came up.
“The lease is contingent upon us getting the approvals to locate this facility,” McGinley said, explaining that the site is in the heart of the county’s industrial area.
The location is also not that far away from areas that have horse manure issues to address.
Access to the property would be from Pike Road, which is constructed with adequate materials to handle the trucks. Transportation to the facility would be by licensed haulers that deposit the material inside the proposed building, McGinley said, explaining that the material is not just manure, but a mixture of bedding and manure.
“The material is basically just shavings from the horse stalls,” he said. “What we do is recycle the bedding through a process where we separate the manure from the bedding.”
The final products, fresh bedding and soil amendment materials, are then sold.
“Our business is really recycling the horse bedding so we can sell it back to the local farms,” McGinley said, explaining that the 48,000-square-foot building is self-contained so that odors and dust are routed through the building’s anerobic processor.
“In our system, everything is enclosed,” he said, adding that the facility would address the problem of almost 200,000 tons of equestrian waste generated annually in Palm Beach County. “Each horse generates one ton per month. At the height of the equestrian season, we have 24,000 horses in Palm Beach County.”
He added that in 2019, 18,000 tons of horse bedding was delivered to the Solid Waste Authority for burning.
After hearing concerns by the public and discussion among commissioners, Commissioner Alex Brumfield made a motion to recommend approval of the plant, subject to conditions including monitoring for escaping gases, which carried unanimously.