Kenansville residents fight landowner's plan to turn raw sewage into fertilizer

KENANSVILLE, Fla. — A Kenansville landowner who has proposed using his property to turn sewage sludge into fertilizer is facing staunch opposition from Osceola County leaders and residents.

The Rev. Jared Tanner said he has been praying about the issue but after a meeting of Osceola County commissioners Monday night, he has come down in opposition of the plan.

“It’s not a good deal,” Tanner said. “(It’s) not something that we want here and something we’re doing our best to fight so it doesn’t get put here.”

Commissioner Fred Hawkins, who represents Kenansville, said he didn’t have an acceptable answer when questioned about the biosolids plant.

“I, as their elected official, was asked Monday night, ‘Can you guarantee there won’t be any smell?’ I cannot do that,” he said, adding that he contacted Bill Folsom, the landowner, and asked him to do something else with the property. “I said that I felt as though they wouldn’t be a part of the community.

“This was not the right direction to go. That was met with a refusal.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to draft a new ordinance that would give them more power to say no to bio-solid plants in the county.

Tanner was worried that the plant would irrevocably alter the atmosphere of the area.

“I love the country, I love fishing,” he said. “I just love being somewhere where you don’t hear sirens every 30 seconds and you don’t have to worry about too much.”

Folsom has started the permitting process at the state level with the Environmental Protection Agency.

No information from the EPA was immediately available on the status of his permit application.

Folsom has not returned phone calls requesting comment on the proposed biosolids plant.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection released the following statement on Folsom's facility:

"DEP issued a permit for the land application of Class AA biosolids for the Greensfield Management Bisolids Treatment Facility on June 5, 2017. The treatment processing facility has not yet been constructed, and no construction or land application can take place until all necessary authorizations are obtained, including a DEP environmental resource permit and any required local authorizations. 

Class AA biosolids meet strict environmental criteria and are the highest quality of biosolids that can be applied to land in Florida. Land application permits require the development of a site-specific nutrient management plan and contain site restrictions such as setbacks to surface waters, maximum ground water levels at the time of application, and slope requirements to protect water quality by minimizing potential nutrient impacts."