Palm Beach County commissioners on Monday took the first step toward approving regulations for storing and disposing horse manure and other livestock waste.
The changes would limit the amount of manure that can be spread on a property without approval from the county’s Cooperative Extension Service.
Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with new rules. But before the changes can take effect, two hearings must be held to gauge public reaction. Those hearings have been scheduled for July and August.
County officials proposed the regulations after receiving complaints that truckloads of manure were being deposited on properties in the county’s unincorporated areas without any approval. The county’s current rules prevent code enforcement officials from taking action against property owners who spread manure on their land.
People who live near some of the sites have complained that the manure attracts flies and can be harmful to underground drinking water supplies. Opponents of the proposed regulations, however, argue the new rules are too restrictive and drastically limit how much of a property can be covered by livestock waste.
Commissioner Jess Santamaria said Monday that there was still time for county officials to continue to address opponents’ concerns.
“I would want to continue meeting with the affected parties and see if there is future fine-tuning to take care of everybody’s needs and concerns,” Santamaria said before Monday’s vote.
Under the plan, property owners would be allowed to spread 10 cubic yards of manure for each acre, up to a maximum of 20 cubic yards in any 12 month period.
Residents who spread more than that amount would be required to submit a nutrient management plan to the county’s Cooperative Extension Service. Once approved, the plan would be good for three years.
Landowners would also be prohibited from spreading livestock waste within 25 feet of their property line or within 100 feet of a water supply well, storm drainage system, wetland, pond, canal or other water body.
The regulations would not prohibit a property owner from spreading composted manure on their land, county officials said.