St. Lucie County residents protest Compost USA application to bu - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

St. Lucie County residents protest Compost USA application to build compost plant at Becker Groves

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- Hundreds of St. Lucie County residents protested a compost plant that could be developed in western St. Lucie County Tuesday afternoon.

Residents chanted and waived signs outside the county commission building, wanting to send a message to commissioners to reject an application by Compost USA to build a bio-solid compost plant at the Becker Groves property on Shinn Rd.

Residents, who mostly live within a 5 mile radius of the proposed location, worry about how the plant will impact their property values and the environment, in addition to potential odors that could reach their neighborhoods.

"It will impact out property values. I don't want to sit in my back yard smelling this," said resident Don Marmorato.

Commissioner Chris Dzedovsky spoke to protestors and listened to their concerns. "We're trying to take all the information in to make the most reasonable, appropriate decision that is legal and binding," Dzedovsky said.

"This is a serious public issue," resident Gharles Gausten said. "I happen to be a proponent of composting. What are we going to do with this stuff? I'm not against it philosophically. I'm against it because it's in the wrong place."

The Becker Groves property sits adjacent to numerous canals that feed into the St. Lucie River. Residents worry the compost could run off into the canals or also cause ground water pollution.

But, Compost USA President Kris Creeden says a retention pond would be built on the property to prevent run off.

Becker Holdings General Manager, Rick Melchiori, says Becker Groves took a hard hit from citrus greening. Allowing Compost USA to use their property could help make up some losses.

Melchiori says the grove has a clean record. He wouldn't want to ruin that. "We would certainly not do anything on this piece of property that we own that would tarnish our reputation. We will put the safe guards in place to make sure we're protecting the environment."

The county has paid for one environmental impact study that revealed there would be few negative impacts from composting.

However, researcher Sally Brown is also a former board member of the US Compost Council, which is a proponent of composting.

Residents consider that a conflict of interest and want to see the county complete an independent study before making a final decision.

Commissioners are set to discuss, and possibly make a final decision on December 3.

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