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The case against lots of horse waste

At least 10 neighbors want a stable to deal with its collection. That is apparently being done.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 18, 2001


PINELLAS PARK -- This city is one of the few places left in Pinellas County where some residents can look out their windows at a living calendar photo -- horses grazing in a green pasture.

But the bucolic view has a down side that some neighbors are reluctant to tolerate, especially when it piles up.

Ten neighbors of Majestic Oaks Equestrian Center, 8421 62nd St. N, have signed a petition asking that the stable's manure pile -- "bigger than most of our houses" -- be moved.

"We are having to wash our cars, clean our windows, dust our homes more frequently than normal and, for allergy sufferers, the dust from the property and manure pile is unbearable and not to mention that we have more flies than ever before and this is not hygienic, they carry diseases," the neighbors said.

"We demand relief."

Patricia and David MacFarlane, owners of Majestic Oaks, formerly known as Hidden Oaks, could not be reached for comment.

The Pinellas Park police say help is on the way.

"I know about the manure pile," Capt. John Green said Monday. The MacFarlanes have been told to get rid of it. If they don't, Green said, they'll have to appear in front of the city's code board.

There should be no need for that because the situation is being fixed, said Will Bicknell, head of the city's Equestrian Trail Study Commission. Patricia MacFarlane is that group's vice chairwoman. "The manure pile is being moved," Bicknell said. "I went out there and they were in the process of moving it and the tractor broke."

As soon as the tractor has been repaired, the rest of the pile will be moved, Bicknell said.

The manure pile has shrunk since the MacFarlanes took over the property, he said. "They're willing to do whatever it takes to make their neighbors happy."

The issue of dust will be harder to solve because of the drought, Bicknell said. Majestic Oaks is in a part of the city without reclaimed water.

Under drought conditions, it's unlikely that barn owners will be able to sprinkle their dirt arenas just before horses are ridden.

"It's not an option to them yet," Bicknell said. "When reclaimed comes through, they said they'd be more than happy to hook to it.

"I can understand those folks over there with the dust and so forth. I get that at my house. I do not have reclaimed water offered to me, either."

Green and Bicknell said complaints about manure piles are rare in Pinellas Park.

But it's something the equestrian board planned to study because the city has no ordinance directly addressing the issue. This complaint merely sped up the timetable, Bicknell said.

The equestrian commission will meet at 7 tonight on the second floor of City Hall, 5141 78th Ave. N. The meeting is open to the public, and Majestic Oaks' neighbors have been invited.

Generally speaking, manure removal is the individual property owner's duty, Bicknell said.

The least expensive of three methods is for horse owners to spread the manure on their own property and mix it with their soil. But that can be done for only so long, Bicknell said.

Second, pay someone to haul it away. Some businesses mix the manure with sandy soil and sell it later as topsoil.

Bicknell, who runs a boarding stable, said he chose the third and most expensive option: He hired a container from Waste Management Corp., the city's garbage disposal contractor. The manure is dumped in the Waste Management container and is hauled away twice a week.

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