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AMERICAN FORK — A new lawsuit claims a compost facility in Utah County has or will cause $425 million dollars in damages to business in the area because of the smell.
Most of the complaints are coming from an office complex about a half-mile north of the publicly-owned compost facility and wastewater treatment plant. The property owner and nearby cities are filing a lawsuit over what they call a foul smell.
It has a reputation as the best compost around, to help your flowers grow and the vegetables in your garden to flourish-but for the neighbors of the Timpanogos Special Service District, the odor from the compost piles, is at times too much.
"When the wind blows in the wrong direction, I get emails, I get phone calls and we've been promised so many times this is going to stop," said developer Mark Robinson.
When the wastewater plant was built, it was in an open area, far away from any business. But over the past decade, businesses and office complexes have sprouted closer to the plant, which composts human waste with tree limbs and other green waste.
"The problem that we have now is that we have stigma that it smells in American Fork and Pleasant Grove and therefore we are having a difficult time getting new tenants and some of our larger tenants, if we don't fix this problem, they are not going to renew." Mark Robinson
"The problem that we have now is that we have stigma that it smells in American Fork and Pleasant Grove and therefore we are having a difficult time getting new tenants and some of our larger tenants, if we don't fix this problem, they are not going to renew," Robinson said.
The irony is that those suing the facility are also partners in it. But American Fork and Pleasant Grove cities say they can't get the other municipalities to stop the composting, which they claim is costing them millions in lost tax revenue.
"When the wind blows or things smell, it moves right into Pleasant Grove and into American Fork, and that becomes our issue," said Pleasant Grove City administrator Scott Darrington.
The facility operator said $16 million have been invested to improve the composting process, which helps to dispose of human waste.
The $425 million dollar lawsuit may just be an attention getter to stop the facility from composting on this site. The plaintiffs want the composting to be moved to a different location, or have the human waste hauled to the landfill.