Over Fuhrman's Objections, Manure Ordinance Passes

City Council member Tom Fuhrman (left) discusses an issue with Mayor Scott Mann as Wallace Edger...

City Council member Tom Fuhrman (left) discusses an issue with Mayor Scott Mann as Wallace Edgerton listens.
At one point Wednesday night, Menifee City Council member Tom Fuhrman left the council chambers, despite a colleague's request that he stay. Later in the meeting, Fuhrman remained on the dais, despite the city attorney's suggestion that he leave.

That pretty much sums up the tone of a council meeting that was at times confrontational, not only among residents and council members, but between council members and one of their own.

Before an overflow crowd at City Hall, the council voted 4-1 to approve an urgency ordinance establishing manure management and disposal standards regarding livestock on property within the city. Ten residents spoke in opposition of the ordinance, especially criticizing the urgency status of the ordinance.

Making the issue even more complex is the fact that the urgency ordinance was in response to a notice of violation filed by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board regarding a 37-acre ranch owned by Fuhrman. In a notice dated July 31 and addressed to Interim City Manager Rob Johnson, the water control board warned city officials that violations discovered during a June 24 inspection of Fuhrman's Wooden Nickel Ranch revealed "about six to eight inches or horse manure spread over a large area. Runoff from this area flows into the fork (of water drainage) that runs through the site."

The July 31 notice also requested that city officials enact an ordinance regarding control of horse manure to ensure compliance with storm water ordinances. According to city attorney Julie Biggs, failure to pass an ordinance regulating the maintenance of manure would continue the violation, meaning the city would face the possibility of $10,000 a day in fines.

The ordinance approved Wednesday night requires that manure must be removed from "stalls, paddocks, arenas, corrals and other livestock keeping areas on a regular basis," at least weekly, from property where 10 or more animals are housed. Manure must be stored in approved containers and the potential runoff of polutants must be minimized.

In a rural area where livestock is kept on many properties, the ordinance was a sensitive issue. Several residents urged the council to delay a decision on the ordinance until a study could be made of the impact of manure on local soil and water sources. Some said they believed that because of violations found with one resident, many residents would be unnecessarily forced to remove manure they use as fertilizer on their property, believing no ill effects of manure have been proven.

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