Fort Payne votes to conditionally allow logging (VIDEO)

Fort Payne votes to conditionally allow logging (VIDEO)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — At the Fort Payne City Council meeting on Tuesday (December 20) the council voted to allow conditional logging within the city limits, after passing a measure to ban all logging operations earlier in the year.

Officially, the action, known as Ordinance 2016 - 09, would amend Ordinance 2016 - 05, and rescind Ordinance 2016 - 07 also known as the logging ordnance. In simpler terms, this allows logging in areas of the city limits which aren't on a slope, and will set up a permitting system at the city level. 

Watch the full video below:

Although today was the first reading of the ordinance, the city council and mayor decided to suspend the rules and vote on the matter.

"I suggest we suspend the rules and go ahead and adopt it, at least that would give the loggers the chance to get started right now," Mayor Chesser said.

"It doesn't rescind the moratorium on all properties. With certain exceptions it rescinds the moratorium. It requires some compliances which I think are fairly standard anyway," City Attorney Rocky Watson explained.

Attorney Watson continued: "There are a lot of properties that aren't really affected by the slopes. The concerns we have are really not a problem at this point. So If someone has a level piece of land on lookout mountain or down in the valley they want to timber this week, they are open to proceed."

Watson also said they will have an open meeting sometime at night to discuss where there are slope problems and how to best manage logging within the city limits.

Councilman Gerald Taylor stressed, "It would only apply to the more level properties. It wouldn't apply to the side of the mountain and the ridges."

"And that's what's happened we've had people that have been affected that own property that is flat, and these contracts are running out while we have this moratorium, which that's why I think we should take care of that right now," said Councilwoman Lynn Brewer.

Councilman Wade hill suggested discussing the matter further at the meeting on January 3rd and holding a meeting on Jan 17th at 6:00 pm, which will be open to public comment.

Requirements for a logging permit:

"They have to get a permit before they start, so we can make a determination if the property lies in an area where the moratorium doesn't exist," Watson explained. Watson then asked a member of the Alabama Forestry Commission in the audience if this would resolve issues with the original ban.

"I don't see a problem with that if you have a permit system in place for them to get a permit immediately," he said.

"This ordinance puts it (a system) in place," Watson responded.

Back in June of this year, the Fort Payne City Council passed an ordinance requiring those companies conducting logging on private lands within the city limits to obtain a permit issued by the city, then immediately passed a moratorium forbidding the city from issuing permits for 60 days.

The complaints included the danger posed by logging trucks on those streets where many families reside as well as the eye sore caused by the clearcutting.

The city decided to take drastic measures on the logging industry after a group of citizens from Godfrey Avenue and 38th Street made their complaints known to the council earlier in the summer.

Many were also concerned about the elevated risk of flooding created by the logging. When an area undergoes deforestation, the removal of the roots causes the soil to be more easily washed away by water.

After the 60 day period ended in early September, Rocky Watson brought a new amendment before the council, extending the moratorium until February 1, 2017.

Many were also concerned about the elevated risk of flooding created by the logging. When an area undergoes deforestation, the removal of the roots causes the soil to be more easily washed away by water.

Other items voted on/mentioned at the meeting:

  • Voted to pay accounts.
  • Passed Resolution 2016 - 39 (Cleanup and Removal of Debris for a house that burned)
  • City Attorney Watson announced the County has informally agreed to delay the fee on housing of inmates until April 1, 2017, in order to try and reach an agreement.
  • Authorized Mayor to purchase rights to right-of-ways on two separate properties.
  • Reappointed Wallace Smith and Brad Scott to the Fort Payne Improvement Authority (FPIA) Board
  • Reappointed Dana Goggins to the Fort Payne Waterworks Board.
  • Reappointed Glenn Horton and Jim Cunningham to the Industrial Development board.
  • Approved sale of surplus vehicles from the fire department to Bobby Ledbetter; who submitted the highest bid.
  • Authorized the city to solicit bids for various building materials.

Mayors Report: 

  • Mayor Chesser asked if anyone had checked on the Old Cobble Building.
  • Announced that the Mapco deal would be finalized after the first of the year, which is still on time.
  • The mayor also addressed the issue of some subdivisions not having their streets paved due to laws currently in place that forbids the city from paving roads in subdivisions.

The next meeting of the Fort Payne City Council will be held on January 3rd, 2017 at 12:00 pm.