Fort Payne ordinance introduces regulations to logging industry
Featured image: The Fort Payne City Council passed an ordinance this week that will require all logging operations to obtain a city-approved permit in order to begin a new project
By Joseph M. Morgan
FORT PAYNE, Ala.—The Fort Payne City Council approved an ordinance this week that calls for new regulations to the logging industry in Fort Payne. The ordinance will require private landowners and logging companies wishing to log on private land located within city limits to obtain a city-approved permit prior to the start of future logging operations.
Following passage of the ordinance, the council enacted a 2-month moratorium forbidding the issuance of the newly required logging permits, effectively shutting down new logging projects in Fort Payne for the next 60 days.
Prior to the regularly-scheduled council meeting on Tuesday, the council held a work session regarding logging to discuss how to address problems and concerns brought to light in the past few weeks by a group of concerned citizens from Fort Payne. Individuals representing the 38th Street and Godfrey Avenue North area in Fort Payne have been in attendance at recent council meetings to express a number of concerns the group has with logging in their area and how they believe it has negatively impacted their neighborhood. Those individuals were out in full force at the work session on Tuesday unified at the meeting as one large group of concerned citizens.
Among the greatest concerns from the citizens of the area has been what they have described as dangerous driving conditions caused by the increased traffic of the large logging trucks. Fort Payne resident Thomas Wallace was at the work session to speak on behalf of the group.
“I’m speaking for the families who live there,” Wallace said. “We have children who play up and down the street, and there is a guy who’s been bringing in the big logging trucks. We want to see something put into place to keep our families and our homes safe.”
Others from the group and from the area have mentioned that clearcutting and the significant removal of trees is causing flooding in the area. Another key concern not mentioned as often but seemingly of great importance to citizens and members of the council is what has been described as the eyesore created when large-scale logging operations come in and clearcut areas of the city that can be seen from all over Fort Payne.
The issue has been on the council’s radar for a number of weeks. The council first took up the matter in terms of proposing a potential solution to the perceived problems at the council meeting held two weeks ago. The idea of imposing weight restrictions on vehicles traveling on roads within the city limits was proposed, but the council could not come to agreement about how the restriction would be enforced and tabled the discussion after concerns about how a weight restriction would affect Fort Payne businesses that receive and deliver heavy loads on a regular basis. It was also brought to light that numerous city vehicles including the sanitation department haul heavy loads on a daily basis that would exceed the proposed weight limit.
Councilman Randall Ham said the city will determine over the next 60 days—the duration of the moratorium on issuing logging permits—the best course of action to take in terms of fleshing out the requirements for permit approval and determine a slope ordinance and the water runoff rate from the mountains. Ham said the city will meet with representatives from the Alabama Forestry Commission to establish a logging operational plan that he hopes can be tailored specifically to fit the needs of Fort Payne. City Attorney Rocky Watson and City Clerk Andy Parker also plan to meet with local foresters to discuss what options could be available to help protect citizens from surrounding owners who intend to clear cut their property.
At press time Southern Torch was in the process of reaching out to hear perspectives from the business community and specific stakeholders from the logging industry regarding their thoughts on the new regulations and moratorium and how they see the new measures affecting their businesses—for good or bad.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops and will update our article at www.southerntorch.com when we have responses from a full range of stakeholders in the days to come. For a full recap of the Fort Payne City Council’s meeting this week, visit www.southerntorch.com.