VIDEO: Fort Payne Council discusses first draft of slope ordinance
March 7, 2017
Southern Torch (3351 articles)
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VIDEO: Fort Payne Council discusses first draft of slope ordinance

PHOTO: Council President Brian Baine, City Clerk Andy Parker, and Councilman Gerald Taylor hear concerns from a citizen on the proposed logging regulation. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor 

tyler@southerntorch.com

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — At the regular meeting of the Fort Payne City Council earlier today, citizens voiced their opinions on proposed Ordinance 2017 – 02, Regulating logging and timbering in defined areas in the City limits of Fort Payne.

The ordinance is the “first draft” of a law that’s being developed in Fort Payne to regulate logging within the city limits. The issue came up almost a year ago when citizens voiced their concern over clear-cutting on the side of the mountain, which many think destroy the natural beauty of Lookout Mountain. Others also had concern over the dangers of logging trucks and equipment on the roads within the city limits.

After a moratorium was passed, banning all logging within the city limits while a solution could be reached, the city faced backlash from those in the logging industry who was effected by the total ban. Late last year, the city voted to allow logging on property with a slope less than 15 percent, and done by defined, “Best Management Practices.”

Watch the full video: (Story Continues Below)

In the last meeting, City Attorney Rocky Watson announced a first draft of the ordinance, which would be released to the public for citizens to provide comment. The meeting room was close to capacity with concerned citizens. The new ordinance prohibits clear-cutting on a slope of 25 percent or greater, and on these slopes, loggers are only allowed to cut trees 14 inches in diameter or greater. Several members of the public addressed the council.

Members of the public at the March 7 meeting of the Fort Payne City Council to discuss the logging ordinance. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

The first inquired if the ordinance would affect those clear land to build houses and drive ways on the mountain. Attorney Watson explained that the ordinance, “clearly defines a logging operation.”

The second citizen to speak, who didn’t identify himself, was concerned that the ordinance didn’t do enough to curb logging, and that the city did a poor job informing the public so that citizens can provide comment.

“Lookout mountain is our number one asset in the area. Everyone I’ve talked to is against it. They don’t know we are having meetings about it. They don’t get the paper,” he said.

“You said the last time that this is the most important thing you’ve worked on in the whole time you’ve been the Attorney for the City of Fort Payne,” he said. “Why wasn’t there a post card sent out to all the voters of the city, telling people what’s going on? You can’t just go by the newspaper, 90 percent of the people in Fort Payne don’t read the newspaper.”

“I think the citizens ought to be notified better than they were notified,” said the citizen. “I also think there should be a vote of the citizens, and ask them if they want logging on the side of Lookout Mountain.

“We’re trying to protect our resources, and we’re trying to protect the rights of our property owners as well,” explained Councilman Wade Hill, later in the meeting.

“It’s all our desire to see Fort Payne remain as beautiful as it can be. We do the best we can up here in these seats to do the best for you guys,” said Council President Brian Baine.

A logger from the area also raised concern about the safety of workers doing selective cutting on that steep of a slope instead of using the machinery that can be used for clearcutting.

“What happens if the logger, and I mean the man on the ground, is injured or killed trying to implement this policy? Is Fort Payne ready to accept the liability?” The citizen asked.

“There would be no liability on us for that,” replied Watson.

“They were enacting the ordinance,” said the citizen.

“That’s the job of the logger to decide if it’s safe to do the job in that manner. If it’s not safe, I would suggest finding somewhere else to cut,” Watson stated.

Other items addressed at the meeting:

  • Approved Resolution 2017-14, approving an amendment to the Certificate of Incorporation of the Etowah-DeKalb-Cherokee Mental Health Board.
  • Approved the Following Activity Permits:
    • Fort Payne Main Street Fundraiser in the City Park on Friday, April 28, 2017 from 5 pm until 9 pm.
    • VFW 5K Run beginning at the Rotary Pavilion on Saturday, May 6 from 7 am until 11 am.
    • Adamsburg Christian Academy Fundraiser, Walk/Run, Rotary Pavilion, on Saturday, May 13 from 8 am until 9:30 am.
    • DeKalb Ambulance Service, EMS Week Picnic, City Park, on Saturday, May 20, 2017 from 11 am until 3 pm.
    • Fort Payne Main Street, 5K Fun Run, downtown Fort Payne for Saturday, June 3, 2017 beginning at 8 am.
    • Coffey Agencies, Autism Awareness Walk/Run, downtown Fort Payne, Saturday, August 26.
    • Andrea McCurdy, Friends of DeKalb County Animal Adoption Center, 5K fundraiser, October 14, 2017 from 7:30 am until 11:30 am.

Mayor’s Report:

  • Phase I Environmental Study on the old hospital is complete and was received today. The study found that lead, asbestos, and several other toxic chemicals present in the structure. Five underground storage tanks are present on the property. The mayor reported that the EPA would pay for Phase II if the city took ownership of the property.
  • The Mapco deal is still on hold.
  • A new contract with retail strategies is ready to sign. Council members asked to take a look at it first. This issue should be addressed at the next meeting. The previous contract expired yesterday. Total amount of the contract is $80,000.00. The mayor reported that the city brought in $181,000 in sales tax due to businesses brought in by Retail Strategies.

The next regular meeting of the Fort Payne City Council will be held on March 21 at 12 pm in the city council chambers.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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