Loggers to county: No permit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Commissioners agreed Tuesday to delay implementing a recently adopted timber harvesting permitting system.

A group of nearly 100 industry representatives composed of loggers, landowners and farmers told commissioners they felt the measure “unfairly targeted” them. The permit, which is free, records the name of the logging company/timber harvester, the work site, landowner and transportation route. It was adopted in an effort to “create a system of accountability…and reduce the cost of maintenance of county roads and bridges” due to damages inflicted by the timber harvesting industry, county engineer Darren Capps said.

In a slide show presentation, Capps said at least six county roads were closed in January and February because of damages sustained from the operation of the timber harvesting industry.

Farrell Spears of Kennedy Logging operation said he and others felt “unfairly targeted” by the permitting system.

“When I read about it, I felt like it was a slap in the face for the job I was doing,” Spears said. “Logging is a strong business, and this permitting system punishes us all for what two or three (operations) are doing.

“We are all opposed to it,” he said. “You can get the information that you want without a permit. All you have to do is ask. And right now there is no fee (for the permit), but what about in the future. You won’t always be in office.”

Additionally, Spears said his company felt so strongly about the permit that if no compromise could be made, it would “take its business elsewhere.”

“We employ 40 people, and we spend $750,000 a year in Covington County,” he said. “As of May 1, we will take that business elsewhere until this is resolved.

“We regulate ourselves enough, and the way (the commission) went about it was wrong,” he said. “We can come up with something better than a permit.”

Commissioner Bragg Carter said the system wasn’t put into place “to hurt anyone.”

“But we also have to look out for the folks who have to get home on those same roads (where operations are working),” he said. “We also understand that you have a job to do and you’re out to make a living.”

Commissioners and members of the logging industry will meet Monday to discuss a solution to the permitting issue.

In other business, the commission:

awarded a bid of $132,504 for six new patrol cars to Andalusia Ford.

gave final approval to the Seminole Estates and C&D subdivisions.

appropriated $500 for the Lucille Pierce Family Literacy and Resource Center.

awarded a $148,800 bid to Carter Construction for the new courthouse elevator. Commissioner Carter abstained from the vote.