Commissioners: Timber permit system ‘failure to communicate’

Published 7:39 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Timber representatives agreed Monday they were not opposed to registering their operations; however, they were adamantly opposed to the county’s recently adopted permitting system – calling it “too broad” and “unfair.”
The system, which was adopted in April, established rules regarding the use of county roadways and right-of-ways for timber harvesting. It also called for logging/harvesting operations to be held liable for any road damages.
A group of approximately 20 timber industry representatives and landowners attended Monday’s workshop, which was set after last week’s commission meeting where more than 100 industry representatives protested the permit system.
“There’s just so many questions surrounding (the rules and regulations), and it’s so broad-based,” Farrell Spears said.
At last week’s meeting, county engineer Darren Capps illustrated more than $40,000 in road damages by logging companies made since January.
However, everyone who spoke at Monday’s meeting questioned why the commission was targeting the industry as a whole for the actions of a few.
“It doesn’t make sense why you’d punish the whole class because of a couple of bad students,” said Ezell Castleberry.
Others spoke on how the permit systems would cut into the landowner’s profit.
Commissioner Carl Turman called the measure a “failure to communicate” between the commission and the logging industry.
“But that’s what we were looking for, a way to communicate and all (the commission) was thinking about was that the roads needed to be passable,” Turman said. “That’s all.”
All present agreed to a fine-tuning of the registration application so that it included the name of the timber buyer and length of the contract. Additionally, timber representatives agreed to use an honor system among their peers, reporting any wrong doing to the county engineer.
“I think the honor system is the way to go,” Chairman Lynn Sasser said. “Let our integrity work for us.”
All agreed to work in the coming months to establish a more concrete system.
“We can police ourselves,” Spears said. “We can all work together as responsible adults, but this is going to be a work in progress.”