Thursday, April 24, 2008
Attorney looks into hauling regulations
By SUE WATSON
Complaints from citizens about road destruction caused by timber hauling and clay gravel trucks prompted the Marshall County Board of Supervisors to study actions that can be taken to recover damages.
County board of supervisors attorney Kent Smith said he requested an Attorney General’s opinion on what the board has authority to do regarding posting of weight limit signs on county roads and requiring haulers to post bonds for potential damages, particularly when haulers are mining in a residential area.
Agriculture and forestry are permitted in any zone in the county, but clay gravel miners may not have the right to mine in every zone, Smith said.
He said he was expecting an AG opinion on timber hauling and bonding requirements as early as last Monday afternoon.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett asked Smith why supervisors cannot put a weight limit on a county road as the state does on its roads, since the county lacks money to put in more durable roads that will hold up to 80,000-pound truck loads.
Supervisor Keith Taylor argued that landowners and timber companies are making money off logging activities which often are very destructive to county roads.
“It’s taken us a long time to get our roads fixed from the damages from logging,” he said. “People who live out there on these roads are saying ‘They are going to tear up our brand new road.’ I’m not asking to stop them. I am just asking to set a bond and to stop hauling until a bond is set.
“These people live in other states and pay property taxes, true, while the only people who suffer are the ones who live here (drive on the torn up roads).”
Smith said if haulers do not voluntarily post a bond, the county will have to file a complaint in court against the haulers.
Taylor asked if weight limits could be posted as well.
“I think the idea of a bond is the best way to go,” said supervisor George Zinn III.
He said posting weight limits could be done but roads could not be easily patrolled without hiring more people.
Smith was authorized by the board to research the matter further. He said any action taken would be enforced countywide.
Supervisors heard a complaint from residents in District 1 regarding the placement of a single-wide mobile home in a zone that allows them only under a hardship exception.
Gary Barnett and Danny Colston spoke for the community in question saying the single-wide had been brought in, a well was dug and a septic tank installed, but the electricity was not hooked up.
“It’s actually a junker trailer that has been remodeled,” Barnett said. “Been there about three weeks. What is the hardship and who signed off on it?”
Colston said if there is a law, it should be enforced.
“I would like to see it addressed in a business and professional way,” he said.
The men said they were told by zoning director Conway Moore that the trailer had been moved to the property without a permit but that the owner had authorization.
“We are here to speak our piece,” Barnett said.
District 1 Supervisor Willie Flemon expressed surprise and exasperation.
“I am totally in the dark,” he said. “I was not informed. I look like, if you will excuse the expression, a fool.”
Moore was not in the boardroom to speak on behalf of zoning.
In an interview later, Moore said the matter had not gone before the zoning board but a single-wide can be authorized for placement in an area zoned for double-wides only, by special need. The owner filled out an application for a special exception February 12, she said.
Moore said she disagrees with Barnett’s comment that the home was a junker.
“I would put it in my back yard if I had room,” she said.
Moore added that another supervisor had authorized for the placement by telephone call by mistake. She apologized on behalf of supervisor Flemon and said she takes credit for the confusion in the boardroom concerning notification.
A supervisor can authorize placement of trailer by special need over the telephone, Moore said. The matter does not have to be taken up by the zoning board, she said.
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