Thursday, February 19, 2009
Board revisiting issue with haulers
By SUE WATSON
While the Legislature is considering raising the weight limits for haulers from 84,000 pounds to 88,000, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors is considering either taking haulers who have damaged roads to court for compensation and/or requiring haulers to post bond before going into the field.
The measures would affect miners and wood cutters in particular.
Supervisors reported heavy damages to Scales Tower Road and O’Dell Road from haulers over the winter. Eleven hundred loads of logs were carried over Scales Tower Road in recent months. It is the number of loads as well as the weight of the trucks and logs that tend to damage roads. Weather conditions during hauling in and out of the field are also a factor.
Supervisors say it will take over $50,000 to repair damage to Scales Tower Road - much more than the income that would be generated from harvesting timber on U.S. Forestry lands where tornadoes took down lots of trees in 2008.
Supervisor Keith Taylor said he wants to talk to representatives with the Marshall County Forestry Association again. They want assurances that damages to roads will be paid by the forestry industry rather than by the taxpayers of Marshall County.
County roads are not built to withstand 80,000 to 90,000 pound loads (cargo plus rigs), said Taylor, one supervisor who has argued that the tree farmer, the hauler or the buyer should pay for damages to roads at harvest time.
Forestry is the number one agricultural industry in Marshall County.
“Everybody is so happy to get their roads done and the board of supervisors has stretched tax dollars by using DBST (double bituminous surface treatment),” Taylor said.
Taylor suggested the board may need to require haulers put up a bond to cover any damages they may do to roads when harvesting timber.
County administrator Larry Hall said damage done to Scales Tower Road by haulers was minimal during harvest until haulers decided to work after a freeze and tore the road up.
“It was not hurting the road before they came in and worked after the freeze,” he said.
Associate board attorney Justin Cluck with Smith/Whaley Law Firm cautioned the board that if haulers are taken to court for damages, the county would need expert proof of who did the damages and lawsuits could be very expensive.
“We are saying we are prepared to enforce bond ordinances?” asked supervisor George Zinn, following a motion to sue certain haulers for recent damages to roads.
“Why have we not proceeded with lawsuits to people who destroyed roads; why are we hesitant about going on and doing something?” Zinn asked. “Why aren’t we lining up some fellas right now.”
“If they know we would file a law suit, they might put up a bond,” said supervisor Willie Flemon.
The board of supervisors rescinded a bond requirement on haulers to protect roads last year after heavy lobbying by the local forestry association. The association argued that tree farmers would not get bids on their tree stands from buyers if the bond requirement was not lifted.
In other business, the board of supervisors:
She added that a developer is expected to request a permit to put modular homes in Residential Estate zoning districts. The sluggish housing market is causing some developers to consider requests for zoning variances, Moore said.
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