Proposed Logging Ordinance Causes Controversy in Pike County
A proposed ordinance in Pike County is causing controversy with local loggers. However, city officials tell CBS 8 News the main goal is to keep roads in the area safe and in good condition.
The ordinance would require all loggers in Pike County to tell county officials when they'll be hauling timber, and on which roads. And while proponents say it doesn't require timber businesses to ask permission to use local roads, some loggers say, they're worried it will come to that.
Pike County Engineer Russell Oliver says that's not part of the current ordinance. "It just gives the county commission the ability to recognize when and where loggers are working, so the county can work with them to prevent any safety problems," he said.
But loggers say the last thing they need is more red tape. And even though the county commission was scheduled to vote on the ordinance on Monday, timber industry leaders say they've been in the dark. "The ordinance has been in discussion for about eight months, and the businessmen and women in Pike County just found out last wednesday night and were able to verify through some phone calls the following morning that the ordinance was going to be voted on," said Russell Johnson of Coastal Plain Land and Timber.
That didn't happen after the county commission failed to meet quorum. The ordinance is based on a state law, and county leaders say the Pike County proposal doesn't go beyond that. They say they want to work with loggers to maintain safe roads and working conditions. "This is not a permit, and there are no fees that the county commission is able to charge or impose on any timber companies," added Oliver.
But loggers say they have too many unanswered questions. "I don't think any of us has any aspiration to go out and maliciously destroy roads or make something unsafe, but what we all were able to read leaves too much gray area about what are we gonna be held liable for," said Johnson.
Both local loggers and county leaders tell CBS 8 News they want to come to a compromise on the measure. The county commission will take up the issue at its meeting next month.
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