Officials to target on road repair costs

An ordinance initially designed to regulate damage caused by loggers loading trucks on county roads has grown into a broader measure governing commercial logging operations overall.

Jackson County commissioners began discussing the issue in May when county highway superintendent Warren Martin asked if he could have more leverage in dealing with loggers damaging roads.

The repairs of damaged roads from such operations can be as high as $10,000 or even more depending upon the size of the operation, Martin said.

In May, he said he monitors logging activities throughout the county but has little way to make loggers pay for any damage.

County attorney Susan Bevers recently gave commissioners a proposed ordinance that she said addresses more than just the loading of log trucks. Commissioners plan to act on that ordinance during their meeting at 9:30 a.m. July 21 at the courthouse annex.

That ordinance came out of talks involving Martin, Bevers, Commissioner Matt Reedy and loggers.

Bevers said the ordinance establishes a tier of four options for governing logging operations. The options range from the most basic, Tier 1, to the most stringent, Tier 4.

Tier 1 requires loggers to inform the county highway department of anticipated travel routes for harvesting of a particular property; the estimated beginning and end of the harvest operation; and to obtain a driveway permit from a county road to a loading yard. The drive permit requires a $50 fee, which can be waived by the highway superintendent.

Loggers failing to meet Tier 1 requirements would fall to Tier 2, which adds the requirement that they provide a certificate of insurance naming the county as a “loss payee” to cover loss or damage to a county road as a result of harvesting operations.

Tier 3 requires loggers to provide an additional $50,000 restoration bond, and Tier 4 adds a requirement that loggers pay a flat-use fee of $1,000 per commercial motor vehicle involved in the harvesting operation.

Bevers said if loggers comply with regulations for a year, they can request a reduction in requirements.

The decision to require more or less regulation will be left with the highway superintendent, but loggers can appeal any decision, in writing, to commissioners within 14 days.

Bevers said any money collected through the ordinance would be used for road repairs.

Martin said Monday he thinks the ordinance is fair.

“It will allow us to deal with those loggers who choose to go in a different direction,” he said. “We’re not trying to make it hard on anyone or impede on them making a living.”

He said most loggers generally keep the county informed of their operations and any issues, but there are some who are consistently creating issues with their operations.

Reedy said he really liked what Bevers had been able to do with the ordinance after receiving initial direction from the committee.