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Haulers question ordinance

June 6, 2014


Local members of the timber industry went before the Clay County Board of Supervisors to speak on the county’s proposed heavy hauling ordinance at the board’s meeting Thursday.
The board has been discussing a $35,000 bond from each timber hauler transporting more than 50,000 pounds to repair any damage caused to county roads.
Rodney Johnson, of Johnson Timber Co., said the bond will directly affect the value of timber in Clay County because any cost incurred will be passed down to land owners. According to Johnson, the average logger is not going to take the risk of a $35,000 bond.
“We know that some of the roads are inferior and are going to experience some damage if we haul on them,” Johnson said. “We try our best to abide by laws, and I know we have some haulers that don’t, but we don’t need to punish everyone because of a few bad apples.”
Johnson said there are more than 166,000 acres of forest land in Clay County, which is an average of about 38 acres per land owner. He said the value of the crops may only be $10,000 to $20,000, and loggers won’t pay a bond higher than the cost of the payload.
Kip Banes, of Lewis Brothers Lumber Co., said timber is a valuable resource for landowners, and when county laws become too restrictive to loggers, they will leave for other counties.
“Lewis Brothers buys roughly $1 million worth of timber from Clay County each year,” Banes said. “A lot of times we buy from small landowners, not big businesses, and that tract of timber may be their retirement.”
Banes asked the board to be fair with the ordinance, and include gravel, dirt and other kinds of haulers. He said the timber business gets picked on, and that other counties in the state are tough on logging.
Clay County contractor Chris Herring said with bigger businesses, such as Yokohama Tire, coming to the community, the bond will negatively affect the local economy.
“This county has some of the best agricultural land in the country,” Herring said. “We’re going to have people want to invest money in Clay County, and the bond will hamstring potential buyers.”

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