Timber harvest gets landowner in trouble with Fayetteville rules

Denuded land after clear-cutting on Ga. Highway 54 East. Photo/Ben Nelms.

There is nothing prohibiting a property owner from cutting timber. The problem is when the rules are not followed and an approved development plan has not been secured. That was the case with property owner 54 Development, Inc. and two parcels the company owns along Ga. Highway 54 East in Fayetteville. The city attorney is currently preparing a letter to CEO Perry Knight outlining the company’s obligations.

The clear-cut project on property situated between Hwy. 54 East and three residential developments included a 12.6-acre tract, located between Weatherly Drive and Knight Way, and much of a 1.55-acre tract immediately to the west. These and another .9-acre tract to the east are owned by Jonesboro-based 54 Development, Inc. Perry Knight is listed as the company’s CEO.

With the previously dense stand of trees now clear-cut and the land bare and littered with remnants of fallen trees, some residents have likened the area to a war zone and they wonder what will become of the property.

In a July 2 email pertaining to trees illegally harvested from the property along Hwy. 54, Fayetteville Community Development Director Brian Wismer said the property owner of the undeveloped tract hired a timber harvesting company to clear the land. The city informed the representative from the timber company of the city’s ordinance which prohibits this practice. 

“When we discovered that they decided to move forward anyway, most of the work had already been done. The city had them stop all activity until further notice. At that time, we notified the timber company and the property owner that citations were forthcoming,” said Wismer. 

City Manager Joe Morton said property cannot be clear-cut without an approved development plan which includes re-planting and landscaping. Such a plan would have gone before the planning and zoning commission but was not submitted, Morton said, adding his belief that the lumber contractor had done most of the up-front work for the owner.

Wismer after a July 8 meeting with the city attorney said a notice is being prepared for the owner spelling out the violations, inquiring about his plans for the property, outlining the areas of infraction and asking how he intends to remedy the problem. The owner has 14 days to respond to the city’s letter, Wismer added.

Wismer said civil penalties and a three-year moratorium on developing the area could be forthcoming.

The city’s goal, said Wismer, is to have the owner plant trees in at least the most visible areas of the property, both along the highway buffer and along the perimeter areas of the property.

The owner will also be responsible for damage done to a fire hydrant and to a portion of the stormwater drainage curbing.

Gort
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Joined: 07/28/2009
I'm surprised the local

I'm surprised the local militia didn't rise to the landowners defense and protect him from the 'mean old government.' What a bunch of rabble they must be!

Shoebox
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Joined: 12/09/2006
RAPE OF THE LAND

This makes me angry! Ugly sight! That "Do it now and ask forgiveness later instead of permission first" rule that a lot of people live by is just an excuse to do the wrong thing for their own benefit! I hope they are made to replace some of the trees they cut, and replace them with trees we can actually see!

Shoebox
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Joined: 12/09/2006
RAPE OF THE LAND

This makes me angry! Ugly sight! That "Do it now and ask forgiveness later instead of permission first" rule that a lot of people live by is just an excuse to do the wrong thing for their own benefit! I hope they are made to replace some of the trees they cut, and replace them with trees we can actually see!

Husband and Fat...
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The city is being awful nice

Most municipalities would place a stop work order and possibly involve the police. This wasn't a mistake or not being aware of the ordinance. This was purposefully done despite being told not to.

The timber company deserves to have their licence suspended at least within the city boundaries and the landowner equally punished as well.

I am asking this as a question and not accusatory. Now that the city has annexed more land and needs to supplement staff from the county, are they too overburdened that they couldn't stop this before it got this far? If they don't take a harder stance will others just take the same route and ask forgiveness instead of permission?