Alabama “Prior Notice” Law Mistaken for “Permitting” Authorization

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In response to concerns by some county commissioners that unidentified loggers in Alabama were not being held accountable for alleged damage to public roads, the state legislature passed what sounds like a very mild piece of legislation allowing (not requiring) counties to require loggers to provide “prior notice of intent” to use county roads or rights-of-way prior to operations. As the Alabama Forestry Association points out, “No county was required to pass an ordinance, but if they did it could not be more restrictive than the simple ‘notice of intent’ requirement of the state law. Furthermore, any existing ordinance that conflicted with the State Law was nullified to the extent of the conflict.”

However, the implementation of the option to require “notice” seems to have become the pretext by several counties to implement a logging “permitting” program. These counties, following a model developed by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, decided to add requirements not authorized by the State law or to imply that the county has powers to impose further regulations and restrictions.

In those counties that have passed this “model” ordinance, landowners, foresters, loggers, and industry groups have pushed back vigorously. Two counties quickly repealed their ordinances when they realized the extent of the opposition and others are delaying or abandoning implementation. More at www.alaforestry.org.