Beat 13 is officially zoned

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Photo by Robert Noles/Opelika Observer

By Hannah Lester
hlester@
opelikaobserver.com

Beat 13 in Beulah is officially zoned after the county held a public hearing and voted on the regulations Monday night.

The zoning regulations were passed to hopefully stop Creekwood Resources, LLC, from establishing a quarry in Beulah.

The quarry would be located on West Point Parkway, east of Lee County Road 177 in Beat 13.

The planning commission was granted authority to establish regulations in Beat 13 after a special-called election was held on May 18. Citizens voted for the planning commission’s authority by a vote of 431 ‘yes’ to 220 ‘no’.

Following the vote, the planning commission finalized its first official draft of regulations, which was then sent before the county commission on May 24. The commission voted to approve the regulations at the meeting, but Probate Judge Bill English said that multiple legal counsels advised the county to hold a public hearing, too.

No one came forward during the public hearing, however, once the regulations were approved, applause broke out from the audience.

Those fighting the quarry are hopeful that the regulations will prevent the quarry from coming to Lee County.

Trash Pickup:

The Lee County Commission agreed to hold a public hearing regarding a new trash collection plan on Monday night, June 21 at 5 p.m.

Environmental Services Director, John McDonald, has been looking at changing the current method of waste collection for close to two years, said County Engineer Justin Hardee.

During the commission meeting on May 24, the county approved an amendment to the solid waste management plan, allowing for curbside pickup for solid waste.

The amendment reads:

“The County may, in the future, elect to collect solid waste at the point of generation (curbside pickup for household waste and/or container pickup for commercial waste). The County may elect to contract with private haulers for collection services. If the County elects to collect solid waste at the point of generation or contract with private haulers, they may continue operating some or all of the current drop-off centers or discontinue them if so desired.”

Currently, the county uses dumpster collection sites. However, there is an excessive amount of abuse to the system.

McDonald said that over the last five years, there has been a 6,000 tonnage increase in waste collection. The more the county collects, the more it pays for disposal too, he said.

“We’re the only county in the state that is utilizing the system like the one we have here,” McDonald said.

The county received two bids for curbside trash collection. There are three options for collection, McDonald said.

The first involves weekly curbside collection of household waste and bulk items, contracted to an outside agency. With this plan, the county would keep one litter crew to keep roadways and areas clean of litter.

The second option involves household curbside collection contracted to an outside agency and would also keep eight of the county drop-off sites open two days a month.

The drop-off sites would be available on one weekday and one Saturday a month. They would be fenced off at other times and inaccessible to the public.

Bulk pickup would be handled with an on-demand system, McDonald said. Citizens would call the county and request a pickup and pay a fee in advance.

This option would involve two county litter crews, as well.

The third option looks identical to the second, except that the county runs the system, rather than contracting.

Both McDonald and Hardee recommend the commission implement the second option.

Citizens shouldn’t worry. There won’t be a fee adjustment just yet.

“We can make this change, for the first year, which will be a transition year … we can segue for one year and then have one full year of operations, without adding fees to the citizens, but at that time we can look, what at the real number,” Hardee said. “We can look at, what is the amount we saved on eliminating the abuse to our 24/7 drop-off sites, what is the fee that we do need to go to if we wish to be solvent.”

No matter which option the commission picked, they were urged by McDonald and Hardee to make a change.

The commissioners were all in favor of making a switch.

“Right now, it’s a free for all,” said District 3 Commissioner Gary Long.

However, there was some disagreement as to whether the commission should hold a public hearing about the decision.

“I do think we need some pubic exposure, some public input,” English said. “… Ya’ll will have to face the wrath if you kind of spring this on everybody.”

District 2 Commissioner Sarah Brown said that she believes the majority of people who attend will be those against the plan and that those who are for it will stay home.

“Everybody’s going to have their opinion,” she said. “There’s going to be good and there’s going to be bad. I found that in my past experience, the people that are going to come typically are the ones that are not going to want it. The people that want it are typically the ones that are going to be pretty silent about it and don’t see a need to come and express their opinion.”

Long said he does not see a need to have a public hearing if the commission is set on choosing option number 2.

“I feel awkward having the public come in here and you know, most likely the ‘nos’ are going to show up and then we just vote to do it anyway,” he said. “So, what do we tell them? We’re not listening to them. And so, I’m sorry, I just, I feel like where we are has to change.”

Both District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham and District 5 Commissioner Richard LaGrand were both set on the need for a public hearing, however.

But Brown said that the job of the commission is to make hard decisions.

“I don’t have a problem making a decision,” Ham said. “I can make a decision, but I still want to hear from the citizens

So, a public hearing will be held on June 21 at 5 p.m. at the courthouse to hear from the citizens.

Other Business:

– The commission moved the final plat approval for the Ridge Grove Farms Subdivision to the next meeting.

– The commission approved the Lee road 159 Pavement Preservation Project Agreement Renewal.

– The commission approved the request from the National Center for Asphalt Technology for assistance.

– The commission approved an assistance request from the Beauregard Fire Department.

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