Commission addresses county waste disposal issue

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By Fred Woods
Editor

In accordance with Alabama law, Lee County is required to cite as a misdemeanor and levy a fine on any person, firm or corporation which deposits solid waste in any of the county’s 15 sites without paying the fee established by the county. This law has been on the books since 1989 at least and possibly earlier.
Each of Lee County’s 15 waste disposal sites has a sign, fairly prominently displayed, reading as follows:
WARNING
“Persons residing outside Lee County and persons residing within the     city limits of Opelika, Auburn, Smiths Station and Phenix City are     prohibited from using these facilities. Persons and businesses with     private garbage service are also prohibited.”
This topic was discussed at length by the Lee County Commission at its regular meeting this week after a Smiths Station citizen complained that his citation for illegal dumping was a part of his record. District 3 Commissioner Gary Long argued that, despite the warning, many citizens did not realize they were committing a crime when they deposited their waste at the county sites.
Actually, the county has few options, as the misdemeanor is covered by state law and there is little likelihood of the legislature approving an exemption for an individual county. The commission is considering a work session to discuss an alternative for easing the situation such as warnings for first offenders and adding “violation is a criminal misdemeanor” to the existing signs.
The commission also held a brief public hearing on the county’s solid waste plan, which, by law, must be updated every ten years. The only speaker was Judy Lockhart, who wanted to publicly thank the county’s Environmental Services personnel for cleaning up and maintaining the waste disposal site at the intersection of Lee Road 61 and Hwy. 14 in Loachapoka.
Lockhart said since she had complained publicly about the unfavorable conditions at the site several years ago she felt it only fair that she compliment the county employees responsible for the improvements. Environmental Services Director Chris Bozeman said the cleanup was due primarily to the efforts of Rebecca Fuller, the employee assigned to the site.
The commission unanimously approved the updated plan.
County Engineer Justin Hardee discussed the Federal Aid Agreement for the bridge replacement on Lee Road 10 over Chewacla Creek just west of Good Ole Boys restaurant and received commission approval for Chairman Bill English to sign it. This bridge is the first of the 15 bridge replacements funded under the ATRIP program.
Hardee also presented the “official” detour route that directs traffic east of the bridge out to Society Hill Road, north to Lee Road 146 and west into Auburn. The City of Auburn has requested that big trucks from the quarry be rerouted north on Society Hill Road through a portion of Opelika to I-85.
In other action the commission
– cancelled, as it usually does, its final meeting of the year (scheduled for Dec. 29), and
– adjourned into a work session on roads, during which it heard a number of complaints from Loachapoka citizens about road conditions in their area as well as an excellent presentation from Hardee on how Lee County roads are funded, which improved everyone’s understanding of why some county roads are in such bad shape.

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