§ 12-6-24. Notice of timber harvesting operations.

CODE OF GEORGIA

Title 12. CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Chapter 6. FOREST RESOURCES AND OTHER PLANT LIFE

Article 1. FOREST RESOURCES

Part 1A. Wood Load Ticket Required for Wood Removal; Form; Exceptions

Current through 2019-2020 Chapter 609

§ 12-6-24. Notice of timber harvesting operations

(a)
(1) A county governing authority may by ordinance or resolution require all persons or firms harvesting standing timber in any unincorporated area of such county for delivery as pulpwood, logs, poles, posts, or wood chips to any woodyard or processing plant located inside or outside this state to provide notice of such harvesting operations to the county governing authority or the designated agent thereof prior to entering onto the property if possible, but in no event later than 24 hours after entering onto the property. Further, such persons shall give notice of cessation of cutting within 24 hours after the job is completed.
(2) A municipal governing authority may by ordinance or resolution require all persons or firms harvesting standing timber in any incorporated area of such municipality for delivery as pulpwood, logs, poles, or wood chips to any woodyard or processing plant located inside or outside this state to provide notice of such harvesting operations to the municipal governing authority or the designated agent thereof prior to entering onto the property if possible, but in no event later than 24 hours after entering onto the property. Further, such persons shall give notice of cessation of cutting within 24 hours after the job is completed.
(b) Any ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section shall conform to and shall not exceed the following requirements:
(1) Prior written notice shall be required of any person or firm harvesting such timber for each separate tract to be harvested thereby, shall be made only in such form as prescribed by rule or regulation of the director, and shall be limited to the following:
(A) A map of the area which identifies the location of the tract to be harvested and, as to those trucks which will be traveling to and from such tract for purposes of picking up and hauling loads of cut forest products, the main point of ingress to such tract from a public road and, if different, the main point of egress from such tract to a public road;
(B) A statement as to whether the timber will be removed pursuant to a lump sum sale, per unit sale, or owner harvest for purposes of ad valorem taxation under Code Section 48-5-7.5 ;
(C) The name, address, and daytime telephone number of the timber seller if the harvest is pursuant to a lump sum or per unit sale or of the timber owner if the harvest is an owner harvest; and
(D) The name, business address, business telephone number, and nighttime or emergency telephone number of the person or firm harvesting such timber; (2) Notice may be submitted in person, by transmission of an electronic record via telefacsimile, e-mail, or such other means as approved by the governing authority, or by mail;
(3)
(A) Effective October 1, 2020, the State Forestry Commission shall commence construction of a website to provide a state-wide notification platform for persons or firms harvesting standing timber to utilize as a uniform system of notification to local governing authorities.
(B) Following an initial notification by the State Forestry Commission that the website is operational, utilization of the website by local governing authorities and persons or firms harvesting standing timber will be optional.
(C) No later than the first day of the nineteenth month following such initial notification, the State Forestry Commission shall provide a subsequent notification of a date upon which utilization of such website shall be mandatory for local governing authorities and persons or firms harvesting standing timber. On and after that date, notification procedures under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall cease and notification of harvesting of standing timber shall be conducted solely through such website.
(D) The director of the State Forestry Commission shall promulgate such rules and regulations as are reasonable and necessary for purposes of designing, implementing, and enforcing utilization of such website;
(4)
(A) The governing authority may require persons or firms subject to such notice requirement to deliver a bond or letter of credit as provided by this subparagraph, in which case notice shall not be or remain effective for such harvesting operations unless and until the person or firm providing such notice has delivered to the governing authority or its designated agent a valid surety bond, executed by a surety corporation authorized to transact business in this state, protecting the county or municipality, as applicable, against any damage caused by such person or firm in an amount specified by the governing authority not exceeding $5,000.00 or, at the option of the person or firm harvesting timber, a valid irrevocable letter of credit issued by a bank or savings and loan association, as defined in Code Section 7-1-4, in the amount of and in lieu of such bond. Such bonds or letters of credit shall be subject to the conditions set forth in subparagraph (D) of this paragraph. Each county or municipality shall require no more than one bond from each person or firm harvesting timber regardless of the number of tracts harvested in such county or municipality by each such person or firm so long as the bond remains in effect. For purposes of this subparagraph, any such surety bond or letter of credit shall be valid only for the calendar year in which delivered.
(B) Such bond or letter of credit shall protect the county or municipality against any damage requiring re-ditching or repair of existing ditch structure or the removal of any harvesting residue, including tree tops, debris logs, pulpwood, and other materials, placed in or around rights of way caused by such person or firm tendering the bond or letter of credit, and the proceeds of such bond or letter of credit shall be available to reimburse the county or municipality for any cost incurred to repair such damages in or around county or municipal rights of way. The proceeds of such bond or letter of credit shall also be available to reimburse the county or municipality for any cost incurred to maintain or repair county or municipal roads damaged by the ingress or egress of motor vehicles engaged in harvest operations located within 500 feet of any point of ingress or egress of the timber harvesting operation. The right of a county or municipality to call such bond or letter of credit in accordance with the provisions of this Code section shall be in addition to any other remedies available to such county or municipality at law or in equity for damage to county or municipal roads or rights of way.
(C) When damage results from a person or firm's harvesting activities, the governing authority shall make a written claim to the person or firm causing the damage within 30 business days after the governing authority becomes aware of the damage. Such claim may be given in person, by transmission of an electronic record via telefacsimile or email, or by mail. Such claim shall describe the damage in detail and give the person or firm the opportunity to repair such damage within 30 days of the notification. The county or municipality shall be authorized to repair the damage immediately if the governing authority determines the conditions present a threat to public safety, health, or welfare and, upon making such repairs, shall present to the person or firm an itemized list of expenses incurred as a claim against the responsible party and the issuer of its bond or letter of credit. If the damage in question has not been repaired by or on behalf of the person or firm, then the governing authority shall be authorized to call such bond or letter of credit for payment of any cost the county or municipality incurs or will incur to repair such damages, and additional remedies set forth in this paragraph shall remain available. Within 30 days of the receipt of the written notification from the county or municipality required by this subparagraph, the person or firm may:
(i) Repair such damage at their own expense with the approval and supervision of the governing authority. When repairs are completed to the satisfaction of the governing authority, the governing authority shall provide the person or firm with written notification of such satisfactory completion within five business days;
(ii) In the event of inclement weather or other factors preventing repair of the damage, request a 30 day extension to repair the damage from the governing authority, provided that no such extension shall exceed 90 days. Approval of such extensions shall be in the discretion of the governing authority; or
(iii) Appeal any adverse decision of the governing authority to the magistrate court of the county in which the damage occurred. The magistrate court will hear arguments within 30 days of the written appeal and render a ruling within ten days of such hearing. Any such appeal shall toll the 30 day period, or any extension thereof, provided for in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph. Should the person or firm receive a favorable ruling from the magistrate court, the governing authority shall have no claim against the bond or letter of credit. Should the person or firm in question receive an unfavorable ruling from the magistrate court, the governing authority shall be authorized to call the bond or letter of credit for reimbursement, not to exceed the bond or letter of credit amount, of costs incurred in repairing the damage.
(D) If a person or firm tendering the bond or letter of credit, or any agent, employee, or contractor of such person or firm, causes a bond or letter of credit to be revoked, then a valid replacement bond or letter of credit shall be obtained by the person or firm and delivered to the governing authority, or the designated agent thereof, no later than the close of business five business days after the date of revocation of the prior bond or letter of credit. The governing authority shall be authorized to increase such bond or letter of credit by $2,500.00 after each instance of revocation of a bond or letter of credit, provided that the total bond amount shall not exceed $10,000.00 as to any original bond or letter of credit;
(5) Notice shall be effective for such harvesting operation on such tract within such unincorporated area of the county or incorporated area of the municipality upon receipt of the same by the applicable governing authority or its designated agent and, if applicable, compliance with the requirements of paragraph (4) of this subsection and until such time as the person or firm giving such notice has completed the harvesting operation for such tract; provided, however, that any subsequent change in the facts required to be provided for purposes of such notice shall be reported to the governing authority or its designated agent within three business days after such change;
(6) Notice requirements shall be applicable to any such timber harvested on or after the effective date of the ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to this Code section; and
(7) Violation of the notice requirements of any ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to this Code section shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,500.00 for each violation.
(c) The director shall promulgate such rules and regulations as are reasonable and necessary for purposes of the standard form required by paragraph (1) of subsection (b) of this Code section.
(d) Any municipal governing authority or designated agent thereof which receives a notice required by ordinance or resolution adopted pursuant to this Code section regarding timber harvesting operations to be conducted in whole or in part within the corporate limits of such municipality shall transmit a copy of such notice to the governing authority of the county or the designated agent thereof.
(e)
(1) No county, municipality, or other political subdivision in this state shall require any person or firm harvesting standing timber therein for delivery as pulpwood, logs, poles, posts, or wood chips to any woodyard or processing plant located inside or outside this state to provide any notice of or plan or security for such harvesting or hauling of forest products except as provided by this Code section.
(2) No county, municipality, or other political subdivision in this state shall require any person or firm harvesting standing timber therein for delivery as pulpwood, logs, poles, posts, or wood chips to any woodyard or processing plant located inside or outside this state to obtain any permit for such harvesting or hauling of forest products, including without limitation any permit for any new driveway in connection with timber harvesting operations; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not otherwise limit the authority of a county or municipality to regulate roads or streets under its jurisdiction in accordance with Title 32.
(3) The provisions of paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection shall not preclude counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions from enacting and enforcing tree ordinances, landscape ordinances, or streamside buffer ordinances; provided, however, such ordinances shall not apply to timber harvesting as described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (4) of this subsection or in unzoned tracts as described in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (4) of this subsection.
(4)
(A) The limitations on the regulatory authority of counties, municipalities, or other political subdivisions provided by paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this subsection shall apply only to timber harvesting operations which qualify as forestry land management practices or agricultural operations under Code Section 12-7-17, not incidental to development, on tracts which are zoned for or used for forestry, silvicultural, or agricultural purposes.
(B) The limitations on the regulatory authority of counties, municipalities, or other political subdivisions provided by paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this subsection shall also apply to tracts which are unzoned.
(5) No county or municipality shall require a fee of any kind for receiving a notification of a timber harvest.

Cite as OCGA § 12-6-24

History. Amended by 2020 Ga. Laws 481, §1, eff. 7/22/2020.

Amended by 2015 Ga. Laws 124, §1, eff. 7/1/2015.

Amended by 2003 Ga. Laws 234, §1, eff. 6/3/2003.

Added by 2002 Ga. Laws 917, eff. 7/1/2002.