The Town of Benton has asked the Bossier Parish Police Jury with help in preventing a logging operation from damaging their city streets.
Benton Mayor Shelley Horton asked the jury at their July 18 meeting for help with recovering expenses spent on the town’s streets that run from Pump Station Road to LA Hwy. 3.
“Over the last several years, the Town of Benton has spent $1 million per year on its streets. That’s a lot for a small town,” Mayor Horton said. “The Town of Benton seems to be responsible for damage done to our new streets. So I’m coming to ask for help and a possible solution to help Benton recover the funds it will need to repair our streets.”
Horton said the logging operation is taking place on the Kelly Property and is expected to produce an initial 1,500 loads, with more in the future.
Juror Wanda Bennett, who represents the area in question, proposed tabling the request and asked Mayor Horton to put into writing what he is seeking from the jury.
“That is a huge area of timber, but it is surrounded by subdivisions, streets that have been or are going to be repaired and the amount of money needed to catch up (to damage) is a large amount,” she said. “But we want to be fair to the people who own the timber, truckers, haulers, and the town of Benton. We can’t subsidize them and take care of our 800 miles of road we have in the parish.”
The jury voted to table the request for two weeks to get clarity and seek a possible solution. Bennett asked for Patrick Jackson, Bossier Parish attorney, to provide guidance to prevent harm to the entities involved.
Juror Jimmy Cochran proposed a moratorium on logging in the area to prevent damage in the meantime. Fellow Juror Rick Avery pointed out, “I don’t think you can put a moratorium on commerce.”
Jody Woodard with Timberland Services told the Jury that a moratorium or delay is not ideal as time is of the essence to get their project done.
“Our track of timber was bought and we have two years to cut it. There are 4,000 acres to come out and we have a small window to cut it. This is pressing for us.”
He said there is no way the company can get it done this summer, so it will continue into next year.
Horton said he is unaware of any alternate routes to and from the property. He also said the town has an ordinance with a 9-ton limit for commercial truck traffic, but noted, “You’re talking 80,000 lbs.”
“The city ordinance of nine tons? I can tell you an empty truck weighs that,” Woodard said.
He added the jury’s commercial vehicle enforcement unit is checking their trucks daily and they are abiding by parish ordinances.
“W’re trying to make sure everything is done the right way,” Woodard said.