Jackson County Commissioners this week opted to “grandfather in” non-compliant property owners who allowed contractors to use their land for the storage of storm debris but failed to obtain the development orders required when disposal sites are established. They were paid by contractors for that privilege, and under county law are supposed to in turn pay the county a tipping fee, as does Waste Management at Springhill Landfill.

Since the development orders were never sought, there were no specific tipping fees put in place.

Commissioners have retroactively waived the tipping fees that could have been charged and the development orders that were necessary in county law but went unobserved and unpaid in the wake of Hurricane Michael over the past eight months.

The development order requirement and tipping fee provision were brought to the board’s attention by county attorney Michele Jordan, saying commissioners needed to take official action now to either waive the fees and required orders, or to set the fee total and enforce the development order requirement that exists for such disposal sites.

But rather than retroactively requiring the landowners to obtain development orders on the sites that have been established, and in many cases are now already closed, the board took different steps.

Board members voted Tuesday to “grandfather in” all the landowners who have allowed their property to be used this way so far and waive the tipping fees they could have paid, but to require development orders for all instances going forward. The tipping fees will also be waived for all going forward for like projects associated with storm debris.

Jordan had advised commissioners that not requiring the development orders leaves the county potentially without recourse in the case where opened sites were left in disarray by the contractors, since there would be no document on record that would have listed the required close-out terms.

Contractors at the meeting in which the decision was reached did point out that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has rules that apply and protect against such potential.

Commissioners said they felt that charging tipping fees and requiring development orders for the sites already in use, at this point, would be a retroactive action they weren’t comfortable with taking.

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