HEFLIN — The fate of roadside spraying to control weeds in Cleburne County will be decided next Tuesday at the Cleburne County Commission meeting.
The controversial policy — some say it brings about environmental effects that aren’t worth the simple task of eliminating weeds — was originally going to get a final vote in December this year, when contracts for such services are typically set.
During a Tuesday afternoon work session, however, commissioners decided to move the vote to next week due to practical considerations.
The roadside spraying has ended for the year but the contract for next year is up for renewal.
Commission chair Ryan Robertson said he wanted to know when the vote would be to inform citizens who have been asking him.
“I know there are some against it, there's some not against it, there are some very vocal that are coming to our meetings that are against it, either we vote it up or down and live with the consequences but I just want to know when we are going to vote on it,” said Robertson.
The commission debated the issue at length and weighed the pros and cons of the spraying which has ended for the year.
Commissioner Laura Cobb — who is against the spraying — and county engineer Lee Estes were at odds over the recently ended spraying program.
“Overall I think they’ve done a great job,” Estes said.
Cobb said that she received complaints from a resident that their mailbox and vehicle were sprayed by the contractor.
“There’s got to be a better solution to it,” Cobb said.
If the contract is renewed Estes said there could be options for residents that do not want their property sprayed including no-spray signs issued by the county with a permit number on them.
Estes said that residents who apply for no-spray signs will be alerted by telephone before the spraying begins. Residents will be responsible for maintaining their rights of way so the contractor does not have to spray. Estes said the right of way is 40 feet from the centerline of the road.
“If that section of right of way, sign or no sign, has not been bush hogged or cut then we will maintain it when we come through,” said Estes.
Commissioner Terry Hendrix said he has had very few complaints from residents about the spraying in his district and he supports the spraying.
“I’m supporting it because that’s what the majority of people in my district say they want,” Hendrix said.
Commissioner Roger Hill said the spraying did what it was supposed to do.
“If you look at the end result the spraying, it worked, it worked well, we had some things happen that I didn’t like of course, I hope that we didn’t pollute the ground, I hope the spray won’t stay there forever or in the stream or whatever but I can’t make that call,” Hill said.
After the meeting Mark Truett, an opponent to the spraying, said he hopes the commission votes no on the measure but is open to some spraying in certain areas.
“I don’t think having permits and a sign program is the way to handle the concerns that we have,” Truett said. “Everything I’ve heard so far doesn't account for the real cost of spraying. There are health impacts, erosion, invasive weeds and many other things that are not being accounted for.
“Even if they don’t completely ban the spraying of the roadsides I hope that we can come up with a system that involves more mowing and less chemicals,” Truett said.