AUGUSTA — How much wood can a wood cutter cut before a wood cutter is a commercial cutter cutting wood?

City councilors will try to find an answer tonight when they meet at 6:30 in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

In response to residents’ concerns about commercial wood processing in residential areas and without the proper approval, councilors will discuss a proposal to distinguish between personal wood processing to heat a home and commercial wood processing to make a profit.

Fuel wood production is considered in city ordinance to be heavy manufacturing, allowed in only a few zoning districts as a primary use, according to Matt Nazar, deputy director of development services for the city.

But the ordinance doesn’t define when cutting wood becomes fuel wood production.

So Nazar drafted what he describes in a memo to councilors as a starting definition of fuel wood production that the city’s code enforcement officers could use.

It might help them determine whether someone has crossed the line from cutting wood for personal use, which is allowed throughout the city, to commercial wood processing.

He figures around 10 cords per year might be a good place to drawn that line. A cord of wood is 4 feet tall by 4 feet deep by 8 feet long.

“Internal discussions about that threshold suggested that 10 cords of wood per year is a reasonable place to start the conversation, with it being unusual for an individual to need more than 10 cords of wood per year,” Nazar said in the memo. “Any limitation less than 10 cords might restrict individuals legitimately cutting and splitting wood for their own use and not for sale to others.”

Thus, cutting more than 10 cords a year could be considered a business of fuel wood production, while less than that could be considered cutting for personal use.

Cutting and splitting wood at the same site where the tree was cut down is considered part of timber harvesting, Nazar noted, which is allowed in a wider area of the city than fuel wood production.

Councilors tonight are also scheduled to:

  • discuss designating an off-leash exercise area for dogs;
  • discuss the rough condition of Pierce Drive, one of two entrances to Cony High School and Capital Area Technical Center;
  • discuss developing a city of Augusta Facebook page;
  • hear an update on the state moving forensic patients from group homes on the state’s east side campus adjacent to Riverview Psychiatric Center into group homes in the city;
  • discuss creating an ordinance regarding abandoned swimming pools, in response to residents’ complaints about private swimming pools being left full of stagnant water;
  • discuss Fire Prevention Week.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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