Four months after voting to buy 114 acres off Steel Bridge Road for use as a sewage sludge disposal site, despite objections raised by nearby homeowners concerned about public health and safety, the Macclenny City Commission is gearing up for a legal battle to acquire the parcel.
The target of a possible lawsuit in the case is one of the world’s largest cellulose fiber producing firms in the world and the seventh largest owner of timberlands in the United States — Rayonier.
The Jacksonville-based international forest products manufacturer owns about 2 million acres in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Washington.
The conflict originated from a decision by the city commission in June to buy the property from Lewyn Boyette, a real estate investor who had a contract to buy the land from Rayonier through its property-management subsidiary Terra Pointe Services LLC. An article about the decision appeared in The Baker County Press on June 21.
A controversy later ensued after a letter appeared in The Press on July 5 from a woman in New Hampshire, who identified herself as having a Ph.D., stating that sewage sludge could create environmental problems and an unhealthy atmosphere for nearby families.