Snellville residents, council hash out dam issue

SNELLVILLE -- Residents and officials from Snellville hashed out possible solutions Thursday to concerns over developments at a neighborhood lake.

Those from the Summit Chase neighborhood and other surrounding parts of Snellville made their voices heard at a town hall meeting hosted by the City Council. At issue is a now-waterless portion of the lower Johnson Lake area, the aging dam and the failing pipework that goes under a roadway to enter the subdivision.

Summit Chase residents want the dam and pipes fixed. The council does too.

The problem: No one really knows who should pay for it, because no one really knows who has ownership of the piping under the roadway.

"There is a great deal of confusion in the title work and the authority to set that road up," Snellville City Attorney Tony Powell said Thursday.

The Summit Chase community began having issues with the lower Johnson Lake area in 2010 when a standpipe failed and a berm holding water in was breached. With water pouring out of the pipe at an "extremely high velocity," something had to be done.

That part of the lake was ultimately blocked off.

Since then, the area has become overgrown. Residents have reported seeing rats, deer, coyote and bobcats in the dry lake bed. A young boy had to be rescued by emergency personnel after getting stuck up to his neck in mud.

For years the homeowner's association has not done much to fix the problem, some residents said. The city council held the town hall meeting that Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts called a "fact-finding mission" in order to better assess what its role should be.

Snellville resident Joel Davenport, who does not live in Summit Chase, said the city helping pay for repairs would be setting a dangerous precedent.

"I have no access to this lake, to the facilities," he said, "unless I want to move in, pay the homeowner's association fees. The proposal of the city using any city tax money to even go towards (the project) ... I do not feel is a fair proposal to any city resident outside of Summit Chase."

Others, though, don't agree.

"I'm just dumbfounded and amazed and dismayed that it's taken so long to resolve a problem like this," resident June Jones said.

Mayor Kelly Kautz, a resident of Summit Chase along with councilwoman Diane Krause, recused herself from leadership of the meeting because she said "other council members" were making an issue of her presence, even after she said Powell assured her participation was not a conflict of interest.

Kautz did remain in the audience -- which filled city hall's council chambers to capacity -- and posted a lengthy message on Facebook prior to the meeting.

The post included several possible resolutions for the dilemma.

"One option is for the (city) to pay the repair costs upfront and then to require reimbursement from the members of the community who are in the watershed area," Kautz wrote. "This would be through a special assessment on those homes and would not be a tax on the entire (city)."

Officials reiterated Thursday that the meeting was merely used to gather facts.

"There's no decision made or we wouldn't be having this meeting," Witts said.


rocknroll 2 years, 11 months ago

A lot of good ideas came out of this meeting so I hope the problem can be fixed very soon. It really is a mess for a lot of people. And a big thank you to Mayor Pro Tem Witts for running the meeting so well. He made people feel welcome and encouraged them to say what was on their mind and treated them respectfully. What a nice change from the way meetings are usually run.


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