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County says court's decision would cost Gwinnett taxpayers $3 million

The Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in a case that could, according to the county, cost Gwinnett taxpayers millions of dollars.

In 2009, Gwinnett County began construction on the section of the Sugarloaf Parkway extension running adjacent to Martins Chapel Road property of Gerard and Jewell McManus. The couple complained that the development caused increased water flow onto their land, damaging its value, increasing runoff and “severely” eroding their driveway. By 2010, they filed a lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the county built a permanent detention pond to drain water “through the drainage easement during construction of a housing development it was planning,” according to court information.

The McManus couple said that new pond “produced much more runoff and had a channel and spillway that directed the water from the man-made pond directly onto their property. In Feb. 2012, a local trial court decided in their favor, finding that the original easement agreement didn’t give the county the right to increase waterflow across their land.

An injunction was granted while the original litigation remained pending.

Gwinnett County is now appealing to the state’s highest court.

On Monday, attorney Van Stephens is expected to argue that the requirements imposed on the county are unrealistic.

“Now, rather than continuing its use of the public easement, the courts order means the County must channel all water coming from the detention pond completely around the McManus’s property, a project that will cost taxpayers $3 million and take two years to construct,” the county argued in pre-argument briefs.

The McManus property is about 7.5 acres.

Attorneys for the McManus couple are expected to contend that the county’s argument is bogus.

“The County is for the first time raising as an argument the time and expense it will take to comply with the injunction,” briefs from attorney R. Matthew Reeves said. “Because it failed to raise the issue at the earliest possible time, it cannot do so on appeal.”