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City Manager Offers Three Solutions to Dam Problem at Summit Chase

The council agrees that something must be done as soon as possible.

In a Dec. 10 work session, city manager Butch Sanders proposed three options concerning the broken pipe in the dam over Johnson Lake, in the Summit Chase subdivision. 

Residents of the neighborhood, along with concerned Snellville citizens, spoke up at a town hall meeting on Nov. 8. Some expressed the desire for the city to handle the problem, while others balked at the thought of taxpayer money going toward private property. 

The problem is fairly straightforward -- the internal mechanism is shot, according to city manager Butch Sanders. 

The matter of who will pay for the repairs is more complicated. 

In December of 2011, the lake was drained by order of the Summit Chase homeowners association, according to Summit Chase resident Lorry Jordan. More than 50 fish died due to that action.

Subsequently, the lake is a bog. The residents along the lake -- who used to own lakeside property -- say it's a public health hazard. Issues ranging from giant rats attacking their small dogs to a child getting stuck up to his neck in mud have plagued the property. 

The Homeowners Association doesn't have the money to fix the problem. Since there is a road that runs along top of the dam, they believe the city has some responsibility in the repairs. 

The total cost to get the dam and lake back to normal is $96,396. The city has offered to pay a little over $30,000, since they say they are responsible for the road. 

"Doing nothing is no longer an option," said Sanders. 

With that understanding, he offered two other statements that he considered irrefutable. One, the cost should be shared by as many people as possible, and two, the HOA has an obligation to cover part of the cost. With that in mind, he offered three potential solutions to the problem. The first two options require the city to pay the cost upfront, with homeowners in Summit Chase then paying a tax assessment. 

  1. Based on an assessment of how many people benefit from the lake, including stormwater drainage, a total of 371 parcels/homes would pay a one-time payment of $176.71, or two payments of $88.40. 
  2. Assess only the HOA members, which is a total of 220 parcels/homes. That would bring the one-time payment to $298.16 or two payments of $149.08. 
  3. The city would offer an incentive to the HOA to take matters into their own hands. They would back a loan, by co-signing, for the HOA to get the repairs done. 

"We need to take the next step as quickly as possible," said Sanders. "A lot of people are affected by that lake."

Councilman Dave Emanuel expressed concern over the precedent set by the city if they handle this situation for the HOA.

"Our responsibility is the road," he said. "Once you get beyond that, you’re done."

Councilman Bobby Howard questioned how much money has already gone into work on the lake. Sanders stated that around $25,000 has already been invested.

After some further questioning by Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, council and staff discovered that no investigation has been conducted into the work of a contractor who allegedly screwed up the pipe to begin with. If the contractor was licensed and bonded, he would presumable carry liability insurance. 

For the most part, council agreed that the third option was the best one, but no immediate action was decided on.

For further reading:

  • Residents Request Help as Large Rats Make Their Home at Summit Chase
  • Rats and Low Water Levels in Summit Chase Subdivision
  • Live Coverage of the Town Hall Meeting
Lorry Jordan December 15, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Several council members are not aware of the full devastation that a high hazard catagory 1 dam breech would cause. These council men need to get better information on why the lower lake needs to filled and the standpipe repaired immediately. Those lakes were designed for the lower lake to be "filled" for equal pressure on the upper lake damn. And to prevent continous eriosion to the base of the damn. They are not aware that the HOA has spent enough money on legal fees suing thier neighbors to have made these repairs. If the HOA has a loan to repay with legal ramifications of thier own they would be less likely to continue to file law suits on foreclosed homes. The HOA insists that the banker they secured will only loan $100,000 and that 11 more homeowners need to pay their dues before the loan can be secured. Do the math. They only need $60,000 – who’s making excuses here. The lower Johnson lake and it's continued state of being emptied is causing eroision on the upper lake dam. When that dam is breeched it will flood houses along the lower Johnson lake, Timberline road and creek bed properties. This should be a City concern. Timberline road is the only road in and out of that subdivision. What kind of emergency situation will emerge with the flooding of this area? Not to mention the possible loss of life.
Nick January 28, 2013 at 03:02 AM
The real culprit in all of this is the developer of Timberline Subdivision. Somehow he was able to build the road over the existing dam without remediating the already old and sub code standpipe. Also, the two 36" flood pipes, put in by the developer, were installed at a vertical angle not according to code; which caused the scoured hole at the bottom of the spillway. These issues should have been addressed when the road was accepted by the city, and dedicated to the city. The road and all appurtenances to it now belong to the City of Snellville - it is a public road. The politicians in Snellville do not want to make a decision; and to date, no decisions have been made. The City is trying to make S.C.H.A. pay for their "oversights" back in the 1980's, when Timberline was developed. Unfortunately, the individuals responsible for this mess are probably long gone.
Dave Emanuel January 28, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Nick- As one of the "politicians in Snellville", I can tell you there is a lot more to this problem than is initially apparent. Several other Council members want to make a decision and do everything possible to help the HOA in its efforts to restore the lake. You're correct about the road being the city's responsibility, and the fact that part of the problem is a result of "oversights" of the past. However, if you examine the standpipe and the portion of the drain pipe to which it was attached, it is clear that the damage was caused by the machinery of the contractor hired by the HOA. For reasone yet to be determined, the HOA has never contacted its insurance company or the one that carries insurance for the dredging company that caused the damage- and still seems reluctant to do so. Space limitations prevent me from providing a more detailed explanation, however, I'd be happy to speak directly with you or anyone else who has an interest. If you'd like, you can contact me through the city web site. My e-mail address and phone number are both listed there.
David and Kathy Mascaro January 29, 2013 at 09:52 PM
As a homeowner on Beaver Creek Lane who must pass the lower Johnson Lake every day my husband and I would be glad to make the payment of our share to have the lake fixed and back to its original beauty.
David and Kathy Mascaro January 29, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Just reading an earlier comment with which I must disagree. I don't think that road repairs within the city of Snellville are questionable as an obligation. We are citizens of Snellville and pay taxes. That road is the only way to reach our home on Beaver Creek Lane and I think our utilities go under that road. We are not members of the Summit Chase Homeowners Association.

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