Residents of the Summit Chase subdivision may have noticed a few irregularities in their neighborhood lately.
First of all, the lake is much lower than it should be. The second is a symptom of the first – rodents. Rats. Big ones.
Although City of Snellville staff have not seen the rats personally, it is something they take the residents’ word for, according to city manager Butch Sanders.
“We also know it comes with living on a lake,” he said.
Even when the lake is full, animals, including rats, are going to get into the bank of the lake.
“It’s probably worse now,” added Sanders.
During an Oct. 22 council meeting, Councilman Mike Sabbagh urged the city to handle the situation “ASAP.”
“It’s a community lake,” he said. “The problem I see is that this is an environmental hazard. Some neighbors say rats are coming up to their houses and they’re bigger than a cat. One of them attacked [a resident’s] dog. If this dam is not fixed, the road to the homes will be damaged. That’s a huge bill to fix if that street collapsed. Fix it before it becomes a major issue.”
So what’s the problem with the lake?
According to Sanders, the internal mechanism for controlling the lake is shot. When the dam’s riser pipe and drain line are in good condition, it controls the lake. Now, however, the water has drained out and there is no control over the volume or level of water. Basically, it’s been reduced to a small pond and a lot of mud.
A roadway over the dam accesses hundreds of homes in and around Summit Chase. It’s the only way in and out, and as a city, Sanders feels that they have a stake in finding a solution to the overall problem.
At one point, an allegedly unlicensed contractor was called in to work on the problem. He may have inadvertently made the issue worse, according to councilman Bobby Howard. If that’s the case, the contractor could potentially be liable for damages.
Council and staff discussed the issue at the Oct. 22 work session and will continue to address the situation. City planner Jon Davis created a map that showed which homes in and around Summit Chase benefit from the lake, illustrated by multi-colored dots. The greatest benefit the lake provides to all homeowners in Summit Chase and outlying areas is stormwater retention.
Residents may end up with an increase in taxes over the next few years in order to pay for the repairs needed. This would apply to not just Summit Chase residents, but residents on the outskirts as well. City attorney Tony Powell stated that there must be a legal standard of fairness and equity that goes with the process.
So there are three options, according to Mayor Kelly Kautz:
- Tell homeowners the City is not going to do anything
- Use stormwater fees
- Do a special assessment and have the city pay for repairs, and the homeowners can pay for it over time in the form of taxes
The entire project will cost a minimum of $85,000.
Councilman Tom Witts raised an interesting point regarding who would be taxed. The property belongs to the Summit Chase Homeowners Association.
“Now we’re going to ask people who for years have been told they couldn’t use it, because it’s private property, to fix something that they’ve been denied use of?” he asked the council.
A number of council members live in the Summit Chase subdivision. Powell suggested that if members of council felt uncomfortable making a decision like this, the financial conflicts provision of the charter would allow them to request a “special master,” appointed by a superior court judge, who would bring a recommendation.
A town hall meeting will be called within the next couple of weeks to discuss the issue further.