The City of Snellville will host a town hall meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8, to discuss the dam and lake at the Summit Chase subdivision.
The public is invited to offer comments on the situation. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at city hall.
Councilman Mike Sabbagh has urged the council to deal with the low water levels at the lake and subsequent rodents -- which the homeowners association at Summit Chase has attempted to deal with, according to HOA president Patricia Port-- as soon as possible, but other council members and Snellville residents question whether it should be city business at all.
“It’s a community lake,” said Sabbagh. “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.”
The issue at hand is a broken dam by the lower lake. The internal mechanism is shot, according to city manager Butch Sanders.
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.
"Our collective hope is that the city do the repairs and then assess the home owners," said Jordan in an email to Snellville patch. "And, have the lake open to all the residents of Summit Chase and Timberline without bias. This is an option that would help make the Timberline Roadway safe before the big rains and we can be sure that the City will make proper repairs with engineers, not "dredgers" that start digging without a permit."
It would cost between $85,000-$98,000 to fix the problem, an amount that the HOA of Summit Chase does not have, according to Port.
There are a few options on the table, ranging from allowing the lake return to nature, raising taxes on Snellville residents so that the city can pay for the repairs to the dam or paying for it with stormwater fees.
According to Mayor Kelly Kautz, there will be no vote during the town hall meeting. Additionally, the special assessment -- not "tax" -- would be for residents who live in the Summit Chase homeowner's association or those who use the stormwater shed.
"We're not raising taxes on residents," said Kautz. "It's a special assessment on residents only in that area."
The Mayor also posted a message on Facebook concerning possible misinformation about tonight's meeting:
"Before the meeting I would like to clear up some misinformation that has been floating around the community. First, no decisions have been made regarding this issue and no vote has been taken by Council. That is why we are holding this Town Hall meeting, so that wr can hear from the people that are affected.
Second, yes I live in Summit Chase along with Councilwoman Krause but we have not voted on anything. I have not been a part of any of the meetings with the HOA and the City or with the homeowners even though our City Attorney has advised Council that there is no conflict (on video during our last work session).
Third, the City owns the road that goes into Timberline Subdivision which is built across the dam. At the start of this issue there was a potential flood threat to the road, that is why the City has become involved. Whether that is the extent of the City's involvement is a policy and legal question that will not be decided until after the Town Hall meeting.
The lake in question is a private lake that currently is only used by the Summit Chase Homeowners for recreational purposes, but several hundred residents in the area use the lake as their drainage/detention pond.
Finally, there are several options regarding the repairs to the dam. 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 water shed area. This would be through a special assessment on those homes and would not be a tax on the entire City.
The dam repairs have caused a new situation in the City of Snellville which we as leaders must address even if it means we decline to take action we must take a stance. I do not know the answer and that is why we have asked to hear from you the people at tomorrow's Town Hall meeting. I hope to see you there."
More than just Summit Chase residents benefit from the stormwater drainage that the lake offers. On the other hand, no one but Summit Chase members are allowed to use the lake for personal use.
Stop by the town hall meeting and let your voice be heard. You can also express your opinion in the comment section.
For further reading:
- Residents Request Help as Large Rats Make Their Home at Summit Chase
- Rats and Low Water Levels in Summit Chase Subdivision