Transcript from the town hall meeting notes:
2:23 The town hall meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.
6:51 OK, I'm seated and finally have internet capability. The room is packed, as is the parking lot and we have ten minutes until the meeting starts. 6:59 There are about a dozen seats left 7:01 A few police officers are in the back, including Sgt. Trey Downs. 7:02 It's now standing room only 7:03 7:02 and the meeting has been called to order by Mayor Kautz 7:03 No vote or discussion by the mayor and council tonight, according to Kautz 7:04 Time for each person is limited to 5 minutes 7:04 Councilwoman Krause and Kautz are the only ones who live in the subdivision 7:04 "It's not a conflict of interest," according to attorney Tony Powell 7:05 But since people have voiced opposition to Kautz officiating, Mayor Pro Tem Witts will officiate 7:05 He had no notice, and just now found out he would officiate 7:07 City manager Butch Sanders is speaking, about to turn it over to the city manager Jon Davis concerning the history of Summit Chase and the lake 7:08 Problems began in the early summer of 2010 7:08 An engineer and several Summit Chase HOA members met at the lake site, the lake level had dropped, but everything was OK so they left it alone 7:10 Nov. 8, 2011, city checked in with the HOA to check on the progress. On Nov. 10, 2011, the HOA approved the lake being fixed and they would vote on a contract with an engineer. 7:11 Due to rains, the engineer had placed a burm around the stand pipe, but the burm failed 7:11 Water was coming through the pipe at a very high speed, causing erosion around the pipe. So the city put a "stop order" on construction and they put in a siphon 7:11 The lake was just about drained at that point 7:13 Due to the lack of water, there was fish kill out there, according to Davis 7:13 Around the 26th of April, there was a child who went out on the lake bed and got stuck in the mud, had to be pulled out by Gwinnett County 7:14 Aug. 15 city approved plans for Carter Engineering to fix the dam 7:15 Griffin Brothers was contracted to do the work. Jon Davis met with him and the HOA on Oct. 4, 2012. 7:16 People are fidgeting, arms crossed, getting a little impatient... 7:16 End of Oct. Davis began to get calls concerning rats in the area. 7:17 Aug., not Oct., sorry 7:17 Oct. 9 and 10, the lake bed area was cut, contractor reported they didn't encounter any wildlife of any type 7:17 Mr. Davis is finished speaking 7:18 Some confusion on when people can begin to ask questions 7:20 Joel Davenport, Pinehurst Road: "My biggest thing... no I do not live in Summit Chase, I have lived in Snellville for four years. I have no access to this lake, to the facilities unless I want to move in and pay the HOA fee... the proposal of the city using any city tax money to even go towards ... I do not feel is a fair proposal to any city resident outside of Summit Chase unless the city goes throughout the city ... anywhere that needs work, in someone's yard, neighborhood, ..."
7:20 "If they're willing to do that and cover the cost, that's one thing. But I don't see the city being willing to do so." 7:21 He cites the subdivision being private property. Lots of mmhmms going on in the audience 7:21 "Why should I pay for that?" 7:23 "Over 5 minutes!" yell multiple people in the audience 7:23 June Jones: Home backs up directly on the lower Johnson Lakes (the area in question) 7:23 "I'm dumbfounded and amazed that it's taken so long to resolve a problem like this." 7:24 "Why was only one half of the lake mowed?" 7:24 People are calling out, "That's right!" 7:24 The decision was made by the Summit Chase HOA, according to Jon Davis. People aren't happy with that. 7:25 She's looking to the crowd, asking someone from the HOA to answer that question. 7:25 "We were asked to mow the grass in the lake bed, which we did," says someone from the HOA. She didn't say her name. "That's where the complaint of the rats was." 7:26 Ah, it was Pat Port, president of the Summit Chase HOA 7:26 "That's all we could afford at this point." 7:26 June Jones requests that her side of the lake be mowed as soon as possible. 7:28 Woman gives moving testimony of a rat that attacked her Westie. She moved in last month, her husband is on hospice 7:28 She wanted him to die peacefully at home. 7:28 Lori Jordan is her name, sorry for the delay in that. 7:29 She's showing pictures of the lake bed, what the lake used to look like, what it looks like now. 7:29 You can see those pictures on Snellville Patch. 7:29 She says coyotes and bobcats are now hunting down there. She has a picture of a coyote footprint. People gasp. 7:29 Comment From Guest You shouldn't have to mow lakes!!! Get to the resolution people and stop the nonsense. This sounds like Green Acres to me 7:29 Comment From Snellville resident This is a good idea. Thanks for doing this. 7:30 Most people are angry with the Summit Chase HOA. "If you can't afford to keep up the lake, give it up," said Lori. 7:30 You're welcome Snellville resident. 7:31 Josh Mclarty (spelling?): "What I'm perplexed about is I'm not sure why this is a city issue" 7:31 "Why are we having a city meeting about a private piece of property they've attempted for 2 years to fix." 7:31 Tom Witts: "Would you prefer the council not listen?" 7:32 Witts: "Because this HAS gone on for two and a half years and nothing has been done. We want to get the public input." 7:33 Josh: "If this is a private matter, private property, when the city council makes a decision, how does this impact a private piece of land?" 7:34 Missed the name, but person who lives on the lake. She wants to clarify some issues. She's discussing the road, which she believes falls under the perview of the city to do what they can to help the residents of the city. 7:35 It's her first home, and because of the "inability of the HOA" it's almost easier for her to just walk away from her house. (Move, not just leave) 7:35 "Yes the lake is private but the culvert underneath the road is not." 7:35 This is the first time she's heard of an HOA maintaining a culvert underneath a road. 7:36 "It's a public issue that needs to be dealt with." 7:36 She says the burm was breached by the contractor, NOT the rains. She lays the blame on him. 7:37 "This has bottomed out the property values" 7:37 Comment From Insurance Does the HOA have insurance, doe the Engineer have insurance, does the Contractor have insurance? 7:38 Jacqueline Cragen, Alter Ridge Way in the Timberline portion of the subdivision: "Beautiful setting, we enjoyed the lake. It breaks my heart to hear people not support the community. It's heartbreaking to think we wouldn't be there to help. This is a whole community." 7:38 Insurance, I am not sure. I would think so though. 7:39 "It looks like a crime scene and it breaks my heart." 7:39 "I thought that was what Snellville was about, where everybody is somebody." 7:40 "I hope we would all be there to help you out as well. It's a public road but it's destroyed a private beautiful community." 7:40 Applause from lots of folks. 7:40 Dan Miller, Holly Lake Circle: "My subdivision also has a small lake. It's surrounded by about fifteen homes. Our lake is fed by run off and natural springs." 7:41 "Our lake is owned by a recreation association that takes care of the pool and the tennis courts but it's voluntary. Our dam had a problem a few years ago and we just closed it off." 7:42 "We as homeowners expect that if our dam were to fail, our recreation association would not nearly have the funds to fix it. So we know as families around the lake that if that dam failed not only would our home values drop, but we would individually have to come up with several thousand dollars a piece." 7:42 "If you set a precedent to do this for these people, I want to be on that list the next time to make sure that if our dam fails or lake has a problem you'll stand by me." 7:43 Henry Calbin (spelling?) Heavenly Lane: Timberline Misty River subdivision. "I cross the dam of this lake at least once a day. It's certainly an unsightly mess. I worked in public health and know the dangers involved in the lake remaining the way it is right now." 7:44 "I don't think the only option is restoring the lake." 7:45 "If the HOA wants our homeowners association to help with the cost, I'm sure we would be willing to do that. Our property values are dropping. If they continue to drop, not only is the city, but the county is going to get less tax because our homes will be reevaluated. I won't continue to pay tax at a rate higher than the resale value." 7:45 Restoring the lake, converting to a wetland, clearing the area are all options, according to Henry. 7:46 Kelly Buck, Beaver Creek Lane, not in Summit Chase but have to go through Summit Chase to get to where they are: "We know the issues with the lake bed, we know the safety issues of that poor little boy and his parents, we know about the rodents and the wildlife. There are two separate issues: the unsightliness and health hazards, but the culvert that goes under the road is dangerous." 7:47 That's the only way for her to get in and out, and for the emergency services to get in and out, according to Buck. 7:47 Witts: "Let's address the integrity of the road." 7:47 Jon Davis: "We put a camera in the pipe and ran them through so that we know what the inside of the pipe looks like." 7:48 Comment From Legal Question If the homeowners in Misty River have experienced diminished property values by the mis-management of the Summit Chase HOA, do they have a legal claim against them? 7:48 Civil Engineer, Rick: "Ran a camera up there to determine what the condition was. Not failed, but corroded and on it's way to failure." 7:49 They fixed it. 7:49 Sorry for the delay in your comments showing up, typing a mile a minute. 7:49 Is it a temporary fix? Rick says no, it's permanent. 7:50 Her answer wasn't completely answered but it seems that the road is structurally sound. 7:51 Kelly Buck asks, whose responsibility is the culvert? 7:51 The city has a 50 foot strip rightaway across the dam, according to Davis. The pipe system starts on private property, ends on private property. 7:51 Comment From Legal Question If the culvert was damaged the result of the mis-management of the Summit Chase HOA does the City have a legal claim against them? 7:52 I wouldn't know the answer to that, Legal Question, but will pass it on. 7:52 I have a feeling that question will come up. 7:53 City attorney Powell is discussing the issue of titles and property rights. 7:54 There are no clear answers to those legal questions, they are trying to figure it out. This was all done in the 80s, and a lot has changed in Snellville since then, seems to be the consensus. 7:54 Jerry Blankenship: Is there a written agreement on the easement across the lake? 7:55 Powell: The closest definition to the actual road is in the plat to the Timberline subdivision. That developer didn't own the area where the road was constructed. There are documents but they are confused. 7:55 Comment From Property Values Previous Patch article suggested repair about $85,000 divided by 150 or so homes in Summit Chase = $566 a home. Next issue. 7:59 Anna Craven, little girl, lives in Timberline Trace: "My friend is the boy who got buried to his neck with mud, and me and my mom and dog used to have picnics by the lake and I'm really sad that it's gone." 7:59 She used to look at the fog on the lake from the bus with her friends. 7:59 Applause. 8:00 John Everhart, Beaver Creek Lane: "The upper lake has some serious problems that need to be addressed as well." 8:01 "Possibility if they had major water, that could possibly cause the upper lake to fail. If that happened, it could possibly cause the lower lake to fail. But it is something we need to address. If we take care of the lake, we need to talk about a total solution." 8:01 Witts: "We're still just gathering information." 8:02 Davis: "there was a place on the lower lake that was washing out." But they fixed it. 8:03 Everhart: Is there a possiblity of problems at the upper lake? 8:03 Davis: There's a possibility. 8:03 Everhart: Bottom line is, there are possibilities. 8:03 He believes the entire lake should be looked at, not just the lower lake. 8:04 Comment From Realtor The property that contains both lakes R5093 107 has a FMV for tax purposes of $1,000, it is described as a Recreational Area and the HOA paid $15.51 in taxes in 2012 8:05 Everhart doesn't believe it's fair to chip in when they don't have access to the lake. Huge applause. 8:05 Comment From Realtor The City portion of that tax bill was $2.00 8:06 Erin Christianson, Summit Chase Drive: Shows pictures of the lake when it was full in 2011. 8:06 Erin: "To my knowledge a letter was sent informing Summit Chase HOA that there could be a dam failure and repairs needed to be done." 8:07 "In January 2012, another letter was sent out to Pat Port reminding her of a letter sent out in 2010 letting her know that they were advised to hire professional engineers to do a robotic inspection of the dam." 8:08 "Since 2009, the HOA has known about this problem with the lake and the dam. Basically, they have continued to sue their neighbors for whatever reason, spending the HOA money on different things. ChickFilA parties, they didn't save to repair this lake." 8:08 "I would like to advise that we remove the HOA, the city take over the lake and make it public." 8:09 "It's disgusting to know this is happening in my own community, neighborhood. I'm floored at how our dues have been spent on other things." 8:09 "My advice is let the city take over the lake, get it repaired and let everybody use it." 8:09 Applause. 8:10 Blake Vansant: Part of Summit Chase. "This has turned into a blame game. Who has done what wrong, right. At some point we have to let go of who did what and fix this."
8:10 Applause. 8:10 Some of these people are so nervous. Kudos to all of them for voicing their opinions. 8:10 "I have seen coyotes and heard coyotes," says Vansant. 8:11 But she's also seen rabbits, deer, owls, the wildlife is there and it's not going anywhere. 8:11 "I've heard very little on what people want or think we can do to move forward." 8:12 Curt Schulz, Tanglewood Drive: "These pictures of the lake with the kayak were just beautiful. Everbody is somebody in Snellville, but everybody is not somebody in Summit Chase. Not everything there is accessible." 8:12 Comment From Realtor Gwinnett GIS shows Timberline Trace as a public street with ROW on either side. The HOA owns the property on both sides of the road, but the road appears a public street. 8:12 Yes, a 50 foot strip, Realtor. 8:13 Schulz: If the HOA hasn't taken care of the road, the city should get back funds from the HOA for repairs that would not have been necessary if the HOA had done their due diligence (not exact quote). 8:14 When Schulz and his wife started the farmers market, they couldn't receive a penny from the city. Same for the community garden. 8:14 Comment From Realtor At this moment on Summit Chase HOA website:http://www.summitchasehoa.com/documents/Johnson%20Lakes%20Rules%203-2006.pdf says Johnson Lake is a private lake owned by the SCHA, Inc. 8:15 Schulz: "That lake was private from day one. They have created this problem." 8:15 "As far as the city paying for this whole thing, absolutely not." 8:15 Comment From Opel I have a comment. 8:16 Frank Fairfield (possibly misheard last name): "We had to work with the city before any work could be done." Because of the cease and desist order. 8:17 Frank: "The city allowed that subdivision to be built with only one way in and out." 8:17 Yes Opel? 8:17 Comment From Realtor Timberline final plat approved by Harold Todd, Chairman, Snellville Planning Commission 1-27-87 stating "Pursuant to the . . . Regulations of Snellville all requirements . . . have been met." That would include a public access street across the damn. Recorded 9-28-88 plat book 46, page 188, Gwinnett County. 8:19 Discussion on Frank saying they couldn't do anything because the city issued a cease and desist order. Witts says things could still be approved through the city. They agree that the cease and desist should be lifted. 8:19 Comment From Opel I want to know when my pipes are going to be fixed 8:19 In the subdivision, Opel? I think the pipes were fixed. 8:20 It's another piece that's broken. The piece that lowers and raises the lake. 8:20 Hopefully they'll have an answer soon! 8:23 Comment From Legal Question Realtor, if HOA owns proprty on both sides of road and their is an easement when the road was built. Is is reasonable to assume the HOA may have been paid for that easement at some time in the past? 8:26 Larry Fossil, in Summit Chase: Been a member on the HOA board, but not a member now. 8:26 Several pieces of info have been erroneous, according to Fossil. 8:26 Comment From Pauline Lets just drain the lake. 8:27 "The issue as far as I'm concerned is that the city of snellville entered into an agreement to put a road across that dam. They took ownership at that point of the road." 8:27 "The lake belongs to Summit Chase HOA, not anyone else." 8:28 "This board has worked diligently with the city to come to some sort of resolution to the issue. In the early 90s that lower dam was breached as well. A number of residents reported it was breached for two days, and was repaired shortly therafter." 8:28 The city took care of that, at that point. 8:29 "The city accepted that liability at that time, the precedent still stands. The pipe can be repaired quickly and easily." 8:29 "It doesn't cost $85,000 unless you get civil engineers, the government involved,"... interrupted by huge applause. 8:30 "You accepted responsibility when you took that easement. Part of that easement consists of the drainage and culvert, just like any other road." 8:30 "It's your responsibility," says Fossil. 8:30 Comment From Cindy I agree.. the city should pay for all of this. 8:30 Donna Mace: Timberline Trace. "I am the exception to the rule; my home is on the market." 8:31 "The child being injured resulted in signs being placed that said "crime scene." On a day my home was being sold." 8:32 Her grandchildren were never allowed to use the lake because they lived in Timberline. 8:32 She met with Lori, who spoke earlier. She went to Lori's house, and told Lori told Donna her story. Donna felt bad for her, but asked her to take the signs down. 8:33 The signs say "rats nesting," and it didn't help her home being sold. 8:34 This issue is affecting people individually. It's not just a lake, just a pipe. She has already called a lawyer, who said, the lake might look ugly, but if the road collapses give me a call. 8:34 (That paragraph should have quotes.) 8:34 Comment From Realtor Legal Question: Yes, happens all the time though I have no knowledge of this particular case. 8:35 "We shouldn't all have an attorney on speed dial to be able to live in a community." 8:36 Witts is closing the meeting. 8:36 "This was a fact finding mission. Different sides of the stories. No one has made a decision. I thank all of you for sharing all that information with the passion that you showed." 8:36 Goodnight Patch readers. I'll have something up on this in the morning. Thanks for the conversation. 9:14 Comment From Realtor Thanks Patch for doing this, very interesting. 9:36 If anyone else reads over this, I know it got a little confusing at times. Thanks for bearing with me! Email me at Crystal.Huskey@patch.com if you have any questions, I've got it all on a voice recorder.