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Macon, Ga

SOS forest

    Stormwater runoff, Failed Detention Pond, Flooding, Lawsuit    

Posted on Tue, Jul. 11, 2006

Bibb, private companies sued in flooding
Woman seeking funds to pay for damaged property
By Phillip Ramati
A woman who sustained damage to her property because of flooding last summer filed a lawsuit Monday in Bibb County Superior Court.
Patricia Busby, a schoolteacher whose property flooded after a wall of a sediment pond burst near her home at 4573 North Beachwood Drive, named Bibb County in the lawsuit, along with Northside Development LLC; Cunningham & Co. Engineers Inc.; and G.A. Faulkner Jr. Co.

Sam Wilson, one of Busby's attorneys, said all the defendants were named to get the matter settled in one proceeding.

"We'll sort things out and see what happens," he said. "(Busby) just wants her home fixed."

Monday's lawsuit does not ask for any specific amount in damages, Wilson said, because of continuing problems on the property.
In May, Busby sent a letter to the county asking for $48,000 in damages to be used to replace 250 feet of inadequate drainage pipe, which will require removing 2,000 square feet of concrete driveway. The yard also needs sod and dirt to replace what was lost through erosion. The $48,000 was the estimate by an insurance company to fix the driveway.

Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams said Monday he had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and declined to comment, as did Bibb County Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop.

Efforts to reach officials with Cunningham & Co. and Faulkner offices were unsuccessful. Henry Arrington of Northside Development said he didn't know a lawsuit had been filed.

"I have nothing to say, to be honest with you," Arrington said.

The defendants have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit once they are served.

Wilson said a hearing is scheduled Aug. 22 between Busby and the county. Wilson said Busby wanted to stop further construction of the Northside Crossing project until the drainage problem was fixed.

"It's much easier to fix the drainage problem without the buildings there than it is with the buildings," he said.

Wilson said Adams and the county have been cordial in the matter, but nothing has been fixed because each of the four parties listed as defendants has blamed another party.

According to the lawsuit, Northside undertook the real estate development, which was designed by Cunningham, approved by the county and implemented by Faulkner.

"As a result of the defendants' activities, plaintiff's property has developed numerous sinkholes in her yard, the driveway caving in, the pool is damaged and the home structure is compromised," according to the lawsuit.

Busby, who was briefly hospitalized last year because of the stress from the flooding, declined to comment on the lawsuit, referring all questions to her attorneys.

Wilson said the lawsuit will end up costing the parties involved more than it would have if a settlement had been reached initially.

"Everybody keeps saying it's someone else's problem," he said. "When you include all the lawyers' fees and everything, it's going to be a very expensive case."

Information from The Telegraph's archives was used in this report.
has been notified of these and other difficulties with Bibb County Engineering concerning stormwater issues...

Posted on Sat, May. 13, 2006

Woman seeking $48,000 from Bibb for flood damage
By Keich Whicker
A woman whose property was flooded last summer after the wall of a sediment pond at a construction site failed has asked Bibb County for about $48,000 to repair the damage caused by the water.

A letter sent to the county by the attorney who represents Patricia Busby (477-4334) said the money would be used for Busby's property at 4573 N. Beechwood Drive to have 250 feet of inadequate drainage pipe replaced - a job that will require the removal of 2,000 square feet of concrete driveway.

The letter also says the property needs sod and dirt to restore the yard to its condition prior to the flooding July 30, 2005.

Bridgette M. Cooper, Busby's attorney, arrived at the five-figure sum based on the combination of testimony given in a sworn affidavit by Lance Woods, a civil engineer employed by Ocmulgee Site & Environmental Services, and a proposal by Cobb Landscaping Inc. to repair the damage to Busby's property that was identified by Woods.

Busby's claim also chastises the county for approving the Northside Crossing construction project. It accuses the county of negligence, claiming it acted as a poor agent of oversight when it approved flawed storm-water management, sedimentation and erosion control plans. Busby's letter also suggests the county has failed to inspect and maintain the infrastructure in that area - a claim other local residents also have made.

Although he has not seen Busby's letter, Commissioner Elmo Richardson, who represents the area that was flooded, said he does not think last summer's flood was a failure by the county. He blamed the developer, Northside Development, for poor site maintenance.

"Basically, one of the problems was that (the developer) had not maintained that sediment pond ... it had filled up," he said. "As far as I am concerned, (the developer) is responsible for the problem."

Northside Development officials said last summer that their pond did "blow out" but that its design had been approved by the Bibb County Engineering Office as well as a private erosion control

Richardson, a professional engineer, argued that the standards the county sets for sediment ponds and storm-water management at construction sites is adequate - up to a reasonable point.
The ponds are designed for a certain level of rainfall, he explained, but they are not designed to cope with extreme amounts of rainfall.

On the date the flooding occurred, more than two inches of rain fell during a short period of time. This, along with the buildup of sediment in the pond, is what is believed to have caused the wall to deteriorate. Because her property directly abuts the site where the construction was under way, Busby's back yard temporarily hosted a fast-moving stream after the wall completely fell apart and a large amount of water was released.

Busby, a schoolteacher at Mary Persons High School in Monroe County, was briefly hospitalized because of stress from the flooding. But her claim against the county does not ask for the payment of medical bills or make any claims about personal suffering.

The county has until the end of this month to decide whether it will pay Busby the $48,000 her attorney demanded or resist the claim, which could eventually land in court. So far, commissioners have not made a decision in the matter.

"We haven't had any discussion on it yet," said Bibb County attorney Virgil Adams.

Busby's claim against the county is the first to result from the flooding in the north Macon area last summer, but it may not be the last.

Residents in the Forest Lake and Glenwood subdivisions have said they also suffered damage from the flooding.

One man told The Telegraph his basement filled with 18 inches of water, while another women said a river of water damaged a fence and washed away some of the landscaping in her yard.
In the days immediately after the flooding, the developers avoided a $1,000-a-day fine from the county by digging new ponds at the construction site to handle excess runoff and planting grass to prevent future erosion. At the time, Richardson praised their prompt response, saying the developer responded as they should.

"After this event occurred, (the county) gave him 24 hours or 48 hours in which to take corrective action, which he did," Richardson said Friday.

But late last year, residents in the area were still complaining about a lack of initiative on the county's part to correct storm-water infrastructure problems. They claim the county has long neglected the storm sewers there and has failed to enforce erosion rules that prevent runoff from occurring. Plans to widen the nearby Forest Hill Road have only increased these concerns.

Richardson said the county has attempted to take an inventory in the affected subdivisions to determine whether it owns the pipes there and has any liability concerning them, but that effort has been limited.

"We haven't had any funds to do anything," he said. "But we haven't had a problem since that particular day."

Information from The Telegraph's archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Keich Whicker, call 744-4494 or e-mail

September 19, 2006
6:00 P.M.

ENGINEERING/PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE –Committee Chairman Bivins reported
the following:
1. The Committee recommends approval of the County Attorney’s recommendation
regarding the Busbee case.
On motion of Commissioner Bivins and carried, the recommendation
passed by a four-to-one (4-1) vote. Chairman Bishop cast the dissenting


See Grassy Swales -  Swales

Posted on Mon, Mar. 13, 2006 page 1A

Forest Hill project still raising questions about water runoff, traffic issues

By Travis Fain


Stormwater runoff and traffic projections for Forest Hill Road have fluctuated widely, adding fuel to a long-standing fight about the road's planned widening.

The Macon City Council has joined what's been largely a grass-roots fight to have the project redesigned. Meanwhile, in June the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to start buying the land needed to turn two lanes into three- and four-lane sections.

Throw in an April meeting of the Macon Area Transportation Study Policy Committee - an influential body with some say about the project plan - and it's coming down to crunch time for the long-discussed, controversial road project.

The Telegraph has spent several weeks analyzing Forest Hill Road, particularly questions about how much runoff the $13 million project would create, how much traffic the new road will handle and whether a recent push to use roundabouts instead of signalized intersections has a chance to succeed.


Changes in the way water will be piped away from the road will keep increases in runoff to a minimum, according to a hydrological analysis and the Bibb County Engineering Department.

In fact, stormwater runoff will increase less than 0.4 percent, according to a report from Stantec, the engineering company handling the design.

That's in stark contrast to an initial and admittedly "very rough" Stantec prediction of a 30 percent increase in runoff, because of the increased asphalt that will be used for the project. As part of a brief October letter, the high number raised alarms, particularly for project critics who already thought the widening would increase flooding in surrounding neighborhoods.

"The intent of the letter was merely to inform all parties that a more in-depth study was warranted," Stantec engineers wrote in a response to Telegraph questions about the wide disparity in runoff predictions.

With that study done and changes in the storm sewer designs drawn up, "the miniscule increase in runoff will be channeled to a stream adequate to receive the runoff without experiencing harmful effects," Stantec reported.

Bibb County Engineer Ken Sheets agreed. So did Joe Wood, who manages the county's sales-tax financed roads improvement program for Moreland Altobelli, a private engineering firm that works closely with the county.

The percent change in predicted runoff is key because, if it's more than 1 percent, developers are required to include a retention or detention pond in their plans, according to city and county ordinances. But this is the first time a roads program project - as opposed to private construction - has been held to this standard, Sheets said.

"The ordinance, it's not for road projects," Sheets said. "It's really for development."

But the runoff change on Forest Hill was figured differently from the way it's figured for many private construction projects. The county and city ordinances, which use the same language, speak to runoff at the "site boundary." That means runoff is often figured at the edge of a construction site.

Stantec calculated the runoff change from Forest Hill Road based on the entire drainage basin, as opposed to the project area alone. This is a much larger area, leading to a smaller percentage increase.

Because Forest Hill Road is a long, linear project, it's appropriate to base the calculations on the basin as a whole, Sheets said. Stantec's written explanation states that local runoff policies have "some inconsistencies," but "the accepted engineering standard ... is to evaluate the drainage basin as a whole."

Bill Causey, who manages the city of Macon's engineering department, has pushed for the drainage ordinance to be enforced on the project since September. He feared erosion and flooding problems along Savage Creek - where runoff will be piped - would be worsened by the project. His requests led to Stantec's hydrological study.

Now, after weeks of back-and-forth over the right way to calculate runoff increases, Causey said he's satisfied with Stantec and the county's solutions, which include significant design changes such as velocity dissipaters and sewer pipes that will run at less than a 1 percent slope to slow runoff.

"They say they have (kept the runoff increase under 1 percent)," Causey said. "And they put that in writing."

[Read about the Grassy Swales soultion to runoff - Swales


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