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Little movement in Lake Alice saga

Sanders Road still closed, cove murky

POSTED: May 30, 2014 12:07 a.m.
 

CUMMING — Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the Lake Alice dam breach.

And while the parties involved in the efforts to repair, restore and rebuild the damaged area find themselves in court — a hearing on one of the issues stretched into Thursday afternoon — the frustration of those impacted on a daily basis continues to mount.

According to Mike Leahy, not enough has happened in the 12 months since torrents of water flowed from Lake Alice into a cove of nearby Lake Lanier on which he lives.

In addition to the murky water, Sanders Road has remained closed between Buford Dam and Mary Alice Park roads, a heavily wooded residential area east of Cumming.

The city of Cumming tried to add some vegetation to prevent silt from entering the cove and the family installed two turbidity curtains to slow the flow of sediment.

With one curtain pulled under water by heavy rains, however, Leahy said any improvements are negligible.

“At this point, it’s been a year and nothing has been done,” he said. “Every time it rains, I look out and the cove continues to turn to pumpkin soup and it looks horrible.”

While Leahy hasn’t taken legal action regarding the breach, another cove resident, Gregory Scott Lindy, has. That’s started a trickle-down effect of legal responses and questions of liability.

The Mashburn Family Trust, which owned the dam, was named as one of the defendants in the suit.

In addition to a motion to dismiss, the family has filed cross-claims against the city, the Sembler Family Partnership and more than 20 other entities for their contribution to the dam’s failure, said family attorney Michael Carvalho.

Sembler developed Cumming Town Center on Market Place Boulevard, which runs alongside the western edge of the former Lake Alice.

The family has also sent an ante-litem notice to Forsyth County’s government to claim the same $1 million in damages Lindy is seeking.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the county has received the notice and is “considering what, if any response will be given.”

The city and Mashburn family presented the agreed upon remediation plan to the public during a hearing in February.

Based on that plan, the family agreed to first build a weir structure to effectively block sediment from flowing from Lake Alice’s bed into the cove.

A weir is a barrier that forms an obstruction smaller than most dams, pooling water behind it while also allowing it to flow steadily over the top.

Once the sediment is stopped, the plans calls for the city to dredge and clean the sediment that’s collected in the cove over the past year.

The family’s contractors were set to begin work on the weir about six weeks ago. That was before, however, a notice was provided to parties involved in the litigation.

“Sembler filed a temporary restraining order prohibiting us from doing anything to the dam,” Carvalho said. “They wanted one to two weeks to come in and do some inspections of their own.”

According to Carvalho, the family agreed, but Sembler then requested a court hearing. As a result of that May 9 hearing, the judge gave Sembler until the end of the month to complete its investigation.

At that point, Carvalho said, the family’s contractor plans to begin work, submitting a final plan to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.

Construction, which should take about a month, can’t begin until the plan and permits are approved.

 “Time is of the essence,” Carvalho said. “This thing needs to be stabilized ... and that’s what we propose to do.”

 

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