Sanders Road was closed again on Monday, and on Tuesday the Forsyth County commission agreed to pick up half the tab for the temporary repair that’s no longer in use.
The board voted 4-0, with Chairman Pete Amos recused, to contribute $16,000 to the city of Cumming for the work completed as an emergency fix to get the road reopened.
Sanders Road initially closed after a storm on May 19 that caused a breach of Lake Alice Dam that sent water rushing down a creek across the street and into a Lake Lanier cove, clouding the water.
The city of Cumming performed temporary repairs later that week to allow the road, which is primarily county-owned, to reopen to traffic.
On Monday, city officials asked to close Sanders again to prevent possibly unsafe driving conditions and to assess and implement a permanent solution. A date for reopening has not yet been determined.
Commissioners voted on Tuesday to pay half the costs of the temporary work, estimated by the city to total $32,000.
The resolution also states that this payment does not set a precedent for the county to fund any portion of future repairs, and that Forsyth can later seek reimbursement from the parties at fault for the damage if it so chooses.
Amos recused himself from the vote due to his wife’s part ownership of the dam, even though he said he could objectively review the issue.
Commissioner Jim Boff said he received a call from Amos about two days after the dam collapse to ask if he would support a cost split of the work needed to reopen the road.
“At that point, I don’t think there was any determination as to what the cause or who the ownership was, and I agreed at that time on the phone to do this,” Boff said. “However, since that time, the [Georgia Environmental Protection Division] has determined that there are at least two entities which are responsible one way or another for the failure and the damage to what amounts to be county property.”
He struggled with funding the repair, likening the situation to someone throwing a baseball through his home’s window, and he has to pay for it.
“We didn’t damage our own road, somebody else did,” he said.
Commissioner Todd Levent said the county already “bit the bullet” in agreeing to contribute to temporary repairs.
However, Levent said he wouldn’t vote in favor of the resolution without the added language that this payment would not set precedent for further monetary contributions.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the situation could be viewed more like a car accident, in which insurance pays for the damage of the vehicle not causing the wreck, but may seek repayment later from the party at fault.
“Ultimately, this was a timing issue. The point was to go out and do something quickly,” Jarrard said. “Other than the 50-foot swath [owned by the city], that is a county road, and we’re going to have an obligation to keep the road open and then you’ll have an obligation as the policy makers of the county to determine if you want to go after the responsible party, and that’s it.”