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City to pay for drainage system repairs

COVINGTON - The city of Covington is footing the bill for drainage improvements on Avery Street at the urging of a resident who said a new development was causing an embankment in her yard to erode.

The drainage system installed for Walker's Bend subdivision was constructed incorrectly, according to an independent engineer the city brought in to assess the infrastructure. The developer of the project, Kevin E. Green with Walker's Bend LLC, filed for bankruptcy, leaving the city with the burden of funding the improvements at a cost of $26,214.50.

Avery Street resident Corine Sawyer complained to the city that a section of her yard was eroding due to the Walker's Bend development, but the developer said the erosion had been occurring for years, indicated by car tires that were implanted to protect the bank, according to City Engineer Tres Thomas. An agreement on how to handle the situation was never reached, he said.

The city brought in Pendergrass and Associates Inc. of Conyers to evaluate the drainage system. Pendergrass determined the system was installed incorrectly to handle stormwater flow and should be reworked, but could not determine with certainty whether the flaws in construction were responsible for erosion on the Sawyer property.

By that time, however, the developer was out of the picture due to financial troubles, Thomas said. "There is no one point of contact," for the development, he said, so the city is stepping in to make the improvements. The maintenance bond backing the project was worthless, he added.

The city may ultimately also have to take responsibility for approximately $100,000 in asphalt pavement that must be installed in the subdivision, Thomas said. All the homes have been completed, he said.

With the state of the economy, and the declining housing industry, the city is facing more problems tracking down developers of foreclosed and abandoned developments, Thomas said.

"We've started enforcing part of our ordinance that we haven't in the past, requiring money be put up per acre so if they leave the development incomplete, the maintenance bond is used to stabilize the site," Thomas said. "We've changed the format of the bonds so they do get legitimate backing. Maintenance bonds are meant to cover the cost so the city doesn't have to absorb it."

Thomas said the Walker's Bend incident is the first to his knowledge in which the city has had to put up public money for improvements or completion of a subdivision due to a developer's financial woes.

For her part, Sawyer recently told the council she's just happy to see the situation corrected.

"I really do appreciate everything. I know I will be happy, happy to get it fixed," she said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.