With development being a key issue in Bryan County, one might wonder what happens to a subdivision once it gets the okay from the county to begin development.
Demeries Lake subdivision resident Dennis Williams is trying to find out.
He went before the Bryan County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 8 with two of his neighbors and a petition signed by other subdivision residents who were not able to attend the meeting."There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed, because the subdivision is not completed," said Williams, who’s lived in Demeries Lake for four years. "It’s the county’s responsibility to make sure the developers complete the subdivision as it was submitted to you, on their plat that was approved in 2000 or 2001. And they only have, from their final plat approval, 12 months to accomplish this. Well, (developers) Lloyd Murray and Jake Davis have been out of our subdivision, because they finished digging dirt a year and a half ago, and we haven’t seen them come back since then."
Williams said he wasn’t at the meeting to point fingers or start a fight.
"This neighborhood is an estate-style community. There will only be 38 homes total, and I think there are only seven or eight home sites still available. It’s going to be a beautiful neighborhood once it’s built out. The majority of these homes cost upwards of $500,000," he said. "I’m after the same thing as the rest of my neighbors – to have the development completed to the same specs the county approved originally. It’s not just about coming in and setting up lots, it’s about the beautification process, too."
According to Williams, here are some of the problems going on within the neighborhood:
There are no street signs, stop signs, or traffic lights at any intersection; the community well is an eyesore that wasn’t finished according to plan and has repeatedly not been chlorinated properly; the chain link fence around the property is supposed to be a privacy fence and has not been dressed out; manhole covers are broken or have been left off; the common grounds around the lake have never been dressed out; there is a fallen fire hydrant due to erosion problems near the lake; piles of dirt on empty lots are decreasing the aesthetic values of existing homes; and there are several drainage and ditch issues caused by the elevation of the lake being higher than most of the drainage ditches.
"My big concern, where we’ve got our lot in the new phase, is ultimately the drainage in the neighborhood," said Demeries Lake resident Natalie Mault, whose property is flooded when rains wash through the subdivision. "But the drainage hasn’t been done properly and I want to know when it will be."
Mault said she’s given the developers the benefit of the doubt for almost 18 months since buying her property, but feels all she’s gotten is a lot of lip service and she is ready to see some action taken.
Additionally, Williams said the community park, which was supposed to have been 2.5-5 acres, was reduced down to 0.36 acres without any notification to the residents.
He said developers reduced the plat’s recreation plan in 2005, after coming to an agreement with the county to waive the required recreational property under the premise that the developer would donate $36,000 to the county’s recreation fund.
"No one bothered to come and tell the landowners or the homeowners, so we would ask that be rescinded and the money that was donated to the county be put back into the Homeowner’s Associate fund when the Homeowner’s Association gets adopted," Williams said, noting it has not yet been formed. "Right now, the Homeowner’s Association is still in the developers hands."
The residents have also written letters to Murray and Davis, with the help of Planning and Zoning Director Dale Dudley, regarding some of the drainage issues. Dudley said his letter to Murray asked that something happen by Jan. 21.
"I think the county certainly has responsibility for drainage issues and the developer does too," County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said; Commissioner Ed Bacon added the Demeries Lake residents shouldn’t have had to come before the county in the first place and they would work to make sure the right things were done.
But nothing has happened yet, Williams said.
Murray said he talked to Davis, Dudley and the county, and gave assurances that the drainage problems within the subdivision will be taken care of promptly.
"I’ve spoken with Dale and my partner and I are going to take care of it," Murray said Monday. "We’ve addressed it – we’re working with the county to hopefully have it taken care of by the end of this week or the first next of week. We’re getting it squared away."
Williams reiterated he hadn’t gone to the meeting to ‘step on any toes’ – of either the developers or the commissioners.
"But I do feel the commissioners have a duty and a responsibility as a committee to uphold these regulations, the homeowners shouldn’t be responsible for it," he said. "This is not a battle. I want what’s best for me, my neighbors, and for all the Keller and Richmond Hill community. There are other communities coming in to this area and there needs to be some responsibility for making sure the right things are being done."
Williams said he’ll wait until the March commission meeting to speak to the county again, giving them some time to address the drainage issues.
In other business:
- The board unanimously approved the acquisition of a 14.21 acre tract of land for the new County Administrative Complex, slated to be located across from the new Henderson Park off Hwy. 144. The land is owned by Bryan Land and Timber and is being sold to them for $108,000, with funds coming from SPLOST V.