Inquirer: Eroding creek bank may be homeowner's problem

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 9, 2014 

Donald and Karin Nestor have a problem behind their house on Savannah Drive.

The problem is a stormwater drainage creek that runs between their property and an urban forest owned by Parkhill Cemetery. (Talk about quiet neighbors!)

On dry days the creek is a trickle, but during and after heavy rains, it's a raging river, and it's causing erosion of the riverbank. The erosion is undermining three hardwood trees on the bank to the point that I'm surprised they're still standing.

You could, if you were really stupid, crawl up underneath the trees, into the eroded bank. The erosion is also threatening to eat up part of the Nestors' property.

Donald called the city and a drainage technician said according to Georgia law, the property owner, not the city, is responsible for erosion problems. He gave him a sheet from the Stormwater Division that cites Georgia law:

"The beds of unnavigable streams belong to the owner of the adjacent land. If the stream is the dividing line between two parcels of land (as it is in this case) each owner's boundary shall extend to the thread or the center of the main current of the water."

That is followed by: "The city will not repair any damages that occur as a result of natural erosion or where improper drainage on lots caused adverse erosion."

OK, too bad, so sad, as they say.

But maybe not. The erosion might not be natural.

There is an ancient stone masonry retaining wall at the point where the creek emerges from beneath Primrose Road. It was probably erected because the creek crosses Primrose at an angle and would just slam into the bank if the wall weren't there to deflect it into the natural channel.

Problem is, a tree fell on the Parkhill side, breaking the retaining wall and forcing the last 8-10 feet or so of it away from the bank at an angle. The angle points across the stream directly at a point where erosion is the worst on the Nestors' side. I may be a Georgia Tech fan, but that's as close as I get to being an engineer. Still, it looks like the broken part of the retaining wall could be causing the problem.

So I called Pat Biegler, who is not only director of Public Works, which oversees the Rainwater Division, but is also an engineer. Biegler said she couldn't give me an answer without doing some investigation, which is understandable, seeing as how she hasn't even seen the problem.

So stay tuned for an answer next week.

Update

Cogent Readers will remember the recent saga of the Zombie Mortgage house on Meadowview Drive, the one that is in Foreclosure Purgatory. Attorney Fife Whiteside, who is representing the property owner, said his efforts to get all parties to agree on selling the property are moving along as he'd planned and he expects to have good news soon.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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