Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Weiland Homes Fined For Building Wall Across Stream

By STACY SHELTON / Atlanta Journal / Constitution

Monday, February 02, 2009

John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, one of metro Atlanta’s most respected home builders, must pay a $150,000 fine to the state for impounding a stream in the city of Milton without a permit.

The fine, issued late last month, is among the largest imposed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

Wieland built about an 18-foot-high retaining wall across a tributary of Cooper Sandy Creek. The creek feeds the Little River, which empties into Lake Allatoona, a water source for metro Atlantans. The wall created a stormwater detention pond to hold back muddy rainwater.
Bert Langley, manager of the EPD’s Mountain District office, said the state would not have allowed Wieland to build the wall, but will not force the developer to remove it. EPD’s investigation started last May.

The Wieland project, called the Braeburn Development, is at the intersection of Birmingham Highway and Crabapple Road. The project is designed for about 53,000 square feet of offices, 45 houses and 49 townhouses.


Anonymous said...

He knew what he was doing and in the end got the long end of the stick.

Anonymous said...

Too bad he didn't have to take the wall down too.

Anonymous said...

This story is accurate, but does not tell the whole story..

The $150,000 fine is the direct result of homeowner action, and the help of a very effective organization called the Coosa River Basin Initiative.

Soon after Wieland clear cut some 60 acres of woodlands for the development at Braeburn, the lake in the heart of the Six Hills Development turned orange after every rain -- a situation that is becoming increasingly common in lakes and stream adjacent to developments. Investigation showed that our lake was quickly filling with silt. Mountain Lakes, for one, is in a similar fight.

The homeowners on the small lake at Six Hills and in Kensington Farms complained repeatedly to Milton, which responded with considerable sympathy, but very little in the way of effective action.

A small group of Six Hills homeowners documented the damage being done to the lake, and in the course of that, discovered the wall in question.

Joe Cook, the director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, based in Rome, visited the site on numerous occasions, counseled us, and passed our photographic evidence of the damage and the wall to the EPD. He also stayed in constant contact with the EPD about the situation. We also received considerable support from the Birmingham Hopewell Alliance, the local watchdog and advocacy group.

As a side note, Wieland -- in requesting a variance for another wall on the site that encroached on a stream bed -- reached an agreement with the Milton BZA to repair and prevent the significant damage to the stream beds between the site and our lake and provide $15,000 toward the removal of silt deposited in the lake, especially at the south end. The streams, normally shallow and meandering, have been carved up to seven feet deep in many places (causing large trees to topple into the stream bed) because of the force of the water coming off the Wieland property. Almost a year later, none of the agreed to remediation and prevention has happened.

In fairness, the lake has improved. But the major residential development activity at Braeburn has come to a halt because of the housing market. We remain concerned about what happens when the bulldozers return.

I write this to advise others who find developers turning their lakes and streams into cheap and convenient repositories for runoff that there are people who will listen, who care, and who will help you take action.

If you are south of Crabapple Road, contact the Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper. If you are north of Crabapple, contact the Coosa River Basin Initiative. In fact, the Coosa River Basin Initiative is running a series of workshops to help combat the growing runoff problem. Both organizations are on the Web.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joe Cook of CRBI, homeowners at Six Hills and Kensington Farms and Birmingham Hopewell Alliance. I hope you understand that your contribution to this matter is HUGE and has far-reaching effects in and outside of Milton.

Way to go!