Residents of Stonepark of Dunwoody and Parc at Dunwoody Apartments wondering if a Fulton County sewer line project will ever get finished and what the buffer area between the developments will look like have to wait more than a month to see its completion. And that’s if the weather cooperates.

The two properties are off Colquitt Road south of Pitts Road.

The new Fulton County sewer line easement comes close to the Stonepark of Dunwoody condominiums. (Phil Mosier)

“Right now, nothing has been done in about three weeks, so the mess just sits gathering mud,” Olga Roos, who lives in the Stonepark of Dunwoody condo development, said on Aug. 21. “No one has told us when they will be finished.”

She fears the work installing a sewer diversion line immediately behind her home may cause damages. In mid-July she said trees damaged during the clearing and access road construction appeared ready to fall on the condo units. She wants to know if having heavy equipment operating so close to her building – as close as two feet, she said – damaged its structure.

“They need to inspect the building after it is done for damages caused by them,” she said. “Trees along the area they demolished are in dangerous condition, dying and bent… The trees could start falling any time since they disrupted the environment system.”

Workers began clearing the easement to prepare for the sewer line installation the week of June 29, but Roos said homeowners in Stonepark of Dunwoody weren’t told what was going on until after the fact. An email from Community Management Associates, property manager for the community, on July 1 confirmed the work had begun, but it raised more questions.

“We received no notice to a start date and had to clarify scope once the construction began,” the Stonepark of Dunwoody Board of Directors said, according to the email.

The email said the Stonepark board negotiated a $65,000 payment for the easement. Of that amount, $10,000 will be used for replanting vegetation.

If the property owner asked for an inspection in the easement agreement, it will be performed, said Simeon S. Solomero Jr., senior construction project manager for Fulton County Department of Public Works.

Fulton Public Works Director David Clark said the 24-inch diameter sewer line installation is part of a six-mile project to transfer 10MGD (million gallons per day) of untreated wastewater from the Big Creek treatment plant in Roswell to a Cobb County plant. The project began in 2018 and the sewer line is expected to be installed by late September, depending on the weather.

The $28 million project is designed to divert some flow away from the construction at the Big Creek plant for a $275 million expansion project, he said. The line also will serve as an emergency safety valve.

Olga Roos stands along the sewer line project outside her home in the Stonepark complex. (Phil Mosier)

The final route was selected after discussions with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the city of Sandy Springs, Clark said. Roadways were used as much as possible. The route starts at Riverside Pump Station in Roswell and crosses the river heading west to Roswell Road, following it south to Dunwoody Place, south down it to Northridge Road and  turning west to Colquitt Road. At Colquitt the pipeline route heads south past Pitts Road. The pipeline route next shifts southwest to follow the easements purchased from Stonepark of Dunwoody and Parc at Dunwoody Apartments.

From there it follows the Georgia Power easement, passing under Roswell Road and following Morgan Falls Road past Steel Canyon Golf Course until it reaches the Morgan Falls Pump Station on the east side of the river. After crossing the river, it travels about two miles within the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, along the river’s west side, until it connects to the existing Cobb County system. This section includes 1.2 miles of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area parkland in the Johnson Ferry unit.

The National Park Service held its own public comment period on the project and created a website section about it  here.

Permitting issues that included the effects of COVID-19, easement requirements and additional requirements caused the contractor, John D. Stephens Inc., to demobilize its crew in that area for a couple of weeks and shift them to another area, Solomero said. Storms also delayed the project. No excavation had been done at Stonepark, though a ditch and swale already existed along the north side of the easement.

Solomero said the contractor will perform geotechnical investigation (test drilling for rock) along the easement the week of Aug. 24 and in the following weeks. After that pipe installation will begin, which should take about four weeks, depending on the weather. Restoration, landscaping and planting grass will follow after pipe-laying, pushing the project into at least mid-October before homeowners can expect work crews to be finished.

Clark said trees won’t be replanted, but the easement area will be planted with grass and maintained. The Stonepark board said negotiations included getting fencing replaced also.

The city determined for the 14,359 square feet of landmark tree canopy removed, Fulton County must provide 22 large canopy replacement trees for this project. Fulton County will provide 22 oak trees, the Public Works Department said via email. The city will direct project managers on where the replanting can occur. That replanting would not be on the same site due to the pipeline.

Cobb County exempts utility projects from tree replacement. The amount of tree recompense within the National Park Services has yet to be determined.

Roos said the first she heard about the project is when the subdivision’s property manager with CMA sent out an email stating the homeowners association had negotiated a payment of $65,000 for Fulton County for an easement in the buffer area. The HOA is the owner of common areas like the buffer area.

“We have tried to be very fair to all of the property owners in the prices that we offered and settled upon,” Clark said. “There are a total of 14 property owners that we are buying (or bought) easements from. The final cost will be a little over $600,000 in all.”

Large portions of the project run through existing easements for Georgia Power, GDOT and the city and would not require payments. The county and Georgia Power share use of easements, so those did not add costs to the project.

The project required purchase of easements at these addresses:

  • 9755 Roberts Drive
  • North River Forest Court (Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area)
  • 7600, 7843, 7899, 0 and 8329 Roswell Road
  • 7500 Wildercliff Drive
  • Colquitt Road (Stonepark of Dunwoody Unit Owners Association)
  • 400 Northridge Parkway
  • 1067 Pitts Road, Parc at Dunwoody Apartments
  • 0 Morgan Road
  • 350 Northridge Drive
  • 295 Johnson Ferry Road SE, Marietta

Homeowners with questions for the contractor about the project can contact Neil Loudermilk at 706-490-2400; Eric Malvin at 770-972-8000; or Solomero at 404-630-8639.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Reporter Newspapers.