County CEO promises help for residents affected by leaking sewageDeKalb County CEO held a town hall meeting in Avondale Estates on Thursday. Photo by Carey O'Neil
This story has been updated.
By Carey O’Neil, contributor
DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May promised to help Stratford Green residents who say leaking sewage infrastructure has spilled waste into their neighborhood since 2013.
Eells added that there are not currently any active sewage leaks, but said there have been “a number of leaks over the years that have had to be fixed by homeowners during the periods that DeKalb County marked out sewers as private.”
“It’s becoming a real problem” Rich Eells, a Stratford Green resident, told May at a town hall meeting in Avondale Estates Thursday night. “We don’t like having raw sewage spilling into Stratford Green.”
Eells said the county should be responsible for repairs, and that they accepted ownership of the pipes as recently as 2007.
May said he understood Eells’ frustration and agreed to help address the issue.
“We’ll meet in the coming weeks and see what we can do to move forward,” he said to the roughly two dozen Stratford Green residents in attendance.
Eells said he was happy for the support. His community does not have a homeowners association or any other kind of governing body. This puts the onus to address these kinds of issues on whichever community members are willing to step up.
“We don’t have a reserve fund to go hire a lawyer,” Eells said. “We’ve been dealing with this for years.”
A consent decree from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires DeKalb County to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to address water and sewage infrastructure issues. This caused an 11 percent water bill increase each year from 2010 to 2014 to address federal concerns.
Despite sewer issues, May was enthusiastic about the county’s future, touting the county’s recently approved economic development plan. This is the first plan of its kind the county has ever had.
May said he expects a pillar of the county’s economic development to be the Memorial Drive corridor, what he refers to as “Downtown DeKalb.” WIth incentives such as a planned Google Fiber high-speed Internet install across the Atlanta and Decatur area, May believes the county’s plans can succeed in attracting quality businesses.
“We can show them we’re a progressive area,” he said.
May did not have any firm plans or projects to announce, but said he was talking with several interested parties with the financial backing to make things happen. Whether the county and these businesses can come to an agreement remains to be seen, but May said he would only accept deals that limited the county’s debt.
“It would have to be a public private partnership,” he said. “I don’t want to county to take on debt, or huge amounts of debt, and put that on your backs.”
Clarification: After this story initially ran, one of the people quoted in the article contacted us to clarify there are currently no active sewage leaks in Stratford Green.