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New Tucker ordinances may help residents with stormwater issues

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New Tucker ordinances may help residents with stormwater issues

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FILE PHOTO FROM FEBRUARY 2020: A sinkhole on Lawrenceville Highway in Tucker is surrounded by a fence. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt


By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

Tucker, GA — Tucker City Council at its Oct. 13 meeting passed three ordinances required by the state, which will affect residents who experience flooding, sinkholes, and other water-related issues. The ordinance gives city staff, police officers, and code enforcement offices the ability to inspect private property to ensure proper maintenance of stormwater drains.

Earlier this year, the sinkhole at Tucker Tire on 4147 Lawrenceville Highway was caused by a storm drain under private property. The property owner was held responsible for repairing the sinkhole.

Rules around stormwater management, litter control, and conveyance systems will help residents like Karen Young, who spoke at the meeting. After the weekend’s heavy rain and tornado threats, Young experienced flooding. She’s already lost ground on one side of her property due to poor drainage.

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“You’ve got over 30 houses with two drains. That’s it,” she said. “I understand that my backyard is my problem. But further down the way, people throw stuff in these ditches. They don’t maintain them.”

A breakdown in communication about stormwater maintenance often occurs after developers leave a subdivision the land is no longer under their purview, or when an HOA becomes defunct and no one takes on responsibility for community stormwater systems.

Homeowners need to be educated on the history of their property, said Councilmember Michelle Penkava.

“It’s all about education and enforcement, which these ordinances are going to help us do moving forward,” Councilmember Anne Lerner echoed.

Courtney Smith, Tucker’s director of planning and zoning, suggested buying a survey when buying a house. She said the City of Tucker is available to help.

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“Your survey is going to have your setbacks, any easements, buffer requirements, drainage ditches. So that’s going to educate the buyer at that point. Unfortunately, the state of Georgia does not require you to have a survey when you buy a house. If more people would buy surveys, there would be more education,” Smith said.

Assistant City Manager John McHenry presented a plan from Tucker’s new Urban Redevelopment Authority to apply to the state for an Opportunity Zone for the city. By using data on criminal activity, demographics, and poverty, the Urban Redevelopment Authority can offer tax incentives for businesses in a designated area.

The state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) likens Opportunity Zones to a booster shot.

“This designation will enable some of our state’s struggling communities to attract much-needed private sector investment,” said DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn. “By giving an economic ‘shot in the arm’ to these communities, the goal is to boost investment where it’s most urgently needed.”

Other news:

– The city submitted its final plan on how they’ll spend $4.1 million of CARES Act funding from DeKalb County.

– Wearing a mask, continuing to social distance, and protecting vulnerable individuals is key to keeping COVID-19 numbers on the decline, said Mayor Frank Auman, especially as DeKalb County considers returning students to in-person learning.

– Council members went into executive session for real estate and personnel issues. No public action was taken afterward.

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