GAINESVILLE - There's a problem brought on by the area's recent heavy rains that Hall County Commissioners Tuesday were not sure how to solve in the New Holland Community also known as the Milliken Mill Village.
All that rain has caused flooding, even a sink hole, but commissioners learned that nobody took over storm water maintenance when The Milliken Company sold its mill village over fifty years ago. The stormwater system dates back to the early 1900's. New Holland is in Jeff Stowe's district and he's been getting plenty of emails from homeowners.
"I wanted to get the issue out and get our staff looking into what our alternatives are," Stowe said. "I'm concerned for our citizens in that area. If there are sink holes opening up we need to figure out who's responsible and what the next step is to fix it."
Commissioners grew concerned when they learned that if the county repaired the system, they could wind up with a big expensive fix on their hands.
"It could be hundreds, hundreds of thousands of dollars, a lot of money," Commissioner Scott Gibbs said. "I want the county to do what's right, but I want the county to also do what they're obligated to do."
Right now the county is obligated maintain the streets since Milliken deeded the mill village streets to the county and the City of Gainesville accepted sanitary sewer and water lines installed by Milliken, but there is no record of any acceptance of the storm sewer system by either the city or the county.
Public Works Director Ken Rearden called it a 'tough situation' in what amounts to a 'no man's land'.
"That's the way it is," Rearden said. "We don't have any deeds that they dedicated those storm water pipes to the county and the city doesn't have any deeds, so it's really up to the homeowners at this point in time."
Rearden told commissioners it might be possible to get a dedicated easement, repair the water damage, and then bill the property holders through their tax bill over a five year period.
"That might keep us out of the liability of saying if we touch it, we own it," Rearden suggested.
Gibbs pointed out that there's been a lot of development around the village, increasing the paved area and the resulting runoff that flows into the mill system. Chairman Dick Mecum instructed county engineer Kevin McInturff to contact city officials to start looking for a solution.
NEW PIPE REQUIREMENTS
Commissioners considered an stormwater ordinance change that in the future does away with corrugated metal pipes.
Public Works Director Ken Rearden said that change request upgrades culverts and storm sewers owned and maintained by the county.
"It will prohibit corrugated metal pipes in live stream applications and it will also prohibit corrugated metal pipes under streets," Rearden said. "This will keep us safer; we'll have concrete and plastic pipes only in these live streams."
The new standards were brought on by road washouts and closings caused by recent heavy rains.