CONYERS -- When Robert Foxworth spoke to the Rockdale Board of Commissioners last month about an ongoing stormwater problem, two of the commissioners indicated they'd like to see the problem corrected. Unfortunately, Foxworth said last week, he still has no assurance the county will fix the problem, even after further discussions with county officials.
Foxworth told commissioners on Jan. 22 that the problem on property owned by his girlfriend, Katrina Lindsey, on Underwood Road has been ongoing for two years. He said a work order was signed in January 2011 to give the county permission to repair the broken stormwater pipes on the property, but still nothing has been done.
"The property is eroding away, the pipes are showing and it's a real hazardous issue," Foxworth told commissioners last month. "I'm coming before y'all for some resolution, please."
At that meeting, Post 2 Commissioner JaNice Van Ness thanked Foxworth for "being consistent" in bringing the issue before the board and said she hoped the county would move quickly to take care of the problem.
Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt echoed her comments about the problem.
"Myself and the former chief of staff had an opportunity to visit (the Underwood Road) property on two separate occasions, and I know the process has been two years," said Nesbitt. He added that he had spoken with Planning and Development Director Marshall Walker and believed that steps would be taken to fix the broken pipes.
"Mr. Chairman, I really hope that -- not that we are giving Mr. Foxworth any favoritism -- but we need to expedite the project," Nesbitt said.
Foxworth said he met with staff in the Planning and Development Department following the BOC meeting, but their response wasn't encouraging. Foxworth said Walker told him the department had only $200,000 to make stormwater repairs and his project wouldn't be fixed this year or next.
Foxworth said he was originally told this project was in the top five on a list of work to be done. Now, he says he was told it is 33rd or 34th on the list.
"I said that's not right," Foxworth said. "I'm the reason (the county) came up with the criteria about grading the stormwater problems. I should still be one of the top five."
Foxworth said there are two storm drains that tie into one that goes through the property on Underwood Drive. He said the metal band where the pipe joints meet is rusted out and there is a large hole in one of the pipes. In addition, the end of the pipe is capped off by a metal sheet. The result is that every time it rains, water gushes out of the hole in the pipe, floods the property and causes erosion in the yard.
The county passed an ordinance in July 2011, six months after the Underwood Road work order was signed, that outlined regulations for making stormwater repairs and established a rating scale to determine which repairs would have priority. The ordinance also established a fund of not more than $200,000 annually to make the repairs.
Foxworth said he and Lindsey met with Commission Chairman Richard Oden last week, but got no closer to getting the problem resolved.
Tonya Parker, director of Community Affairs and Innovative Programs for the county, said the issue will have to go through the normal process for repairs. Parker also said Oden, who was out of town earlier this week, had made no promises about the stormwater issue.
"(Chairman Oden) said that his hands are tied because of the ordinance relating to this matter," Parker wrote in an email response to questions. "Before the ordinance, the property owner was higher up on the list, but now because of it being enacted, her property dropped lower on the list, unfortunately. So it will have to go through the process as outlined for the public."
Nesbitt said Monday the work order for the Underwood Road property was in place prior to passage of the ordinance that resulted in it being moved down the priority list. He said he believes it would be appropriate for the county to move ahead with the project despite its current ranking.
"The chairman has the authority and the discretion in day-to-day management to make judgment decisions in some of these situations, in doing an assessment and evaluating the need for how the county should respond," Nesbitt said.
He said if Planning and Development can't do the work in-house, then the matter should come back before the full Board of Commissioners to discuss the possibility of hiring a contractor to do the job.
Rather than this being an issue with the county ordinance, Nesbitt said he sees it as a leadership issue.
"This falls in the lap of the day-to-day manager," said Nesbitt. "He has discretion as to what projects he can move forward with.
"I think that the chairman should bring this matter to his staff, which includes Marshall Walker and (County Attorney) Qader Baig, and they should come up with some direction as to how to respond to this property owner," Nesbitt added.
Nesbitt also said he thought the county could benefit from the two part-time commissioners being included more in discussion to find solutions to problems like this one.
"We may be able to come up with something no one ever thought of," he said. "We are not being given that opportunity."