Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jamestown Villas annexation comments

Friends of Hurricane Creek
P.O. Box 40836
Tuscaloosa, AL 35404


To the Tuscaloosa City Council,

Please accept the following comments on behalf of Friends of Hurricane Creek and,
John L. Wathen.

The subject of annexation for "Jamestown Villas" located at the end of 6th Street East and Vassie Drive.

We respectfully ask the council to enter these comments for the record.

The annexation should be denied as written for the following reasons...

1. Existing infrastructure will not support the increased traffic. 90 new homes equates to roughly 180 new cars potentially on 6th street at peak times.
A. Transporting of materials into and out of the site on this extremely narrow road will be done in heavy trucks and tractor-trailers. This will cause extreme hazards to local residents and children since there are no sidewalks for pedestrians. Every one is forced to walk in the street, even to check mail. This poses an imminent harm situation for all living there.

2. The existing road, 6th street is under county maintenance and all residents in the Police Jurisdiction (PJ). In order to fairly address the annexation, all residents affected should have been notified by mail of such and given the chance to speak out. The newspaper notices do not adequately describe locations in terms of which neighborhoods will be impacted.

3. The existing road will have to be widened to meet city street width requirements.
“Although we are in the process of amending this, currently, the minimum pavement width is 30 feet from back of curb to back of curb. The right of way widths vary depending on the street classifications.

John McConnell
Deputy Director
Planning & Land Use Controls
City of Tuscaloosa
Office of Planning & Economic Development”

A. Currently none of the streets surrounding this project meet the requirements to be annexed or used for “city streets”.
6Th street measures only an average of about 17 feet throughout.

42Nd street measures only 17 feet

Vassie Dr. only 16’10”

Cumberland Rd at Bay St. only 17’4”

Mailboxes along 6Th St. are on average 19 feet apart across traffic.

None of the existing infrastructure will support this project.

Each resident of ownership living along these streets will have to sell the extra right of way at taxpayer expense. We believe that at no time and under no circumstances should city money be spent to improve infrastructure or assist in any way the facilitation of this private endeavor.
A. The contractor must pay for any right of way purchase for sewer infrastructure and or road improvements.

4. The only means of access to Hwy 216 is over Cumberland Road, which is far more dangerous than even 6th street. It has steep hills with blind curves and very narrow. To increase the flow there by as many as 180 more cars per-day is not only dangerous but also irresponsible.

5. The only means of transporting sewage from this location is with new right of ways and a lift station connected to the "Stone Creek" system. There is no way to do this without complete disturbance of a tributary to Hurricane Creek and the wetlands contained within. Watershed protection needs to be addressed and proper consideration of the loss of habitat.

6. When the "Stone Creek" lines and lift stations were replaced, we were repeatedly assured it was not for future development and would not be tapped for such. We respectfully request that the city honor those statements and deny this annexation based on the same.

7. The sewer lift station and lines are to be built by on-site contractors. Based on the past failures by other such endeavors, we request that each and every step of the construction is supervised and or tested by city employees since they will eventually be held responsible for it's proper function.
 Barret Trace, also owned by Mr. Jimmy Burns. Sewer System Overflow 07/24/08


8. This station will be in very close proximity to Hurricane Creek. The lift station should be built to the same model as the main Stone Creek station with overflow holding capacity suitable for holding unavoidable spills.
A. The overflow holding cell should be equipped with "quick fit connections" to allow pumping without coming in contact with raw sewage.

9. Due to it's proximity to Hurricane Creek, extreme measures will have to be taken to assure the federal mandate to reduce pollutants expected with this project such as sedimentation and turbid discharges. Retention ponds will be difficult to install and maintain. The city has a responsibility to reduce the risk of further pollution through sensible planning. In our opinion this will not be feasible to adequately control. If annexed, the city should require minimum impact development techniques. The current slash, burn, and bury techniques will not work here and are a recipe for disaster.

10. This contractor has an abysmal record of environmental non-compliance. FoHC and Hurricane Creekkeeper have been monitoring this contractor since Dec. 07. Hurricane Creekkeeper as well as the Alabama Dep. of Environmental Management have registered several complaints. There has never been a single day of compliance at this location, yet every building inspection was approved, and houses are now for sale that stayed in violation of state and federal laws during their entire construction phase. This poses another problem for us in the PJ. No fines or prosecution of these violations has taken place in the entire history of Tuscaloosa’s storm-water permit that can be found. Many times I have asked for that information from Joe Robinson, Chad Christian, and the mayor and they have all danced around the question without answering.
A. If this annex takes place, no construction should commence until a bond-per-acre is placed on the entire increment. The bond should be sufficient to cover any cost incurred due to environmental non-compliance. In the event of project failure, the bond should be set high enough to totally reclaim the property and return it to a state of compliance.
B. No annexation should be granted until this contractor proves total environmental compliance through inspection. This inspection should be carried out by city engineers and or ADEM and should include every site in Tuscaloosa that is under Burns Construction’s control.

In closing I would like to point out that this is another example of people in the PJ being forced into compliance with the wishes of city leaders we have no voice in electing. We cannot vote for or against this development that will, essentially create an island of "city" property in the midst of our county neighborhood. If this annexation is approved it should at least include the entire area and connect all of 6th street within city limits.

All of the residents should be given the right to say whether they want 90 new houses on their street. A street that in no way will facilitate this venture.

With all due respect, we ask you to deny this annexation.

John L. Wathen
Hurricane Creekkeeper,
Friends of Hurricane Creek

Members of

Who has the authority to say someone else
is not being a good steward of the environment

Anyone who notices

As a follow up to the sewer overflow at Barrett Trace, owned by Mr. Jimmy Burns of Burns Construction, a complaint was filed on 07/24/08 to the city 311 hot line. They called me back an hour or so later and left a message on my cell phone asking me to "see if you can find out who owned the subdivision." The city sewer department went to the site and passed no less than 12 signs with the owners name and contact information on each for sale sign there but they called me to find out who owned it.

The next day I informed Mr. Chad Christian of the situation and he said he would look into it. As it turned out I was informed that since Burns  owned it and installed it, he was responsible. Even though it hooked into the city lines, the city refused to act.

It took two more days before anyone responded on the 29th. Raw sewage flowed from Mr. Burns site for at least 5 days unending, and untreated.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great comments, John. Very thorough.


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