Storm Water Infrastructure Q&A & Open Issues

This document contains information confidential to the members of the Tuxford Homeowner’s Association and is not to be shared outside the membership or the association’s legal counsel without the express written permission of the Tuxford HOA board of directors.

This document is a consolidated view of the questions asked, and concerns raised by our members following the October 27, 2014 meeting. This document will be updated, as the board and committee are able to provide answers to the questions that have been raised. The answers to some questions are still under consideration based on feedback, and they are noted.

*** Updated December 2, 2014 *** This document has been updated following the board’s November 17 meeting at which important changes to our plan were adopted. Please read the entire document for these changes.

This document is concerned with the substance of the recommended plan. It does not attempt to answer every inquiry received about this matter, but focuses on the main concerns and questions. Also this document does not describe the plan or provide background on the condition of the ponds. For that information, please refer to the presentations posted on the HOA page.

  1. Given the number of concerns raised, will the board consider delaying its December vote? What’s driving the timeline?
  2.  Will the board be negotiating with the City of Alpharetta for assistance, financial or otherwise, prior to finalizing the plan?
  3.  Will the members of the association be permitted to vote on the proposed plan?
  4.  Will the board be hosting another meeting to review the feedback and answer additional questions?
  5.  Given that Fulton County was responsible for these ponds prior to our annexation in Alpharetta, can we get them to pay for some of the maintenance?
  6.  What is the total projected cost for remediation of the ponds? Are there any other costs we don’t yet know about?
  7.  Should the residents who own the pond properties be asked to share the costs, since it’s their property we would be maintaining?
  8.  This plan consumes almost all of the contingency funds we had in our non-recreation reserves. Does the board plan to replace this contingency fund in the future?
  9.  What is the impact of this on the annual dues?
  10.  Is the association taking on any other liabilities by agreeing to be responsible for maintaining the ponds as storm water facilities?
  11.  Other residents have had to handle storm water drainage issues outside the detention ponds. This has cost them money. Was this addressed as part of the work?
  12.  Can the Alpharetta City Ordinance in question be posted?


Question: Given the number of concerns raised, will the board consider delaying its December vote? What’s driving the timeline?

Answer: The board has decided to postpone its vote from December 15. We will reschedule this vote when negotiations with the city have reached a stage where we know what assistance we can expect from them. Having said that, the board will continue pushing to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

Rationale: This issue has been unresolved in Tuxford for several years. In 2013 and 2014, the board adopted a goal to resolve this issue. The committee has been working for more than a year on the recommendation. We recognize the importance of determining what help we can expect from the city as a key element of the plan. Although we have postponed the December vote, we hope to resolve this matter in time to begin work on the remediation plan during fiscal year 2016, which begins April 1, 2015.

Additional considerations:

  • The City of Alpharetta is awaiting a response from the HOA regarding a remediation schedule. They have granted significant leeway in order to allow time for the committee to make its recommendation. The longer we wait, the higher the possibility of incurring fines for non-compliance with the ordinance.

  • We are aware of at least 2 situations in the past in which the uncertainty surrounding this matter has affected the ability of our members to sell their homes. This has the potential to affect property values in our neighborhood as long as the matter remains unresolved.

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Question: Will the board be negotiating with the City of Alpharetta for assistance, financial or otherwise, prior to finalizing the plan?

Answer: Yes. As stated in the October 27 plan document’s timeline (see page 25), we plan to begin discussions with the city as soon as possible. We have already begun consulting with our attorney to map out the negotiation strategy. We will keep our members informed as this proceeds.

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Question: Will the members of the association be permitted to vote on the proposed plan?

Answer: The recommended plan as presented on October 27 is that the board will vote on the plan, following the member comment period that is now underway. The new date for the vote will be communicated in advance to our members.

Rationale: Your board is committed to being completely transparent on the detention pond matter so that everyone is completely informed about the plan. We decided to present the recommended plan to the members and request feedback prior to voting to ensure that our members have a voice in the process. We decided to not bring this to a vote of the members for several reasons:

  • Our by-laws provide the authority for the board to make this decision, as the storm water infrastructure serves the association as a whole.

  • Neither an increase in dues or a special assessment is planned at this time, which would require a vote. (Note: under our bylaws, dues increases of more than 5% annually require a vote. At this time, we don’t believe any dues increase will be necessary.)

  • The decision facing the association boils down to complying with, or fighting against, a City of Alpharetta ordinance. Our recommended plan is to comply. A vote that would result in the association disobeying a city ordinance doesn’t make sense. While it is possible to fight the ordinance in court, this would be costly and time consuming. The cost could conceivably raise the ultimate cost of compliance by 25% or more. We think that’s a waste of the HOA’s funds.

  • Once we understand what cooperation and support we will be receiving from the city, the board will communicate the results to the members along with any revisions to the recommended plan, prior to the board’s vote.

Comment: We are open to constructive suggestions on what aspects of the plan might be voted on by the community at large, as long we continue to comply with the city’s ordinance.

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Question: Will the board be hosting another meeting to review the feedback and answer additional questions?

Answer: Yes. We will be hosting a meeting on December 8 to provide an update to our members. We will also be providing an update on this matter at the annual HOA meeting, which occurs in late February. If other meetings are scheduled, we will communicate those as well.


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Question: Given that Fulton County was responsible for these ponds prior to our annexation in Alpharetta, can we get them to pay for some of the maintenance?

Answer: Our attorney advises us that the statute of limitations has passed for bringing any action against Fulton County regarding neglected maintenance.


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Question: What is the total projected cost for remediation of the ponds? Are there any other costs we don’t yet know about?

Answer: The estimated cost is broken into these components:

  • By far the largest part is the remediation work. The estimate for this component is $199,000 over 5 years, which includes a 15% contingency (see plan page 21). The estimate per pond is as follows: Lake Tuxford, $19,721; Dunoon $88,138; Welwyn $72,651; Tuxford/Ramsden Brick, $18,490. Once we retain an engineering firm to oversee the 5-year plan, they will be required to solicit competitive bids for each portion of the work. Before proceeding, the board will approve actual costs for each phase. The estimate we have today is based on Russell Engineering’s experience with these projects.

  • There will be annual maintenance required for the ponds. The estimate is $1,400 per year, which is easily contained in our existing HOA operating budget.

  • There are long-term maintenance considerations, which will need to be understood, particularly related to the dam. The magnitude and timing of these needs are unknown at this time, and would need to be included in future reserve studies. The study is about to begin and will inform our next fiscal year budget (begins April 1, 2015).

  • There will be some legal costs to draft the homeowner agreements. When we have an estimate for this we will update this answer.

As discussed, we plan to seek assistance from the City of Alpharetta to reduce these costs as much as possible.

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Question: Should the residents who own the pond properties be asked to share the costs, since it’s their property we would be maintaining?

Answer: The board is recommending that the HOA should cover the vast majority of the costs. The plan does place certain responsibilities on the pond owners (see plan pages 17-18) that are not shared by non-pond owners.

Rationale: Fundamentally, the detention ponds are part of the storm water infrastructure that serves all of Tuxford, and the board believes that the association should therefore divide the costs equally among all members. This is limited to the costs required to support storm water detention, and not as any sort of amenity.

Additional considerations:

  • The responsibility for maintaining the 3 non-lake ponds has never been the responsibility of the owners. Prior to our annexation, Fulton County had the responsibility as indicated by easements on property surveys. Shortly after annexation, Alpharetta passed its ordinance attempting to push that responsibility onto the homeowner’s association.

  • The non-lake ponds have generally been inaccessible to the owners, so it is not possible for them to have performed any maintenance on their own. It is not practical to do so in the future. Holding them accountable for extra costs given that they were not expected to perform this work in the first place doesn’t seem fair. Also, because the property is inaccessible, the owners of the non-lake ponds do not benefit from the use of the property.

  • Some pond owners will be responsible for maintaining easements to provide access to the ponds.

  • Pond owners already share financially by paying taxes on the proportion of their property dedicated to storm water infrastructure.

  • There is no practical way to allocate cost responsibility among the pond owners, and there are numerous legal issues involved with any attempt by the HOA to pass the direct costs of remediation onto the individual pond owners.

  • The property owners on the lake have been maintaining it well. They have agreed to continue to monitor the functioning of the dam.

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Question: This plan consumes almost all of the contingency funds we had in our non-recreation reserves. Does the board plan to replace this contingency fund in the future?

Answer: The board will make this decision as part of the next fiscal year budget. If we decide to replenish part of the fund, the amount and period of time will be factored into the annual budget process.

Comment: The non-rec contingency fund is part of our larger reserve plan. The larger plan already covers all known items requiring future renovation or replacement (example: front entrance wall and fencing). The contingency fund was established in case a non-rec unknown item arose, such as the detention ponds. In the last 10 years or so, we have not had any other requirements to use that contingency fund for non-recreation purposes. We are not aware of any other contingencies at this time. The board will decide how much to set aside in this fund given this background. At any rate, since we have been allocating funds from our annual dues to this contingency already, we don’t foresee a need to increase dues arising out of the detention pond work.

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Question: What is the impact of this on the annual dues?

Answer: At this time, we are projecting no increase in annual dues to fund the remediation and annual maintenance for the ponds, even if the association has to shoulder 100% of the projected costs.

Comment: The board will begin budgeting for fiscal year 2016 (begins April 1, 2015) in January. With respect to the detention ponds, we will take into account the following:

  • Estimated year 1 cost of the remediation plan – this amount will be included in the budget, but no spending will be authorized until the final decision to proceed has been taken.

  • Assistance from the city - As stated above, this may reduce our total remediation cost including the year 1 budget.

  • Updated reserve study, to better understand long-term maintenance of the ponds, beyond the known remediation work.

  • Replenishment of the contingency fund.

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Question: Is the association taking on any other liabilities by agreeing to be responsible for maintaining the ponds as storm water facilities?

Answer: The agreements that will be drafted by our attorneys will take into account any liability concerns and will protect the HOA appropriately. Additionally, Tuxford’s existing insurance provides the same protection regardless of whether the ponds are owned by the HOA or serviced through separate easements. We may also seek relief from the city for certain liabilities imposed under the storm water management ordinance.


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Question: Other residents have had to handle storm water drainage issues outside the detention ponds. This has cost them money. Was this addressed as part of the work?

Answer: The committee did not address other storm water issues. The committee’s charter was to look at the 4 detention ponds that are defined as such on property surveys and are subject to the city’s ordinance. Since the October 27 meeting, we have met with one homeowner to better understand an example of their situation. Generally, every individual homeowner in Tuxford bears the responsibility for managing drainage issues on their own property. Having said that, we plan to raise this in our negotiation with the city, as the city’s storm drains in the streets may contribute to these drainage issues.


Question: Can the Alpharetta City Ordinance in question be posted?

Answer: The HOA section of the website includes a link labeled “Supplemental Information” in the “Detention Pond” section. At the end of the presentation is a slide containing a link to the ordinance as well as other pertinent background information. For convenience, the links are repeated below. The ordinance is found within Link #5. The pertinent page is 3-56-57.

  1. Alpharetta Stormwater Design Manual. 
    This manual is used in conjunction with Georgia Stormwater Manual. This is where it states the requirements for detention ponds within subdivisions.

  2. Alpharetta Stormwater Inspection and Maintenance Policy
    This is the City of Alpharetta, Georgia Comprehensive Stormwater Inspection and Maintenance Policy.

  3. Georgia Stormwater Management Manual Vol. 1
    This is the master manual which was used by Alpharetta to create their ordinance.

  4. HOA StormPond Brochure
    This is the brochure that is mailed to residents or HOAs that are responsible for detention ponds.

  5. Alpharetta Unified Development Code Section 3.3.8
    This is the “Ongoing Inspection and Maintenance of Stormwater Facilities and Practices. The pertinent page is 3-56-57.

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