Nine people who either live on or own property near the Tabby Place and Captain’s Cove subdivisions on St. Simons Island filed a lawsuit against their respective developers earlier this month over drainage issues.
Both subdivisions are located off North Harrington Road. Some finished homes can be found in Tabby Place, while Captain’s Cove is still largely under construction.
The landowners allege that Old Plantation Group, LLC, and Palmetto Building Group, LLC — developers of Tabby Place — and Mortgage Lenders of America, LLC — developer of Captain’s Cove — did not take the proper precautions to prevent stormwater runoff from draining onto adjacent properties.
“Defendants have failed to take all reasonable steps necessary to minimize or prevent excessive stormwater discharges,” according to the plaintiffs’ complaint. “... Defendants’ discharge of excessive stormwater onto plaintiffs’ property caused the groundwater table to rise, which resulted in the plaintiffs’ on-site sewage systems to short-circuit and sanitary discharges, including fecal coliform, directly entering the ground and surface waters.
“Prior to commencement of defendants’ land-disturbing activities at the subdivisions, plaintiffs’ property was clear and free of any recent or noticeable discharges of excessive stormwater or sewage.”
Issues with both subdivisions can be traced to the early stages of their approval by the Glynn County Community Development Department, according to the complaint.
Plaintiffs claim the original report for Tabby Place, dated January of 2016, stated the subdivision’s drainage system would retain all stormwater on-site, preventing runoff onto adjacent land.
A network of drainpipes and three retention ponds did not initially function according to plan, the lawsuit states, citing a review of the system by community development personnel.
The complaint later cites an addendum to the drainage report, dated March 2018, saying the ponds were not properly constructed but that the system would still prevent off-site stormwater drainage.
Another addendum filed later that same month rolled the claim back, stating that the ponds would “reduce discharge” rather than retain all stormwater on-site, the plaintiffs’ filing states.
Exactly how much the drainage system would reduce discharge was revealed in a drainage report dated Jan. 3 of this year.
The complaint quotes the report, which states that the “drainage design for Tabby Place keeps 98 (percent) of its runoff on-site.”
The drainage report itself continues, however, by claiming the drainage system will reduce the stormwater runoff load on the “overall drainage basin” by 21 percent.
Plaintiffs’ concerns about Captain’s Cove are similar.
The lawsuit claims the subdivision’s original stormwater management report, dated September of 2015, stated the developers would take steps not to exacerbate existing drainage problems.
An addendum to the report dated August 2017, however, stated Captain’s Cove’s drainage system would “endeavor to ensure” that stormwater runoff from the developed property would be equal to or less than the pre- development runoff rate. The previous report stated the developer “must ensure” the same, the complaint alleges.
The complaint goes on to cite several instances in which county community development staff attempted to get the subdivision’s developer to comply with local ordinances, ultimately issuing one notice to comply and two stop work orders during March 2018.
Later, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System inspection reports would find the developer had, on multiple occasions, failed to “properly protect natural resources, such as wetlands,” “adequately maintain perimeter controls such as sediment barriers,” “properly stabilize or protect disturbed areas not actively being worked on” and “failed to properly maintain storm drain inlets,” the complaint alleges.
Finally, the filing claims the developers have infringed on “the full use and enjoyment of their property,” “contributed to the continued and repeated invasion of plaintiffs’ property by the excess volumes of stormwater during and after rain events” and “acted negligently by allowing excessive amounts of stormwater to flow from their subdivisions onto plaintiffs’ property, resulting in flooding and other property damage,” among other things.
Plaintiffs want the court to order the developers to immediately install new drainage measures, restore the natural integrity of their respective subdivisions, install long-term drainage features to prevent further damage in the future and to require that all future construction occur within applicable regulations.
The defendants had not filed a response as of press time Friday.