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Cobb plaintiffs lost quality of lake, win stormwater runoff suit

For many, it's a dream to live on the water. Residents of the Stillwaters subdivision in west Cobb, Georgia, have the luxury of living on Stillwaters Lake. Sadly, the quality of that lake and the joy that the residents used to get from it has been tainted by negligent land development.

According to the stormwater runoff lawsuit filed by several community residents and their homeowners association, developers' work on a nearby project filled Stillwaters Lake with mud because of an inefficient drainage system. That might not sound like a big deal, but the amount of mud has been significant and the runoff has essentially destroyed the quality of the lake.

The defendants in this case bought the piece of land to develop about 10 years ago. Even then, the former president of Stillwaters Homeowners Association claims that she knew the area was in trouble. She was right. Since the development began, an estimated 336 dump truck loads of sediment has ended up in the lake, not only killing wildlife but nearly erasing the existence of the lake's usability entirely.

Residents complain that they no longer have the lake to enjoy because of the runoff. Fishing is no longer good because the fish have died. The water is so low due to the amount of mud that other water activities are nearly impossible to enjoy. The runoff has damaged the environment, the residents' quality of life and the value of their properties.

A judge recently ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in this environmental case, ordering the defendants to fix the runoff problem and pay $1.5 million to the homeowners association for them to put toward cleaning up the damage to the lake. The residents involved in the lawsuit also are to be paid at least $280,000 each, plus their attorney's fees.

Overall, the plaintiffs feel "vindicated" after the ruling. Still, it couldn't have been easy over the last several years to see the land that they own and love destroyed by the defendants' reckless disregard for protecting the environment.

Source: The Marietta Daily Journal, "Residents win $5.2M lawsuit vs. developers," Lindsay Field, Oct. 4, 2012

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