Lawyers halt public meeting on Jones Creek lawsuit

A town hall meeting to discuss a lawsuit over property damage and environmental issues at Jones Creek Golf Club was abruptly canceled Monday after the defendants’ lawyers objected.

“To avoid any legal issues with the court or accusations from the defendants, we believe it is better to postpone the scheduled meeting for tonight,” said fliers handed out to dozens of residents who had gathered at the clubhouse.

The 175-page lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court last fall by Jones Creek Investors, the owners of the 195-acre golf course and related amenities, and by the environmental group Savannah Riverkeeper Inc.

Named as defendants were Columbia County, CSX Transportation, which owns culverts and embankments that are alleged to have failed and contributed to the erosion damage, the owners of the Marshall Square project in Evans, the owners of Krystal River Commercial Park and Jones Creek Partners, which developed high-density townhomes near the golf course.

The townhome project, known as Willow Lake Phase II, involves 10.8 acres, 9.3 acres of which were cleared to accommodate 43 lots for single-family homes adjacent to Willow Lake, a 6.3-acre pond that provides irrigation for the golf course and is also an aesthetic amenity for Jones Creek, the complaint said.

Since the townhome project began, “discharges of eroded soils, sediments, sediment-laden storm water, rock, sand, dirt, debris and other pollutants into Willow Lake have increased, resulting in significant accumulations of sediment and repeated instances of turbid or visually impacted water,” the complaint said.

The plaintiffs contend that poor engineering design, lax enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act and other misdeeds associated with the Willow Lake town-home project have allowed unchecked erosion to damage property and pollute the area’s streams and lakes with silt and litter.

Such damages are in excess of $3.77 million and continue to mount because the problems remain uncorrected, said the complaint, in which the plaintiffs are seeking corrective action and damages; they have demanded a jury trial.

Speakers at Monday’s meeting were to be Jones Creek attorney Martin Shelton and Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus.

“What was intended to be an open discussion to address your questions about the current conditions of the golf course has been mischaracterized as a press conference,” the flier said.

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Sun, 12/04/2016 - 20:05

Pardon our mess