Briefing planned on Jones Creek lawsuit against Columbia County



Jones Creek Golf Club will play host to a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. today to discuss a lawsuit filed in October against Columbia County and several developers over alleged damages to Willow Lake and nearby properties.

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

The plaintiffs contend that poor engineering design, lax enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act and other misdeeds have allowed unchecked erosion to damage property and pollute streams and lakes with silt and litter.

During the meeting, which will be held at Jones Creek clubhouse, residents will be briefed by Jones Creek attorney Martin Shelton and Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bontatibus.

Named as defendants, in addition to Columbia County, were CSX Transportation, which owns culverts and embankments 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 town homes near the golf course.

The town-home 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 an aesthetic amenity for Jones Creek, the complaint said.

Since the town-home project commenced, “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.

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.