Originally created 07/11/98

County pursues appeal



APPLING -- Attorneys for Columbia County have filed notice with the Georgia Supreme Court of the county's intention to appeal a judgment in a lawsuit decided in March in Columbia County Superior Court.

Filed in October 1993 by S.E. Doolittle of Martinez, the lawsuit claimed the county's planning for stormwater in connection with several subdivision developments in the area near Oakley Pirkle Road caused water runoff to fill the man's pond with garbage and mud.

The damage to Mr. Doolittle's pond amounted to unlawful condemnation of the property by Columbia County, said Mr. Doolittle's attorney, Ben Swain McElmurray Jr.

A Columbia County jury agreed with Mr. McElmurray, finding Columbia County responsible for maintaining a public nuisance and awarded Mr. Doolittle more than $17,000 in damages and $52,000 in attorney's fees and other costs of litigation.

In addition, the court ordered Columbia County to immediately begin work to correct the damage to Mr. Doolittle's property and do whatever work necessary to change storm water drainage to prevent future runoff into his pond.

Without appeal, the case could create long-term implications for future development in the county, said Columbia County Attorney Doug Batchelor.

The decision is the first in Columbia County involving stormwater runoff, but since the jury verdict in March another lawsuit has been filed.

On June 18, Scott C. Washam of Martinez filed a lawsuit against the county seeking $250,000 in damages and a jury trial for repeated flood damage to his property on Crystal Creek Court.

Mr. Washam claims the county's lack of flood- and stormwater control has subjected his house and property to repeated flooding from the neighboring Reed Creek basin.

Much like Mr. Doolittle's suit, Mr. Washam alleges the county has created and maintained a continuing nuisance, which has denied him use of his property.

The county has yet to respond to the lawsuit. A lawsuit represents one side of a dispute.