By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — Officials from the city of Trussville and leaders of crews working on a new sector of Stockton, met on Friday, July 30, to discuss serious issues with the development that have been plaguing a neighboring subdivision for months.
Since the fall of 2020, residents of the Windsong subdivision have complained to the city about runoff from the new sector 11, being built in Stockton by Signature Homes. Windsong Lake has been polluted by sediment that has been running down the hill into the lake. The sediment has flowed into the lake, causing it to become murky and muddy and making it impossible to enjoy for wildlife and residents of the subdivision.
On Wednesday, July 28, the city took action and issued a stop-work order on sector 11 of Stockton, and planned the meeting with the CEO’s of companies involved with the new development. Although the order stopped general construction of the area, dirt work was still allowed to take place, because city officials said it is important for the developer to get roads and drainage in as soon as possible, in order to ease the amount of sediment that is flowing.
Representatives from Signature Homes and Spectrum Group, which offers environmental consulting to the developer, met with Mayor Buddy Choat, City Councilor Lisa Bright, Scott Mann and JR Malchus, both from the city’s Inspections Department, Public Works Director Wayne Sullivan, and two residents of Windsong to discuss what has happened and what needs to happen next.
“It was a very productive meeting,” Choat said. “The residents will probably disagree that anything significant is being done until they get that mud out of that lake down there, but there’s probably some still going in there. But what we saw shows they made some great strides the first time the detention pond broke. That has been rectified. I was pleased with what we saw and measures they have taken that I wasn’t aware of. They answered a lot of questions that we had.”
The meeting came after several attempts from Windsong resident Donna Ware and other residents, to get answers from the city. Although the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has become involved, Ware and other residents have asked for the city to take charge and save their lake and their quality of life.
“We’re not interested in excuses,” Ware said to the council on July 27. “We’d like you to pay attention to the citizens.”
Choat said the city heard her concerns and after attempting to address the issues with the developer, he said the city’s Inspections Department felt movement was not being made fast enough. Fortunately, Choat said after the meeting Friday, he thinks that will no longer be an issue.
“I think Scott Mann, from our department, asked some great questions,” Choat explained. “He felt like things maybe had not been addressed as soon as he would’ve liked when he made suggestions. I think Signature is going to handle that for us.”
After the meeting, Choat said the stop-work order will remain in place until these problems can be addressed. The only general construction taking place in the sector at this time is a model home.
Choat said an adjoining property to sector 11 had several retention ponds put in after issues on that property were recognized. He said he didn’t realize how much crews have done on that property until he saw it for himself.
“They were actually taking advantage of some logging trails that had been used to take several trees off of that property,” Choat explained. “They went down there and did some things that actually retained some water in certain areas and slowly released it and it captured a lot of that sediment. They were able to trap some of that sediment and remove it.”
Choat said there are plans to add a fourth retention pond on that property, and it will be larger than the existing wells. That work will be completed in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Choat said everyone involved agreed that the dirt work must continue in order to get other issues resolved.
“Alabama Power has to come in and put the underground utilities in,” he said. “Trussville Utilities has already put their stuff in the ground. Once they get the curb and gutters put in, all of the drainage problems should be addressed by then.”
Choat said ADEM is also continuing to monitor the progress on the site, after fining the developer, although he knows the city has to continue to watch closely. He said he wants the developer to know he is very serious about getting the issues resolved. Choat said the city still has the power to completely stop all work but he doesn’t foresee that being necessary.
“We talked to ADEM and they’re coming back out in 17 days to do a follow-up on the order where they fined them,” Choat added.
Choat said when crews get drainage issued fixed, he hopes there will be a plan to fix the lake.
“At that time, I think they’re going to attack the lake and try to get that sediment out as best they can,” Choat said. “I didn’t ask them exactly what that plan was because I don’t know if they know yet until they get everything done, and then they’ll address it. But I feel much better about what we saw.
“Some of this may or may not have been able to have been avoided but the thing is when we left, everyone was on the same page,” Choat added. “I feel like we can all work together and get this thing done and get the lake cleaned up. That’s the big thing, we have to get the lake cleaned up at the end of the day.”
The stop-work order will remain in place, Choat said, until the problems with the dirt work are resolved and drains are put in, but again, it only stops general construction on sector 11 of the development.
Choat said an itemized list of steps to be taken should be complete by Monday. Choat said he would make that list available to The Tribune.