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Mountain Park Life :: Forums :: City Issues
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Lake Litigation Press Updates

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Sat Oct 30 2010, 11:56am
Registered Member #219
Joined: Fri Jun 15 2007, 09:42pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 3
Is there any type of written document regarding the verdict? I stopped by City Hall, but they had nothing.
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Sat Oct 30 2010, 12:23pm
Registered Member #22
Joined: Mon Jul 25 2005, 12:42pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 86
for some reason I keep thing about the saying " it's a village of idiots to raise a ........" oh well, I can't remember the exact saying.

Help us Roswell!!!!

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Thu Nov 04 2010, 03:53pm
Registered Member #46
Joined: Fri Jul 29 2005, 02:20pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 158
Mountain Park residents angry with council over lawsuit

By Ralph Ellis

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mountain Park residents lashed out Wednesday night at the mayor and council over an environmental lawsuit that cost the little North Fulton town millions of dollars.

About 60 people attended the town hall meeting, with several accusing the council of not being honest about the lawsuit filed in 2005 over silt in the town’s two lakes. They said they were blindsided by the costs.

“We talked about truth and transparency, but all we’ve gotten is political spin,” said Frank Baia, a former council member. “We want to get a message to you. We don’t trust this operation any more. More transparency. No more executive sessions.”

The most passionate speakers urged the city not to appeal the verdict that came down last week.

“For five years we’ve chased a dream, maybe a pipe dream, maybe a Clean Water Act dream,” said George Menden, a lawyer. “We should not continue this folly.”

Mountain Park said several upstream developers allowed 40,000 cubic yards of silt to run off construction sites into the town lakes. The suit split the town, with angry voters pushing out several city council members. An ongoing question was whether the city should settle out of court.

When the case ended last week, a federal jury awarded the town of 550 people only $45,000 in damages to pay for a dredging job that might cost millions.

The jury decided the town didn’t deserve to be reimbursed for legal fees, though Mountain Park raised taxes and drained the reserve fund to pay legal bills expected to total $2 million.

Mayor Jim Still said the jury found two defendants, Chatham Holdings Inc. and Lakeside at Ansley subdivision, guilty of violating some parts of the Clean Water Act. The judge will later decide if those defendants should pay any damages or attorney fees.

An appeal didn’t interest most residents at the meeting, mainly because of the legal fees.

But Menden, a lawyer, said Judge Charles Pannell had shown impatience with the city in the case and probably wouldn’t grant any legal fees or rule for the city on an appeal.

Added Terry Wenham: “Let’s call it a day on the legal fees. Let’s focus on keeping the lakes as they are now and improving them.”

Stacey Jones, an engineer, noted that Mountain Park had not dredged the lakes in about 35 years. As part of its findings, the jury decided Mountain Park was responsible for about 80 percent of the silt problem in the lakes.

“We’re lucky to get what we got,” she said.

The city council will meet Thursday night with lawyers to discuss what to do next.

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Mon Nov 15 2010, 01:37pm
Registered Member #46
Joined: Fri Jul 29 2005, 02:20pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 158
Two Comments....

1. If you don't think that the developers are watching this website, take a look at the following...This was posted on the Georgia Zoning Blog an organization that watches and blogs zoning decisions, legislation, and politics across Georgia.

We're under a microscope people even though we're in a small town.

2. Read the comment / sound advice from Dr. Harry J. Maue, Chairman & CEO.

It is quite obvious that these fees need to be audited by a professional legal auditing company NOT a law firm pretending to be an independent legal auditor. That’s like hiring wolves to guard a hen house. Conducting this type of audit is the responsible thing to do and should be performed sooner then late (emphasis mine, not his)


Mountain Park Legal Fees Top $2 Million In Fight With Developer

Posted October 24, 2010 by Kyle Williams in Georgia Cities, Recent Court Decisions, Water & Coastal. Tagged: Lawsuit, Mountain Park. 1 Comment

The City of Mountain Park has spent $2 million – more than four times its annual budget – in legal fees fighting upstream developers over silt and sediment in the city’s lakes and wetlands due to development in Roswell. The north Fulton County city of just over 500 people has waged a federal lawsuit war against the developers since 2005.

The fight headed to trial last and is expected to last two weeks and undoubtedly cost the little city more money in legal fees. The City has up on its website a summary of the first day of trial and directions to the courthouse.
One response to this post.


Posted by Dr. Harry J. Maue on October 25, 2010 at 11:18 am

It is quite obvious that these fees need to be audited by a professional legal auditing company NOT a law firm pretending to be an independent legal auditor. That’s like hiring wolves to guard a hen house. Conducting this type of audit is the responsible thing to do and should be performed sooner then later….Dr. Harry J. Maue, Chairman & CEO, Stuart, Maue, Ltd. , Saint Louis, Missouri 63044 800-291-9940
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Mon Nov 15 2010, 01:45pm
Registered Member #311
Joined: Wed Mar 12 2008, 12:36pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 30
Why wasn't some committee formed or a group of councilpeople assigned to look out for the folks' money? It feels like once we hired the lawyer council moved on to other things. Where was the council attorney in all of this!?!

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Mr Leary
Wed Nov 17 2010, 08:15pm
Registered Member #430
Joined: Fri Sep 03 2010, 03:56pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 5
It was discussed at the town hall meeting about the fees and Brandon Bowen (the city attorney who was sitting upfront with the mayor). Per the mayor, since 2008, when Brandon was asked to be involved in the litigation, he has monitored & raised questions about invoices. I'm sure the council was well aware of the legal fees during the whole process and had not "moved on to other things".
I asked one councilman and was told that since we had no settlement offers they felt were acceptable the only chance of recovering the cost was to go to trial and hope for a favorable judgment but it didn't work out that way.
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Thu Nov 18 2010, 03:12am
Registered Member #424
Joined: Fri Aug 06 2010, 09:06pm
{LOCATION}Posts: 18
Chances, thanks for gambling with my money.
In general, we couldn't prove a sufficient majority were guilty and we couldn't prove the amount of silt from the minority found guilty.

The logic of the mathematics had me. The best that I could come up with was that for that point in time and the amount of silt for that point in time and the cost to remove it was in the $200,000.00 which matches close to the 20% $45,000.00.

Juries and judges do what they think is right and don't question that, understanding that there are predictable emotions from each, such as the morality of blaming more damages proven but additionally insulting their intelligence.

I don't think that the city councils would take or seek any advice so it's hard to say what Mr. Bowen told them. The prior city attorney could have been more assertive.

If our expert attorney could not prove guilt nor the amount of silt the first time, even offending a jury, a 2nd attempt will not show a net profit against the costs just for that.

That's the problem, we gave the attorney too good of a deal so that the costs are too high. We could have put a team of attorney's on the payroll and save a million.
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Thu Nov 18 2010, 11:32am
Registered Member #444
Joined: Thu Nov 18 2010, 09:57am
{LOCATION}Posts: 9
As a fairly recent newcomer to our good town I have been reluctant to speak up, trusting that our Council and Attorney under the auspices of Executive Privilege, have done their very and brightest work and thinking in managing this lawsuit. I don't want to stir up any animosity or ill will, yet my family and I are at a loss to understand what has occurred over the last several years, watching the fees for this lawsuit spiral seemingly out of control. Hoping we would surely win, I've said nothing, yet with this unfortunate and sad turn of events and loss, I wonder if others in town have similar thoughts as us?

I have spoken to several neighbors over the last few weeks and several things keep being asked. Maybe many of us have these questions in our minds as well and it is only logical that many of us want more information. Did our city attorney monitor the hired law firm, say, monthly or quarterly, on hourly, weekly, out of pocket expenses, etc. for accuracy in billing and reporting of time and actions taken by said attorneys for accountability and documentation, and match this to our billed statements? Did he report back to the City Council on a monthly (or some sort of) regular basis? Did the Council demand/request of him this and require him to do due diligence for the taxpayers of this city? If so, was it done and now can it be made public? In other words, what got this lawsuit up to almost 2 million dollars versus the one ? half million (so I've heard) given as the initial estimate? How much money was spent on say, experts and documentation of the defendent's role or alleged guilt, i.e.: amounts of siltation deposited, how much and by whom, estimates on the costs of cleaning out and the dredging out of the lakes, etc... in this versus, the costs of motions frequently filed by the defendents. I for one, would like to know the amounts and distinctions in where and how our money was designated and spent. Because for example, if the monies were predominately going to cover motions moreso than acculamating evidence, wouldn't that have been critical information in terms of whether or not to take a settlement offer, or even to continue to move forward? How were our elected officials protecting us and our monies? What logic and rationale were they using? What was our hired city employees roles and functions and costs here as well? Again, I don't ask these things to inflame, but to inform me as to how well we are being served by those in power and how responsibly our money was utilized

What was the role of the City Attorney in this and to what degree? I guess included in this would be our Councils' tasking him of this. Does anyone know if our mayor or lake chairpersons monitored our lake legal team, as in met with these attorneys on a regular basis and find that for what we were paying we were receiving a reasonable and well intended 'product' and could expect a favourable outcome?

After paying out one million bucks it seemed to me unlikely we would or could ever recoup the monies to fix the lakes, streams, wetlands and all that entails and repay the attorney's fee back to us. What was the thinking? Where and what was our City Attorney's position on this? For that matter, since the Council was shrouded under Executive Priv., now could they and would they answer this question? What were our appointed and elected officials and our well paid City Attorney thinking? Was this case built on hoping and wishing or well documentated facts?

It is not, in my estimation, adequate to blame the lake legal team for accruing these costs and making them out to be the ones persecuting our city with such high fees, as we have, supposedly, well intended and qualified persons on Council and under contract for the very reason to look out for us. Clearly our legal team made off like bandits, but this is what people do and obviously environmental law is a lucrative business. Maybe not ethical or considerate of them to not have approached us periodically to give us some logistical and realistic scenarios and figures in relation to eventual outcome and expectation, but to my limited knowledge, they didn't. It speaks volumes as to how they practice law and communicate with their clients. We are left with our own egg on our faces for being naive and gullible or overly trusting imo. Now since the trial is over, I only think it fair to hear an accounting and perspective from these said employees of the city as to their logic, reasoning and rationale on why and what they were thinking as more and more motions were being filed, the costs being driven up far beyond the original estimate given, and completely disporportionate to what restitution and the remediation of the lakes would cost.

My family and I have quietly sat back and trusted in good faith that those elected did their very best. I think it only responsible and reasonable for our Council to now come forth and fill us in on their thinking and actions, including the City Attorney's actions, or lack of as well. It certainly would help me to understand my thinking about the decision I made about choosing this town to live in, as it stands now sadly, I have my doubts. Also how these questions are answered may well determine whether or not my wife and I want to stay and commit ourselves to this community. Thanks to anyone that can help to answer any of this.

Jet F.
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