All but one of the subdivisions in Dawsonville has cleaned up its retention pond over the past month at the request of the city, officials said, with the lone holdout possibly requiring further action.
"We've had reported to our street department and to the mayor numerous problems with the retention pond at the Howser Mill subdivision," City Attorney Dana Miles told council members during their meeting Monday night.
"There have been reports of overgrowth, rats, snakes and other vermin in the area because the retention pond has not been properly kept up."
According to Miles, the city has sent several letters to the property owner about cleaning up the land he bought last year during a tax sale.
Mayor James Grogan said he has talked to the president of the Howser Mill homeowners association, Gary Davis, about the issue.
"I've told him that we are working on this and attempting to get it resolved by sending multiple letters to the owner, who has been totally uncooperative about this," Grogan said. "The homeowners are upset because they are getting covered up by ... things coming out of [the pond]."
According to Davis, the water in the neighborhood is draining, but the pond, which pre-dates the tax sale purchase, is the real issue.
"There are pine trees in the pond that are easily 5 inches in diameter. You can't see to the bottom. It's totally overgrown," Davis said Tuesday morning. "I'm surprised the owner bought the land. I don't really know what he wants to even do with it."
Under the city's premises maintenance ordinance, the first step would be for the city to send what is called an administrative order to the owner.
"If he doesn't comply under the time frame of the order ... the city would have the option to repair the premises and attempt to recover that money and to lien his property for the amount owed to the city," Miles said.
The property is zoned for a retention pond for the subdivision and cannot be developed in any other way. To do so would leave the subdivision without a retention pond.
There is a provision under the ordinance for the landowner to appeal the judgment.
If the action is not appealed, the next step would require a council motion to authorize the $8,000 in non-budgeted funds for the cleanup.
"We are working on the long-term solution for this problem, but it's not the city's responsibility," Grogan said. "I think we can work with the citizens in that community to have them take long-term responsibility for that pond."
While still waiting to hear back from the property owner, council decided to send a letter and make a decision during its meeting next month.
Attempts to reach the landowner for comment were not successful.