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Covington man questions enforcement of environmental laws at apartment construction site near Turner Lake
City's inspection reports filed over 9-month period show no supporting evidence

COVINGTON, Ga. — A local man accused Covington’s leadership of not properly enforcing the state’s environmental laws at a construction site near Turner Lake, but records indicate no foul play.

Harry L. Long, of Covington, recently issued a letter and an open records request to the city, which voiced his deep displeasure of how the construction site's alleged lack of compliance has led to the alleged pollution of Turner Lake.

According to records provided by the city, City Engineering Technician Mike Willis stated the The Legends at Covington apartments development on Clark Street was out of compliance in January, February and April, but the errors were addressed and fixed each time within the proper time frame.

In February, the reported corrected violations at the site included “failure to properly design, install, or maintain BMPS best management practices. All BMPs must be installed and maintained for the life of the project.” Inspector comments included, “Additional BMPs need(ed) to be installed to control run-off and prevent sediment from leaving the (site).”

In April, the reported corrected violations included: 

• “All basins to be matted with vegetative blankets and installed vertically if slopes are 3H:1V or steeper.” Inspector comments: “Ponds have not been stabilized according to the plan.”

• “All retrofits and box structures to be installed per approved plans.” Inspector comments: “Filter media around the retro fit needs to be removed and replaced.”

• “All stormwater retention ponds (Sd3) to be installed per approved plan and functioning property. Install staff gauge in ponds to indicate cleanup level.” Inspector comments: “The pond at the north end of the site needs to be excavated to the proper depth and all slopes need to be temporary stabilized with straw matting on slopes greater than 3:1.”

• “Stabilize all areas that will not be disturbed within seven days with temporary stabilization Stabilized slopes greater than 3:1 with straw matting.”

• “Install concrete washout according to the approved place before concrete pouring operations begin.”

Long’s accusation pointed to “sludge” and a variety of harsh chemicals running off into Turner Lake and other areas neighboring the site because of these errors, however, Willis said the all corrections made were “serving their function.” 

Willis said inspections are conducted weekly at the construction site.

“We get numerous complaints about mud in the street in the general area of Clark, N. Pratt and Arnold because of the inlet protection on those catch basins, but in my opinion they are serving their function,” Willis said.

City administrators said there was no evidence of environmental laws being broken.

Covington approved a $23 million bond issue for the apartment complex in June 2019. The complex for adults age 55 and over is slated to be four stories with 100 one-bedroom apartments, 82 two-bedroom apartments and 16 three-bedroom apartments.

Long also requested the pay rate of each city council member, specifically Councilman Kenneth Morgan and Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams, as “this is their ward” and they had taken no action.

According to the City Charter, Section 2.07, “the mayor of the City of Covington shall receive an annual salary of $18,000 per annum payable in equal monthly installments from the funds of the City of Covington. Councilmembers shall receive an annual salary of $9,000 payable in equal monthly installments from the funds of the City of Covington… These salaries may be changed by local ordinance.”