Pelham City Council listens to sewer concerns from Royal Chase residents

Published 9:48 pm Monday, May 3, 2010

More than a dozen residents from the Royal Chase subdivision attended the Pelham City Council meeting Monday, May 3 to address concerns they have over the ownership of a sewer lift station.

The residents contend that a verbal agreement was made between resident Danny Hayes and then-Mayor Bobby Hayes (no relation) that the city would take ownership of the station after Danny approached the mayor in July 2009 about a delinquent station power bill and the safety of the station.

Danny said the mayor made a phone call and that the power bill was paid, maintenance was performed on the station, the address on the bill was changed and the locks were replaced.

Council President Mike Dickens said if then-Mayor Hayes did make that commitment, it would not have been valid because that power would be delegated to the city council.

“If Mayor Hayes said ‘don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it,’ well, he doesn’t necessarily have the authority to do that,” said Dickens. “For him to make that comment … he doesn’t have the authority to do everything. The council has that authority. The council has certain rights.”

Public Works Director Eddy Jowers said he had nothing in writing to confirm the city had taken over the station, but he did confirm that Mayor Hayes ordered some maintenance on the station and for the locks to be changed out of safety concerns for local children who play near the station.

Current Mayor Don Murphy said he ordered Jowers to pay the bill out of safety concerns for the local residents.

“The reason that I directed Mr. Jowers to pay that bill was because it was delinquent and Alabama Power said they were going to cut the power to the station and there would have been sewage coming out into the street,” Murphy said. “And the first responsibility of the city is to take care of the safety of the public.”

Jowers said the station was not built as a public or city-run station, such as similar stations F and T in the Royal Oaks subdivision, when it was constructed in 1998.

Jowers also read an approved covenant stating the Royal Chase residents should have a homeowners association to maintain the station.

Council member Bill Meadows said a homeowners association would cure the problem.

“I wish I could walk in here and say we’re going to take it over and everything’s going to be OK,” Meadows said. “I’m the first to say unless something happens with the city, you’ve got a hill to climb without a (homeowners) organization. I want to do anything and everything I can to help that’s legal. We have to seek advice from the city attorney, and you’ll come out a lot better if you follow the city’s advice.”

Andy Payant, who represented the residents at the council meeting, said the residents were not interested in forming a homeowners association just to pay for something they feel the city already has possession of.

“We have no intentions of forming a homeowners association because the city has already taken it over,” Payant said.

If the city takes the station over, Jowers said it would cost the city more than $100,000 for repairs, maintenance, access roads and more.

“It would take rebuilding the station, basically,” Jowers said.

Dickens requested the mayor seek advice from city attorney Butch Ellis, while also finding a true amount the takeover would cost the city before the council makes any further decisions.

“Until somebody makes a recommendation to remedy the situation, it’s up in the air,” Jowers said.