City weighs lawsuit over odor problems

City weighs lawsuit over odor problems

November 23rd, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in News

Chattanooga may take the operator of a private sewer system along the Tennessee-Georgia border to court because of possible odor problems wafting into city streets.

"They have not been operating that system out there in an environmentally sensitive manner," said City Attorney Mike McMahan.

The City Council is set to vote tonight on filing a lawsuit against Rainbro Inc., the operator of the sewer system at Windstone, a subdivision near the state line in East Brainerd.

Dave Hammel, owner of Rainbro, disputed those claims Monday, saying he followed the city's advice to control odor and does not know who is complaining.

"I've done all I know how to do," Hammel said.

The city and Rainbro have a history of contention over the sewer system. Mayor Ron Littlefield attempted to annex Windstone last year and said a faulty sewer system was one reason for annexing. But the city decided against annexing the area and now is exploring the option of a lawsuit.

McMahan said the suit could be filed by the end of the year. He said Windstone currently is hooked up to the city's sewer system, but the contract between Rainbro and Chattanooga runs out at the end of the year.

"We're saying they are not entitled to renew it," he said.

Hammel said Monday that, as he understands the contract, Rainbro has a 10-year extension option and, as long as he notifies the city that he wants to extend the contract, it's OK. He said he does not read anything that gives Chattanooga a way out.

He said he has notified the city he wants the extension.

Ival Goldstein, developer of Windstone, said Monday he would "rather not comment" about the issue.

Steve Leach, administrator of the city's Public Works Department, said the city has given Hammel "warning after warning for two years now." He said proper maintenance and operation of the system would solve the problem.

"We don't know all the problems," Leach said. "We're not privy to the equipment."

Leach said the city just wants the problems solved.

"Our goal is to get him into compliance," Leach said.

City officials said odor is wafting into the Hurricane Creek subdivision nearby. But Hammell said he hasn't "received a phone call from Hurricane Creek residents in two years."

He said he also met several years ago with representatives who do business with the city for odor control and implemented all the suggestions given to him.