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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The Vineyard neighborhood is seen on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Ringgold, Ga.

Developer Emerson Russell has the green light to move forward with an addition to the Vineyard subdivision and a new development off Swanson Road in Ringgold.

The Catoosa County Commission in December granted approval for the necessary planned-unit development rezonings.

The new subdivision off Swanson Road is limited to 199 homes, which Russell estimates will sell for around $250,000 to $350,000.

Russell also plans to construct a fourth phase of the Vineyard subdivision consisting of 53 homes.

The Vineyard's homeowners association expressed opposition to the new section, with one concern being the sewer pump station that now serves the subdivision's 41 homes on Sonoma Lane.

Monica Lee, president of the homeowners' association, said the HOA pays to maintain the pump station, for which the city of Ringgold would not assume responsibility because its size does not meet the city's requirements.

Lee said Russell turned the operation of the pump station over to the HOA in mid-2020 following several years of legal battles, and that's one reason she said the homeowners are apprehensive about the developer's promises.

"I got tired of handling all their complaints," Russell said of the HOA. "That pump station is their responsibility today. I've already been through a major lawsuit with them and I don't want to get into another one with them."

One condition of the rezoning approval is that Russell construct a new pump station that will serve the homes on Sonoma, the homes in the new phase of the Vineyard and the homes in his new subdivision off of Swanson Road. The city of Ringgold will assume responsibility for the new pump station.

But some of the homes in the new section of the Vineyard are set to be constructed before the new pump station. Those homes will be connected to the pump station serving Sonoma Lane until the new station is built — which probably won't happen for at least another two years, said Mike Price, engineer for both the Vineyard addition and the new subdivision.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The Vineyard neighborhood is seen on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Ringgold, Ga.

Commissioner Charlie Stephens expressed concern that if homes built in the Vineyard addition are connected to the existing pump station, it could break down, and the HOA doesn't have enough funds to fix it.

Price said they won't exceed the capacity of what the current pump station can handle, adding that it was designed to handle the homes on Sonoma and the homes in the fourth phase.

Increasing flow to the pump would not make it more likely to malfunction, he added, as wear is caused by the pump turning on and off.

Another issue the HOA has with the addition, which is located on the ridge above Sonoma, is the concern that with the new construction, the drainage problems caused by erosion behind the homes on the west side of Sonoma may get worse.

"We spent over $10,000 on our lot just to maintain the drainage issue, so we also want to make sure that when he's developing these new homes up on the ridges that the grade is correct so that no one else has to deal with this," Lee said.

Jim Moore said he lives on Sonoma across the street from where the new road for the addition will be built, and he's concerned because the roads are being washed out by the drainage and the HOA doesn't have the money to fix them.

"We can't take any more water, and we don't know what to do," said Moore. "Progress is wonderful, and we need that, but we also need to be able to live. Some people can turn their heads to it, but we live there."

Moore said he's also concerned about another hundred-plus cars sharing the narrow roadway, which he says wasn't built properly to begin with.

"We'll be looking at adding additional drainage onto the back of those lots and pull that water away," said Price, who was not involved with the Vineyard's previous phases. "We'll also be looking into detention facilities to address the runoff which will be below Sonoma Lane."

Price said he does not expect any current residents to see additional runoff due to the homes built in the new section, and anticipates the existing homes may even see a reduction in runoff from the ridge.

Former Commissioner Jim Cutler made a motion to approve the development with the condition that the new pump station be completed within two years from the start of construction or the developer will then have to come back before the board. Stephens was the sole commissioner to vote against the rezoning.

The rezoning for the development off of Swanson Road was unanimously approved.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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