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Athens residents say they are left out of city’s new plans

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The City of Athens is growing, but people who live on the west side of Athens said existing water and sewage issues in their neighborhood are being ignored. 

Residents attended the Athens City Council meeting Monday night in search of answers. They say the flooding from heavy rains, coupled with sewer backups, is so bad that they are often trapped in their homes. 

All of this while the city works on new construction in their neighborhood. 

Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks, who faced the brunt of criticism at the meeting from residents, said he wasn’t fully aware of the water issues but is aware of the aging system. 

That’s mainly because the homes on Luke Street are connected to the old septic tank system that’s located just a few feet away from the new construction.  

The main question from the residents to the City Council: How they can approve the new construction without first making sure that the existing historic homes on Luke Street are contained?

Residents say that the water level rises so high that they cannot leave their homes until the water recedes. Stoney Burks, a lifelong resident, said it’s time the City Council focused on the terrible issue. 

“We’ve been to the city council quite a few times and they just keep sweeping things under the rug. All we’re asking the city council is to come in, look at our neighborhood, and check out it. We’ve got new construction that’s being built and they are bypassing the sewer. It’s not fair and all we are asking is to be treated fairly in this process,” said Burks.  

Athens Water Services director Jimmy Junkin says the cost of the repair will be greater than the homeowners on Luke Street can imagine. 

“That’s going to be a pretty high ticket for the individual homeowner, which means it’s not a price that most of those homeowners can afford,” Junkin told News 19.  

Junkin was ordered by Mayor Marks to investigate fixing flooding on those roads. Some residents said that the water rises well over three feet on the block on most rainy days.  

Proposals for the repairs are expected at the next Athens City Council meeting.

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