A year after Pleasure Point Park and Marina residents learned they would have to remove their homes from Alabama Power-owned land on Lake Martin in Dadeville, only a few have stuck around to see the end of the summer.
In July 2013, the Tallapoosa County Health Department notified Alabama Power of multiple violations, which prompted the company’s decision not to renew the lease with Pleasure Point Park and Marina. Violations included septic system infractions and greywater discharge, which comes from a washing machine, dishwasher, or kitchen sink, Amy Baker, a public health senior environmentalist with the Tallapoosa County Health Department, said.
“Occupants at Pleasure Point Park created, or allowed, issues the Tallapoosa County Health Department determined do not meet county health codes and—in the interest of the Lake Martin and downstream communities—have to be addressed,” Alabama Power stated in an email. “Removing structures and cleaning up all systems in the park is the only complete solution. Hidden discharge problems continue to be discovered as structures vacate the property.”
Though residents were initially asked to leave by the end of this June, an ongoing lawsuit has enabled them to remain on the property until at least September.
Alabama Power made a motion to dismiss claims made by Pleasure Point occupants in the lawsuit, which Alabama Power spokesperson Brandon Glover said the court has taken under advisement.
“We were looking for a stay,” explained Pleasure Point homeowner Bob Sergen. “(The judge) didn’t rule on either case. …We’re still there until at least September. …We’ll get to finish out the summer.”
But shortly before summer’s biggest holiday—the Fourth of July—many of Pleasure Point’s mobile homes had already been moved.
Jason Griffith, of Lake Martin Mobile Home Brokers, and his team has bought about 15 of Pleasure Point’s modular homes. On a hot day in late June they worked to remove the roof and vinyl siding of one of the homes.
“We’re taking the houses down and taking them and reselling them,” Griffith explained. “It’s a bad situation if you live here.”
While more than 40 residents are engaged in the lawsuit against Alabama Power, some of the 81 families decided to leave quietly.
Birmingham-based attorney John Dana is representing Pleasure Point families in the class action lawsuit, part of which argues the structures on the property are not all mobile.
“There are a lot of permanent structures,” Dana said. “It requires the destruction of these homes."
Since filing the suit, Dana added, the complainants obtained “written evidence” showing in 2012 Alabama Power and Pleasure Point extended their lease through 2017.
Another argument in the lawsuit deals with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), through which Alabama Power operates Lake Martin and Lake Martin Dam. FERC requires some of Lake Martin’s shoreline be reserved for recreational use, like camping. Alabama Power’s FERC license expired last year, and the suit claims Alabama Power applied for a new license in June 2011 requesting the 33 acres of Pleasure Point total of 67 located within the Lake Martin Project boundaries be reduced by more than 25 acres, with the roughly seven acres remaining to operate as a marina and boat launch. The existing marina is roughly the same size.
But Alabama Power says Pleasure Point wasn't using the lands in a way that supported "any lincense purpose," so the land did not need to be within the project boundary any longer.
"The relicense application proposes removing several lands that also no longer served a project purpose." Alabama Power stated in an email. "The licensing process was public, transparent and involved the various stakeholders around the lake. The re-classification was the subject of several public filings and was available for discussion at a public meeting in Alexander City in July 2013 – a meeting attended by over 600 people. No one raised any concern about the re-classification request."
However. some residents still believe Alabama Power is planning to build large homes on the property.
Beauregard resident Thomas Carroll watched his family jump off the diving board and float in Lake Martin. Across the slew, he spotted new home construction.
“The leased lots, they’re selling them, Alabama Power is. And they’re doing it cheap. That’s the crazy part--$400,000 houses, they’re selling the lots for $150,000,” he said.
Angie Chappell, who lives in the Auburn/Opelika area, surveyed the empty lots as she floated in the lake. Chappell is not a Pleasure Point homeowner, but visits family there every summer.
“We’ve always come here. It makes you sad,” she said. “It’s going to make me sadder if big condos end up on this property.”
Beauregard High School teacher and full-time Pleasure Point resident Jennifer Chastain agreed. She and her husband are involved in the current suit against Alabama Power.
“Not everybody wants a multimillion dollar home. …I like my little place,” she said. “I drive 45 minutes every day to live here. I teach in Lee County. I choose to live in a mobile home. … I come home every day from teaching high school, and it’s peace and quiet.
“This is not a toxic waste dump. It looks bad now because Alabama Power is kicking us out,” she continued. “What do they think? We dump our sewage in the lake and then swim in it? No.”