Madison residents say utility work is destroying their neighborhood

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT)-- Madison residents in the Edgewater community are seeking a solution about water plant construction work that they say is ripping up part of their neighborhood. They're hoping an upcoming meeting can resolve their problems.

They came to the Madison Utilities board meeting Monday to explain those problems. They told the board that the work, going on behind their homes and without their input, is unacceptable. Neighbors who live on Mainsail Way said the trees on Madison Utilities' property that provided much-needed shade and a dirt berm that provided a barrier, are now gone. Now, they have an unobstructed view of the water plant and also much more light and noise from the construction. Some even said the shade and privacy were reasons they bought homes in that neighborhood, but they're worried about property values now it's gone.

They say the construction comes right up to their property lines.

"Why did you do this? It's just inconceivable that you would go and rip out all of that and not have the courtesy to even say, 'hello,'" explained Julian Sallas.

"If you can give us some transparency, some ideas. What's the schedule? What's going to happen? We want to be informed," said another resident.

Dawn Price said, "Not only am I losing my enjoyment of my yard, but I'm not able to sleep properly at night. There are workmen walking through so I have windows throughout the back of my house, and I have to be careful. There is no privacy, and we bought the house for those reasons. Think of all the money we could lose. We just bought our house, and that really frightens me." She added, "There is distress and there is anger. And it's not going to go away.

The neighbors feel they were promised a berm would remain there to separate the water plant from their homes, and they distrust Madison Utilities for going back on the promise.

But Madison Utilities board member John Allen said there was no need for distrust, because none of the construction is being done to be veiled or hidden from the residents. Board members tell WHNT News 19 they understand the concerns, and hope to address them.

Residents, and board members alike, want a compromise.

"We will address those concerns," said Terris Tatum, Madison Utilities Board Chairman. "I think we can find a reasonable solution." He said that the group's coming to the board meeting was a positive thing. "It shows that these folks care. And we as a board, we care. So there is some commonality there."

Tatum said the construction is to expand the plant, and keep up with the need for Madison Utilities to serve a growing population. While they have a job to do, he's confident they can come up with something that everyone can live with. Several ideas were tossed around about solving the barrier problem. Madison City Council member DJ Klein asked for a sound barrier to be constructed. Others suggested any kind of wall, or another berm, even additional trees. At one point, board Vice President Steve Haraway suggested Madison Utilities pay for trees on the property owners' side, to block the construction for the time being.

In the end, they agreed to meet at a work session and talk it out. Both the board and the community members want to form a committee to work together and go over options with engineers to reach a compromise. Tatum told WHNT News 19 he doesn't think that would be difficult to do.

Sallas said that brings him hope.

"They need to do this, because the first part of this was handled so poorly," he explained.