College Park apartment complex shut down for sewage backup problems

The Thomas family along with everyone else at the Westcove Apartments was evicted by the city of College Park and given only 48 hours to get out.

Residents in a College Park apartment complex were given 48 hours to vacate their homes last week, after a city court ordered the owner to close because of sewage backups.

It wasn't clear how many people lived in the complex, though online listings unaffiliated with the owners say there are 92 units. No one at Pacific Holdings Partnership, which owns the West Cove apartments south of I-285, near Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, returned phone calls seeking comment.

College Park said in a statement that a sewage lift station at the apartment complex had failed, allowing sewage to spill into a nearby creek.

“The temporary pump installed by West Cove leadership that was supposed to temporarily pump the sewage out, continued to break down, allowing more sewage to escape, also causing additional sewage backup, ultimately forcing sewage out of the manhole in the parking lot,” the city statement said.

The notice placed on residents’ doors Feb. 13 said the apartment “has been found to be unsafe and unsanitary and has therefore been ordered … to be vacated until further notice.”

A city spokesperson said College Park had no further information about the decision.

College Park Mayor Jack Longino. The city shut down the West Cove apartments last week. HYOSUB SHIN / AJC FILE PHOTO
College Park Mayor Jack Longino. The city shut down the West Cove apartments last week. HYOSUB SHIN / AJC FILE PHOTO

It’s not the first time West Cove has had issues. Residents were moved into hotels earlier this month after the water was disconnected, and Channel 2 Action News reported on similar water issues last February.

Lakeya Burroughs, who lived in the complex, said she had to change buildings shortly after moving in a year ago when she found mold in the first apartment she lived in, and the roof caved in.

“The apartments were really raggedy,” she said. “It was OK enough. It was livable.”

She'd seen notices on her door before, probably a dozen over the year she'd lived in the West Cove apartments. But over and over again, she said, the apartment's owner was given a reprieve for unpaid water bills and other issues.

Burroughs got the latest order to vacate her apartment Feb. 13, three days before she was due to give birth to her son.

It looked different than earlier ones, though, and when she contacted the leasing office, they confirmed that it was.

"This is the type of stuff you hear on TV. You do not expect to live it yourself," Burroughs said Tuesday from the hospital. "It wasn't that we were evicted; the city shut us down. My apartment was run by slumlords."

Residents who lived in the apartments said they hadn’t been refunded their rent checks nearly a week after they were told they had to go. Burroughs, who paid $730 a month in rent, planned to return home after having her baby. She said the complex being shut down added stress she didn’t need. She found a new apartment, on Campbellton Road, but said it’s even worse than the one she left — and besides, now her two older children will have to change schools midway through the year.

When she comes home, they’ll all be sharing one bed, since she wasn’t able to move all of her possessions in the short window.

Burroughs said she worries about the effect on her children and other children, who may think they needed to leave because their parents couldn’t afford to stay. But she said the city was right to close down the complex, after a series of unresolved problems.

“They gave them too many chances to fix the situation, and they didn’t fix it,” she said. “How many more chances were they supposed to give them?”

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