Sinkhole blocks access to dozens of Marietta condos

Mar. 10—MARIETTA — A sinkhole at a Marietta condominium complex has blocked off vehicle access for dozens of homes, with no clear end in sight.

The sinkhole in the road at the Bentley Ridge Condominiums was first discovered around 7 p.m. last Wednesday night, according to Dawn Hardy, a resident and chair of the complex's condo board. Roughly 24 hours later, Cobb Fire blocked off the piece of road surrounding the sinkhole with cones and caution tape, deeming it unsafe to drive through.

That has left the seven buildings to the west of the sinkhole cut off from vehicle access. Most residents moved their cars to the other side of the complex before the road was closed off, though 13 cars remained, trapped, in the blocked off portion Friday morning.

Residents who live in the blocked off area must now walk around the taped off area, along shrubbery on a pine straw-covered curb, when coming and going.

The sinkhole, about 2-3 feet in diameter, opened on St. Augustine Trail, a private road maintained by the condo board. Hardy said the complex is trying to get an engineer to the property to diagnose the issue and repair it.

"We're working through this and diligently trying to find solutions, and the community has been very cooperative," Hardy said.

The complex is located off Bentley Road, between Delk and Terrell Mill roads, in unincorporated Cobb County.

Cobb County told the MDJ that since the roads inside the complex are private, the repairs are the responsibility of the condo's ownership.

"They determined that it wasn't their pipe, so yeah, it's us," Hardy said.

The complex, made up of individually owned condos, is managed by Atlanta-based Beacon Management Services. The complex's property manager, who was on site Friday morning, declined to comment on the sinkhole.

Rob Auten, a Bentley Ridge resident who lives in the blocked-off area, was walking through the complex Wednesday night when he encountered a neighbor who had driven over the hole. He helped set some cones up around the site.

Hardy wasn't sure how many people live in the affected area. Auten said each of the seven buildings that are cut off have 10 units, for a total of 70.

A stage technician who lives at Bentley Ridge with his wife and mother-in-law, Auten is still able to leave home and go to work by walking around the sinkhole to access his vehicle.

"It's not been too disadvantageous to me, because I'm just two buildings in, but people up the hill, it might s--- a little bit," Auten said. "... It's just walking, and I'm a husky butt, so I need to get moving."

Auten is using his mother-in-law's car for travel. He's parked his pickup truck near the sinkhole site and told neighbors they can put their trash in his truck bed, which he'll then haul to the community's dumpster.

Auten said the residents have to "work together to get through it, until we can figure out what's going on and find a better solution."

Auten and Hardy said residents were notified about the sinkhole by email, and had about 24 hours to move their cars before the road was blocked off.

"It's inconvenient, but fortunately the majority of people knew and moved their cars so they have access," said resident Jackie Gramer, a retiree who's lived at the complex for more than 25 years. "It's not that bad yet, and we're waiting to see what the final information's going to be as to getting the problem resolved."

In the meantime, the Cobb fire marshal has posted notices around the blocked-off area which inform residents there is "no fire dept coverage," since fire trucks can't access the west end of the property.

That issue has already created problems for first responders. Hardy and Gramer said that a woman in the blocked-off area suffered a broken bone Wednesday afternoon. Medical personnel responding couldn't drive up to her unit, so they went on foot to retrieve her with a stretcher.

It's not clear, however, when the repairs will be made, or how much the condo board will have to spend to fix the road, Hardy said.

"We just don't have any answers," Hardy said.