Battle Over Lake Warner Dam is Heating Up

By: La'Tasha Givens Email
By: La'Tasha Givens Email

Updated 12-02

A day under the sun on Lake Warner is something residents say they all love, but this beautiful lake could disappear if a resolution is not made to keep it.

Northwest Water Management officials say Jan Sebastian made changes to the dam and she was cited for it. Now, in order to fix it, her attorney says it could cost $750,000.

"Unauthorized alterations where made on the dam. A dam has several safety features built in. That facility had been altered in such a way that two safety functions was negated," says Guy Gowen with Northwest Florida Water Management.

Instead she's taken steps to drain the lake, a move that isn't flowing well with residents. While neighbors have been meeting to weigh their options, they say they don't want to split the cost of 40 thousand a piece.

We talked to county leaders to find out why they haven't stepped up to help.

"We're not offering at this point in the game to come in and spend tax payer dollars on a private property issue. We have no role other than from a regulatory stand point to make sure that if they do make repairs to the dam, that it meets code requirements," Desloge.

Florida State Statue chapter 40-A-4 says Sebastian can be charged $20,000 a day. But officials say they have no intention of issuing those fines.


"The lake is part of why we all bought and built here. It's beautiful and wonderful, it would be sad just to have black mud in the backyard," says Sandy Grichy.

Adam Feilldman and other residents who live along Lake Warner in Tallahassee met with engineers and other officials to discuss the lake's future.

Jan Sebastian who was not present, at Wednesday night's meeting says the lake floods during heavy rains and she was issued a citation to bring her property up to code. That would mean fixing the dam, which her attorney says could cost $750,000.

"When you buy water front property, there is responsibility for maintaining that property both by the owner of the lake and by the neighbors. All that burden to maintain their waterfront property shouldn't go to my client," says Rick Bateman.

The other option is to have 13 homeowners split the cost at more than $40,000 thousand or drain the lake.

"If the lake is drained, it will be an eye sore. It will just be a nightmare. We have this wonderful property on the lake and to have the lake gone would be terrible," says Adam Fielder.

"I hope we can resolve this. We built our dream home six years ago. Most of the homes here have been on the lake for 20-25 years. If the lake goes away my property value drops 30 percent. This would also mean less money for the county. They should bear some of the responsibility," says Grichy.

Sebastian's attorney says he talked to Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge who says there are no funds to help pay.

The group also talked about the possibility of suing the county, but that was not confirmed as their plan but mentioned as the discussion unfolded.

Lake Warner is located off of Bradfordville Road, near Velda Dairy Road and Killearn Acres.

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