Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gaining perspective from the back row of a Dunwoody City Council Meeting.

For the last eight months I have sat at the front table of every Dunwoody City Council meeting, been in on every conversation, recorded and even published audio of these meetings for those who were unable to attend. I missed the Monday night work session meeting and therefore am in the dark as to what occurred, what conversations took place, who was for, or against, the various items that will be voted upon come next Monday night.

Yesterday I asked for comments from those who were in attendance and I received two replies. Let me share with you the perspective of those sitting in the back row of the audience, those who may have a slightly different perspective from the front row had I been there, since their back row (everyman) perspectives are just as (or more so) valid, informative and even entertaining then what I would perceived took place.

The first reply I received was from Mr. Max Lehmann who provided me the text of his public comment to the council from Monday night where he requested improvements of public notice regarding zoning matters to maximize community awareness of land use and development. He even pointed to the statements that I made in my blog regarding the lack of public notice in our first step of our rezoning process which is the Community Council.
From Fri May 15 blog, It was discovered that the City, unlike DeKalb County, does not require rezoning signs nor notice to neighbors prior to these Community Council meetings therefore the odds of the community actually showing up to fight or support the application is very minimal. I will be looking to have these policies reviewed and changed thereby allowing the community more notice of what is going on.

The other item is that the City website should be making the complete packet of information which is given to the various committee members available on the internet for review to everyone. What appears to be happening now is that just the agenda is being provided on the web and that doesn't have the same detail as the full committee receives.
I haven't had the time to discuss this with other Members of the City Council or Community Development, but these conversations will happen soon. I will be recommending that changes take place to make the rezoning process more transparent in order to give the neighbors more notice when a rezoning is proposed near them; as well as recommend changes to make the Community Council more relevant in bringing about a public discussion of the zoning issues in an informal, open discussion of the interested community.

The second response I received was from Mr. Rick Callahan, a regular at our meetings, who also stood up at the public comment section of Monday's meeting to voice his opinion regarding something on the agenda. He spoke out against City committee members being chosen from outside the City of Dunwoody and I am told that two hours later, he was the only man in the room who wasn't being paid to be there. Rick provided a complete recap of the meeting (except for the short period where he may have fell asleep) from his back row seat. The recap is straight forward, irreverent, opinionated and gives his unique perspective of what he saw. Is it completely accurate? No. I see some flaws in his reporting (the signs on Ashford Dunwoody were a directional sign pointing to the new City Hall & Police Station.) but then again he was sitting in the back row and missed the paper being passed across the front row.

I appreciate the fact that residents like Mr. Lehmann and Mr. Callihan, as well as a few other regular attendees, take the time away from Jack Bower on Monday nights to help guide the City with their insightful & heartfelt public comments. I would like to thank Mr. Rick Callihan for submitting his recap and I look forward to seeing him sitting in the back row again real soon.

If you haven't been to a Dunwoody City Council meeting yet, I highly recommend it to know what is going on in this great City and please do take advantage of the public comment section at the beginning of the meeting.

It was put there just for you. Thanks.


Staceka said...

Thanks Rick. Your commentary was informative and captured the essence of Dunwoody politics very well.

flahute said...

I want to sit next to Rick at the next meeting I attend! Dick Williams, please hire Rick to cover these meetings for you - he does a great job... he makes it all sound almost interesting.
Thanks Rick.

themommy said...

What a riot!

Love the color commentary.

Worth Wells said...

Good stuff! John- it is too bad someone else did not record the session in your absence.

Worth Wells said...

The topic of licensing door-to-door salespersons makes me think of a story I heard months back. Wasnt there a woman assaulted by a "magazine salesman"? I have searched but cannot seem to find the article. What are the guidelines for being licensed? Is there a background check? I would like knowing that people wandering my neighborhood have had a background check completed, not just had to pay $40 for the privilige of soliciting me. My wife had a young man stop her as she was pulling in our driveway yesterday. He inquired if he could give us a quote to replace our 3 year old windows? She declined, he inquired when was the last time we had our house painted, she replied "our house is brick, thanks and goodbye"