Friday, July 31, 2009
August 3rd Dunwoody Comp Plan Presentation Preview
The AJC is reporting that three Atlanta post offices are on a list for closure but there was no mention of the Dunwoody Village Post Office closing therefore with a little research I found the complete list of proposed closings which does not include Dunwoody. I'm not sure if this is only the first of many rounds of post office closings but I figured not seeing Dunwoody on the list was worth sharing.
Three Atlanta U.S. Postal Service branches are on the list of 644 nationwide that may be closed as the mail delivery agency tries to cut its costs.
Two offices are in areas with a lot of tourist traffic — Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and CNN Center — and the third is on a stretch of Decatur Street lined by MARTA tracks and closed or struggling businesses.
A list of offices that may be closed or consolidated was given Thursday to a U.S. House subcommittee considering the future of American mail delivery.
Dunwoody Website graded on Transparency and I believe the site just needs minor tweeking to improve score.
I received the e-mail listed in the previous post, did the research and noted that DeKalb County received a C- rating on Transparency. Since one of my main goals for the start of the City of Dunwoody was to set the stage for a transparent government whereby the citizens could be assured that we were operating in the open; I wrote the Sunshine Review and asked them to evaluate our website, which they did.
For a City that is still less than one year old, our website was also rated a C-, yet I believe we failed to make some of the marks because of the cities young age whereby we haven't yet had an audit. We were also dinged for a lack of information on lobbying, a lack of published public contracts and a lack of access to public records. I will need to learn more about the lobbying requirements, I know that we will publish our first audit as soon as it happens, I know we published our contracts at the time they happened as I was able to find them on my site and I know that we have published every document in conjunction with every City Council meeting within the calendar system therefore I believe we should have been given credit there as well.
I will admit that finding old documents on the Dunwoody site is rather difficult and it can be improved, in fact it was out of my frustration one night looking for a document that I created a custom Google search tool to search my personal City of Dunwoody records; therefore I know it can be done. Below are the results of the transparency audit which is published in a wiki format which allows corrections and comments; though I figured you should see the initial report prior to any changes being made.
Give Dunwoody a little time, I am expecting straight A's in the near future.
- The 2009 budget is published.
- Meeting minutes and agendas are posted for all the city committees.
- Provides contact information and bios of city council members and the mayor.
- Provides information on appointed officials and how contact information.
- Contact information for the public records official is posted. It would be a good idea to also post a sample letter.
- There is also an online request for problems in the city.
- Provides building permit application.
- Zoning information is published.
- Contract information and forms are provided.
- Several officials disclose on their websites that they belong to taxpayer-funded lobbying organizations.
The bad (with my corrections)
- There is no extensive information about lobbying.
- Need to learn more on this issue.
- Need to learn more on this issue.
- Current contracts are not provided.
- Online access to public records is not provided.
- Public documents are found inside calender entries
- Example: last Monday work session
- There is no information about audits.
- No audit completed - City is less than one year old.
- Dunwoody official website
- City-data, Dunwoody Profile
- DeKalb Library
- Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce
- Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Georgia Counties are not very peachy when it comes to transparency according to the website Sunshine Review (www.sunshinereview.org). A project of the Sam Adams Alliance, the government transparency website has released transparency grades for all county websites in Georgia. Each county was evaluated against a 10-point transparency checklist and issued a grade to determine how open and honest they are with the public they serve. The checklist, developed by Sunshine Review, requires information regarding budgets, meetings, elected and administrative officials, permits and zoning, audits, contracts, lobbying, public records and taxes be made easily accessible online.
According to the Sunshine Review findings, no county received a grade higher than B-minus. Douglas, Jackson, Paulding and Whitfield received the top grade, meeting seven points on the checklist. The most revealing finding by the Sunshine Review community is that forty four counties in Georgia do not have a website, bringing the total number of counties receiving an "F" to seventy nine.
"The Sunshine Review community believes every county in the nation has a responsibility to make basic information easily available to the taxpayer," said Kristin McMurray, managing editor of Sunshine Review. "We urge Georgia citizens to use the results of these evaluations to push for reform in their counties."
Sunshine Review is a wiki website that collects and shares information about transparency, government spending, political corruption, taxpayer-funded lobbying and open records laws. It provides a way for citizens to keep tabs on their government, hold it accountable, and reform wasteful, fraudulent, and corrupt behavior uncovered by measures of transparency.
"Citizens deserve to know what their government is doing and how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent," McMurray said. "We hope county officials will welcome our findings and begin taking the necessary steps to achieve greater open and honest government by meeting all ten points on the transparency checklist."
Go to the Sunshine Review Evaluation of Georgia county websites page to see how open and honest your county is compared to all counties in the Peach state.
Kristin McMurray, Managing Editor
312-920-0080 ext. 311
Paul Miller, Communications Director
Sam Adams Alliance
312-920-0080 ext. 302
Dunwoody Comprehensive Land Use Plan, are you ready to get involved? Aug 3rd we discuss density and redevlopement.
Take a look at the video above, the residents don’t want the development and the developer thinks that it is the best use of the land. Who wins this argument & why?
On the surface I tend to side with the residents because the street looks to be a quiet residential street but later you learn that it is North Druid Hills and it sits directly across the street from another apartment complex. The big question for me comes down to what does the Comprehensive Land Use Plan say? How old is it and what has changed since the plan was developed? What did the community decide was best for that property and why should it not be followed now?
After the new Dunwoody City Council is seated one of the items to be worked on quickly is our overall comprehensive plan which will do an assessment of the communities many needs to see where we are and then we will plan on where we want to be 10 years from now. What was the land use plan for that specific street in the video? Maybe three years ago the ten year comprehensive plan said that a mixed use development project might be best suited at that location? If that was the case does the project get approved? Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know? The DeKalb County Commission has the responsibility to make that specific decision and they will do so after reviewing all the facts.
My point is that we the Citizens of Dunwoody will be going through this comprehensive planning project very shortly and we as a community will need to discuss block by block what should happen where. There will be “lively” discussions where people may disagree with one another but that being said everyone needs to be well informed and then involved because it will be this document that the City Council will be using as a guidebook for future land use decisions.
In the next couple of years the long term policy of the City will be put into place and we cannot afford to trust six well meaning neighbors (including, possibly me) to sit in a room without your input to make that policy.
OK, go ahead and call me naive, but I happen to still believe in democracy - even at the local government level. If you want to have a positive impact on the new city, pick the best qualified and smartest people on the ballot that you believe will listen to reasonable arguments in order to make informed decisions. Next you need to show up at meetings and make your views known because politicians want to lead the community, but they need your input in order to do so.
Checkout the candidates who have submitted me their campaign announcement for posting to this site; and I will post other announcements as they are provided to me. In just five short weeks from today, you will be voting for four of the six City Council members. You will vote for your local district candidate who is elected by only the people of your district and everyone will vote for all three districts, at large (citywide) positions. Are you ready to do so?
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Last month - Twitter Feed searching on the word Dunwoody.
As I am always looking for stories on the City of Dunwoody and looking for ways to better serve the citizens living here; I run Tweetdeck software looking for the word Dunwoody so that whenever anyone types the word in Twitter, I am instantly notified. Most messages are mundane, but I have witnessed live tweets on car accidents, police calls, unexpected fireworks, and even pot hole complaints.
Below is a set of tweets from May 20th where someone witnessed and documented live as it happened, a large scale arrest of a shoplifting ring at Perimeter Mall. As with any e-mail string, read from the bottom up.
Congrats to the City of Dunwoody Police Department! Chief Grogan, you sir are making the city proud and as a man of your word you are most definitely putting the bad guys on notice. Thank you.
Click below for video (not available on e-mail version)
I am personally very proud of this story as I pushed for this benefit and a rational take home car policy.
Dunwoody officers like Tony Nagel get an extra $300 a month in their paycheck if they live in Dunwoody. "The city here wants our presence, they want us out patrolling living in the city as well," said Nagel.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
The City Council is winding up its discussion on how to kickoff a Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB.) This may seem like an odd thing for us to focus on in our first year but it is actually fairly important. Dunwoody’s five hotels have been collecting hotel/motel taxes and state law requires part of those taxes to be spent promoting tourism. In our first year we will collect close to a million dollars that must be spent on tourism. Previously that money went to DeKalb and they used it to promote DeKalb as a tourist destination. The CVB of Dunwoody will be a separate non-profit rather than be part of the city government. It will have a nine-person board with representatives from the hotels, the city, the PCID, the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and Dunwoody restaurants/retailers.
The public input process for our 20-year comprehensive plan is continuing. The next public forum will be on August 3rd at 7:00pm at Dunwoody United Methodist Church. This particular forum will focus attention on getting input on how Dunwoody residents would like to see several specific areas re-developed. These areas include the vacant hospital site, the Georgetown area, Dunwoody Village and the Winters Chapel/Peeler intersection. All of these are likely to be redeveloped in the next 20 years because of increasing land values in Dunwoody. How would you like to see those areas evolve? Would you be willing to accept taller buildings in exchange for added greenspace? How much taller? Please attend and help us develop our vision.
We completed our mid-year budget review and we are in sound financial shape. We are on-track to end the year with a small surplus. We will start our 2010 budget process soon and I will push for a five percent property tax rollback. To do that, we will have to continue to keep spending to a minimum.
Speaking of property taxes, you have probably gotten your annual property tax bill from the county. My bill was $355 higher than last year. Almost all of that we owe to the state discontinuing the HTRG (Homeowner Tax Relief Grant) credits they had been providing homeowners in previous years. Your Dunwoody city taxes are included on this bill and they replace the line item that used to read “Unincorporated Tax District”.
We are being very cautious about committing to new public works projects but we have approved funds for radar signs to be installed around each school in Dunwoody. These signs display your current speed. Case studies show that they are very effective at getting speeders to slow down. We hope to have them installed before school starts.
Here is an update on the Goddard School’s request for a stream buffer variance as part of their drive to start a new school on Dunwoody Village Parkway. This variance had been opposed by many of the neighboring homes and businesses because of concerns with traffic and noise. The Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals granted the variance request. The school will still need to get city approval for a great many items before construction begins but they have cleared the first hurdle.
Finally, Dunwoody scored a major billboard victory last week. A billboard company had applied to DeKalb County to put 9 large electronic billboards throughout Dunwoody on our day of incorporation last December. DeKalb had rightly rejected them. The billboard company sued both us and DeKalb. Last week the billboard company withdrew their lawsuit. Our legal team did a great job (and our insurance covered the legal expenses.)
Dunwoody City Council
Home Phone: 770-396-4747
POND and Company began the evening with an overview of the comprehensive planning process in general and a recap of the June 2nd and June 24th meeting results.
The majority of the evening focused on future needs for public infrastructure such as the possibility of city park system, future community facilities like City Hall and the police station, and the need and future locations of pedestrian and/or bicycle paths.
Another significant part of the evening was a presentation and discussion about impact fees and their possible role in our future.
To view the presentation by POND and Company please click here.
The next meeting will be Monday August 3rd at 7pm. This meeting will be the “meat and potatoes” of the plan. It will be the workshop where you can get into laying out the future designs and goals for nodes where we anticipate the possibility of change within our city (such as Dunwoody Village, Georgetown area, Shallowford Road area, the Winters Chapel area, and the Jett Ferry/Mt. Vernon area).
I hope to see you there!
Community Development Director
Recap of 29 minute long meeting, City Council members getting stoned and Tomatofest on Wednesday reminder.
Basically as a recap, everything passed as presented with both the City Council Comment and the Lighting Ordinance items being deferred for another time.
After viewing a few recent items on the internet, I think the new City of Dunwoody is operating pretty smoothly, not perfect, but pretty smoothly. If you don't believe me and you are in the mood for a few giggles take a few seconds to click the next couple of links. Thankfully this guy isn't our City Manager, our City Council isn't getting Stoned, and our residents in favor of farmer's markets actually do make relevant public comments.
Talking of Farmer's Markets, I am looking forward to visiting the Dunwoody Farmers Market for the first time this Wednesday located in Dunwoody Village next to the Post Office. I was invited to judge the Dunwoody Tomatofest but my full time job takes priority and I will only be able to stop by enroute.
Finally, Dunwoody boy and girl scouts are needed to help build/set up new community garden at Brook Run Park! Troop leaders and anyone else who is interested, please email Rebecca at email@example.com
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Question - What is the optimal future uses of Dunwoody Village, Georgetown & Shallowford areas in order to redevelop the properties into viable livable communities? What type of shopping districts should they be and what level of residential should be included, if any? Your input is critically important and because of that, I will be advertising this meeting several times in the next couple of weeks. Please mark your calendars.
The following editorial written by Mr. Bob Dallas of the DeKalb Planning Commission was published by the Dunwoody Crier in a condensed version several weeks ago. In light of the major projects that are being proposed in Dunwoody, while the County refuses to pass impact fees that would directly affect traffic & infrastructure improvements; I thought that this article needed to be shared.
Dunwoody is at a crossroads that can best be described as a tale of two cities. The question is: as more people move to Dunwoody, will it remain family oriented or will it shift to a singles orientation? As a 24 year resident of Dunwoody and 10 year member of the DeKalb County Planning Commission, I believe we should maintain our family friendly orientation. But it is the collective opinions of those who live in Dunwoody which matter and should be voiced to our public officials that will set the course for Dunwoody’s future.
Today, one part of Dunwoody can be described as being mostly made up of family homeowners with kids who want to attend the good schools serving the community. The other part has been the Perimeter market that is made up of the Atlanta region’s largest office market and a high end shopping district. This mix has traditionally worked well because the family environment readily mixed with the retail and the office market was convenient to the family breadwinners. Neither of these nonresidential uses produced significant negative impacts on the family uses.
That mix, however, is changing. As estimated by the Atlanta Regional Commission over 2.5 million new people will move to the Atlanta region over the next 20 years. Much of that influx of residences will be absorbed by areas where work and transit centers are located. As the largest office market, that places Perimeter in the bull’s eye of residential growth. Estimates of this growth range from 10,000 to 50,000 to 100,000 additional people moving into the Perimeter area. The increase is also guided by the two MARTA rail stations which are designed to encourage higher density uses within their vicinity.
Over the past five years we have already seen this impact in Dunwoody and Perimeter. Including the units under construction, approximately 5,000 apartment and condominium units have been built. That translates to approximately 7,500 or more additional people. These projects have tended to be relatively small, with less than 450 units per project.
As you have read, the two projects before the Planning Commission and DeKalb Board of Commissioners are substantially larger. The GID-High Street project across from the Dunwoody MARTA station includes 1,500 condominiums and 1,500 apartments; The Novare project cattycorner to the Dunwoody MARTA station includes 900 condominiums. On top of these projects, in the offing are two more projects—that we know about—which will add an additional 730 residential units. This does not include the projects on the Sandy Springs side of the Perimeter area and projects that are now just whispers, but sure to come. Many of the residential units will be 30 stories and the projects, if designed and built correctly, will include many pedestrian friendly features, grocery stores, and open spaces that support this level of density. Envision cities like Boston, Denver, Portland and Vancouver that have many people living within walking distance of where they work and play to understand the level of density being proposed.
A basic tenet of high density residential growth is ensuring a cross section of age demographics live in the area. Simply stated, it is important to ensure one age demographic does not dominate the growth. This is because the alternative result produces too many negative consequences.
For example, if all the residential units were designed for young singles, you also get a preponderance of businesses that cater to them, namely the night clubs, bars and events that naturally go along with this market demographic. Think of Midtown Atlanta or Buckhead for nearby examples of catering to the young singles market. Unfortunately when such uses dominate an area, they become incompatible for families, kids and empty nesters. They also create public safety issues, e.g. impaired driving, which the community is then forced to address.
In contrast, with a mix of age demographics development becomes more balanced. Uses friendly to kids temper uses designed for singles and encourages uses designed for empty nesters. In other words, you end up with a mix of residential and commercial uses working together, not to the exclusion or detriment of the others. Fortunately, Dunwoody and Perimeter have the potential to attract all age groups. This is not a case where the market can only attract one age demographic.
Some have suggested families will not want to live in high density residential. I only point to the above referenced cities for examples of just that, e.g. business professionals and medical residents with kids wanting to live near offices and Pill Hill and not wanting the obligations of a yard and house maintenance. Remember, it wasn’t long ago when people suggested families wouldn’t live in town homes. We now see they do, just as they will in the higher density units.
The other major impact of residential growth is experienced by the local schools. This has been ameliorated in part by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association’s, Planning Commissioners’ and Board of Commissioners’ insistence that the majority of residential units remain owner occupied. This helps to ensure our new neighbors have a more than a transient interest in our community. The parents and kids of the new homeowners are just like the parents and kids of the homeowners who currently live in Dunwoody; educated and interested in ensuring their kids receive a good education.
While the DeKalb County School Board has not been responsive to the growth, we should not let this tail wag the bad development dog. This would occur if we simply gave the School Board a pass by saying all future development should be designed for young singles. As noted, we would then have to contend with the non-family oriented lifestyle that will follow.
Arguably, the reason the DeKalb School Board has been unresponsive is because we have not held it to the same standard of scrutiny as developers. Think how Dunwoody would be today if the DHA had said 20 years ago “you can’t fight developers, so just let them build what they want”. We should hold the DeKalb School Board to the legal standard it bears, namely it must build adequate school facilities to accommodate the growth. If it does not, then just like we have successfully sued developers in the past, we should bring suit to force construction of adequate school facilities.
Eventually the new Dunwoody elementary school will be built and with 900 seats, it should eliminate the trailers at Vanderlyn and Austin elementary schools. By definition, the new school will involve redistricting of these schools lines. But the new school alone will not accommodate the anticipated growth. What is needed is to draw the Perimeter school lines, before the residential units are built, into the closer Nancy Creek and Montgomery elementary school districts. This would allow these current under-capacity buildings to be utilized and not entail any of the existing Vanderlyn and Austin area from having to be redistricted except as to the new Dunwoody school.
It is also important that the new Perimeter construction be as energy efficient as possible. While many worry about global warming, very real electrical power substation expansion has already hit home. Crier readers are very familiar with Georgia Power’s construction of a new power substation at the intersection of Ashford Dunwoody and Perimeter Summit roads and the neighborhood’s unsuccessful effort to prevent its construction. This substation is being built to accommodate the above referenced growth. Only by assuring the new development is as energy efficient as possible will it be possible to delay or eliminate another substation from being built in the future—perhaps in Dunwoody.
Fortunately, the GID High Street project has agreed to over 25 DHA imposed conditions. The Planning Commission requested and the applicant agreed to the following: 1) 25,000 sq. ft. community center(s), with a minimum 8,000 sq. ft. coming on line with the first phase. The community center(s) would be owned and managed by the residential (both rental and owner occupied) associations; 2) 20% of the owner occupied residential units are to be 3 bedrooms or above; 3) 40% of the residential units shall have balconies, with 70% of the residential units on the forth floor or lower having balconies; 4) the buildings shall be LEEDS or GA Power Energy Wise (or comparable) certified. The Planning Commission unanimously approved this project with the foregoing conditions.
In contrast the Novare project has not agreed to any conditions. At the DHA’s board meeting, its representative stated “the project is designed for singles and is not suitable for kids.” Novare was opposed to the following conditions: 1) 20% of the owner occupied units are to be 3 bedrooms or above; 2) tadd at least 25,000 retail to the stand alone parking deck to accommodate a grocery store and to shield the look of the parking deck; 3) to be pedestrian friendly, eliminate the 32 pull in/out parking spaces in front of the retail and replace with one row of parallel parking spaces and expand the amount of open space (with either hardscape or landscape) in front of the retail; 4) the buildings shall be LEEDS or GA Power Energy Wise (or comparable) certified (although Novare did agree as to the office spaces). The Planning Commission voted to defer this application for a full cycle.
There are some who say we should simply let the market decide what gets built. That is a red herring and if they were honest, they would say there should be no zoning controls in the first instance. The only question is whether Novare (and subsequent projects) will change its product to be family oriented. The statement only the market should determine what gets built goes against DHA’s requirement that limits apartments, DHA’s adding conditions of zoning to the GID (and others) project, DHA demanding WallMart not operate as 24 hours per day, DHA demanding an overlay district to protect the Georgetown look of the Dunwoody commercial district, to name a few.
Finally, while inclusion of singles into the mix is a good idea, having the products dominated by singles (or any other age demographic) is not. I can assure you what will follow the exclusive singles product is the singles night life which has permeated Buckhead and Midtown, and all of the public safety issues that go with it. In contrast, family orientation will incorporate a sustainable mix that includes a variety of retail uses.
With this development at Dunwoody’s front door, we have a choice. We can make it the best of times for Dunwoody’s future. Or by doing nothing, it will become the worst of times. That is why it is important you voice you opinion by calling our DeKalb Board of Commissioners and let them know you want each and every project to be family friendly and that the Novare project has to change to meet Dunwoody’s family, not the other way around.
Bob Dallas is a District 1 Planning Commissioner for DeKalb County.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
A resident e-mailed me to ask as to the status of construction at Ashford Dunwoody & Mount Vernon, so I inquired and received this letter from Ms. Yvonne Williams, President and CEO of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts. I was also told that the PCID will be providing monthly updates to the Crier until the project is complete.
Please Pardon Our Progress… We know that any road construction is an inconvenience, but the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) believe that the results of the Ashford Dunwoody Road @ Mt. Vernon Highway project will be very positive both visually and operationally for Dunwoody residents, commuters, pedestrians and cyclists. Work is continuing on the overall project even though the focus may not be on that particular section at this time and we are working with the contractor to expedite this project wherever possible.
The intersection improvement is a project managed and funded through the PCIDs. This intersection is part of a package of intersection upgrades between Meadow Lane and Mt. Vernon Highway. Also included is the complete repaving of Ashford Dunwoody Road from Meadow Lane to Mt. Vernon Highway. This entire scope of work was awarded to one contractor. The start date was October 2008 and the work must be completed by October 2009.
The project includes a redesign of pedestrian crossings, ADA-compliant ramps, enhanced pedestrian signage, updated intersection markings, improved signal timing, illuminated street signage, video detection, traffic signal poles and mast arms. In addition, the intersection is being realigned in a manner in which the continual right turn movement will allow for a “pocket park” feature at the southeast corner of the intersection accessible to pedestrians. The PCIDs are purchasing and installing landscaping for the pocket park to include fescue sod, bosque elm trees and some low lying drought resistant foliage. The Dunwoody Homeowners Association will then decide what additional landscaping to add.
The particular intersection of Ashford Dunwoody Road @ Mt. Vernon is the largest portion of the overall project outside of the repaving portion. This intersection is also the most visible as it relates to gauging the status of completion. Though there may not be any activity for a certain period of time that does not mean that the project has been abandoned. During a transportation construction project, several factors and milestones must be met before being able to progress to the next stage of work. For example, at this particular intersection we’re currently working to gain power to the new traffic signals. Once this is complete, the new signals will be operational and the old traffic signal poles will be removed. Once the old traffic signal poles are removed, the contractor can proceed with finishing work on the ADA ramp areas of the intersection.
Transportation contractors have more than one project under construction at one time. They schedule their work with crews of either their own employees or with subs who specialize in certain types of deliverables for a project. Therefore, if there is a project where the work warrants crews full time versus a project where utility coordination is still underway, the contractor makes the decision to place the crews where they are needed at the moment.
We understand the sensitivity of the way the construction site looks to the residential community. The contractor is aware of this and is working diligently to secure the needed utility relocations to allocate the necessary crews to finish the work.
The PCIDs have had a good track record of success with the transportation improvements they have made since 1999 and we are confident that Dunwoody residents will be pleased with this project as well when it is completed in a few months. If you have any additional questions or comments, please contact the PCIDs’ Program Director Tony Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-390-1790.
President & CEO
Perimeter Community Improvement Districts
Friday, July 24, 2009
City Hall @ 7 p.m.
- RESOLUTION for Sustainability Commission refocus.
- RESOLUTION to approve traffic calming on Village Creek Drive.
- Contract amendments for Calvin, Giordano & Associates.
- Contract amendments for Clark Patterson Lee.
- ACTION ITEM: Addition of calendar dates for Municipal Court.
- RESOLUTION to appoint an Assistant City Clerk.
- RESOLUTION amending the City Council Rules and Procedures regarding criteria for Public Comment.
- Ordinance to amend §4-22: Lighting. A text amendment to add the Outdoor Lighting Efficiency.
- Ordinance to amend Chapter 27 (Zoning Ordinance) to add the New Zoning Districts – G-C (Government Community) District and the G-U (Government Utility) District.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Canceled DeKalb County Parks Master Plan may hold some clues on recent events and the future of DeKalb’s Park System
It seems that ever since I was told by Ms. Marilyn Boyd Drew, the then DeKalb County Park’s Director that I was not allowed to speak at a DeKalb County Parks, Citizens Advisory Board Meeting; I have always kept a warm place in my heart for this fine County Government Department and therefore have kept a careful eye on their misgivings.
In February of 2008, I questioned if DeKalb County was wasting money on redoing a ten year parks master plan after only six years and I soon discovered that they had indeed wasted $249,600.00 on the master plan process but then intended to never publish the results, possibly because the contractor EDAW was asking tough questions, or maybe because the draft report was critical of the lack of park funding, poor facility maintenance as well as the Parks Department lack of communication from its upper management.
In light of the swim meet debacle and now the field usage charge proposal, the “Draft Parks Master Plan” from September of 2007 that was released to me in an open records request, but never published anywhere else, sheds a bit of light on these two recent events.
Some key pages to read are as follows
Pg 32 – Interviews with Department Employees
Pg 33 – Interviews with Executive Team
Pg 34 - Interviews with Board of Commissioners
Pg 36 – Interviews with Citizens Advisory Board
Pg 43 – Existing Operational Structure
Pg 46 – Joint Ventures & Partnerships
Pg 80 – Fees Recommendation (My favorite)
"Explore alternatives for reducing fees associated with activities offered by sports associations and other private partners. For example, instead of charging for facilities, the Department could require a sport association to accept a larger responsibility for maintenance. The savings could result in lower fees and lower operational cost for the department."
The WSB-TV news report on field usage fees stated that the proposed Tuesday night meeting officially informing the football sports associations of the new fee structure was supposedly canceled but at the time of the report the associations had not been informed of the change. If the meeting is canceled, maybe the affected sports associations would like to voice their opinions to the DeKalb County Parks Citizens Advisory Board which is meeting that same night, Tuesday July 28th in Decatur at 6:00 p.m.
That is if they will be allowed to speak?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Cathy Cobbs of the Dunwoody Crier has posted a story as shown below.
I learned of this issue late last week and have been in communication with representatives of Murphey Candler Baseball, Atlanta Colts Football and the Dunwoody Senior Baseball programs; all of whom stated this fee structure could easily kill their programs. On Friday, I e-mailed a number of people in DeKalb asking them to confirm the new park usage policies and/or please provide me a copy as I can not yet find it on-line? My hope is that if DeKalb were to implement usage policies that they would exempt associations that have been privately maintaining the park property thereby privately taking on the duty of running their own park, such as Murphey Candler Baseball, the Atlanta Colt Football and Dunwoody Senior Baseball.
If DeKalb County Parks and Recreation officials have their way, recreational leagues may be paying up to $100 a day to practice on their home fields, a cost that one organization estimates could reach up to $75,000 in fees that it doesn’t have.
Several football recreational league presidents, including the Atlanta Colts Youth Association, have been ordered to attend a mandatory meeting in Tucker on July 28 “in regards to field allocations and rental fees.”
The e-mail, signed by VonShea L. Booth, does not elaborate on any specific agenda items, but it’s apparently not the first meeting that DeKalb has held regarding new fees.
On July 14, DeKalb County parks and recreation officials, including parks head Marilyn Drew, met with several soccer recreation program leaders to outline a new fee schedule for field use.
The meeting included the Tucker Youth Sports Association, Stone Mountain Youth Soccer Association, the DeKalb Attack, and several other organizations based in Cobb and Gwinnett that had expressed an interest in playing in DeKalb County.
According to several people who attended the meeting, the county laid out plans to start charging usage fees to sports associations that use county fields.
“These usage fees amount to $100 a day, per field and include these same fields for practice up to three days a week,” according a source who attended the meeting. “As of now, this only applies to soccer fields, but they assured us that they would be rolling this out to all sports, football included, during this year.”
Atlanta Colts Youth Association officials, who will attend the July 28 meeting, said the new fees could mean the end of the 40-year Colts’ football program.
“This move would essentially put the Colts out of business,” said ACYA president Jim DeLany. “Anyway you figure it, we are talking about anywhere from $57,000 to $75,000 in fees that are unanticipated.”
DeLany said that registration for Colts’ programs closed in May, and that he can’t see, in today’s economy, how to raise the additional funds.
“Our parents have already paid and the season is set to start with pre-season workouts next week,” DeLany said. “I can’t imagine going back to them to try to get this amount of money from them.”
DeLany said this latest move has come as a shock to ACYA officials, who thought that DeKalb County had become more supportive of the group in the past few months.
“We felt like we were getting some traction with DeKalb County under the new CEO Burrell Ellis,” DeLany said. “We had received some new fencing and additional parking, and we felt good that we were moving in the right direction. That’s why it was such a shock to us.”
ACYA is a volunteer-driven organization, as are most of the others around the city. Fundraising is devoted to raising money for field maintenance and many other essentials that the county does not provide, another reason why rec league leaders feel betrayed by this latest move.
“For years we have put our own sweat and money into making these fields usable,” a source said. “To have them give us no credit for that and then try to charge these fees is outrageous.”
DeKalb County officials, according to sources at the July 14 meeting also said that any group, with proof of insurance, could use any park they want, as long as they come up with the $100 usage fee.
“We asked them what would happen if one of these groups damaged the equipment or trashed the fields, we were essentially told ‘tough luck,’” the source said.
The Crier sent e-mails to Drew, other DeKalb parks officials, and DeKalb County Spokesperson Kristie Swink for response, but none replied prior to its Monday deadline.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
PS: Honey, your drivers license is now expired so don't get pulled over as I am told the cops in this little town are tough to talk out of a ticket when you're guilty.
Love you, XOXO
PSS: Chief Grogan, Kristin drives a White Ford SUV with a Flag of Ireland on the front license plate holder and she has a Yellow campaign magnet on the back.
Please call out an All Points Bulletin. Thanks.
Follow along on the Agenda or just pick your topic bellow.
- Meeting Start, Comments & Boyken 07202009_audio1.mp3
- June Financial Report 07202009_audio2.mp3
- Sanitation and Website 07202009_audio3.mp3
- Grants update 07202009_audio4.mp3
- Marcus Jewish Community Parking 07202009_audio5.mp3
- Reverse 911 07202009_audio6.mp3
- Dunwoody Convention Visitors Bureau 07202009_audio7.mp3
- Mid-Year vendor contract discussion 07202009_audio8.mp3
- Sustainability Refocus 07202009_audio9.mp3
- Traffic Calming Policy 07202009_audio10.mp3
- Village Creek Drive 07202009_audio11.mp3
- ADA Compliance 07202009_audio12.mp3
- London Taxi Cabs 07202009_audio13.mp3
- Chamber of Commerce 07202009_audio14.mp3
- Council Meeting Schedule and Public Comment 07202009_audio15.mp3
- Public Comment - Village Creek Drive 07202009_audio16.mp3
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Be it known that there are many places in this land where people still recognize the courage and impact of total self-sacrifice.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Dunwoody Farmers Market
Dunwoody Village Parkway near the Dunwoody Post Office
Friday, July 17, 2009
Pack a lunch for Monday Night's Dunwoody City Council Work Session. PS: I'll take a Turkey and Swiss on Rye, thanks.
City Hall @ 7 p.m.
June financial report.
Update on city website.
Street parking at Marcus Jewish Community Center.
Discussion of Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau.
- Resolution, Contract, By Laws and Board Appointments
- Lowe Engineers
- Calvin, Giordano & Associates
- Clark Patterson Lee
Discussion of traffic calming policy.
Resolution to approve traffic calming on Village Creek Drive.
Update on ADA.
Discussion of Taxi Cabs.
Chamber of Commerce matters.
Discussion on the elimination of a voting meeting for Mayor and Council.
Discussion of public comment periods during meetings.
Note - The Dunwoody City Council will be a little less formal for Monday nights work session as we will be experimenting with the small conference room in the back of the council chambers and we will be talking to each other vs the audience. I believe microphones will be available so any seat in the chambers should be able to hear us but the best seats for viewing will be at the back of the room towards the Right hand side as you walk in.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
In 1979 Georgia Perimeter College, formerly DeKalb College, opened its third campus, the Dunwoody Campus. Described by some as being "carved out of the forest," the campus is located on 100 acres on Womack Road in a residential area of northern DeKalb County. By its second year of operation, the campus enrollment had reached capacity at 2,500 students. Groundbreaking for a new classroom and faculty office building occurred in October of 1996.
In April of 1998, a devastating tornado struck the Dunwoody Campus destroying 80 percent of the campus’s trees and damaging all of the buildings on the campus with the exception of the plant operations building. The buildings were repaired and hundreds of new trees, plants and flowers have been planted. One year later the new classroom building was opened, and, at the same time, there was groundbreaking for a new learning resources center. In June 2002, a beautiful 50,000 square foot learning resources center was opened. In the fall of 2003, a physical education building was unveiled and in March of 2007 the astronomy observatory was opened to the public. The newest addition was the Student Services Center opened in June of 2009.
The physical growth of the campus has corresponded to enrollment growth. The Dunwoody Campus now has the largest student enrollment and also boasts the largest percentage of international students.
With its rich suburban environment, the campus provides the perfect setting for partnering with its neighboring community. Residents from homes, schools, businesses and community centers in the area are frequently visitors to campus events. Future programming possibilities and business/corporate partnerships with the external community are numerous and exciting!
DeKalb County Schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress as measured by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
So did the County school systems of Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Hall, Clayton, Douglas and Fayette but the City School Systems of Decatur and Marietta did make Adequate Yearly Progress.
As far as the Dunwoody schools are concerned, all the elementary schools were deemed adequate but both Peachtree Charter Middle School and Dunwoody High School failed to make the cut as to being successful schools under these same measurements. Click the links above for the individual school results.
I am not an expert as to the No Child Left Behind legislation nor what these results actually mean for our children going to these schools but on the surface it isn't good. Seeing that 71% of DeKalb high schools, 55% of our middle schools and 14% of the DeKalb elementary schools failed to make AYP; I would believe that someone has some explaining to do though the DeKalb County press release states that these numbers are improvements over last year.
As usual, I recommend the DeKalb County School Watch Blog for more in depth coverage of this subject but if anyone has insight as to what these test results mean for Dunwoody, please enlighten me and everyone else in the comments.
What is Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)?
Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is a series of annual performance goals set by the state for each school district and school as well as for the state as a whole. By participating in Title I, a voluntary federal program that provides more than $11 billion to participating states to help educate low-income children, states agree to commit themselves to the goal of the federal No Child Left Behind Act: that all students will be proficient in Reading/English Language Arts and Mathematics, as determined by state assessments, by 2014.
Once the City of Dunwoody was officially created several on-line for profit "city branded" websites were created to siphon some of the on-line advertising dollars away from the main stream media, they are DunwoodyNow and GoDunwoody. Both are trying to fill the same niche and I read "skim" both from time to time but because they both aggregate information from other sources there is usually very little original content, unlike the Dunwoody Crier who employs a staff of reporters who cover a wide breath of local topics.
Today was the exception since the DunwoodyNow site published results from a survey consisting of 100 respondents commenting on the City of Dunwoody. The 11 pages of results and comments were quite interesting and I especially enjoyed reading the "Suggestions for Dunwoody's elected officials" section.
To the person who asked how the elected officials are contacting their constituents because you haven't personally heard from your representative. Let me say that I personally represent all 40,000 residents of the City of Dunwoody, including yourself and I try to reach out to all 40,000 people on almost nightly basis. Please subscribe to my blog via e-mail delivery by clicking here, e-mail me directly by clicking here or by calling my home at 770-234-0678 to talk directly. I read many e-mails from the Mayor and fellow Council Members where they are responding to resident inquires therefore I can attest that we as a group are attempting to be responsive to the citizens of Dunwoody. Also as a reminder the City of Dunwoody has an open message board to post comments whereby the staff or elected officials reply where possible and every City Council meeting also has a minimum of two open public comment periods where you can talk directly to the Council in an open forum. So please communicate with us and we will reply in kind.
Thank you to the publisher of DunwoodyNow for putting this together as I envision the City doing the same type of survey at some point in the future.
Two of the suspects -- 15-year-old boys -- are now at the DeKalb County Youth Detention Center.
Almost everyone has been faced with a child approaching them outside a supermarket or on a street corner, asking for money for their sports team, scouting troop or school club. The question becomes how to differentiate the good-hearted Little League players from the crooks.
“Citizens have the right to walk to their vehicle and not be approached by people trying to scam money from them,” Dunwoody Police Det. Kelly Gobely said Tuesday.http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/teens-charged-with-charity-90868.html
Where; Dunwoody UMC soccer field
When; Evaluations 7/26/09 4-6pm Sun
Alternate 7/29/09 6-8pm Wed
U10s first hour - U12s second hour
Why; We are establishing 4 Academy soccer teams here out of Dunwoody UMC! We will be playing area clubs and academies throughout Metro Atlanta area. This League is designed for your son or daughter to have the next step in between church /Rec and the Club level a smoother transition. I invite all to come and tryout from our members, neighbors, and surrounding community friends.
How; Please register online through www.sportability.com under our in-house league. Answer yes to the scroll down question so we can keep track of numbers. There will be an additional charge for you, if your son or daughter makes the team! ($110.00) If you do not make the team you are still able to play in-house and able to tryout again in the spring.
FAQs; Please contact email@example.com
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Dunwoody Audio of July 13 - Nonprofit CVB, 10 radar speed limit signs, festival approval proceedures, appoved idea of a Community Garden at Brook Run.
Audio 1 -Meeting start & public comment (6 speakers, Dunwoody Arts Festival, alcohol fees, city errors on rezoning issues, public assembly, Brook Run Garden proposal)
Audio 2 -Discussion of Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau model. (501C(6) non-profit organization with nine members)
Audio 3 - Authorization to purchase radar speed detection signs (10 signs near schools approved for under under $50,000 installed by Sept or earlier if possible - school start?)
Audio 4 - Ordinance to amend Chapter 23: Streets and Sidewalks, to establish an Adopt-A-Spot program (Approved with the addition of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust included for their recognition for working on adopt a spot program in the past.)
Audio 5 - Ordinance to amend Chapter 27: Zoning Ordinance, §4-54 Walls and Fences (Approved with a requirement to go the ZBA for a variance if to close to a neighbor.)
Audio 6 - Ordinance to amend Chapter 20: Assemblages in Public Places (Approved; removed 6 week blackout period, removed the prohibition of City Council only sponsoring non-profit organizations and removed the forced space for a City Tent at all events. Mark your calendar for the Dunwoody Arts Festival - Mothers Day 2010.)
Audio 7 - RESOLUTION amending the pouring permit and solicitor permit fees (Approved - passed along increased cost.)
Audio 8 -RESOLUTION supporting the establishment of a Community Garden in Brook Run Park (Passed - in the hands of the DeKalb County Commission now since we do not own or control the property.)
Audio 9 - Discussion of Zoning Board of Appeals signage and notification requirements.(Recommended the staff review and improve the ZBA notice requirements, recommendations will come to Community Council and Planning Commission prior to returning to City Council.)
Audio 10 - Public Comment (Real Estate signs disappearing in the right away - request for training as to what is allowed for future placement.)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
Approval of June 15, 2009 11:45 a.m. Special Called Meeting.
Approval of June 15, 2009 6:30 p.m. Special Called Meeting.
Approval of June 15, 2009 City Council Work Session Meeting.
Discussion of Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau model.
ACTION ITEM: Authorization to purchase radar speed detection signs.
SECOND READ: Ordinance to amend Chapter 23: Streets and Sidewalks, to establish an Adopt-A-Spot program
SECOND READ: Ordinance to amend Chapter 27: Zoning Ordinance, §4-54 Walls and Fences
SECOND READ: Ordinance to amend Chapter 20: Assemblages in Public Places
RESOLUTION amending the pouring permit and solicitor permit fees
RESOLUTION supporting the establishment of a Community Garden in Brook Run Park
Discussion of Zoning Board of Appeals signage and notification requirements.
Friday, July 10, 2009
OOPS!! The Atlanta Journal-Constitution printed a great article about our "eat local" picnic and concert, based on old information. The REAL date is July 18th. We apologize for the error.
Come picnic and enjoy the concert NEXT week.Saturday, July 18, 5-6 pm (prior to our Concert in the Park featuring Amon Yatta & Family Affar, 6 - 8 pm)
Eat fresh! Eat locally! We'll stir up some tasty dishes with ingredients from local farmers and dairies. This organic, vegetarian feast will be served picnic style in our meadow.
Members: $20 per family, $5 per individual. General Public: $25 per family, $8 per individual
Thursday, July 9, 2009
My children go to the neighborhood DeKalb County Public Schools, my wife and I are very active in their education and do everything we can to help them academically. Because we believe that the education of our children is a partnership between the schools and ourselves, I do not personally place that much weight on the overall schools scores but I do want to know my individual child's score and where he may need additional educational assistance.
Georgia schools are evaluated each year based on their CRCT scores and it appears to me that so much is now based on these test scores that the schools not only teach to the tests, but from recent news stories it also may appear that the "system" may actually condone the cheating and manipulation of student achievement scores. If I was a parent who believed that my child was doing OK when he actually had educational deficiencies; I would not only be angry, I would feel betrayed and cheated.
If you are interested in discussing and commenting on this topic, please do so but I would recommend that you read the articles and more importantly the comments on the DeKalb County School Watch Blog as I believe that I am only scratching the surface of this topic here, whereby that blog is dedicated solely to improving the DeKalb County School System.
Dunwoody CRCT Test Scores
Below is an AJC article posting individual school CRCT scores and for those who are interested, I have posted a photo of the Dunwoody school scores as well as placed the information into a spreadsheet.
The Georgia Department of Education released official individual school results on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests on July 7.
Public school students in grades 1-8 are required to take the CRCT in reading, English and math. Students in grades 3-8 also take science and social studies exams. Results are not available for grades 6-7 for Social Studies due to a new test being used.
Third-graders must pass the reading exam for promotion. Students in grades five and eight must pass the reading and math tests for promotion.
Click here for Excel file.
The Georgia Legislative Watch blog stated that 89 new laws passed by the General Assembly during the last session went into effect on July 1st. The full list, with links, is available for download into an Excel spreadsheet here. The items below are just a few which caught my eye.
HB 86 Requires absentee ballots to be counted by precinct and separate returns to be made showing the results by each precinct
HB 149 This bill creates the ‘Move on When Ready Act” that allows eleventh and twelfth graders to attend college for high school course credit
HB 229 Requires schools to conduct annual fitness tests on students in grades first to twelfth
HB 280 Provides salary increase for math and science teachers in 2010
HB 300 Requires local school systems to provide information to parents on meningococcal meningitis disease and its vaccine
HB 312 Provides licensing and education requirements for mortgage brokers
HB 457 Revises the definition of disabled adult to include a person with Alzheimer’s disease. The bill further provides that anyone who acts with specific intent to abuse, neglect, or exploit any disabled adult (including persons with Alzheimer’s) who is a resident of a long-term care facility will be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of one to five years.
HB 482 Exempts business inventory from state ad valorem tax
HB 528 Homeowner associations that charge annual fees over $500 must provide expense list to homeowners
SB 8 Allows students to administer epi-pens at school for severe allergic reactions
SB 14 Restricts any person who is on the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sexual offended registry from becoming elected or serving on a local board of education
SB 86 Requires Georgia citizens to provide proof of U.S. citizenship when registering to vote
SB 89 Allows the consumption of food and beverages in a rapid rail station or intermodal bus station
SB 155 Provides for an additional exception to 25-foot stream buffer requirement for emphemeral stream
SB 172 Allows victims to recover for emotional and mental trauma without physical injury
SB 196 Right of way violations resulting in serious injuries - provides for a 30-day driver’s license suspension for anyone convicted two or more times of causing serious injury to another person due to a right of way violation resulting in a collision with a motorcyclist, bicyclist, pedestrian, or farmer operating any vehicle used to transport agricultural products. In addition to the suspension, the driver will be fined from $500.00 up to $1,000.00 and imprisoned from 10 days up to 12 months.Such fine will be mandatory and may not be waived, suspended, or conditioned upon the completion of any course or prison sentence.