Wednesday, July 28, 2010

AJC - Dunwoody sign ordinance stalls on tie vote

By Patrick Fox of the AJC
After 18 months of public forums, committee meetings and staff research, the City Council voted 3-3 Monday night on what was supposed to be a final draft of the law. The tie vote means the matter will be sent back to the city's planning department, which will develop a revised draft with the seven-member community council and seven-member planning commission.

The draft ran into trouble from the get-go. Councilman John Heneghan, noting late changes in the document, asked why the matter needed to be approved immediately. He said the draft, complete with more than three dozen recent alterations made late last week, should be presented for public review before being adopted.

"I believe it's a completely different version that has been seen via the community council and planning commission," Heneghan said. "I think we owe it to the citizens and the businesses to get a full reading of the community before we go forward to finalize this."

But Councilman Robert Wittenstein observed the ordinance had gone through the most thorough vetting process imaginable, and there was no need to delay. Besides, he added, the ordinance could be amended as needed in the future.

Opponents who spoke during the public hearing outnumbered proponents by more than 2-1. No one spoke directly against a specific provision, only the late changes that the public had not had time to review.
Those changes included revised dimensions for signs attached to building fronts and ground signs in front of businesses.

During the course of the discussion, Wittenstein offered seven additional revisions to the draft, a move which frustrated planning commission member Bob Lundsten. "This is a perfect example of your making a significant change... that I guarantee you nobody in this audience has seen," Lundsten said.

"My right as a citizen is being taken away from me," said Gerri Penn, a member of the zoning board of appeals. "You are making these changes and I have not, as a citizen and taxpaying residents of the city, had a chance to review it."

The council voted to allow most of the revisions on the basis that the full draft would be made available for public inspection before the ordinance is brought to another final vote. The full draft will be posted on the city's Web site,


Joe Hirsch said...

Thank you John for giving us an opportunity to see/read the code before it is voted on - I can't understand those who didn't agree with you. They still don't understand the process.

Also, the AJC reporter got it wrong when he said no one spoke against anything specific in the code... I did: Saying it is a First Amendment violation to require that a vehicle with an advertisement on it must be for a properly licensed business.

GaryRayBetz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hirsch said...

...and kudos to the AJC: they corrected/updated their article - as I hope the City will with its code.