Friday, November 1, 2013

Facts over FUD - 6,000 apartments are not currently approved for Dunwoody

An email sent by Tammy Anderson, the wife of the former City Attorney Brian Anderson hit my inbox several times this evening by residents asking my opinion of what was written.  The letter is posted down below for all to see but it also mimics Ms. Anderson's question at the Political Forum for Young Families therefore I will use it and the answers provided by Candidates Heyward Westcott and Doug Thompson as both were spot on as far as the "Grandfathering" is concerned.

Zoning entitlements can not be taken away as Tammy states and the email miscommunication on her part almost seems deliberate.   When attempting to sway last minute public opinion (like in this election), there is a tactic to use what is called "FUD" which stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information.   The "Clean Slate" platform has little substance and few facts in which to have a real platform to move this city forward therefore we are witnessing that a negative campaign is now being waged.

Please allow me to raise several facts.

Fact - 6,000 apartments are not pre-approved in Dunwoody and to verify my statement pull up this link and follow the directions.  Second, while looking at the pre-approved entitlements on the City of Dunwoody GIS System, remember that State Farm just bought the Novarre Site that is kiddy corner from the Dunwoody Station therefore say goodbye to those possible 900 condos that were pre-approved because State Farm will only want office space.  Click everything that is red on the city site and you will have a very hard time finding much residential except for the High Street project.

Fact - the current City Council has worked to limit residential density for years by modifying every master plan to almost specifically state that. Below are a few articles I posted.

Residential density in the City of Dunwoody
Tonight is the Public Hearing on the Dunwoody 2030 Comprehensive Land Use Plan

Facts on the High Street Development

High Street has the zoning entitlement rights to install a very large mixed use development with office, retail, hotel and residential.  The residential aspect includes 1,500 condos and 1,500 apartments but as the two candidates stated, it will be the negotiation process where these numbers will be lowered.

Location:    Hammond Drive and Perimeter Center Parkway (NW Corner)
Entitlements:    400,000 square feet of new office (235,000 square feet of existing office space), 400,000 square feet of retail, 400 room hotel, 1,500 condos, 1,500 rental units

Notes    SLUP 07-13538, Z 07-13537 (previously Z 07-4251), A 07-14012

Finally the negative campaign is now being documented by various Dunwoody Blogs that I think you should read.  The first is Former Candidate, Bob Fiscella who wrote an interesting article entitled;

Teddy Roosevelt Says Sweep Aside The Clean Sweepers

then there is Farmer Bob's take

The Smear Campaign: Cleensweep Campaign Sinks or Stinks To A New Level of Negative Campaigning

Finally below is the letter from Ms. Anderson that she sent far and wide in the Dunwoody Community.  Please don't be afraid of the letter as you now have the Facts over FUD.

Subject: Fwd: Stop 3,000+ apartments from being built in Dunwoody

Hey all,

I am sending this out to you because you are the movers and shakers in
your neighborhoods. This is crucial information for anyone voting on
November 5th.

Please, no matter who we like or who we are neighbors with, this election is
about who will vote to change our zoning to stop Projects that don't
have Vested Rights. Please send this out to anyone who cares about our


Very few homeowners are aware that just 10 days ago on October 21 the
Dunwoody City Council voted to approve the zoning code re-write that
included “grandfathering” variances and allowing up to 3,000 apartments
in a project called High Street and up to 6000 new apartments across
the city.

The proposed High Street development project located at Perimeter
Center Parkway and Hammond Dr. would add up to another 3,000
apartments/condos and increase the overall number of apartments in
Dunwoody by 30%. This will dramatically affect our schools and traffic
infrastructure. Since there are roughly 10,300 single family homes and
10,300 apartments in Dunwoody equaling a 50-50 balance, another 3,000
apartments will significantly upset this balance.

This election is pivotal. If the zoning code is not changed, Dunwoody
will become an apartment community versus a single family home
community. The impact on schools and infrastructure will be devastating.

The Dunwoody City Council claims they cannot change the zoning code to
address this apartment “grandfathering.” This is absolutely false – the
Dunwoody City Council has the authority to address this problem. Sandy
Springs immediately and effectively used zoning, code enforcement and
impact fees to control development in their new city. The Dunwoody City
Council did just the opposite by taking 5 years to pass a zoning code
re-write that allows the very apartment development they promised to
control when becoming a city.

The November 5th election is crucial and the choice is clear. Stop
“grandfathered” DeKalb County apartment projects.






Tammy Anderson


Anon said...

Thank you John for posting this.

Sandy Springs has not eliminated new apartment construction. This summer, Sandy Springs approved a new complex with 630 apartments and construction has already begun on 1160 Hammond with 350 plus apartments. The latter complex has even been permitted to include 3 bedroom units. To say that Sandy Springs is doing anything to control construction of new apartments is a false statement.

The council vote on the big project was 5 to 1. This project includes the City of Sandy Springs spending 3 million dollars to realign a road. Nearby residents strongly objected and yet, it still passed 5 to 1.

Thanks again John,

Lynn Deutsch

Positively Dunwoody said...

Thank you John for stepping forward with good, clear facts. I would add another blog to look at as well -

I hope your post stops the crazy emails from flying around.

Brian Anderson said...


GaryRayBetz said...

As I'm from Chicago you'd think I'd want the Chicago Cubs to finally break their 105 year drought and finally win a world series. But I don't. And I used to even sell hot dogs at Wrigley Field. My selling hook was "Buy a wiener and help free Patty Hearst!!!"

You see, I love drama more than victory. It's more fun to see every year how the Cubs will lose. Will it be sunlight in the outfielders' eyes causing easy fly balls to be dropped? Will it be the curse of the Billy Goat? Will it be Leon Durham's "Gatorade Glove Play"? Or will it be life-long Cub's fan Steve Bartman interfering with the left-fielder? It's all much more delicious than winning! Yes, it is bit of Schadenfreude, but most cathartic.

And now that I've had time to mull over this upcoming local election, I'm thinking I'd rather have the Clean Sweepers win, as it's much more fun around here when the City of Dunwoody loses.

Just think, once the Clean Sweepers' victory is announced come Tuesday night, the little Tea Party Trilbies shall crowd onto Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, hoist up their Svengalian Tea Party puppet-master, and march Dunwoody's version of Hedda's Judge Brack up to the Farm House placing him on the 2nd floor balcony where he may frenetically address his newly elected minions, providing them with instructions for his three year plan for the dismantling of the City of Dunwoody.

And the anticipated hilarity shall ensue through their three year terms! While the Clean Sweepers are busy implementing their lame legislation and regale their mindless followers with jejune screeds during city council meetings and trivialize the Dunwoody Police Department's role in the community by occupying their time with trifling tasks of ticketing bicyclists, over-night parking on the street, households with more than four vehicles, etc., I shall be free to re-cultivate my crawlspace pot farm and re-assemble my meth lab, which I am purported to have.

Oh, such fun we shall have in the ludicrous, incompetent, and neo-totalitarian reign of the Clean Sweepers! As the Clean Sweepers shall misguide Dunwoody like Chicago's lovable losers - the Cubs, the city shall eventually lose, but as this is municipal government and not a sport - the consequences shan't be that of communal pseudo-blues, but very real for each Dunwoody citizen - unkempt and unusable parks, pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly thoroughfares, an unelected Tea Party party boss pulling the strings of his know-nothing / do-nothing lackeys, discordant and ineffective governance, and finally Dunwoody will go the way of perhaps a Flint, Michigan, with essentially worthless property values, as no one will want to raise their family in such a cesspool. And the only one that will be happy, will be sick-twists like me, who love a good catastrophe.

Yeah, for an anarchical time - vote for the Clean Sweepers, every single one of them!!! I'm just gonna grab a front row seat and enjoy the chaos! As Kurt Cobain would sing -

"Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us"

Brian Anderson said...

Unfortunately, the email from Tammy Anderson is correct.

The zoning code rewrite section 27-2.20-B grandfathers in all “variances, special exceptions and special permits lawfully authorized and granted prior to the effective date.”

However to be entitled to zoning rights the project would have needed to have acquired “vested property rights.” See Spalding County v. East Entrprise, Inc. 232 Ga. 887 (1974):

The controlling issue in this case is whether the evidence presented was sufficient to show that the developer had acquired a vested property right in the mobile home classification. In Clairmont Development Co. v. Morgan, 222 Ga. 255, this court said that similar facts were sufficient to show such a vested property right because the developer had there relied on the rezoning ordinance, had made substantial expenditures in consequence thereof, and because the Constitutions of the State of Georgia and the United States protect such vested property rights. Code Ann. § 2-102; Code § 1-815. That case further stated: "When this property right became vested, this plaintiff indisputably had a right under the rezoning ordinance of August 17, 1965, to use the subject property for a shopping center and the zoning authority of Gwinnett County can not legally divest this right by the subsequent adoption of another ordinance prohibiting such use. [Cits.]."

If the council had acted 4 years ago, when there was little economic development, there would have been little resistance to a zoning change. Nevertheless, the council should have grandfathered in those projects that have acquired vested rights. Then, on a case by case basis argue whether a project has made a substantial expenditure of time, effort and money to have acquired vested rights. Using the appropriate legal standard would give the city significantly better negotiating power. In any event, the appropriate legal standard is not variances, special exceptions and special permits lawfully authorized and granted.

No one is arguing that High Street may have 3000 new apartments/high density unit condos.

The 6000 apartment figure came from Bill Grossman, the immediate past chairman of the DHA, during the last debate, see John Heneghan’s video clip from the Kingsley Debate. The number was also used by Doug Thompson during the debate. The exact figure probably cannot be determined because the City does not have all the zoning files from DeKalb County.

Bob Lundsten said...

Brian take your bitter pill, swallow it and just stop. It is over. Zoning law is NOT your area of expertise so stop trying to be something you are not.
Just another genius idea that you and the Clean Sweepers have come up with the drag this campaign to depths beyond sleazy.
Negative campaigning and scare tactics do no work in Dunwoody.
Thank goodness

Rob Augustine - Dunwoody said...


There is absolutely no way you are going to show that the owners of this property haven't made substantial expenditures regarding the property. They bought the property. They had zoning approved. They have had site plans prepared, engineering expenses, environmental review expenses, legal fees, and so on.

Your case citation itself shows that these prior county zoning decisions have created vested rights:

"[The] facts were sufficient to show such a vested property right because the developer had there relied on the rezoning ordinance, had made substantial expenditures in consequence thereof, and because the Constitutions of the State of Georgia and the United States protect such vested property rights. Code Ann. § 2-102; Code § 1-815. That case further stated: "When this property right became vested, this plaintiff indisputably had a right under the rezoning ordinance of August 17, 1965, to use the subject property for a shopping center and the zoning authority of Gwinnett County can not legally divest this right by the subsequent adoption of another ordinance prohibiting such use. [Cits.]." And that's the case you cite.

Further, another case at 255 Ga. 436 WMM PROPERTIES, INC.
v. COBB COUNTY, et al. also recognized [the principle here as stated in] Barker v. County of Forsyth as holding that

"[w]here a landowner makes a substantial change in position by expenditures in reliance upon the probability of the issuance of a building permit, based upon an existing zoning ordinance and the assurances of zoning officials, he acquires vested rights and is entitled to have the permit issued despite a change in the zoning ordinance which would otherwise preclude the issuance of a permit."

Your statement that "had council acted 4 years ago ... there would have been little resistance to a zoning change" shows both your lack of knowledge about the legal application of the vested rights standard as well as what at best could be called your highly wishful thinking. Clearly, you cannot mean to say that these owners' multi-million dollar expenditures were not sufficient to create vested rights here. Surely, you cannot mean that the City is going to have the legal authority to review these vested rights. That is not really at all how any of this works. All your view would do is create a litigation nightmare for the City which would cost a lot of money.

I'm surprised that you would even proffer such comments and couch them in terms of a valid legal opinion about the state of the law in this vested rights area. You are so far off base here it is amazing, even when looking at the standard in the case you yourself cited.

The only correct answers given to this condundrum were the answers of Doug Thompson and Heyward Wescott.

Your candidates, the sweepers, have this all wrong, obviously based on your erroneous analysis here. You really should not try to scare or influence voters using ideas that don't work, mouthed by candidates that don't know any better and really have no clue whatsoever. I could say more, but suffice it to say that I am highly disappointed in both your analysis and your underlying motivation with this campaign rhetoric.

Rob Augustine

Bob Fiscella said...

Thanks John - appreciate you forwarding the information. Brian - and obviously you read this blog - if you are correct, why didn't you address this when you were the city attorney?

GaryRayBetz said...

Ah, and Bob Fiscella wins with the most insightful and telling observation in his concise little comment - "...if you are correct, why didn't you address this when you were the city attorney?" my daughters are wont to say on those rare occasions when they out-wit me, "Burn!".

Vandy Grad said...

Looks like Tammy Anderson may have violated her parental/PTA privileges. I do not have kids in any DeKalb school and did not receive Tammy's email. My neighbor, who has 1 daughter at PCMS and is very involved, received Tammy's email, directly from Tammy. She does not know Tammy and has never sent an email to Tammy. Who did Tammy send these emails to and where did she collect the email addresses?

Charles Dunwody said...

Vote for the Clean Sweeper & this is a snapshot of what you'll get for the next four years:

paul said...

The FUD is coming from you. We are in need of change. We need project planning and project management experience. We don't have that. We have poor analysis, planning, cost management and personnel management. We are not electing HOA or Swim/Tennis social positions.

The huge cost overruns of the Brook Run path and other projects, the destruction of green space, the failure to think regionally (trying to get $66 million in ball fields in the Dunwoody 'bubble' kids played at Murphy Candler, only 1.5 miles from our border) show that we need more than social experience.

I've cleaned trash on a regular basis along Peeler at Brook Run before we were a City, done a sidewalk inventory of the area for DeKalb County before we were a City, served on the Sustainability Commission, participated on several planning efforts etc. I've cooked hamburgers at swim/tennis clubs. I was an HOA president for 3 years. Some activities in no way demonstrate the performance needed by a Mayor or Council.

I attended a DHA meeting where they claimed I communicated things not true, which was that the Skate Park would have lights and speakers. The DHA was uninformed and did not represent me or our community then. Also, the topography was changed, and a small quaint building torn down.

I'm looking for experience in large projects (cost and schedule) project planning, project management, and personnel management. The 'Clean' candidates have that experience and that is one of the main reasons I support them to replace the problems we have.
The current council has grossly mismanaged projects and overspent. The 'trail' cost 5.45 times more for an equivalent 1.2 miles. My numbers are in the Crier two weeks ago. That is huge, not to mention the plan was changed, (just like the $2 Million Skate Park by DeKalb.) So many projects missed important facts and analysis including Womack/Vermack and Dunwoody Village Parkway, Chattcom. I've sent (so has Bill Grant and others) many options for DVP and Brook Run Trail.

Heyward has written and spoken about the major need for sports fields in Dunwoody. 2/3 of Dunwoody voted against them. He talks about 'exporting' sports, like it's a bad thing. That's not thinking regionally and is like a closed society. We get plenty of non-Dunwoodians at the Dog Park.

So the 'Clean' guys ideas are - to better manage projects, costs and people. They are qualified because they've done it. They may not have done the dunk tank or the soapbox derby, but that doesn't teach you how to manage contracts, projects, schedules, people for these large projects. They may not have had the time in the past because of their jobs, I know I didn't when I worked in very large development projects, traveled heavily, etc. As you may know, I'm an engineer and have designed and built everything from houses to nuclear power plants ($ billion dollar and decade long schedule) and I know the difference. The lack of knowledge and skill at City Hall has been shown and needs to be changed. The City is currently run like a glorified HOA. The City is much bigger, more important, and diverse. DHA is a pay-to-play, non-elected body. I'm not sure why they vote as if they represent me. They sure don't represent me.

Further, and I have written Mayor/Council on this, when I was on the Sustainability Commission, I worked on 'Commute Options' for City employees. I received responses from management at the Perimeter Transportation Coalition, Clean Air Campaign, and Atlanta Regional Commission within 2 or 3 days. I did not receive any response from our City Manager Hutmacher for 2 or 3 months. This is documented in meeting minutes. It held up the project and wasted my time. The Mayor/Council has not properly managed the performance of our City Manager on this and many other things which I have documented. I resigned because of this waste.

Paul Lowry

Joe Seconder said...

The definition of the word TRUST & TRUSTWORTHINESS include:
a) assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b) Reliance on something in the future
c) confident expectation of something
d) a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship

Some of you may recall from the elections two years ago some candidates said -- or led others to believe -- that once elected they would act in a certain way. Guess what? Once elected, their tune changed a bit on some issues. Some supporters became opponents. And some opponents became supporters. Very intriguing, eh?
Campaign promises are one thing. At the end of the day, I'm voting for someone I can trust. Someone that's conducted an honorable and positive campaign. Someone that hasn't simply said what they dislike and oppose. Someone that has a track record. And has a broad-based coalition of community & business support.

After the 2011 elections, I personally reached out to those newly elected (please, no conspiracy theory here, okay?) and sat down & had a conversation. Some I supported & some I didn't. Sure, it was awkward at first. But you get more flies with honey than vinegar, & to be a part of the solution, you've got to be a part of the "system". Communicate. Collaborate. Compromise. Meet one on one for coffee. Get to know them as a person. Look them in the eye. The list goes on.

Yes, there's many things I could list that I think the city could have done better. Things they shouldn't have done. And things they SHOULD have done, too. Dependent on your religion, some folks don't immediately go for a divorce. Some work out their differences & compromise. How many young husbands out there finally realized that, "When the wife's not happy, nobody's happy" ... And so to get that Saturday afternoon off watching the football games, you've got to work on the Honey-Do list in the am...

It's a two-way street out there, folks. There's no big conspiracy, my friends. We're all neighbors here and we run into each other at the grocery store, shops or public meetings. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to smile at one another, shake hands and politely say that we "agree to disagree".

The Mayor & Council get to decide. If four of them go one way, then let's close ranks, move on from the past & get together as a community.

Joe Seconder said...

Two Years ago I posted the following on the Dunwoody Patch, in support of then Mayoral Candidate Bob Dallas, who now supports Heyward Wescott. Just as my convictions were two years ago, I hold the same beliefs today. Just replace his name at the end with the candidates that match the criterion. Enjoy!

To the Editor,

In many ways, local elections are more significant than national elections. You can see the impact right around your corner instead of the hyperbole reserved for talking heads giving endless commentary and debate within the national forum. I spent 23 years in the military, retiring as a Major in the Army Reserve. During my last deployment I spent the majority of 2003 in the Middle East on active duty. My job was to conduct daily briefings to the Deputy Commanding General in charge of US Army forces during the invasion of Iraq, supervising a staff of subject matter experts. Before you stand up and say something to a General during combat, you better have your facts straight.

The Army uses a proven method of decision making, gathering information, weighing criteria and presenting courses of action for recommendation. In my decision on who I will vote for in Dunwoody, I follow a similar process and encourage you to consider the same.

Criteria #1: Proven track record in being active in local community AND in the city government activities since incorporation. We’ve already had three years of “start up” and on-the-job training. Let’s continue moving forward without a pause.

Criteria #2: Shares the same vision as the citizens of Dunwoody as documented in our approved municipal plans. Comprehends and believes in its contents. Through myriad public meetings, these plans reflect our values and positions on: Land Use, Dunwoody Village, Georgetown, Parks and Transportation. Our current council has done an excellent job of soliciting feedback and allowing us to be heard and that is reflected in the approved plans. We’ve established our founding documents. Let’s follow them.

Criteria #3: Proven ability to collaborate at all levels. The mayor and council all share an equal vote on binding decisions and need to work well together. They must be able to work with inter-governmental, community organizations, businesses and individuals to make plans come to fruition in a timely and cost-effective fashion. They need to seek advice, be respectful of others and be able to bring in the best people to make the best plan.

Criteria#4: Economic, Social and Environmental Sustainability. Pick a topic and ask yourself, “Can this activity go on forever?” or “Does an activity have a negative effect on others?” We need leaders who can look forward to the future, think out of the box and deliver solutions. Look on YouTube for “Dunwoody Sustainability” and view the candidate forum and you’ll find stark contrasts.

Criteria #5: Pride. We’ve all been to other places and have liked what we have seen there. Each week, our neighbors travel the world and post photos showing where they have been on vacation. When you bring friends or family to visit Dunwoody, what photos are they taking in your neighborhood that they could send back to their hometown to proudly show off? We’re more than an isolated bedroom community. We’re “On the Perimeter”, an important keystone in the region. Let’s hire those candidates who will continue to build on our first three years to make Dunwoody a showcase.

Applying the above criterion, my choice for Mayor is Bob Dallas.

- Joe Seconder

Max said...

Trust is a cornerstone value that our political leaders must exhibit prior to an election and while in office. One way to determine trustworthiness is to evaluate written campaign statements.

Yesterday, Mr. Eads wrote this regarding Dunwoody taking on Fire Services:

"Independent Fire Department

Now is not the time for Dunwoody to take on fire service. The city needs to do a better job of handling their current responsibilities before taking on new ones. I think Dunwoody residents should be allowed to vote on this issue before they move forward with a take over.

The current council has approved city charter change recommendations that would allow the city to take on fire service WITHOUT a vote by the citizens."

There are two material errors in fact with this statement. These are not opinions or interpretations. I know this because I spent last Summer studying the Dunwoody City Charter as Charter Commission Chairman.

1.) There is not requirement for a citizen vote for taking on Fire Services. Sec. 1.03(26) allows the City Council to establish Fire Service. Period.

The Charter is silent on how to finance Fire Service, so the Charter Commission addressed this conundrum, without raising taxes. That did not get my vote, BTW.

2. City Council has NO authority to approve Charter recommendations; the General Assembly has exclusive authority to approve ANY City Charter changes, for ANY City.

These FACTS were published in The Crier and The Reporter.

We can argue opinions all day long, but in the end, we must share the same facts.

While I appreciate any citizen willing to run for office, only adherence to facts, in lieu of rhetoric, earns my vote.

Max Lehmann

DunwoodyTalk said...


2/3 of voters did not say 'no' to sports fields, they said no to a bond that would cost over $100 million dollars to remove apartments and build a mini Disneyland.

A concerned Dunwoody Citizen said...

Thank you Dunwoody Talk for pointing that out. The No vote was fueled by many things, including the last minute plan to buy out an apartment complex and the largeness of the bond, but many people do want fields.

Additionally, Paul, it worries me that you would support candidates who are opposed (or at least heavily supported by those who oppose) stream buffers.

Be careful what you ask for, you just might be sorry you asked for it.

paul said...

Dunwoody Talk, I agree with you. It was an expensive mini-disneyland, but it did include ball fields. I'm concerned the same thing could happen with Brook Run becoming a mini-disneyland.

Concerned Dunwoody Citizen, I agree with you that it was communicated last minute, about 2 weeks before the vote, about buying the apartments. It's disturbing we can't get better information from the Mayor/Council. It seems like we are misled and there are hidden agendas when they do that. I believe it was 6 out of 7 Mayor/Council that voted to put the bond up like that.

As for the stream buffers, the current City Hall (and DeKalb County) is killing the streams at Brook Run. That is one of my biggest issues I have. I have walked there for 15 years and know how those creeks used to flow, even during the record droughts for the mid-2000's. I know how they changed after the Skate Park, and after the 12 foot trail. I have pictures I can send you of the current storm water runoff.

paul said...

PS. I'm not against ball fields. I'm against mis-communicated $120 million (including interest) bonds for undefined mini-Disneylands. I'm against wiping out green space for them. There seems a lack of appreciation and value placed on our limited green space. Ball fields are not green space.

The multi-purpose field in the back of Brook Run is perfect. It is for all to use. It does not have a clay base to cause run off. Oh, my pictures of the concrete trail runoff show storm flow piped into the flood-prone creek.