Monday, September 23, 2019

Dunwoody Reporter Voters Guide for Councilman John Heneghan

John Heneghan

The Dunwoody Reporter Newspaper is doing a voters guide for the upcoming election and asked that I answer a few questions and send them a portrait-style photo of myself. Unfortunately, I think I blew well past the 100 word limit on a few of the questions.  That being said, I think this photo highlights my boyish charm, and since my answers are now on the web, I can also add some background links that some might also find helpful.

Candidate name and campaign website:

John Heneghan & Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog

Occupation (please specify employer):

Regional Director, U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline & Hazardous Material Safety Administration, Office of Hazmat Safety – Field Operations

Previous elected offices held:

11 years on the Dunwoody City Council – Founding Member

Other community service experience:

Question 1: What is motivating you to run for this office?

As a founding member of the Dunwoody City Council where I have served for the last eleven years, I am proud to say that I have had a hand in setting all policy from startup to current-day operations.  My motivation to continue serving is that I believe I have the ability to continue making a difference in making Dunwoody a better community for all who live and work here.

Question 2: What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

As I am running for an at-large city-wide seat, I will answer this from a city perspective.  The City’s biggest long-term issue is proper coordination with other governmental organizations and the commercial business community to ensure win/win outcomes for all involved.  We as a City leadership team (with the express backing of the residents we serve) need to be working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to ensure that if the 285 express lanes are built, that the adjoining and/or displaced neighbors are treated fairly, and the related entrance and exit locations are a benefit to all involved.  We need to work with the DeKalb School System to ensure that the proper neighborhood educational facilities are available equitably to all residents and that these facilities foster neighborhood & city cohesion to the benefit of all Dunwoody residents.  We need to work hand in hand with DeKalb County ensuring efficient life safety, sanitation, clean water, and various other County services are provided at an appropriate level and at a fair price.  Finally, coordination with the commercial business community to assist them with putting forth well designed commercial projects that will enhance the quality of life for all living and working here.  I will address these issues as I always have, close coordination with the Mayor, Council and Staff and then I will work both behind the scenes and publicly on my blog to foster the best outcomes for all involved.

Question 3: What is the city’s role in such projects as multiuse path networks and arts centers, and how would you pay for them?

The city has a critical role in both multiuse paths and fostering the arts!  The city budget is getting tight for funds directly from the General Fund, but the city has other funds to be tapped and/or other options to fund these amenities.  Regarding the Arts, at the September Budget meeting I identified that the City had published a study on the future of the Arts which stated that the city needed to start an endowment of seed money to jump-start the City’s arts fundraising efforts yet the original 2020 published budget had zero funding for this cause.  I proposed to the committee that we add $60,000 for arts funding from the proposed 2020 reserves and the committee agreed to send this proposal amount to the full city council in October. 

As far as multiuse paths located near or adjoining Perimeter Center; I anticipate that a conservative multiyear revenue bond will be placed against the increased hotel taxes allowing a chunk of funds to be available if Council goes this route to fully build out the new park on Perimeter Center East and then build out multiuse paths though out the Perimeter area from hotels to dining & shopping attractions.  This bond will be funded only my hotel taxes and will put amenities into place sooner without affecting the taxes paid by the residents.  

Another option being lightly kicked around is a City Municipal bond that could be put in front of the electorate in the future that would have a very specific set of projects throughout the city to ensure these funds would be a benefit to the greatest number residents.  This project list might include the buildout of a new park we are currently negotiating, multiuse paths tying the various neighborhoods to commercial areas, intersection improvements (Chamblee Dunwoody / Womack would be high on my list), and possibly the buildout of the old Austin property to a park / cultural or arts amenity.   If the residents chose to approve the muni bond option for a specific list of amenities, the annual tax bill would go up a bit but the amenities on the list would be available much sooner than waiting to have the cash available.

Question 4: What is your vision for the future of Dunwoody Village?

Market forces of a shopping center that are 90% occupied with paying tenants does not inspire the majority land owner (Regency) to make major wholesale changes especially when the location is off the beaten path (compared to a street like Peachtree Industrial).  The City has already removed all zoning overlay conditions, and Council may be interested in putting forward a plan for installing community green space or a parking deck there if a funding source and a major chunk of space were to become available (Post Office?) but those ideas by themselves will do nothing to spur redevelopment without the buy-in from Regency.   If Regency wanted to go big, subdivide the property, layout internal streets with high-end residential, an entertainment district with numerous restaurants and shops; the city would entertain the discussion.  As much as the city fosters this type of dialog, the city has little other power except for eminent domain to force the change and that would be an expensive and complicated proposition especially when purchasing land that contains a thriving business.  The city is keeping the discussions on going and will work the edges to foster change where possible.

Dunwoody City Council Agenda for Monday September 23, 2019

Monday, September 23, 2019
Dunwoody City Hall
4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd
Dunwoody, GA 30338

Agenda - 6 p.m.

Proclamation - Recognizing September 27, 2019 as TiECON Atlanta Day in Dunwoody

Introduction of 2019-20 Dunwoody High School Youth City Council
Funding Authorization for 1280 Witham Drive Stormwater Repairs

FIRST READ: Adoption of Vulnerable Road User Ordinance  (Chief Grogan)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dunwoody Mayoral & City Council Candidate Forum - this afternoon from 2 to 4 pm at Dunwoody High School

Today - Dunwoody High School 2 pm

This afternoon the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the Dunwoody Reporter newspaper will be hosting the Dunwoody Mayoral & City Council Candidate Forum at 2 pm at the Dunwoody High School Auditorium, 5035 Vermack Road. There are three contested at large (citywide) races that all residents will be able to vote upon and all of those candidates have agreed to participate in the forum.

On November 5th (if not before because of early voting) all Dunwoody residents will be voting for a new Mayor and all residents will also be voting for new representatives in Districts 1 and 2.

As the only candidate running in an unopposed election in District 3, I too was invited to participate in the forum but in fairness to the other candidates and more importantly to the attendees of the forum looking to decide on whom to vote for, I saw little value in my participation as my absence from the forum in a non-contested race would allow extended time for the residents to learn of the contested races.

After 11 years of public service and over 3,600 blog posts available for anyone to read, I believe a large chunk of the involved citizens already know where I stand on many of the issues facing this City.

I believe the forum will be broadcast live on the DHA Facebook page and that the Dunwoody Reporter will be recording it for later presentation on the web.

The doors open at 1:30


Lynn Deutsch

Terry Nall

City Council At-Large (District 1)

Stacey Harris

Robert Miller

City Council At-Large (District 2)

Joe Seconder

Heyward Wescott

City Council At-Large (District 3)

John Heneghan   Heneghan's Dunwoody Blog

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester announces passage of $125K to City of Dunwoody for 8 Acres of additional parkland. @nancy_jester

The DeKalb County Commission met today and approved a $125,000 transfer of DeKalb park bond funds to the City of Dunwoody for the purchase of 8 acres of additional parkland within the City.  Commissioner Jester announced the item on her informative YouTube Channel where she goes over the items she has worked on within the last week or so.  

The transfer of funds between the County and City is now public, but the further details of the purchase are still confidential whereby I can not say much more about the pending transaction without violating the rules of executive session.

Commission District(s): 1 & 6 To Transfer $125,000.00 from District 1 Park Bond Funds (POETA 104863.80314.541200.314) to the City of Dunwoody for the Purchase of 8 Acres of Park Land.

Thank you Nancy Jester, for assisting with this important project that will benefit several communities within the City of Dunwoody and DeKalb County!!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dunwoody City Council Agenda for Monday September 9th, 6:00 p.m.

Monday, September 9, 2019
Dunwoody City Hall
4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd
Dunwoody, GA 30338
5:00 p.m. - Special Called (Performance Appraisal Time of Year)
6:00 p.m. - Regular Meeting Watch Live
7:00 p.m. or immediately following the 6 o'clock meeting / Facilities Authority

6 pm Agenda

Administration of Oath of Office to Officer Keyshla Tabb

Proclamation - "Saint Luke's Presbyterian Church Day"

FIRST READ: Review and consideration of text amendments regarding public art (Chapter 20)

2020 City Council, Planning Commission, and ZBA Meeting Schedules

SECOND READ: RZ 19-02: Alex Brock, attorney for the Owner, on Behalf of GMC Real Estate Acquisitions, LLC, Owner of 11 Ravinia Parkway, Dunwoody, GA 30346 Seeks the Following to Rezone the Property From its Current OCR (Office, Commercial, Residential) District Conditional Zoning Classification to an PC-2 (Perimeter Center) District

A Resolution to Authorize the Transfer of Property and the Assignment of Facility Use Agreements from the City of Dunwoody to the City of Dunwoody Public Facilities Authority

FIRST READ: Adoption of Vulnerable Road User Ordinance (runners in road beware?)

7 pm Facilities Authority Agenda Item - Resolution to Authorize the Transfer of Property and the Assignment of Facility Use Agreements from the City of Dunwoody to the City of Dunwoody Public Facilities Authority

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Mayor Denis Shortal's proposed City of Dunwoody 2020 Budget

We (Mayor Denis Shortal & City Manager Eric Linton) respectfully submit the following Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget and Budget Message, constructed in accordance with Section 5.03(a) of the City of Dunwoody City Charter, and presented for review, examination and consideration by all residents and members of City Council. The adoption of an annual budget is one of the most important actions taken by the City Council each year. Through strategic and careful funding allocation of resources, the proposed FY 2020 Budget is a balanced financial plan which equalizes anticipated revenues with proposed expenditures. Based on principles of cautious and fiscally pragmatic planning, the City proposes an unchanged millage rate of 2.740 mills to uphold and improve safety, infrastructure and quality of life for all citizens.

The FY 2020 Budget couples prioritized infrastructure investments with achievable growth initiatives and strategic service delivery. The City anticipates continued successful administration of finances to accurately balance requests along with requirements and promote the community-driven aspirations of responsible, dynamic, and achievable progress. This fiscally conservative approach to annual budgeting positions Dunwoody to optimally manage revenue growth, while leveraging assets and opportunities to best serve the interests of our citizens.

FY 2020 Highlights The primary emphasis of the FY 2020 Budget remains consistent with past strategy, concentrating on fundamental infrastructure improvements, paving and parks and is a direct response to community-identified needs and requests. The City has created a FY 2020 Budget list of key expenditures and improvements which focus on taking care of critical community assets and safety essentials as a means of delivering for the future. This commitment can be found within the following overview of project and initiative disbursements:

The FY 2020 Budget maintains the City’s original 2.74 millage rate. Dunwoody has the lowest overall tax rate of DeKalb County cities and is lower than unincorporated DeKalb. The City intends to monitor the tax rate in future years to hold position as the best value in DeKalb County while ensuring the City has adequate reserves and the ability to invest in infrastructure needs.

Based on the policy set forth by City Council, the city maintains a fund balance projected to be at a level sufficient to provide a baseline four (4) month reserve balance and up to a stipulated maximum of a six-month reserve. Council will be presented a budget amendment in October 2019 for FY 2019 in conjunction with the FY 2020 budget approval.

The FY 2020 Budget totals approximately $39.5 million in revenues for all appropriated funds which excludes approximately $2.6 million of interfund activity.

This list of key expenditures for 2020, while not a comprehensive catalog of all enhancement requests, highlights a fiscally conservative approach to funding allocation. The city remains focused on sustaining public safety levels, improving infrastructure, and promoting smart community development to improve the quality of life for all of Dunwoody’s residents, businesses, and visitors.

Parks and Recreation: As Dunwoody develops into a mature city, parks services are expanding and this budget reflects that being a priority of the community with additional programmatic staff.

• Installation of football field lights at Peachtree Charter Middle School. ($125,000)

• Enhancing service levels for new park facilities and expansions (ball fields, restrooms, etc.). ($413,010)

• Expanding staffing to program park opportunities for citizens, including one park operations coordinator and one part-time recreation programs leader. ($142,924)

Police: Public safety is a core service of the City. With that in mind, this budget continues dedicating over 36% of General Fund resources to the Police Department.

• Fully funding two additional sworn officers for the entire year. Previously, the department was allowed to overhire by two positions provided there were savings available internally. ($109,000)

• Replacing various public safety computer equipment and vehicles through SPLOST. ($494,319)

• Maintaining compensation for public safety officers by proving up to 3.1% pay increases. With 77 of 98 city employees being in the police department, over $137,135 of funding for additional compensation in FY 2020, along with an additional $48,261 for employees in other

Public Works: The City is leveraging the sales tax (SPLOST) approved by its citizens to focus on road improvements and transportation.

• 2020 Resurfacing. ($3,180,681 to come from SPLOST and an additional $487,045 from state funds for a total of $3,667,726)

• Improve the Chamblee Dunwoody at Spalding Drive Intersection. ($1,400,000)

• Install Peeler Road Sidewalk from Equestrian Way to Brook Run Park. ($1,000,000); North Shallowford Sidewalk at Peeler Road. ($150,000); Mt Vernon Place Sidewalks-Mt Vernon Road to Falkirk. ($50,000)

• Fund preliminary work on Westside Connector. ($100,000)

• Improve Mt Vernon Road Corridor from Corners Drive to Mt Vernon Place. ($100,000)

• Build Winters Chapel Multiuse Path - Dunwoody Club to Charmant. ($100,000)

• Install various traffic calming devices throughout the city. ($25,000)

Finance & Admin (Finance, Facilities, Accounting, Revenue, Purchasing, HR, Marketing, Information Technology): These departments are support agencies for the front-facing departments

• Replace storage area network ($95,000) and upgrade firewall ($72,000).

• Perform a salary survey of existing positions ($25,000).

Dunwoody's St. Barnabas Anglican Church at North Peachtree & Peeler looks to expand for growth.

Full application package - neighborhood meeting should be announced soon by the developer.

The application package states ...

St Barnabas Anglican Church has experienced steady growth over the last several years. In 2005 we completed a new sanctuary. Unfortunately, we could not afford to build the necessary supporting classrooms and offices. With our growth over the last several years, it is now time to address these needs for our parishioners.

We are applying for the SLUP to allow us to construct approximately 4,885 square feet of classrooms, office space and support space. Though not contemplated to be done in the first phase, we are planning for future parking lot and inter-parcel connections.

Total Acreage 3.587 acres
Current Zoning R100 c with SLUP 04002
Current Square Footage: 11,064 SF

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

High Street developer submits permitting plans to Dunwoody @HighStreetATL @AtlBizChron @CurbedAtlanta

Earlier this week the long-awaited High Street Development dropped off at Dunwoody City Hall the initial plans for the land disturbance permit for phase 1.   I haven't gone through the 100 MB of plans, but I did read with interest the initial conditions that DeKalb put upon the project.

If you are into downloading huge files and reviewing technical drawings, enjoy.
  2019 0975  2019-08-19 High Street Phase 1 Hydrology Report.pdf
  2019 0975 2019-08-16 High Street - Phase 1 LDP Part-1.pdf
  2019 0975 2019-08-16 High Street - Phase 1 LDP Part-2.pdf
  2019 0975 2019-08-16 High Street - Phase 1 LDP Part-3.pdf
  2019 0975 2019-08-16 High Street - Phase 1 LDP Part-4.pdf
News Article by the Dunwoody Reporter Dyana Bagby from Aug 23, 2019
GID and North American Properties have proposed the $2 billion development on about 42 acres in Perimeter Center. It would total 8 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 400,000 square feet of shopping and chef-driven dining; 635,000 square feet of Class A office space; and a 400-room hotel. A small public park area is included in the central area. The scope of the first phase is to build four blocks of mixed-use development, parking decks, private internal streets, and stormwater pipes and other utilities. The development has been zoned for 3,000 residential units, but the first phase shows just one 8-story apartment tower being built with 600 units. The plans for the first phase also include construction of 200,000 square feet of retail.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Dunwoody resident asks, "Why can't we have nice things like our neighbors?"

Just because it is not easy, doesn't mean we are working towards these goals

Part of the job of serving on the City Council is knowing what the residents of your city want and then trying to fulfill their desires with the resources that you have available, unfortunately, the desires always outweigh resources.  I read everything Dunwoody related that I can get my hands upon and that includes newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, various Blogs, AHA, Letters to the Editor, e-mails directed to Council, Myspace and sometimes I will even read Nextdoor.  If it is Dunwoody related, I read it.  If someone needs assistance I jump in, if it is a general conversation I may just watch the conversation but I rarely jump deep into Facebook conversations as I usually have my own platform for communication and the Open Records laws regarding social media communication for elected officials is murky at best.

Anyway, I saw a conversation on Dunwoody (and specifically Dunwoody Village) being compared to to the new Town Center mixed-use development in Peachtree Corners whereby the city purchased a patch of forest on Peachtree Parkway across from the Forum and turned it into a shopping area with an activated outdoor dining, drinking/recreation area with music events from time to time.

Maybe my heart was still pumping hard from this evenings spin class, or I ate too many treats at the Dunwoody Community Garden 10 year celebration or I was too hyped up from whipping my boys at Foosball; either way, I broke down and commented on a group Facebook post.   My answer was detailed, addressing not only her question but also some of the other comments on the post and figured in the sense of transparency that it was worth me posting here as well.

To loosely recap the question, it was Why can't Dunwoody have nice things like outdoor dining in a pretty park setting and then be able to walk around listening to music as I sip my wine?

My answer was ... I don't think anyone disagrees with you, we would all want that. The City of Dunwoody wishes they could buy a chunk of undeveloped land to do what Peachtree Corners did or be like Sandy Springs and be able to afford to buy out profitable businesses - but neither option is easy for us to do.

Regency owns the Village shopping center and we have made it easier for them to redevelop by unregulating the area including the corner property on Chamblee Dunwoody & Mount Vernon that sits vacant for years. Regency owns much of the property and they and the other owners decide if major changes are desired, not us - but we continue the discussions. If the City moved forward, purchasing a chunk of the parking lot from Regency and made it into a park, would Regency try to redevelop around it or would it be a patch of green surrounded by asphalt? Having the City buy a chunk of land from Regency in order to build a parking lot, what would Regency do with that multi-million dollar amenity?

The City redeveloped the old pipe farm off Chamblee Dunwoody and now has several restaurant parcels abutting open green space and a park available at Shallowford and Perimeter Park yet we can't find a developer willing to move this idea forward. Economics and the number of eyeballs driving by always come into play on developments like this and there are a lot more cars driving by on Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners.

Dunwoody with the help of DHA puts forward Food Trucks with bands and the City hosts other events either by itself or partnering with the Dunwoody Nature Center, so you can't say we are not trying.

As far as permanent restaurants in Brook Run, I'm not against it (think Park Tavern or Tavern on the Green) but I am sure food trucks will be involved anytime crowds are expected. When the amphitheater is completed, I am guessing we will be scheduling a regular concert series with tables for purchase via subscription service and free concerts otherwise. I fully expect outside food and beverage service being available if you don't bring your own.

Long story, short - the City is trying to foster the items that you desire and are working towards the future with the funds we have available but when it comes to modifying existing commercial development sometimes it is easier said than done. Just because it is not easy, doesn't mean we are not working towards these goals behind the scenes.


John Heneghan
Dunwoody City Council

PS: Earlier this week the High Street ATL huge development next to Perimeter Mall and the Marta Station which many compare to the Avalon in Alpharetta just dropped their phase 1 plan off at Dunwoody City Hall and this development will include hotel site, retail, office, parking, and about 600 apartments. The zoning on site that was put in many years ago allows up to 1,500 apartments and 1,500 condos and based on recent actions the development that has been on-again / off-again for many years may finally be coming out of the ground. I plan on reviewing and posting the High Street plans as soon as I get my hands on them.