Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pause to remember this Memorial Day.

New Perimeter Goodwill Store & Donation Center replaces Circuit City near REI

1165 Perimeter Center West
Sandy Springs, GA 30338

Atlanta residents now have one more place to find stylish, one-of-a-kind attire at a great price when Goodwill opens the doors to its Perimeter store on June 3rd. At the new Goodwill, located at 1165 Perimeter Center West, there’s something for everyone. Whether your taste is vintage, contemporary or classic, you’ll find what you love. Here are some pointers to make thrift shopping work for you:
  • Check the labels: Look out for your favorite designer labels, which often end up at Goodwill.
  • Be patient: You may get lucky and find your dream item in minutes, but realistically, when thrift-shopping it usually takes a little longer to find those precious gems.
  • Get crafty: Refurbish your Goodwill bargains with paint, fabric or polish. With a little handy work you can turn great finds into one-of-a-kind pieces.
  • Be proud: Every dollar you spend in a Goodwill helps support our mission and change the lives of others.
The grand-opening celebration starts at 9:00 a.m. on June 3. We hope to see you there!

About Goodwill
The mission of Goodwill of North Georgia is to put people to work. We have been providing services in the region for 85 years. In fiscal year 2009, we provided job training and employment services to nearly 21,300 people and helped 4,691 people start new businesses or find jobs. Our organization currently operates 31 stores and 49 attended donation centers. Revenues generated from Goodwill’s retail program help fund our job training and placement programs. Last year, we served more than 1.4 million donors!

Dunwoody running within Budget, no tax increase and has surplus of cash.

Further Problems in DeKalb 911, could Dunwoody do it better and at what price?

Could Dunwoody do it better and at what price?

Councilman Wittenstein wants your opinion on 911, are you willing to pay more?

DeKalb 911 Problems Has Dunwoody Looking Elsewhere

No Ambulance Available in Dunwoody?

Fired Firefighters Say Dispatchers Should Share Blame for Fatal Dunwoody Fire

Presentation of DeKalb Public Safey Director, William Miller to Dunwoody City Council

Issues of 911 in DeKalb County raised at Dunwoody City Council Meeting

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ms. Nancy Jester announces for DeKalb County School Board, District 1 seat currently held by Jim Redovian.

Nancy Jester

I am Nancy Jester and I am running for the Dekalb Board of Education,  District 1 this November 2nd. I am a concerned taxpayer and a proud, involved,  public school parent. I have worked as an actuarial consultant, served on a non-profit board and was the treasurer of a professional association. I am the current Chair of the Hawthorne Elementary School Council and a founding member of the Hawthorne Elementary School Foundation.

The recent financial and ethical crises our district is facing are demonstrable proof of the need for new  leadership on the Board of Education (BOE). All taxpayer resources deserve to be safeguarded and used with the highest level of integrity. There is no more important public investment than education and, as such, elected officials entrusted with leading this endeavor owe a special measure of trust, transparency,  accountability, accessibility, efficiency and effectiveness to their constituents. It is  time for the BOE to acknowledge the broken trust that exists between the Board and the community.

It is time for the board to be replenished with new representatives that understand the current physical, technological and educational challenges in our schools. As a board member, I intend to vigorously pursue my oversight responsibilities, ask critical questions,  examine data firsthand and insure that proper controls and procedures are put in  place to prevent fraud and mismanagement. Our district needs a fresh start with new leadership that has innovative ideas focused on the classroom and not  district management. During this campaign, I look forward to hearing from you.  Please feel free to email me at or call me at 678.360.1148.

Nancy Jester
2718 Eaton Place
Atlanta, GA 30341

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Save our Skin 5K on Saturday will be an opportunity to provide a learning lesson to my boys.

Last year I was invited to help cut the ribbon of the SCAN Foundation's Save our Skin 5K race being held in Dunwoody (near Shanes Rib Shack close to Super Target) but due to some family event I was unable to attend.  The event raised awareness about skin cancer, raised a little money and even provided free skin cancer screenings on site.  I'm very sorry I missed that event because last Monday I had a skin cancer lesion cut off my neck and if I had been screened maybe it would have been found a little earlier?

My dermatologist at Dunwoody Dermatology said that my very fair skin has had quite a bit of sun damage and that I will need to be extra vigilant about staying out of the sun without proper protection and then have annual skin examinations to check for changes.  We discussed the fact that there was very little sun screen when I was a boy and how I would literally blister in the sun without protection, except for a white t-shirt that I would wear in the neighborhood pool.

The Doc saw pictures of my three boys, including the four year old mini-me with red hair and freckles and we talked about keeping them safe, therefore this Saturday morning the entire family including the three fair skinned little boys will be attending this years Save our Skin 5K event taking place in the same Perimeter Place shopping center as last year.

Maybe we will see you there?
Save our Skin 5k Run / Walk
Saturday May 29th (7 am registration - 8 am race)
Registration allowed on race day

Perimeter Place – Atlanta , GA – May 29, 2010 The SCAN Foundation (Skin Cancer Awareness Network) was founded by melanoma cancer survivor, Marilyn Fry. This 4th annual event highlights the SCAN Foundation's education and community awareness programs teaching others that deadly skin cancers can be prevented. Sun exposure must be measured, but this does NOT mean total avoidance of the sun. Learn easy, affordable, and life-saving measures you and your family may implement for full enjoyment of the sun. This is a great family event for young and old. Infants in strollers are welcome.

Proceeds: Support community outreach programs to help educate the public about safe exposure and fun in the sun. In addition, SCAN funds unrestricted scholarship grants for young medical professionals and other skin cancer organizations providing information and support for people with skin cancer.

The SCAN Foundation awarded its first medical research grant to the Emory University Winship Cancer Center's CancerQuest Program. CancerQuest is designed to empower cancer patients, cancer survivors, students, healthcare workers and others with a better understanding of the disease process and current approaches to cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Councilman Wittenstein wants your opinion on 911, are you willing to pay more?

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

On a personal note, I'd like to congratulate my son, Eric, on his graduation from Chamblee Charter High School. Eric will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall and Susan and I are very proud of him.

We have requested turnover of the parks property in accordance with the recent legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Perdue. If all goes according to plan, we will assume ownership of Brook Run, Dunwoody Nature Center, Donaldson-Chesnut house, Dunwoody Park baseball fields, Windward Hollow and a couple of other smaller properties around June 18. We are excited about the opportunity and the challenge to begin investing in our parks properties. We are currently looking for a parks manager to work in our Public Works department.

We have received the property tax valuations from the county. The total value of our residential property in Dunwoody went down by 1.3%. Commercial property values were up about 2% and the result is that the value of property in Dunwoody is virtually unchanged from last year. In June, we will set our property tax rate for 2010 and we will leave it unchanged from last year--so no tax increase.

In June we will also consider whether to give DeKalb notice that we want to terminate our agreement for them to provide us with our 911 dispatch service. This is a big deal. DeKalb's 911 dispatch services have been uneven and inconsistent. It is clearly the weakest link in our emergency responder chain. Often DeKalb's 911 center answers quickly and dispatches efficiently. But at other times they have more incoming calls than they can handle and calls are put on hold for 1-10 minutes before a dispatch operator answers the call. This delays dispatch of police, fire and emergency medical.

This is a big deal because we can't bring this service in-house or afford to partner with another nearby city without committing approximately $400,000 in general operating funds. We can provide a much higher level of service but at a higher cost. If we funded this through property taxes, the average Dunwoody family would see their taxes rise by $22 per year in 2011.

Below is a link to an on-line survey. (It only has one question.) Please take a moment and give me your thoughts on this issue.

Take 911 on-line survey.

I will share the results in my next e-mail update. I am inclined to support this but with great caution. We do not want this to be the first of many requests to voters, "If you give us more money we can do all these wonderful things..." as it cannot become a habit. I believe strongly in living within our means and keeping government to a minimum. I also realize that all of us have suffered in this economic downturn and money is tight. All of that said, I think this is something we should consider because of its impact on our ability to provide emergency response when our residents need it most.

Finally, congratulations to Doug Thompson, our newest city council member. Doug replaces Tom Taylor who has resigned to run to represent Dunwoody in the Georgia House in the seat Fran Millar is vacating. Fran is running to replace Dan Weber in the Georgia Senate.


Robert Wittenstein
(Note from John, please read this evaluation before you vote and remember that a Dunwoody 911 system will only directly communicate with our Police Department and that all other emergency calls will still need to be routed to DeKalb dispatch for Rescue and Fire Services.  The system will not be flawless, because of cell phone technology some calls near the borders will be answered by DeKalb, Sandy Spring and Gwinnett County 911 centers that will still need to be transferred to the correct location.

The City Council takes ultimate responsibility for the safety of the citizens and if we feel that we are not getting adequate protection we have the obligation to be looking at all options along with their financial ramifications.  Some say a 911 switch alone will be a big improvement while others say that we may need to also start our own Fire Department & Rescue EMS too.  All options are on the table, including some innovative ones that work well elsewhere and they are being studied from every angle.) 

Please take Robert's survey, write comments on the blog or e-mail me directly as I will not be making any hasty decisions and do value your input.  Thanks, John.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

DeKalb County School "Brain Trust" indicted.

AJC - Former DeKalb County schools superintendent Crawford Lewis and three others, including former chief operating officer Patricia Reid, have been indicted on charges they ran a criminal enterprise that sent millions of dollars to Reid’s then-husband and others.

In exchange for steering school construction work to Reid's former husband and other vendors, the school officials and Lewis' secretary received cash, sports tickets or other perks, DeKalb District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming announced Wednesday.

A grand jury returned indictments on Lewis, Reid, also known as Pat Pope, her former husband Tony Pope and her secretary Cointa Moody.

Powerpoint Presentation by Gwen Keys Fleming on Indictment 

Other story locations - Atlanta UnfilteredDeKalb County School Watch, Dunwoody School Daze

Crawford Lewis DeKalb RICO Indictment

Dunwoody HS Soccer Coach & Dunwoody resident Mike Mey is again offering his M & M Soccer Camps for ages 4 - 12.

Dunwoody Coaches Mike Mey and Keith Henck of the highly successful Dunwoody High School girls soccer team offer two summer sessions to children ages 4-12. This is a half day camp running from 8:30am – 12:30pm with early drop off availability at 8am. The cost is $80 per child.

Click here to register for the M & M Soccer Camp as well see all the other athletic camps being offered by the Dunwoody High School Wildcats.  For more information call Mike Mey at 404-403-2274 or e-mail him at

PS: Kudos the the entire Dunwoody Soccer program who had a breakout year.  Check out the year end wrap-up video.

Monday, May 24, 2010

DeKalb 911 Problems Has Dunwoody Looking Elsewhere

Video of the May 24th Dunwoody City Council Meeting

Video of May 24th City Council Meeting

Here was the agenda and here is a 2 second meeting recap.
  • Doug Thompson will not be sworn in until June meeting.
  • Welcome Officer Chris Forman.
  • City ordinances will be on Municode soon.
  • Deferred Signs to another meeting.
  • 121 Perimeter Center will become a restaurant on the first floor.
  • Noise ordinance change was pushed to community council for further review.
  • Brook Run Conservancy gave a nice talk - handouts will be scanned.
  • Art Festival conversation pushed to next month.
  • Public Hearing on 2030 Comp Plan had no comments from the public and my proposed changes are still being reviewed therefore I held my discussion for the next meeting.
  • Millage (Tax) Rate proposed to be the same as last year.
  • Welcome new Sustainability Members.
  • Contract for Village LCI approved.

Tonight is the Public Hearing on the Dunwoody 2030 Comprehensive Land Use Plan

City Council Meeting
Tonight @ 7 pm

Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East

Tonight the City Council has a full agenda but half way though the night we will be holding a public hearing on the Comprehensive Land use plan that we as a City have been discussing for the last year.  Countless meetings have been held, surveys taken, e-mails written & read and now that the comp plan has passed the committees of the Community Council, Planning Commission and the Comp Plan Steering Committee; the ball is now in the court of the City Council. 

Last week I raised a few questions in a post as to the amount and density of residential units that the comp plan would allow in the Perimeter Center.  I wasn't comfortable with the language in the current draft because we were relying on standards set in the 2005 Livable Centers Initiative report which encourages unbridled growth of residential units in the area without any consideration of public infrastructure.  I suggested to modify that section to lessen the reliance on that report and I received a number of comments from various people that stated that my suggestions would be setting the City up for lawsuits and stagnation.
Comment 1: The overwhelming majority of the comments stated "No Growth" quite emphatically. Unfortunately, that doesn't work as the people will come and we won't have planned for it because we prefer to stick our head in the sand and the politicians will be all to glad to follow. In the end we won't have "No Growth" or "Smart Growth", just growth by lawsuit.
To answer comment 1, I did hear that a majority of the residents wanted little or no growth, especially in the apartment arena.  Within the next 20 years as this report tries to plan for, I am sure the number of apartment units will be going up while the number of single family homes will remain fairly consistent.  My concern is over the language of the LCI report which pushes for unbridled residential growth without any consideration of infrastructure, greenspace or amenities to serve those residents.  I am asking if this 20 year plan, written as it is, allows an open development checkbook for residential high rises much the way the O&I loophole allowed the construction of five story apartment complexes without any oversight?  If that is the case, now is the time to address the issue. 
Comment 2: Your conservative approach and fear of the LCI is somewhat misplaced.  While an additional 5,000 apartments will be opposed by everyone, we must make sure that Perimeter is allowed to grow as it will be our only way to grow the revenue within Dunwoody.
To answer comment number 2, after reviewing maps of Perimeter Center and the full 2005 LCI report, the item that jumped out to me was that almost all of the residential development except for a few town homes happened on the DeKalb / Dunwoody side of the lines.  Maybe DeKalb has already done our fair share of implementing the LCI residential plan in Perimeter Center for a while and we should now focus on other uses for the Perimeter area like hotels, Class A office space and mixed use (with the appropriate mix of uses) that will serve the city residents and the business community well. 
Comment 3: I'd be in favor of all the development possible in the PCID if they addressed the stress this growth will put on schools. All it would take is for the PCID and its corporate members to form a committee to meet and plan with the DeKalb School Board. If they show some effort of wanting to be proactive in regards to school capacity, I'd support them immediately.
I'm told we aren't suppose to tie zoning issues to school capacity or location yet it is my belief that the LCI study which talks quite a bit about transportation failed to take into account the current and future school locations as it relates to those increased transportation needs.  Maybe someday these issues will be resolved by the DeKalb County School Board adding another school in the area or by some other means but until then schools alone can not be a deciding factor.

A neighbor said that impact fees were drastically needed for the impending large developments near the mall and though they can not be used for schools, they can be used for amenities to the residents and business that would be joining our fair city.  Based on a chart found on the GA Department of Community Affairs website, DeKalb County currently has impact fees for Roads, Parks & Rec, Public Safety and Libraries, therefore the city should start exploring these options soon.  I also found and enjoyed a Master's Thesis written in 1995 by Ms. Patricia Toner, the wife of Mike Toner the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from the AJC which discusses the history of impact fees and even mentions the growth of Perimeter Mall.

Pattie Baker and Rick Callihan also wrote a blog posts regarding their observations of the comp plan and tonight's impending meeting.  Please check them out, read the comp plan and possible amendments and just maybe I will see you at the meeting tonight.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dunwoody Artisans at Precision Custom Metals proud of work at U.S. Capitol & National Gallery of Art

Julia & Vincent Annaloro of Precision Custom Metals

My good friends Julia & Vincent Annaloro of Dunwoody are artisans & craftsmen who have just one goal in their business model, and that is to... build cool stuff and lately they have done just that.  Last week the couple were recognized by an interview with Dunwoody's own Amy Otto on the Atlanta Business Radio network and below was an nice article from The Crier written by Fran Memberg.

The year-old U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington houses museum-quality displays and historic artifacts, including the original plaster model for the Capitol dome’s exterior crowing feature, the bronze Statue of Freedom, created by American sculptor Thomas Crawford in 1858.

Step inside one of the center’s two theaters, each decorated to evoke either the House or Senate chamber, and you’ll find decorative accents designed, manufactured and installed by Precision Custom Metals, a Tucker-based company owned by Dunwoody residents Vincent and Julia Annaloro. The project, which included bronze handrails, decorative wall ornamentation and floor trim, was one of the finishing touches completed just before the center opened in December 2008.

The Annaloros founded their company in 1997 and outgrew three smaller shops before moving to the Tucker location. Their work is recognized locally, nationally and internationally. When the contractor for the Capitol Visitor Center needed someone to design the theater decorations, Precision was approached about doing the job.

“They had heard about us,” said Vincent, who explained that much of their business is derived from client or contractor referral.

Working on a government project requires security clearance and vetting by the Department of Defense, Vincent said. They have completed six other government contracts and are bidding on two others. Precision has also completed several non-government projects in the greater Washington area and is now working on an historic restoration of window grills and doors for the National Gallery of Art in the nation’s capital.

Precision engineers, fabricates and installs monumental stairs and rails, handrails, decorative screens, canopies, lighting, water features and other custom design accents in stainless steel, steel, brass, bronze, glass and aluminum. Most of their work is for commercial or government clients but they do residential projects as well.

The company tackles work no one else wants to do, according to Vincent, who says many other metalworkers shy away from the potential liability of installing heavy decorative pieces.

“I learned about metalworking in high school welding (class) and developed my passion for metal working as a welder after high school,” said Vincent, a Louisiana native. “The level of craftsmanship taught in yesterday’s trade schools and apprenticeships has been all but lost in today’s quick-fix high tech world.”

The Annaloros team up to use their individual strengths to run their business. After years of running the Precision shop, along with engineering, designing and soliciting new work, Vincent now focuses on sales, engineering and design. Julia, a native of California, creates custom metal etching designs from the skills she gained by earning her bachelor’s degree in studio arts along with communications.

“I don’t do much with the engineering and design of the projects - I leave that to the metal experts. Mostly I deal with the daily operations of running the business, marketing branding, accountability and follow-ups,” said Julia.

“I’m so glad she’s on board. We’ve grown beyond one person running the whole business,” said Vincent.

They also strike a balance between business and family. They have one grown son and two daughters who attend Dunwoody public schools.

“I remember when (the company was) much smaller and I used to bring the baby into the office and make all my phone calls during naptime. Today, what’s nice about working with my husband is that we know when the other had a hard day or good day. There are so many opportunities to be proud of each other during the day,” Julia said.

“The balance of running a company and a family is tough for any working parent. One nice thing about having our own business is being able to work a flexible schedule which allows me to pick up the children from school,” she added.

On March 9, Precision learned it had won the Ernest Weimann Top Job Silver Awards for Outstanding Craftsmanship in the Art/Sculpture category, presented by the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metal Association, for the third year in a row - some added bling for what Vincent calls a building project’s “jewelry” that his company produces.

Dunwoody Real Estate Trends??

After yesterday's snide remark regarding Realtors, let me show them a little love today. I know several people selling houses and have witnessed my neighbors house go under contract in about 30 days, so that they can trade up into a bigger Dunwoody home. It seems that Dunwoody remains a hot market even in these slow times, but maybe I'm just guessing? The AJC says that we have lost some median price but I was told that is was caused by the high number of sales in the condo and town home market along with drastic price reductions to move those units but I couldn't confirm that statement. If there are any real estate professionals out there reading this, please feel free to comment on the over all Dunwoody market conditions and feel free to give yourself a plug.

The photo above is from Zillow and shows houses currently on the market and this link shows those who recently sold. When I was selling my first home in Dunwoody and researching for my current home, I used Zillow first and then moved over to for the usually better pictures.

There are many fine places to live in Dunwoody and my family is very happy in the Dunwoody North Subdivision which is in South East corner of town, close to I-285, North Peachtree Road, Tilly Mill & Peachtree Industrial. Amenities besides the great transportation links, we walk to Brook Run Park, Peachtree Charter Middle School & Chesnut Charter Elementary School; have an active Swim/Tennis and as the father of three boys who enjoy baseball & football, it is also relatively close to Murphey Candler Park.

My friends Mike & Diana who live on my old culdesac are selling their beautiful 4 BR home with a pool so if you know someone who is looking to buy, I highly recommend this house as well as the street because the neighbors can't be beat.  The short culdesac is also hopping with activity with numerous young families and they would enjoy seeing a little boy or two move on to the block to equal out the little girls.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Agenda for May 24, Dunwoody City Council Meeting

Monday, May 24th
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
7:00 p.m. - Watch Live

Work Session Agenda
at 6 pm
Voting Meeting Agenda at 7 pm

Administration of Oath of Office to Council Member-Elect Doug Thompson.
Administration of Oath of Office to Officer Chris Forman.

Public Hearing: for the codification of Chapter 21, Signs, and Chapter 27, Zoning, of the City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

SECOND READ – Ordinance to adopt City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.

SECOND READ – Ordinance to amend Chapter 21, Signs, and Chapter 27, Zoning, Article III, Overlay District Regulations, §3C-13, Regulations.
Public Hearing: Amendment of Zoning Classification of 121 Perimeter Center Parkway (RZ 10-041) from OI to OCR.

SECOND READ – Ordinance to amend the Zoning Classification of 121 Perimeter Center Parkway (RZ 10-041) from OI to OCR.

Public Hearing: Authorization of a Special Land Use Permit at 121 Perimeter Center Parkway (SLUP 10-041) to exceed two-story height limit to allow for existing three-story office building.

SECOND READ – Ordinance to authorize a Special Land Use Permit to 121 Perimeter Center Parkway (SLUP 10-041) to exceed two-story height limit to allow for existing three-story office building.

SECOND READ – Ordinance to amend Chapter 16 Offenses and Violations re: Noise.

Brook Run Conservancy overview by Bill McCahan.

Art Festival Update.

Public Hearing - City of Dunwoody 2030 Comprehensive Plan.
Public Hearing & First Read - Ordinance to adopt the proposed 2010 Millage Rate.

Resolution to appoint members to the Sustainability Commission (Sean Doughtie, Anne Hicks, Elizabeth Hudson).

Contract with Atlanta Regional Commission for Livable Centers Initiative grant for Dunwoody Village.

Executive Session - for the purposes of legal, real estate, and personnel discussions.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Residential density in the City of Dunwoody

Monday night the Dunwoody City Council held a special called meeting to discuss the Comprehensive Land Use Plan that the residents have been discussing for about a year. Most of the discussions were centered around the future building heights and development densities of the Georgetown (Shallowford) and Dunwoody Village areas. These two character areas along with the most of the other character areas set maximum requirements that are rather low as a starting point so that developers will need to go in front of the council in order to go above those baseline thresholds.

For example, several members of the City Council wanted the suburban neighborhood density capped at no more than four units per acre which is about what most of the character area is currently built as and I have no problem with that being the basic standard. That being said, a quarter acre building lot will also price many people out of the Dunwoody market and it doesn't allow other housing types like cluster homes or custom craftsman homes on smaller lots. It is my belief that the city's housing stock should have various types and various lot sizes in order to offer a wider variety. For example setting the maximum density at four units per acre in the suburban neighborhood area wouldn't allow for the housing innovations that created wonderful subdivisions like Brook Ridge, Oxford Chase or the Briers North subdivision off Tilly Mill famous for their trick or treating. If we want to make Dunwoody a place where we can "age in place", doesn't it make sense to offer private home ownership where one does not have to cut a quarter acre of grass? I need to assure myself prior to Monday's scheduled vote on the comp plan that we have an over ride process in place to allow these types of housing innovations if deemed appropriate to do so.

The Georgetown and Village areas will be going though a Master Plan process that will take the Comp Plans 40,000 foot view and will then zoom in to plan those two areas almost block by block, therefore I am comfortable that the process put in place by the initial comprehensive land use plan, will be further refined to what the community wants.

What I am not comfortable with from Monday night is the area that has received the littlest attention yet may have the biggest impact on the city and that is the Perimeter Center area. Unlike the other character areas which list allowable zoning densities, this area does not; instead it only says our vision is to "implement and compliment the framework plan and projects identified in the Perimeter Center Livable Centers Initiative study (LCI) and it's five-year (2005) updates" as well "creating the conditions of possible true "live-work" environment, with a downward trend in the jobs-to-housing ratio from 6.2 in 1990, to 4.5 in 2012".

In reviewing the the text of the Comp Plan for Perimeter Center and comparing it against the literal reading of what is in the 2005 Perimeter Center LCI study, I believe that more safe guards need to be implemented to place the power to grant increased residential density to the city council vs an esoteric statement in the comp plan stating that we want to implement the LCI study, when the whole premise of that very document is promote the unbridled growth of residential density that we now want to control. The LCI plan has been very successful over the last ten years and I believe now is the time for the city to step forward before we rubber stamp this growth the way DeKalb County did previously.

Our second land use goal on the last page the Comp Plan for Perimeter Center talks about school capacity being addressed and working with the Board of Education, but to me that one line doesn't provide definitive protection against unbridled growth, therefore it is my belief that the entire Perimeter Center section of the Comp Plan needs to be revisited and reworked to put the power of proper development back into the hands of our city leaders and the citizens they represent.

To make it easier to follow what I am saying, I have trimmed down both the 2005 Perimeter Center LCI study and the current draft of the Dunwoody Comprehensive Land Use Plan to only include those sections that deal directly to Perimeter Center.

For the record, I do believe that Perimeter Center is the economic engine that drives the entire city, I consider myself pro-smart growth development and want to see a thriving area filled with offices, hotels, convention centers, retail and residential of various types but I also want to see parks, playgrounds, libraries, green space, and proper restaurants to serve their needs as well as schools, roads and transportation infrastructure that can handle the residential capacity. Is that too much to ask?

All that being said, I'm probably still not being endorsed by the Atlanta Board of Realtors?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dunwoody's Fidel Espinoza named DeKalb Bar Association, Police Officer of the Year

Officer Fidel Espinoza

Watch the award presentation.

On 5/13/10, Officer Fidel Espinoza was named Officer of the Year by the DeKalb Bar Association for his heroic effort championing the Christmas for Kids program in 2009. CFK's brought the Dunwoody community together and put a smile on the faces of over 100 children who received many gifts, had a great party and had a brighter Christmas because of Officer Espinoza.

Congratulations Fidel, the Citizens of Dunwoody are truly blessed by your presence and I know that your fellow officers look up to you as a leader on the force.  Thank you for your dedication and fine service to the community.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Video of May 17 Dunwoody City Council - Transfer of Parks and Comp Plan goes live with survey results and parks photo contest.

Photo Contest Theme - Parks

Photo Terms of Use_Final

Branding Survey Results 

Dunwoody City Council goes for the parks and discusses Comp Plan at Monday Meeting.

Monday, May 17th
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
7:00 p.m. - Watch Live
 Special Called Meeting Agenda


Discussion of City of Dunwoody 2030 Comprehensive Plan for transmittal to the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Department of Community Affairs. (Vote on the 24th)

This special called meeting was originally called to discuss the Comprehensive Land Use Plan that has already been approved by both the Community Council and the Planning Commission but with the signature of the Governor to HB203 the council has decided to start the process on the transfer of some of the park properties along with the fire station that only serves the Dunwoody Community.  The items listed during this meeting is not all inclusive but they were chosen to start the ball moving.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dunwoody Tidbits - Doug, Beer, Charter Cluster, house for sale, and free outdoor movie tonight.

 Dunwoody Councilman, Doug Thompson

Congratulations to Mr. Doug Thompson for being elected (as the sole candidate) to the Dunwoody City Council.  Doug will be sworn in after the scheduled July 20th election even though it is just a formality.   I look forward to working with Doug.

Dunwoody Beer Fest is happening today from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm at perimeter Mall

I agree that the Charter Cluster School System is doable, needed, and it's the future of public education in our community.

A friend is selling their home and figured I would help. This 4 bedroom / 3 bath with a full basement and a pool is located just blocks from Vanderlyn and is being offered at $400,000.

Movies Under The Stars tonight, Saturday May 15 at Honeysuckle Park The City of Doraville presents a great classic "The Wizard Of Oz" Gates open at 7:00 and the movie begins at sunset on a giant 30 foot screen no charge. Door prizes and face painting, balloons, and games for the kids. So bring your chairs and blankets, picnic basket and plan to have a picnic on the lawn .Concessions available.

Friday, May 14, 2010

City of Dunwoody receives $460,000 grant for Safe Routes to Schools.

Just 12 days after the City of Dunwoody was created, a group of citizens with the help of the City, the DeKalb County School System and the DeKalb County Police Department submitted an application for infrastructure improvements to encourage children to walk to school.  Today the city was officially notified half a million dollars of infrastructure improvements around Kingsley Charter Elementary School.
ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Transportation announced awards of more than $4.6 million to improve bicycling and walking conditions to 31 schools around the state. The federally funded grants are administered through the Department’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.

“We’re pleased to announce these funds which will help communities provide a safer environment for students and parents to walk or bike to school, which ultimately reduces congestion and air pollution in the school vicinity,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr. “An added benefit is increased physical activity of our children.”

Georgia DOT received 65 applications totaling more than $23 million. Projects were carefully selected to represent each Georgia Congressional District. The selection process for this program involved extensive review and comment by the SRTS Project Review Panel that included a diverse group of professionals with expertise in several areas including project planning, community development, community health and engineering. The next call for projects will be in the fall.

The following school systems/schools received infrastructure funds:

City of Dunwoody: $459,333.00
Kingsley Charter Elementary School

Safe Routes to School is a national program to improve the health and well-being of children by enabling and encouraging them to walk and bicycle to school. With the support of parents, schools, community members, local, state and federal government, sustainable programs can be implemented. The program evaluates built environment around schools, conducts activities and funds projects that improve safety, reduce traffic and air pollutions in the surrounding area of the school. As a result, this program makes walking and bicycling to school a safer and more appealing transportation option. Further information about the program is at

The Georgia Department of Transportation is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia’s economy and is sensitive to both its citizens and its environment. Additional transportation revenues are imperative to grow and sustain Georgia's economic vitality and quality of life through the 21st Century. Georgia is the 3rd fastest-growing state in the nation, yet 49th in per capita spending on transportation. For general information on the Georgia DOT, please visit

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dunwoody City Council - long meeting / short update

Dunwoody City Council work session started at 7 and executive session ended around 11:15, so it was a long evening.

Key updates - upset to learn that my video failed about 50 minutes into the recording but here is the start of the meeting. I do know that people (including Chris Pike the City Finance Director) were watching online for some if not all of the session.  I am really looking forward to someday having the City take over the recording and streaming video of all meetings with a possible replay on Comcast.  (I'm told that day is coming but it can't get here fast enough for me.)  I would also love to have the streaming video of all Community Council, Planning Commission and ZBA meetings but we will wait to see what the city staff recommends.

Doug Thompson qualified on Monday for the district three City Council seat and I'm interested in seeing if anyone else will step forward.  Someone said I scared off anyone who was semi-interested with my blog from yesterday and my reply was if they were only semi-interested then they shouldn't be applying.

Was told that Gov Sonny Perdue signed HB203 into law on Friday allowing the transfer of parks and bond money to Dunwoody. Expect conversations between the city and residents regarding Dunwoody's park and recreation priorities to begin soon.  Expect a fight with the County over the funds promised to Brook Run.  My first priority for the parks is the safety of the facilities and I was reassured that this is also a priority of the staff once we take over.

Was told that our Safe Routes to Schools grant application that the City and Kingsley Charter Elementary School submitted when the city was less than 30 days old was just approved and it may mean up to $460,000 in capital improvements around the school; i.e. sidewalks.  Look at our original application.

In other Safe Routes to Schools news, the next time you drive down Peachford near Peachtree Charter Middle School; take a look at the new ADA ramps that now line the street.  Perfect for strollers, little kids on bikes, wheelchairs and those who can't deal with the curbs.

The city's first quarter financial statement looks good and on track.

Improved 911 services could cost the city up to an additional $500,000 to switch to a flat fee service offered by John's Creek and Sandy Springs.  Starting our own, could cost even more?

The Dunwoody Comprehensive Land Use Plan was to be discussed but there wasn't the time available to do it justice therefore Council will have a special called meeting for next Monday to discuss just that.

Maybe it's just me but I don't understand the passion that some members of the community have over signs.  I missed last meeting where the issue was discussed for two hours and will need to listen to that prior to next meeting where I will be voting on the issue.  Tonight's discussion regarding the Art Festival Signs seemed silly to me and would have been completely mute if we the City Co-Sponsored the event as I now believe we should have.  That being said, I am interested in hearing from the business community adjacent to the festival as to their personal financial success at the event.  Everything I saw and heard from the event was positive but am looking forward to a full analysis.  I do know that my family really enjoyed the event.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wanted - Dunwoody Public Servant who lives East of North Peachtree Road

Qualification begins today at 8:30 a.m. for filling the vacant City Council seat left by Councilman Tom Taylor when he decided to run for Fran Millar's open seat on the Georgia House of Representatives. To anyone who is thinking about running, let me tell you that serving on the City Council is personally rewarding on so many levels and that I am honored to be serving all 40,000 Dunwoody residents on the Council but that being said, the amount of work and dedication that it takes to properly serve can also be overwhelming at times.

First, my wife is a Saint for putting up with my schedule and my boys are starting to learn that having a Dad on the City Council sometimes means that they have to share my time with others who might also want to talk to me. If your family isn't behind the decision, don't do it.

Be prepared to stop reading for pleasure and start reading technical ordinances for how the proposed laws will affect the Citizens of Dunwoody once passed, yet you will also need to have the foresight to question what will be the unintended consequences of the proposed ordinance 5 years from now.

Be prepared to work closely with the other members of the Council as we are all very different and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Over time, you will find your own niche on the council, utilizing your special skill set whatever that may be and with time the members of the council may come to trust your judgment in that specific area. Make your presence known in the campaign, then on the council since we (I) actively want your assistance and therefore we want to get to know you and your strengths as fast as possible.

Prepare to communicate with those who look to you for leadership, be it through personal interaction, e-mail replies, personal phone calls, monthly e-mail blasts, daily blog posts or whatever form of communication works personally for you.

If elected, you will be serving as the local District 3 representative and you must be ready to represent all the residents living in the district, not just your subdivision and not just the people who specifically voted for you. You will be directly representing thousands of people who live in apartments, people of different generations, faiths, ideologies, cultures and various socio-economic levels different than yourself, therefore if you cannot attempt to leave your biases at the door in order to openly serve the needs of the community as a whole. Please don't apply.

As a local representative elected by only the Citizens of District 3, you should steadfastly represent your district yet you should also have the vision and conviction to serve the greater good of the City as a whole. As a resident of District 3 myself, if you can't walk that fine line; I would prefer you didn't run.

If you think serving on the City Council means just two meetings a month, you're kidding yourself. I attend the monthly DHA meetings to gauge their opinions on various topics; the Community Council sees most big issues first with the Planning Commission weighing in after that and I must stay attuned with everything they do. The Board of Zoning Appeals, Sustainability Commission, Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau all make decisions and/or recommendations that directly affect the future of the City. I read the Dunwoody Crier every week from cover to cover with added emphasis on the Letters to the Editor, I read the Dunwoody and DeKalb related blogs as well as many of the comments; in order to get the pulse of the community. Finally I read city related e-mails on a daily basis (sometimes late into the evening) because if I skip a day or two the number of e-mails to review will be overly daunting. Being well informed is one of the more difficult aspects of the job and it takes quite a bit of time to do it properly.

Though the City Manager and his staff run the day to day operations of the city, it is the Mayor and the City Council who are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in this City and I feel that I (we) must stay well attuned to what is happening on all fronts. If there is criticism of city services, policies or employees such as the actions of a police officer, I see that as a personal criticism of myself and my oversight. I take pride in all that the City of Dunwoody has become and it is my hope that those who decide to run in the current election will have the same dedication that the Mayor and current members of the Council have.

If I haven't talked you out of running for city council yet, I look forward to serving with you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Treat Mom and the entire Family to the Dunwoody Arts Festival

Dunwoody Village
Sunday, 12:30PM to 6PM.

The Festival had an estimated 30,000 visitors on Saturday and there is something for everyone there including Live bands and a dedicated children's area.  Don"t miss it.


Free parking and shuttle are available at the satellite lot located at 200 Ashford Pkwy. Shuttles run regularly between Dunwoody Art Festival and 200 Ashford Pkwy. Look for the "Festival Parking" signs. Hours for the shuttle are Saturday from 9:30AM to 9PM and Sunday from 11AM to 7PM.

Parking for those with disabilities

Limited parking for visitors with motor scooters or wheelchairs is available in the Shops of Dunwoody Parking lot.

How to Get There

Via I-285W, take exit 29 for Ashford Dunwoody Road. Turn right at Ashford Dunwoody Road. Continue 1.8 miles and turn right on Mt. Vernon Road. Continue .5 mile and turn left at Dunwoody Village Parkway.

Via I-285E, take exit 29 for Ashford Dunwoody Road. Turn left onto Ashford Dunwoody Rd. Continue 1.8 miles and turn right on Mt. Vernon Road. Festival will be on the left.

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 10th City Council Work Session - Comp Plan, Budget update & 911 to be discussed.

Monday, May 10th
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
7:00 p.m. - Watch Live
Work Session Agenda

1. Economic development presentation by Don Beaver, President of Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
2. First quarter financial statements.
3. FIRST READ – Ordinance to adopt City of Dunwoody Code of Ordinances.
4. FIRST READ – Ordinance to amend the Zoning Classification of 121 Perimeter Center Parkway from OI to OCR.
5. FIRST READ – Ordinance to authorize a Special Land Use Permit to 121 Perimeter Center Parkway to exceed two-story height limit to allow for existing three-story office building.
6. Discussion of text amendment for OI zoning district.
7. Enhanced 911 Emergency Communications Service Provision update.
8. Discussion of Georgetown Master Plan.
9. Discussion of City of Dunwoody 2030 Comprehensive Plan for transmittal to the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Department of Community Affairs.
10. Avoiding conflicts of interest on zoning matters discussion.
11. Discussion of signage for special events.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dunwoody Arts Alliance - this weekend May 7th & 8th at Dunwoody High School

The Dunwoody Arts Alliance at Dunwoody High School cordially invites you to Evening of the Arts 2010

Friday and Saturday May 7th and 8th • 6:30 pm
$7 adults/$5 students
5035 Vermack Road • Dunwoody, Georgia 30338

DHS is welcoming the entire Dunwoody community to celebrate our student’s achievement in the arts.  This event will build on the success of our first Evening of the Arts which was held last May to much community acclaim. Evening of the Arts 2010 will offer:
· Two full evenings - May 7 and 8
· Red carpet entrance with photos
· Displays of student art, photography, and our award winning yearbook
· Live music and dance performances by students from many local elementary schools, Peachtree Charter Middle School, as well as Dunwoody High School.
· Poetry Readings from our Literary Magazine students
· The Broadway Musical Crazy for You complete with a Live Pit Orchestra to cap off the evening (included with admission)
· Dessert for purchase

So, please plan to "walk the red carpet" at Dunwoody High Friday or Saturday evening (or both)! Tickets are only $7 adults and $5 students.

Denise Cohen and Janet Caputo Co-Chairs of the Dunwoody Arts Alliance, coordinating organization for the event.  For information email

Audio of DCPC and City Council Meetings as well as various other blog updates

Today's Bike Rack @ Dunwoody Elementary

April 26 & 29 City Council Meetings

Last week I missed my first couple City Council meetings since the city began and though I wasn't there, I did take steps to have the precedings recorded.
04262010_work.mp3 - agenda
04262010_Voting_Session.mp3 - agenda
04292010_Signs_Meeting_Special.mp3 - Notice
Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council of May 5

I attended Wednesday mornings DCPC meeting and as I have a tendency to do at public meetings, I recorded it in order to share the presentation with my neighbors. Councilman Robert Wittenstein was there as were Tammy Anderson and Tom Taylor who are both candidates for the state legislature.

I was very impressed with the candor and honesty of Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson. I won't attempt to give a complete recap of the meeting since the new Dunwoody School Daze blog did such a nice job, but the full audio of the meeting can be found in the links below.
Today was also a DCSS Budget committee meeting and there is a recap here.
Misc Dunwoody Blog updates
Today after I walked my son to school, I attended the Dunwoody Green Market and seemed to buy everything Donna Nall bought except that I also bought Lavender soap and Jalapeno jelly.  On Sunday, Donna & I also spent some quality time at the the Dunwoody Nature Center with our families supporting the Odyssey of the Mind team.  Be sure to look for (and financially support) the team at the Children's area of the the Dunwoody Art Festival this weekend.

I haven't talked to Mayor Wright about his position on eduKALB but I am thankful he is there and I like the goal of the organization.  I don't have much insight but some members of the community do have questions on the organization, fund raising and intentions of the DeKalb Chamber.

Besides buying everything in sight at the farmers market, I'm looking forward to spending some money at the Dunwoody Art Festival this weekend.

 The Dunwoody Crier has nothing to fear regarding me or any other blogger on the net.  Bloggers are opinionated blowhards who use the media to reach out to our five or six readers whereas the Crier owns every driveway in town with professional reporters covering in depth the stories that are important to this community.  The rest of us are just hacks - and we know it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Walking Wednesday

This Wednesday - May 5th - is Dunwoody Walk to School Day.  All of Dunwoody's public elementary schools will be hosting a "Walking Wednesday" event, and it is our hope to have the streets of Dunwoody lined with hundreds of students and parents walking to school.

Then go meet with DeKalb County School Board reps at Peachtree Charter Middle at 9 am

Come explore the Secret Gardens of Dunwoody - May 14 / 16

Secret Gardens of Dunwoody

Friday, May 14, 10 am - 3 pm
Saturday, May 15, 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday, May 16, 1 pm - 5 pm

Gardeners looking for inspiration for their own gardens and nature lovers in general won’t want to miss the seventeenth annual Secret Gardens Tour benefiting the Dunwoody Nature Center. Five beautiful hidden gems are open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 14-16. Garden sizes range from a charming cottage garden to a beautiful three-acre garden that has been featured in many magazines.

Picture-perfect masses of flowering trees and shrubs, a gazebo, a Koi pond, garden art, lake and river side trails, a garden house, heirloom climbing roses, woodland paths, a bamboo pergola, hidden arbors and plentiful bird feeders are only a few of the enchanting attractions that grace the gardens.

The highlight of this year’s tour is an inviting journey through the gardens of Roger and Cindy Bregenzer. On these 3 acres, you will enjoy an herb garden in a fenced courtyard, a hidden garden leading to a wooded area, several outdoor living areas adorned with over 120 varieties of plants -- all surrounding a charming 1852 home and log cabin.

Other private gardens opening their gates for the 2010 tour include Jimmy and Gloria Lee's small but perfect artist's garden, Ray and Gail Moss's wildlife sanctuary, Ted and Annette Davis's exquisite garden on a lake, and Tony and Joy Greene's woodland trail to the river. Artists from the Dunwoody Fine Arts Association will again be painting in the gardens this year. Guests will also be invited to the new Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run, where members will be on hand to answer questions.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 during the Tour. Purchase tickets call 770-394-3322, go online at, or in person at Dunwoody Nature Center or the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce.

DeKalb plans a county-wide redistricting instead of closing schools. - AJC

DeKalb school closures delayed a year

DeKalb County parents will have to wait to find out the long-term fate of their schools. For now, the county will not close any of them this year.

In a total reversal from last week, the school board voted unanimously on Monday night to delay school closures.

The board now plans to conduct a county-wide redistricting and close 10-12 schools next school year, interim superintendent Ramona Tyson said.

Last month, the board voted on a tentative budget that included $115 million in cuts, including closing four elementary schools to save $2.35 million. Monday’s vote removed the school closings from that budget, which is up for approval next week.

The board now will scramble to find another $2.35 million in cuts or consider a property tax increase, board chairman Tom Bowen said.

The board’s reversal came after school officials met with a representative of the state Department of Education on Friday.

“The state indicated we need to have a comprehensive solution and look at all schools,” Bowen said.

The district now has about 11,000 empty seats. Closing a dozen schools will save the district $10 million-$20 million and bring in additional state funds for renovations to the remaining open schools, Bowen said.

Tyson called for the meeting with the state because of a tenuous relationship with the previous administration, including former superintendent Crawford Lewis and former chief operating officer Patricia “Pat” Reid, formerly Pat Pope, board members said. Both are subjects of a district attorney’s investigation into possible misconduct involving the district’s multi-million dollar school construction program.

Lewis, who was terminated last month, was the one who initially proposed closing four schools this year and another eight next year. However, he never consulted the state about that plan.

“We weren’t as open and transparent as we needed to be with the state,” Bowen said. “We didn’t match our plan with theirs. If we’re going to go through this closure process, let’s do it right.”

On Friday, school officials learned they would receive more state funding if they closed all of the schools at once, Bowen said.

Bowen said it was the state’s advice – and not the hundreds of complaints from parents – that led to the board’s decision to delay closures.

Hundreds of parents have spent the past two months protesting school closures. Many complained that the district was looking to close only schools in south DeKalb, which included primarily African-American students. The majority of the district’s 11,000 empty seats are in south DeKalb, school officials said.

“I’m not tone deaf to the people of DeKalb County. My vote was based on the feedback I got from the people of DeKalb County,” said board member Eugene Walker, who has argued for redistricting and delaying school closures.

Bowen said he hopes parents will be more receptive to the closures now that they have more time to digest them. Administrators are scheduled to bring a proposed redistricting and 12 possible schools for closure to the board by Sept. 15.

The board will look at some of the recommendations made by the Citizens Planning Task Force, a 20-member group of residents that spent several months reviewing data to help identify schools for closure.

However, the task force likely will not be involved in the redistricting because of the September deadline and the amount of work that needs to be done, board members said.

Eric Stanfield came to the meeting to criticize the board for moving forward with closures. Instead, the parent was thankful for its latest position.

“I congratulate you on not closing any schools,” he told the board. “When you start closing schools, it drastically affects what goes on around those schools, whether it be housing or businesses.”

DeKalb County School Board Members and Interim Superintendent come to Dunwoody to discuss topics that affect the schools in our community.

Jim Redovian & Pam Speaks



Topic: DeKalb County School System Update

Ramona Tyson - Interim DCSS Superintendent
Jim Redovian - DCSS Board of Education Representative, District 1
Pam Speaks - DCSS Board of Education Representative, District 8

WHEN: Wednesday - May 5th, 2010
WHERE: Peachtree Charter Middle School
4664 North Peachtree Road
Dunwoody, Georgia 30338
TIME: 8:45am - 10:30am

Beverages are served at 8:45am - Meeting start at 9:15am
Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month UNLESS NOTED