Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dunwoody Budget, Pattie Baker & the Brook Run Garden, Property Tax Comparisons, Fran Millar, Anthony Delgado & Kasim Reed

The City of Dunwoody just released the very impressive, final 2011 budget book for the city. Even though I know the budget numbers and the great work the city has done in the first two years, it is the City's Mission, Vision and Values that moves me every time I read them. Check them out.  Pdf version here.

Pattie Baker was spotlighted in an AJC article regarding the impact that she has had the City's Sustainable practices, the creation of the Dunwoody Community Garden as well as the impact that the garden has had on the lives of so many people. In a related article, Dunwoody Patch quotes a number of concerns that I heard from residents as well as Pattie that the Dunwoody Community Garden would be forced to move once the master plan for Brook Run was completed. Though I fell behind in replying to e-mails over the holiday due to both the flu and festivities, this is what I wrote to council regarding my thoughts on the Garden. "Months ago I went on the record of stating that the garden should not move and I stand by my previous comment. I was assured that what was discussed at the Brook Run planning meeting was going to be blended in with all of the other interviews and focus groups. If the garden is in the final plan to be moved, I won’t be approving it unless through public hearings and other correspondence the opinion I have now of what the community wants, changes my opinion."

Dave Bearse over at the Dorablog did a nice three part segment on various cities property tax comparisons when looking at the millage rate as well as the amount of Homestead Exemption and then other city fees for things like sanitation, storm water, street lights and franchise fees. No matter what city or unincorporated area you live in, all DeKalb residents are affected by our bond rating being downgraded because now borrowing this $36 million will cost more, therefore expect more water rate increases to do the upgrades they intend to do because of "cost overruns".

Fran Millar gives a preview of What to Expect in the State Legislature and states we can’t ignore the HOPE crisis any longer

A reader e-mailed stating that he wanted to make a modest donation to help Anthony Delgado with his efforts for feeding the homeless, but didn't know how to do so. Tax Deductible Donations can be sent to Anthony via his website, http://www.mybrothers-keepers.org and there is a nice video clip here if you want to see what Anthony does 7 days per week.

Finally I thought this was worth sharing, NY Times Op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman singled out Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as a new breed of leader for the tough decisions that Mayor Reed has made to attempt to lead the City of Atlanta into solvency.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is the Georgia Music Hall of Fame moving to Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody?

The application by the Dunwoody Music Conservancy to bring the Georgia Music Hall of Fame to Dunwoody was released in an open records request late last week to the Athens Banner-Herald newspaper.  The Dunwoody proposal shows that Perimeter Mall will be the initial home while the permanent location on Ashford Dunwoody at the Spruill Center for the Arts is constructed.

Download Dunwoody Application

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Video of the December 13th Dunwoody City Council Meeting

As far as a recap, everything that had a vote, passed and the items up for discussion had mostly positive comments by council. The only two items that had mixed to negative comments were the item to reduce the distance between residential zoning and establishments that sell alcohol via a SLUP process and the sunset provisions for legal non-conforming signs. Both of these ideas (at least in their current form), will not be returning.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dunwoody City Council Meeting Agenda for Monday December 13th at 7 pm

Monday, December 13th
Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East
Dunwoody, GA 30346
7:00 p.m. - Watch Live
Agenda for Special Called Meeting

Could the Dunwoody Post Office be saved by expanding the 30338 zip code?

Could we save the under utilized Dunwoody Post Office by giving it more work?  What if the residents of 30360 were able to vote to become part of 30338, do you think they would be interested?  We are exploring the idea and would like your feedback either here on the blog, in an e-mail or in person on Monday night.

Read the Full Proposal Here.

Dunwoody dicusses Alcohol, pervious surfaces / back yard vehicles, sunset provisions of nonconforming signs and an IGA for sanitation.

Monday night there are 26 items on the agenda and I am guessing there may be an executive session as well therefore it will be a long night.  Besides the Zip Code item that I am posting separately, I figured I would post the most contentious and/or interesting items for your reading pleasure.

Several items are coming back a second time because the council (and various citizens) weren't happy with the language in previous versions of the proposed changes.   Allowing alcohol closer to the residential neighborhoods is being proposed under a Special Land Use Permit and the definition of the word paved is also returning to us to allow the use of pervious materials, which will then allow all residential zones to have bigger houses and structures. The issue on this item revolved around cars being parked on the property and this document mentions that a future text amendment on the item may be needed, so I thought I would bring it up.

Now that the Dunwoody Sign Ordinance is in place, Council wanted research on sunsetting the use of non-conforming signs and staff has returned with information.

Finally the last item is a one year extension of the current IGA for DeKalb County to continue providing Sanitation Services at the same price.

Feel free to give feedback on these items.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

2nd Anniversary and Various Dunwoody Updates.

On December 1, 2010 the City of Dunwoody celebrated its two year anniversary and a reporter called to ask me what I thought were the two biggest benefits gained by creating our own City, as well as two negative outcomes, if any. I immediately stated that the City of Dunwoody was created to allow local control to its citizens while providing the same or improved level of service that DeKalb County was offering at the time of incorporation, all while continuing to maintain the same tax rate that we had at incorporation.

I stated that the City of Dunwoody has successfully delivered on that promise by bringing the government closer to the people, with local elected officials who live in our neighborhoods and who attempt to get direct feedback from the citizens prior to making important decisions. We have improved services while holding the line on the tax rate whereby the City of Dunwoody currently has the lowest tax rate in DeKalb County.

As far as any negative aspect regarding the creation of the City of Dunwoody, I laughed and turned the question around by stating, that is like asking what would have been better if DeKalb County was still our local government? I said that absolutely nothing comes to mind therefore I only see the positives to the City of Dunwoody but if residents have a different opinion I would want to hear it. I am personally proud of our (Council and Residents) collective accomplishments for the last two years of setting up a government that works, proud that I have had a hand in shaping an open and transparent administration whereby information is actively pushed into the community for discussion and above all I am truly privileged to serve. Thank you.

In other miscellaneous news, a new RFP (Request for Proposals) was released for consulting services related to the City’s bidding process for municipal service providers (Finance, Community Development and Public Works). The three initial contracts for City services are up at the end 2011 and we need an outside contractor to assist us with this process since the people who normally do this work would also be bidding on the work.

Thursday night is the Dunwoody Community Council meeting whereby they will be discussing the rezoning application for the Blockbuster property in the Williamsburg shopping center to be rezoned to commercial thereby allowing a fast food restaurant, along with a drive-thru at that location. Prior to becoming a city, rezonings would go in front of the DHA for initial review along with negotiated property design changes, then it would go in front of the DeKalb County Community Council for a thumbs up or thumbs down recommendation to the DeKalb Board of Commissioners. Today developers still want to stand in front of the DHA as they have done for many years in order to receive the organizations coveted approval with the hopes that it will smooth the process with the city. The DHA decision has no official standing with the City, but that being said these Dunwoody residents have many years of zoning experience between them therefore their recommendation will be hard to dismiss. Thursday starts the official city vetting of the rezoning as the matter will go in front of the Dunwoody Community Council who is comprised of residents who look at it from the general community perspective and then it goes in front of the Planning Commission who looks at it from the planning and development perspective. It won't be until January when the City Council will finally conduct its first hearing on the matter but both the Community Council and Planning Commission meetings are open to the public and allow input to be given from the community.

I missed Tuesday night's meeting on proposed water rate increases but I saw some nice video on Fox5 that I thought was worth sharing. What I didn't see mentioned there, in another AJC article or in an article on Dunwoody Patch was the tie in to the vote taken Tuesday for the 36 million in recovery bonds that will be used to upgrade the water system. Will these bonds now be paid back with the proposed water rate increases or out of new line item for bond repayment? Will we be hit twice? One way or another these bonds will be paid.

On Saturday December 11th from 9 am until Noon is a very important meeting discussing the future of Dunwoody Parks and the on going Parks and Green Space Comprehensive Plan. The City wants your input on park redevelopment, possible land acquisitions for future park space, staffing options, operations management, revenue sources and maintenance plans. It will take place at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 4755 North Peachtree Road which is located directly across the street from Brook Run Park. There is also a Parks survey that all residents should be completing, it is located here.

I have advertised this service before but the City of Dunwoody is truly offering some cutting edge technology to its residents with SeeClickFix?   Don't believe me, check out this Fast Company article detailing the software that is available for most smart phones. Click the appropriate following link if you would like to download the software to your device - Blackberry users - iPhone users - Android users.

My favorite night out & charity event with the wife was just announced for Friday February 4th and I'll be looking for a large group of our friends to join us. Great food, good atmosphere and even a better cause, the Taste of Dunwoody at the W Hotel. The Crier had a nice article about the event in today's paper, maybe I'll see you there?

The PCID (Perimeter Community Improvement District) is gathering information on a Livable Centers Initiative Survey which asks for residents opinion on cultural/entertainment and green space preferences within the Perimeter area. It is a very short, one page survey that can be found here.

Congrats to Dunwoody Elementary Student Trey McGurk who had his Artwork Selected for Children Healthcare of Atlanta's Annual Christmas Card.

The DeKalb County School System 2020 Vision Update presented a summary to the Board of Education and it is now available online. The DCSS also has an on-line survey which will allow you to indicate the 10 characteristics that you believe are the most important in the selection of a Superintendent candidate.

My parents are coming to Dunwoody this coming later this week for a visit and I am looking for a few holiday events to take them to. I am thinking about attending "A Christmas Survival Guide" presented by the Stage Door Players and I think my Mom would especially enjoy Handel's Messiah at Dunwoody United Methodist Church on 12/12 at 4 pm. Another theater event they may like is the JCC's Center Theaters production of Hairspray and I think my Dad would enjoy joining me and the boys to the Dunwoody / Chamblee basketball game this Friday night at Dunwoody.

Any other suggestions?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dunwoody PD release a sketch of a suspect wanted in the double murder on Peeler Rd.

The Dunwoody Police Department continues to investigate the tragic deaths of Roger and Dorothy Abbott who were murdered in their home on July 1, 2010. The Dekalb County Fire Department responded to a fire at their home on Peeler Rd and their bodies were subsequently discovered. Detectives with the Dunwoody Police Department have worked tirelessly on the case since the beginning. The department has worked closely with other agencies, including the ATF, Sandy Springs Police Department, FBI and GBI in our efforts to catch the person or persons responsible for this crime.

At this time, there is no evidence which suggests this crime was random. Instead, the evidence gathered suggests the victim’s may have known the suspect or suspects. During the course of this investigation, Detectives collected and processed evidence, followed leads and conducted interviews. A witness was located who saw a white male between the ages of 40-45, sandy red to brown hair, slim to medium build, average height wearing a light colored T-shirt, walking in the front yard of the Abbott's home the morning of the murders. A sketch of the suspect was developed. The sketch is above.

At this time, we have identified a person of interest in this case. Because of the sensitive nature of this investigation, we are not naming this person of interest at this time. However, we are moving forward with our investigation and will continue to work toward arresting the suspect or suspects responsible.

We recognize the reluctance of witnesses, particularly ones associated with a Homicide investigation, to come forward. Witnesses may be reluctant to come forward for a variety of reasons. They may be apprehensive, may not want anyone to know they spoke to the police or just may not want to get involved. As a result, the Dunwoody Police Department acquired “TipSoft”, a web based program for citizen’s to leave anonymous tips On-Line, or through text messaging via their cell phone. The program is available by accessing our web-site, www.dunwoodypolice.com and click on “SUBMIT A CRIME TIP”. You may also access “TipSoft” through www.crimereports.com. If you submit a tip on-line, you will be provided your own unique identification number so you can check the status of your tip at a later time. If you plan to submit a tip with your cell phone, you will text “DPDTIPS and your message” to 274637(CRIMES). Once you send the message, you will receive a confirmation text.

Once a tip is submitted, it will automatically be sent to the Dunwoody Police. These tips are confidential, encrypted, and completely anonymous. The technology routes all messages through a server that encrypts cell phone numbers before they reach the police. The program also allows an encrypted, two-way dialogue between the tipster and the police.

Do not submit any emergency tips on-line. If it is an emergency, please call 911.
We believe that unknown person or persons have information about this case which could help us solve it. We ask that this person or persons come forward and contact our department immediately by calling us or contact us anonymously through our web tip or text tip program.

Meeting Tuesday to learn about water and sewer rate increases of 13% next year, and the next year and then the following year too.

Water & Sewer Projects Information Meeting

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Dunwoody City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East,
Dunwoody, GA. 30346

County watershed experts have assessed the water, sewer and infrastructure needs and have identified critical capital improvement projects that are needed over the next five years to ensure our water supply is adequate and safe for drinking, fire protection, our anticipated growth and development, and that the county is in full compliance with all state and federal regulations.

The meetings will provide an explanation of the repairs and upgrades needed and the proposed fee structure to pay for the program.

5 yr Capital Projects, Proposed Rate Increases and Presentation

DeKalb County has identified more than $1.4 billion in critical capital improvement projects that are needed in its water and sewer system over the next five years.

These investments are crucial to the health and welfare of the residents and businesses in DeKalb County. They provide for the continued supply of safe drinking water, adequate fire protection, opportunity for continued growth and development, and comprehensive wastewater collection and treatment, in full compliance with all state and federal regulations.

The County operates one of the larger systems in the Southeast U.S., serving more than 730,000 people each day, and more than 20,000 businesses, with more than 2,600 miles of water lines and more than 2,600 miles of sewer lines. All of the County’s drinking water is treated at the Scott Candler Water Treatment Plant; the County’s wastewater is treated at 3 locations: the Snapfinger Wastewater Treatment Plant and Polebridge Wastewater Treatment Plant on the South River, and the R.M. Clayton Water Reclamation Center (operated by the City of Atlanta) on the Chattahoochee River.

The County’s treatment plants, as well as thousands of miles of water and sewer pipes, need significant repairs and upgrades. For example, the Snapfinger Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in 1963, and has not had substantial upgrades since 1983; the Polebridge Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in 1973, and was last substantially updated in 1990. Extensive work is necessary to address aged conditions, satisfy tightening federal and state regulations for water and wastewater, and plan for future demands due to growth. Among the critical types of improvements are the following:

• $378 million to rebuild, upgrade, and expand the Snapfinger Wastewater Treatment Plant.
• $65 million to upgrade sections of the Polebridge Wastewater Treatment Plant.
• $38 million to upgrade the Scott Candler Water Treatment Plant.
• $179 million to repair, replace, and update parts of the water distribution system.
• $600 million to repair, replace, and update the wastewater collection system.
• $82 million to begin water reuse and to return treated wastewater to the Chattahoochee River, per state water planning requirements.
• $36 million for vehicles and equipment necessary to deliver repairs and improvements to the water and wastewater systems

To finance the cost of the capital improvements program, it will be necessary to raise water and sewer rates each year by 13% for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014 which amounts to an increase of approximately $8.00 to $11.00 per month for the average household each year until 2014. Investing now in the water and wastewater systems will ensure that DeKalb County maintains reliable water and sewer services for current and future generations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dunwoody Homeowners Assoc. to discuss Chick-fil-A & Kroger on Sunday and here are the applications on file.

Though I do not officially sit on the Board of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, I also don't miss many meetings. As an elected official I see it is an invaluable meeting for me to attend as it gives me pulse of where the community is on various subjects that may come in front of me at some time in the future. This Sunday is a good example as the rezoning and variance applications of both Chick-fil-A and Kroger will be discussed, debated, tweaked and maybe voted up or down by the private organization.

I saw the Community Council Public Notice in the Crier (the legal organ of the City of Dunwoody) regarding Chick-fil-A which told me that they had officially filed an application and then I was forwarded the DHA agenda for Sunday and saw it was up for discussion. In order to assure myself that the DHA and the general pubic was well informed prior hearing the presentations on Sunday, I requested from the Community Development Staff copies of the applications so that I could publish them here.

Chick-fil-A rezoning application materials.

ChickFilA RZ 10-121 Application.pdf
ChickFilA RZ 10-121 Existing Site Plan.pdf
ChickFilA RZ 10-121 Proposed Site Plan.pdf

Here is the Kroger special exception and variance application, due to be heard in front of the ZBA January 6, 2011 at 7 P.M.

Kroger SE 11-011 Application.pdf
Kroger ZBA 11-012 Application.pdf
Kroger ZBA 11-012 Cover Sheet Amendment.pdf
Kroger ZBA 11-012 Landscape Plan Amendment.pdf
Kroger ZBA 11-012 Site Plan Amendment.pdf
Kroger ZBA 11-012 Tree Protection and Replacement Plan Amendment.pdf
Kroger ZBA 11-012 Vicinity Plan Amendment.pdf

These are the files associated with Chick-fil-A’s variance request, due to be heard in front of the ZBA on February 3, 2011.

ChickFilA variance ZBA 11-022 Application.pdf
ChickFilA variance ZBA 11-022 Existing Plan.pdf
ChickFilA variance ZBA 11-022 Proposed Plan.pdf

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gifts for the Earth - a free family event this Saturday at the Dunwoody Nature Center from 10 to Noon.


Thank you for inquiring about the Gifts for the Earth event at the Dunwoody Nature Center. Here is the history behind it. For more than a year, I had been wanting to give a gift to the new City of Dunwoody. When I learned of the "Gifts for the Earth" event and that it would cost money for each child who wanted to participate, I decided this was the gifting opportunity I had been searching for. Earlier this year, I made a donation to the Dunwoody Nature Center from my family's Foundation (The Gendell Family Foundation) in honor of my mother. Brian and I tripled that donation with a gift of our own for the "Gifts to the Earth" event so that families could make "gifts to the Earth" for free. Nature is very important to us. Brian and I are both avid birders and have several busy bird feeders in our back yard. We wanted to share the joy of birds and nature with the children in our community. It is our pleasure to give this gift to the citizens of Dunwoody.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our story.

Adrian and Brian Bonser

Gifts for the Earth
Saturday, December 4
10 am - Noon
A Family Program Sponsored by Adrian and Brian Bonser and the Gendell Family Foundation
Turnabout is fair play: make something special for the earth that gives us so much. Create natural animal feeders and other gifts for the creatures who call Dunwoody home. Make one for Dunwoody Park and take one home to share with people you love.  Walk the trails, explore the wetlands along our boardwalk, and enjoy the fall foliage from our treehouse learning pavilion.

This FREE family program is sponsored by Adrian and Brian Bonser and the Gendell Family Foundation. Marion Gendell and her late husband, Gerald Gendell, established the foundation to make philanthropic contributions supporting Jewish organizations, the arts, education and medical research.  Their daughter, Adrian Bonser, continues the family’s support of education, including the environmental education programs of Dunwoody Nature Center.  Councilwoman Bonser and her husband Brian chose to sponsor Gifts for the Earth because they believe in the mission of the Center and wanted to make a gift to the City of Dunwoody. As a result, there is no charge for participating in this fun family event.

Dunwoody Nature Center is located on the grounds of Dunwoody Park.
5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody

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DeKalb Champion Story - Slain Dunwoody man was a ‘big dreamer’

Atlanta Regional Commission recognizes Dunwoody as a Certified Green Community

Fifteen local governments -- nine cities and six counties – are certified under the Green Communities program for implementing policies and practices that reduce their overall environmental impact. Below is Dunwoody's information about its green initiatives and here is a link to see what the other fifteen communities are doing.

City of Dunwoody

Certified December 2010
City of Dunwoody encourages green building by offering expedited permitting reviews for projects that achieve LEED, EnergyStar, EarthCraft, or WaterSense for New Homes certification or include the installation of solar projects or pervious paving materials. Purchasing policies give preference to environmentally friendly goods and services, including recycled content paper, folders, and other paper goods, green cleaning products. The city has also replaced disposable goods with products that are re-usable, recyclable, or compostable. The green fleet policy provides preference to the purchase of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. So far, 34 flex fuel police vehicles have been purchased. Curbside recycling is available to all residents and commercial customers for paper, plastics, and metal and glass containers. Through the Safe Routes to Schools Program, the city works with the five elementary schools in Dunwoody to improve the walking and biking environment around the schools and increase the number of students that bike and walk to school. The Dunwoody Sustainability Commission, established in 2008, has developed a public awareness and education campaign on Dunwoody’s sustainability efforts through the use of brochures, business cards, stickers, T-shirts, and social networking.

Description of all of Dunwoody's sustainability measures (pdf)