Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Petition to stop proposed toll lanes on 285 through Dunwoody is just a start as the City may need specialized environmental legal assistance.

The toll lanes are proposed by GDOT to directly impact our community, and to date, we know few specifics as the formal informational meetings haven't yet begun.  That being said, people are rightly worried, and a petition has been directed at the "decision makers" of GDOT and six local city councils, including the Dunwoody City Council.  In this case, the Dunwoody City Council does not get a vote for thumbs up or thumbs down but there may be ways during the public meetings for us as a community to influence the direction of the project to mitigate impacts on our citizens and I know the City Council will be fighting towards that end.

A couple of days ago, after seeing the petition cross my desk several times, I decided to add my name.   The author, Mr. Travis Reid immediately reached out to see if I had indeed signed the petition or did someone just spam my name.  Below was my reply...

"Yes Travis; I did sign your petition as I have taken public transportation almost every working day of my life since high school and I truly believe in it over just expanding the interstate. The plan being presented is additional lanes, and then there is a small chance of mass transit if the cities want to fund it. I believe this process is backward whereby mass transit should be the first discussion followed by other options like additional lanes after that.

That being said, I don't think a petition alone will stop the I-285 Top End project, it is not formal communication to the decision makers, therefore I believe more effort needs to take place at formal meetings once they occur.

As a local elected official, I currently have the same amount of information as the general public, whereby there may have been meetings with Mayors, but the information doesn't always flow downward.  I am looking forward to learning more.

As a Dunwoody City Councilman, I will fight to work with the project stakeholders to look for options to mitigate the effects on my community and I plan on being heavily involved where allowed to do so. We also need to carefully analyze the environmental impact statement as I believe this is the main way to effect the plans if not stop it completely."

What I didn't say in my reply is that I believe the City of Dunwoody needs to hire our own independent environmental impact attorney working on our behalf to guide us through the NEPA process and that on Monday I will be requesting the City Manager and Mayor to add targeted funds in the 2020 budget for this possible future expense.

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