Sunday, November 29, 2009

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

The following update is from City of Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein. Kudos to Robert - as well as Denis Shortal and John Heneghan - for keeping his constituents informed.

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
This is Thanksgiving weekend and I’d like to start by saying how thankful I am that Dunwoody residents have entrusted me with the responsibility to help lead our new city. I am humbled by the task and feel the responsibility deeply. I am often asked whether I’m enjoying my role as an elected official or whether it is what I expected. My answer is that it is time consuming but very rewarding. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to serve.
I am tremendously thankful for our city staff. They do the hardest job every day. Warren Hutmacher has done a phenomenal job as City Manager. He was a wonderful choice and has done a great job. We have a city that operates quickly and efficiently and provides excellent customer service. We have vendor/partners who are performing well and being held to a high standard of performance.
Tuesday, December 1st marks our one-year anniversary of cityhood and it is appropriate, I think, to take a look back and a look forward.
In our first year, our challenge was to set up the city and establish a world-class police department. Chief Grogan has done an excellent job building a department that is responsive, professional and dedicated. Public safety will always be our number one priority and our largest annual expenditure.
In our first year, we have also answered the question posed repeatedly during the debate over incorporation: “Can we operate the city at a higher level of service than we were getting from DeKalb without a tax increase?” The answer is a resounding yes. We will end the year with a comfortable budget surplus despite the start-up costs we had to incur.
In 2010 we need to focus on planning. Next year, we will complete our 20-year city-wide Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a Transportation Plan and detailed re-development plans for Dunwoody Village and the Georgetown/Shallowford area. These plans will help guide our long range future. We have two more public meetings planned for January to seek resident input and I encourage you to participate. I’ll publish the dates and times next month.
We also need to begin working on repaving. We are just completing a survey (done by a laser truck that has driven over every street in Dunwoody) of the condition of all our roads and next year we will begin repaving the ones in the worst condition. Road paving is done partly with city funds and partly with gasoline tax revenue collected by the state and distributed to local governments according to a complicated formula. We have submitted our paperwork to be included in the 2010 allocations but we do not yet know how much of the state funds we will have available. Getting this state money will drive the timetable for when we can begin repaving work.
Our other major challenge for 2010 will be to secure city control over the parks in Dunwoody so we can begin to rehabilitate them. The Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody Park ballfields, Brook Run, the Donaldson-Chesnut House and the DeKalb Cultural Arts Center all need much better ongoing maintenance and long-term investment through a capital spending program.
Happy Holidays to everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Listing in Springfield, City Council Meeting

There is a new listing on the market in Springfield - the home at 1657 Courtleigh (pictured). Click on the Buyer Brief Page for more information.
Tonight's Dunwoody City Council meeting could be very interesting. Among the items on the agenda: PUBLIC HEARING - Business Occupation Taxes Schedule of Fees. The council is being asked to vote on raising the taxes on certain businesses up to 400 percent! What do these businesses think about this? Not sure any of them know about it. I spoke with Councilman John Heneghan this afternoon, and as always John is doing his due diligence and is very concerned. Hopefully the rest of the council is doing its due diligence.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Burgers & Light Up Dunwoody

There's little doubt that the heart of Dunwoody could use a great burger joint that is family oriented and community friendly. If two of the city's residents turn their ambitious plan into reality - problem solved!
Ricardo Gonzalo and Matthew Gebhart have taken their idea of Village Burger to family and friends, and now have the financial backing to give it a go. It's just of matter of the numbers and location working out. Right now, the two entrepreneurs have targeted the vacant portion of the Calico Corners building on Dunwoody Village Parkway as the restaurant's site. A lease still has to be worked out, as well as a variance from the city to add an outdoor deck and a new curb-cut to allow right-hand turns into the parking lot.
Gonzalo and Gebhart's concept is a "fast casual" dining experience: walk to the counter to order; food is delivered to the table. The tentative menu has burger prices ranging from $4.49 to $6.49. Village burger will serve draft and bottle beer as well as wine by the glass or bottle. If all goes well, the new restaurant will be up-and-running by spring. Good luck guys!

A reminder that Light Up Dunwoody is Sunday in and around the Shops of Dunwoody. The schedule is below. Hope to see you there!

4:00pm Holiday Kick-Off Parade
4:30 DHS Marching Band
4:45 Dunwoody Elementary Chorus
5:00 PCMS Marching Band
5:15 Chesnut Chorus
5:25 Vanderlyn Dancers
5:35 PCMS Majorettes
5:45 Austin Chorus
5:55 Kingsley Chorus
6:05 Pure Elegance Dancers
6:15 Vanderlyn Chorus
6:30 Lighting of the Farmhouse

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Springfield Real Estate Activity

There are currently no homes on the market in Springfield, unless you include the home for sale on Womack Rd. (pictured, click on the Buyer Brief Page for more information).
In 2009 a total of 4 homes were sold in our subdivision, ranging in price from $975,000 to $247,000 (click on the Buyer Brief Page for more information).
In the City of Dunwoody in the 30338 zip code there are currently 158 active listings, ranging in price from $1.29 million to $200,000 (click on the Buyer Brief Page for more information). In the greater Atlanta area, the real estate market is showing an uptick from the last quarter, but pricing is still down approximately 14 percent from last year (AJC article today).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This past Tuesday night I attended the community meeting for the Comprehensive Plan concerning the Dunwoody Village Overlay District (which includes Dunwoody Village, the Shops of Dunwoody as well as the entire business district). The meeting was attended by 60-80 residents including Mayor Ken Wright, ever present councilman John Heneghan, along with his colleagues Danny Ross and Denny Shortal. It was an open forum, an exchange of ideas, on how we envision the area in 20 years (while the forum was open for all to speak, a couple of councilman and one mayor-wannabe acted as if they were being paid by the word, but that's neither here nor there). Do we want the Village to remain the same? Should we allow 3-5 story buildings which could increase greenspace? Do we want bike lanes?
While all of those questions received a variety of answers, one thing that was seemingly unanimously agree upon: citizens of Dunwoody don't want the roads widened to four lanes. The fear is that four lanes will only increase cut-through traffic. With all due respect to my fellow citizens, I'm not certain that widening roads and lowering speed limits in the Village - and only the Village - will increase traffic. But that's a topic for another day.
Bottom line, over the next several months, the citizens of Dunwoody have the opportunity to determine our own fate. There is a Powerpoint presentation of the meeting's agenda on the city of Dunwoody website. More meetings are upcoming.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is the City Spending Our Tax Dollars Correctly?

Is the city of Dunwoody spending our tax dollars as we would have them spend it? Is increasing the police department more important that improving our crumbling roads and infrastructure? It depends on your point of view. But if you want to read a terrific thread on the matter, click on The Crier link here and start reading from the bottom up. From the outside looking in, I cringe when I see additional officers being added to the department after just one year of city hood. History tells us, once government expands it never seems to contract. The genie is out of the bottle.