Sunday, February 28, 2010

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

The following is an update from Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein. In my next blog, I will tell you how I would vote on the issues if I were on city council (it wasn't for lack of trying, only lack of funding)! By the way Robert, how are you voting? Again, thanks for the update!

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
I've been spending time lately thinking about how much government regulation is the right amount and how much is too much. There have been several proposals or discussions in the last few weeks about enacting new laws or tightening up existing regulations. Not all of these have broad support on the city council, so many of these won't go anywhere, but some might.
Most of us worked to form the city of Dunwoody to improve the level of services and to gain control over zoning. Now that we are a city we need to establish the right level of regulation. Nearly all of us, me included, were in favor of new restrictions on bar closing times (from 4:00 AM to 2:00 AM). But what about other restrictions? Below is a list of several new regulations or increased restrictions that have been recently discussed:

Require all homeowners and businesses to display their street address so that it is easily viewable from the street.
Require all newly constructed single family homes to have sprinkler systems installed. (This is already a requirement for multi-family homes.)
Restrict people who live in subdivisions from parking their cars in front of their homes except for short periods of time.
Restrict the number of cars a homeowner can have in their driveway or visible from the street.
Make participation in the DeKalb recycling program mandatory.
Register, regulate and tax taxicabs and limousines that come into Dunwoody to pick up passengers.
Further restrict the times that a homeowner can have a landscape company working at their home or a construction company or roofing company can work anywhere in Dunwoody.

Which of these would you favor and which seem like government interference? I've gotten enough e-mails on all sides of these issues to know that what seems like government tyranny to some is an important quality of life or safety issue to others. What do you think?
On a somewhat related issue, next month the City Council will decide whether or not to allow Dunwoody homeowners to raise six to eight chickens in their backyard. There are already half a dozen families with children doing this in Dunwoody and their chicken coops are attractive and odor-free. The chickens are a kid-magnet in each neighborhood and the locally produced organic eggs are a prize in certain circles. Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Roswell, Atlanta and Decatur all allow small numbers of backyard chickens. The Dunwoody Planning Commission recommended approval unanimously. If you would like to learn more about backyard chicken raising check out this link.

Finally, I'm very pleased to report that we have been awarded a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) as part of their Livable Cities Initiative of $80,000 to help underwrite the cost of creating a new master plan for Dunwoody Village. The master plan will "develop strategies for transforming the area into a vibrant town center, including development of new parks, green space, improved commercial space, and traffic flow." It is very exciting and I look forward to lots of community involvement later this year when we hold public meetings to help establish the vision.


Rick Callihan said...

District 1 has two members on council, and both apparently have received emails on the chicken issue. One claims overwhelming opposition to a backyard poultry ordinance, and the other does not.

Do anti chicken folks email only one of their two council members or are we not hearing the entire story in regards to feedback on the issue?

Chip said...

so, after all is said and done, we only have "a half a dozen" families who have chickens!!!! And we've taken all this time and energy over this!!!

Why don't we get serious about signs and road improvements and move on!!!

I'm in District 2, but my councilfolk don't think it important enuf to grant access to themselves to their constituents, I guess.

John Heneghan said...

Bob, thanks for commenting on my blog and asking how I would vote on the issues raised by Councilman Wittenstein.

Robert raised a number of issues which were discussed in council within the last month and like he said many of these have little, if any support, therefore they may not be going anywhere. Council members are not allowed to discuss items away from the public eye therefore every once in a while an item is discussed at a work session to feel out the other members. Sometimes ordinances are drawn up based on the conversations had at the meeting and sometimes they die right there.

As far as the items brought up by Councilman Wittenstein, I am already on the record for the following items…

• Addresses should be encouraged for public safety but not a finable offense. The Dunwoody Police Explorers were doing this as a public service project a while back. I will look into it in order to see if it is still going on.

• I am against mandatory Fire Sprinklers for new single family homes constructed in Dunwoody, but am on the fence for single family cluster homes built close together.

• I am against any ordinance restricting on street parking.

• I am against any ordinance restricting driveway parking.

• I am against mandatory recycling since it is already available to those who want it. I would like to find a way to encourage apartment complexes and businesses to participate at a higher level since that is where I believe the biggest gains could be made at little or no cost.

• I am in favor of some oversight of the taxi cabs working in Dunwoody but as with all regulations, the devil is in the details.

A while back we had a taxi related issue come in front of us and in doing my due diligence, I compared taxi ordinances from what we originally adopted to that of our neighbors. What I discovered was that our regulations were vastly different from that of our neighbors of Doraville, Chamblee, Sandy Springs and many others.

Their regulations attempted to assure the safety and oversight of taxis operating in their city where as Dunwoody only attempted to oversee the companies physically headquartered within the City Limits of Dunwoody. The State of Georgia defers taxi requirements down to the City level and it appears to me that there is a hole in our regulations where we in the City of Dunwoody are deferring the safety of our citizens to other municipalities’ oversight (or lack thereof). Because of this, I asked for review of the language in order to assure that we had originally adopted was correct and proper. I have posted the various city ordinances down below to highlight the differences in jurisdictional oversight.

Dunwoody: A taxicab shall be deemed to be doing business in the City when its original terminus, that is to say, the place from which it operated and is subject to calls, shall be located in the City.

Chamblee: Any person shall be deemed doing business in the city under this chapter if such person is picking up passengers in the city and accepting or soliciting any consideration, charge or fee which is determined by agreement, by mileage, by the length of time the vehicle is used, or by contract for the use of any motor vehicle or other vehicle designed or used for the purpose of transporting passengers.

Sandy Springs: No person, firm, or corporation shall operate a taxicab in the city except in accordance with the terms and provisions of this article.

As far as the Backyard Chickens, I know this item will be coming in front of Council this month therefore I will hold judgment on the issue but let me say that I am looking forward to the presentations, discussions and public hearing. Thanks.