Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm; City News

This weekend is the calm before the storm that is the November 2 elections, which is this Tuesday.  Being somewhat of a political junkie, I not only love keeping up with the local races, but the national races as well.  One of my favorite websites is  Real Clear Politics takes all the polling and averages them out to give a general idea as to how all gubernatorial, senate and house races are leaning.  And its map pages (like the one below) are fascinating.

At present, RCP has the governor's race in Georgia leaning Republican.  The average of the four polls RCP uses has Nathan Deal (R) with 48.3%, to Roy Barnes (D) at 39.7%.  RCP lists the senate race in Georgia as safely Republican, with Johnny Isakson (R) leading Michael Thurmond (D) 59.3 to 30.7

Dunwoody Open Houses for Parks & Green Space

The City of Dunwoody will host two Open House events for the Parks and Green Space Comprehensive Plan.  These Open House meetings will include an introduction of the planning team and Lose and Associates, the firm selected to aid the City in the completion of the Parks and Green Space Comprehensive Plan. The meetings will also include an explanation of the planning process, a summary of existing conditions, and information on future public participation opportunities.  For more information, click here.

City of Dunwoody Receives Golden Shoe Award

The City of Dunwoody is honored to receive a 2010 Golden Shoe Award from the Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS) organization in recognition of efforts to make Dunwoody a pedestrian friendly City. This is the first Golden Shoe Award for Dunwoody and a strong acknowledgement of its dedication to all pedestrian safety and accessibility issues. The City will officially receive the award in a ceremony held on November 10 at Georgia State University.  For the full story, click here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Branding Change; Chick-fil-A; School Board Race

Notice anything different about the City of Dunwoody's new brand?  Less than a week after the brand was unveiled, it has undergone a change (apparently for most residents - at least according to my informal poll - it hasn't changed enough).  The tag line "Smart people - Smart place" has been replaced by "Smart people - Smart city."  The reason for the change?  The City of Plano, Texas already had the rights to the "Smart people - Smart place" line, so Dunwoody was either had to make an adjustment or face a potential legal battle (wonder why Sky Design, the company hired by the city to come up with the brand, wasn't aware of this?  Will Sky be refunding part of its reported $50,000 plus fee).
For more on why Sky and city officials chose this as the brand, read the news release by clicking here (and when you do, you'll be greeted by the city's new website design).

Chick-fil-A Meeting

I was unable to attend the Chick-fil-A pre-submittal meeting last night at Dunwoody Community Church.  Folks that did attend tell me it was more of an informal gathering than a meeting.  Ever-present Councilman John Heneghan did make the meeting, and has much more on his blogsite including a site plan.

School Board Race

Jim Redovian
Someone who has worked very closely with the DeKalb County School Board in the past says Dunwoody should be very concerned if Jim Redovian is not re-elected to the board.  This person tells me that while Redovian should have been more proactive in oversight of superintendent Crawford Lewis, having a Dunwoody resident on the board has been a major plus for schools in our city.  He says don't underestimate what Jim did in getting Dunwoody Elementary School built, as well as for his role in the renovation of Dunwoody High School.  He says the Dunwoody schools got a lot more attention because of Jim's commitment to his home base.

Nancy Jester
Meantime, challenger Nancy Jester, who is in a neck-and-neck battle with Redovian for the seat, read my recap of Tuesday night's DHA candidate forum, and had this to say in response.

"Given the limited time we had to publicly address the various issues, I would like to give you some additional insight into my thoughts about redistricting. The process in the past was flawed and was not based on well-designed demographic studies or proper forecasting methods. Redistricting is never easy but given the flawed process that the community was faced with, I understand the reaction. I think the more important point is to ask why the system was "not in a position to redistrict right", as Mr. Redovian stated. The bureaucrats and BOE failed the communities in this regard. We need new, competent and motivated Board leadership to bring about reform."

To read the Nancy's full response, click here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chick-fil-A; Dunwoody Village, Councilman Wittenstein

It is a busy evening in the City of Dunwoody.  There is a pre-submittal community meeting at 6:30 pm at Dunwoody Community Church, located at 2250 Dunwoody Club Drive.  The purpose of the meeting is to present the plans for rezoning of the old Blockbuster site located at the southwest intersection of Dunwoody Club Drive and Mt. Vernon Road to allow for a proposed Chick-fil-A restaurant.  Informal polls indicate that neighbors like the idea of a Chick-fil-A, however does the addition of another drive-thru restaurant fit with the developing Comprehensive Plan?  The meeting should last about an hour. 

Dunwoody Village Meeting

Dunwoody Village
The city will be hosting the second of four community meetings to discuss the Dunwoody Village area at 7:00 p.m. at Dunwoody Baptist Church in the Chapel, which is located at 1445 Mount Vernon Road.  If this meeting is as interactive as the first one - it is definitely worth your time to attend.

The meeting is part of the development of a Master Plan for the Dunwoody Village area, which will provide a framework to guide land use, transportation, and open space improvements over the next 10-20 years. At this meeting, participants will interact in small groups to discuss land use, transportation, parking, open space, and pedestrian circulation. Your input is needed!
For more information, please visit the City’s website at and click on “Dunwoody Village” under quick links.

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

Robert Wittenstein
Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

There is one Dunwoody city item on the November 2 ballot and I’d like to encourage you to vote NO on it. The item is as follows:

City of Dunwoody Homestead Exemption

"Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from City of Dunwoody ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by eliminating the automatic sunset so that the exemption continues indefinitely?" H.B. 1319 Act 562

This item is well-meaning, but in my opinion, misguided. If passed, it will set up the Dunwoody tax code so that new residents pay more taxes than long-time residents.  (click here to read the entire letter from the councilman).

Trunk N Treat

Even the nasty weather couldn't stop St. Luke's Church from holding its annual Trunkin' Treat (kids Trick or Treat out of the trunk of parents cars) on Wednesday evening.  The party was moved inside, and the kids never missed a beat!   Congrats again to Catherine Anne Thomas and Laura Singley on another job well done.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Candidates Forum; City Branding

If you were expecting fireworks from the Dunwoody Homeowners Association forum on Tuesday night at United Methodist Church - you were sadly disappointed!   There were some poignant exchanges between the candidates, but it was a civil, honest debate on the issues.    

Nancy Jester
  Almost 100 residents attended, and first heard from the candidates for the hotly-contested DeKalb County School Board, District 1 race.   Nancy Jester and Dunwoody resident Bobbe Gillis are challenging incumbent Jim Redovian.  Ms. Gillis comes across as a very likable, concerned mom, but clearly this is a race between Redovian and Jester.  And the first question dealt with the contentious issue of redistricting within Dunwoody.  
All 3 candidates agreed that it will happen.  Jester said she doesn't want it to be political (like it was 3 years ago), and that a professional demographer will play a large role in redrawing "common sense boundaries."   She said board members should not jump in.  She also said that hopefully mom's won't be dropping off children at three different schools, more than hinting that Dunwoody Elementary will likely switch from a 4th/5th grade school to K-5.
Jim Redovian
Redovian defended "jumping in" three years ago.  He said at that time "the county was no where in position to do (redistricting) right, didn't have the right numbers and information, and it would have been a disaster."  (Redovian had a large hand in changing the controversial lines originally drawn by then superintendent Crawford Lewis and his lacky Pat Pope).
Redovian defended his record over the last 4 years, saying he wasn't a member of the board when Lewis was hired, and he has said "no" more than anyone else on the nine-member panel. 
Jester spoke about how this would be a full-time job for her, and that "we're going to have to have a change of leadership if we're going to have a change of trajectory" in talking about the increase in under performing schools across the county.

State Senate, District 40

Fran Millar
The debate between Republican Fran Millar and Democrat Eric Christ, battling for the state senate seat being vacated by Dan Weber, opened with the best line of the night, courtesy of Christ playing off his last name.  "I'm the guy responsible for all the green and white signs causing you to say, 'why is he running for this seat and not jumping right to president!'" 
There are no polls on this race, but clearly it's Millar's to lose.  The district is largely Republican and in DeKalb County - Christ lives in Gwinnett.  Millar is a 12-year veteran of the state house who counts, among his top accomplishments, getting an addition $26 million in federal funding for DeKalb County Schools after the school district dropped the ball.  Each spoke of the need to intergrate the metro area's public transportation system, with Millar advocating that MARTA be taken over by the state.  Both candidates stressed the need to solve the state's water issues, Millar saying we should think out of the box.  In exchange for Tennessee giving up water rights, Millar suggested Georgia could build a high-speed railway from Atlanta to Chattanooga.

Eric Christ
On the topic of alternative energy, Christ snapping off another great one-liner.  He said "Georgia is not a great place for wind, except what comes out of the gold dome (state capitol)!"
When the topic of a proposed Milton County came up, Millar said he would not vote in favor of it unless Dunwoody was part of it.  Christ is not in favor of the formation of a new county, saying we don't need more government.

 State House, District 79

Tom Taylor (L) and Keith Kaylor discuss issues
Former Dunwoody City Councilman Tom Taylor scored big in his debate against underfunded Democrat Keith Kaylor for the state house seat being vacated by Millar.  Taylor spoke of his successes as a member of the Dunwoody council, from spearheading the city gaining control of its parks to helping start-up the police department, which he called "the finest in the nation."   The soft-spoken Kaylor has run for this seat before, but posed only token opposition against Millar.  

The elections are next Tuesday, November 2.

City Branding Takes Beating
The City of Dunwoody's new branding contains the slogan, "Smart People - Smart Place."   But according to my unscientific poll, there's nothing smart about it.  More than 85 percent of those that weighed in said they either disliked the new brand or hated it!
Among the comments I received were, "may I just say that the fact that we spent money on this is unbelievable to me" to "this is horrible and does not in any way communicate the warmth and uniqueness of Dunwoody – it feels very institutional and cheap (reminds me of Wal-mart) and the asterisk feels like an afterthought."  But here's the comment that, perhaps, best sums it up, "I think it is obnoxious and pretentious! Ughh! Did we spend a lot of tax dollars to get that???"

Interesting to note, Plano, Texas uses the same slogan.  If we're lucky, a restraining order will force Dunwoody to make a change.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Candidate Debate

The mid-term elections are just one week away, and this evening is your chance to hear the local candidates on the stump in a debate/forum sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association.   I encourage you to attend, especially to hear the three candidates for the DeKalb County School Board position.  The winner of this seat will have a large say in how your tax dollars are spent, and where your children go to school. 

Dunwoody's new brand
So what do you think of Dunwoody's new brand?   The city, along with its branding partners, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Dunwoody (CVBD), and the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, launched its new brand Saturday night at the Dunwoody Music Festival. 
What is the early response from Dunwoody residents?  You be the judge.  Thus far, John Heneghan has received 38 comments on his blogsite, and most of those who responded are not impressed by the logo and slogan.  The company Sky Design was hired by the city to come up with a unique branding, but many feel they simply stole Walmart's asterisk and the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce's type set while billing the taxpayers for $60,000.
As for "Smart people - Smart place," someone asked, "are we saying that the rest of the cities in Georgia are dumb?" 
I'll have to admit I'm underwhelmed.  I think we would have been better served by asking the students at Dunwoody High School, as a project assignment, to come up with our branding.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dunwoody Music Festival; Update from Councilman Shortal; Dunwoody Singers at Hawks Game

This Saturday and Sunday at Brook Run Park is the first annual Dunwoody Music Festival.  The festival not only includes an array of music from mostly local bands, but a Chili Cook-Off, a fireworks show on Saturday night and the unvailing of the city's new branding.  For the complete schedule, click here or on the photo above.  This morning's edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution had a nice story on the festival.

By Bo Emerson

Look at Dunwoody, only two years old, and growing up fast. 
Having acquired all the trappings of a modern urban center, now Dunwoody is stepping up to give Atlanta a run for its money.

So, you miss the Midtown Music Festival, which disappeared five years ago? Come to the Dunwoody Music Festival, a two-day smorgasbord of musical acts playing country, rock and roll, jazz, a capella vocals, bluegrass, beach music, folk, opera, flute choir, big band, percussion and pretty much every musical form except polka. The festival begins Saturday, from 10 a.m. to dusk, and continues Sunday, noon to 6 p.m

Julie Gribble on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Organizers expect up to 20,000 visitors to Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park, also known as Liane Levetan Park, with events also staged at Georgia Perimeter College and some churches.  They describe the festival as a good way to grow the community. But there is also the suggestion that Dunwoody will jump in if Atlanta offers an opening. Click here to read the full story.
Click here to read the full story.

Among those performing at the festival is homegrown singer-songwriter Julie Gribble, who recently performed live on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson (click on the photo above to watch).

Update from Councilman Shortal

Fellow Citizens ... The following are some items of interest:

1. Voting ... Election day is 2 NOV 2010 and IMO this is one of the most important elections in recent history. On 2 NOV you can vote at your normal polling place. To see a complete ballot for your polling place go to ... Prior to election day there are other ways to vote:

Dennis Shortal
a. You can vote in person absentee at the DeKalb County Election Headquarters at 4380 Memorial Dr (just inside I-285) thru this Saturday (yes Saturday) from 8 AM to 5 PM. You can do advanced voting from 25 OCT to 29 OCT from 7AM to 7PM at the same location.
b. From 25 Oct to 29 OCT additional advanced voting places will be open ... the closest one to us is the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad St, Chamblee, GA 30341 and the hours are 7AM to 7PM.
c. You can also go to the following website for the form to fill out to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you ... Absentee Ballot Application .... send you request to DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections, 4380 Memorial Dr, Decatur, GA 30032. A ballot will then be mailed to you. Fill your ballot in and mail it back. Remember your ballot must be received by the close of business on 2 NOV 2010 to be counted.
d. You can call also call DC at 404-298-4020 to request an Absentee Ballot Application be sent to you and when your application is received follow the directions in (c) above for returning your application and ballot. Remember the 2 NOV deadline above.

As I have said before all of us have been to the polls and have heard of few, if any, of the candidates that are running for an office. Please take it for what it is worth ... the following are the candidates I will be supporting and that I believe are worthy of your consideration:  (to read the rest of Councilman Shortal's update including his endorsements, click here).

Dunwoody Singers to perform at Hawks Game

The Dunwoody Elementary School Singers will be singing the National Anthem at the Atlanta Hawks game against the Milwaukee Bucks at 7 pm on January 11th.  The school is selling tickets in section 309 for $21, which includes a free Joe Johnson jersey!  Contact Mrs. Miller at the school for more information.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am not a great picture taker (part of why I hire a professional to take my real estate photos), but I did capture the photo above yesterday of the Hooch at Rivermont Park, off Barnwell Rd. just north of Holcomb Bridge. What an amazing day to be outdoors - and expect more of the same all week. There is a 30 percent chance of rain on Wednesday morning, but otherwise the 7-day forecast calls for highs in the 70's and lows in the mid-40's.

Dunwoody Transportation Plan

The City of Dunwoody is holding a community workshop tonight at city hall to discuss the comprehensive transportation plan. If the meeting is similar to the ones on Georgetown and Dunwoody Village - it will be worth attending. Those meetings were truly interactive. Click here for more information.

Archbishop Bids Farewell

All Saints Church bid an emotional farewell to Archbishop Emeritus John Donoghue on Sunday. The 82-year old Donoghue, who is retiring to St. George Village in Roswell, has been at the Dunwoody Church since 2005 after yielding the top job in the Atlanta Archdiocese - a position he held for 12 years.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dunwoody High Homecoming

This is Homecoming weekend for Dunwoody High School. Yesterday was the homecoming parade down Vermack Rd., from Chamblee Dunwoody to the high school. This evening, in its homecoming game, Dunwoody (2-4) plays host rival Marist (5-1) at North DeKalb Stadium.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chick-Fil-A in Dunwoody

Are you in favor of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in the location of the old Blockbuster at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Dunwoody Club Forest? Chick-fil-A is in serious discussions with the owner of the property, and public meetings are forthcoming.

While some residents have expressed their concerns, Dunwoody Homeowners Association board member Dennis Crean took an informal survey to get the pulse of nearby neighbors. Dennis spoke with 35 residents - 34 said they favored the Chick-fil-A; one said they were not sure.

If the nearby neighbors are in favor - then so am I! The Chick-fil-A on Mt. Vernon Highway at Perimeter Point has proved to be a valuable asset to community, and from what I'm told, the same management team will run the proposed location at Williamsburg.

One of the issues concerning a Chick-fil-A at that location is increased traffic. The photo above shows a proposal by another member of the DHA (no, this is not in the plans, simply one man's thoughts) to re-route Jett Ferry Rd., lining it up with North Peachtree Rd. To do this, a corner of the old Ace Hardware would have to be demolished. I'm not sure the owner of the property would favor this, but it does, on the surface, seem to make sense.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Springfield Construction Update; Men's Night with The Crier's Dick Williams

The new construction at 4899 Springfield Dr. is well underway (elevation sketch above). The footings and foundation have been poured, and framing is scheduled to start next week. Builder/owner Ken Mooney tells me the 4-bedroom, 3-1/2 bath home will have 3,750 heated square feet on the main two levels, with 1,850 square feet in the basement. The home will be Energy Star-rated, and soon will be listed for $749,000. Ken has two similar homes in the Oak Grove area that are nearing completion - if a prospective buyer wants to view, first hand, the level of finishes (floor plans below).

Crier Editor Speaks at Men's Club
I was at the All Saints Men's Club dinner on Monday evening to listen to featured speaker Dick Williams, editor of The Crier, Dunwoody's neighborhood newspaper for over 30 years (Dick has owned the paper since 1996). Dick took a few moments to give me grief about my Longhorns two-game losing streak, but spent most of the night talking politics - his favorite subject. If you've never met Dick, it doesn't take long to realize he's as conservative as they come. On the national scene, Dick predicted the Republicans will pick up at least 50 seats to take control of the US House, and said the GOP will come close to gaining control of the Senate as well. For more of Dick's political views, watch The Georgia Gang on WAGA-Fox 5, every Sunday morning (of course you can also hear Dick sing with the church choir every Sunday at the 10:30 Mass at All Saints).

Monday, October 11, 2010

City Council Meeting; Dunwoody Real Estate

City Council Meets

The Dunwoody City Council meets this evening, a special voting session followed by the regular work session. The council is schedule to vote on the repaving of Dunwoody Club Forest, a join venture with Sandy Springs. Also there will be more discussion on Dunwoody's sign ordinance - if you've got sleep issues this is the part of the meeting you'll want to attend (Councilors, I say this in jest)! For detailed information on tonight's agenda, see Councilman John Heneghan's site.

Dunwoody Real Estate

There are currently 161 active listings in Dunwoody, in the 30338 zip code, ranging in price from $1,568,000 to $145,000. To view all of the active listings, click on the first link below. To do a CMA (comparable market analysis) of the active listings, click on the second link.

Buyer Short Report CMA Buyer

There are currently 17 homes under contract, which is consistent with our market statistics; right now, about one in 10 homes on the market is selling, which tells us that is it still very much a buyer's market and that not much has changed in the past 18 months.

What has changed is that interest rates are at all-time record lows. Currently, rates for 30-year fixed loans is under 4 percent! I never thought I would see that. If you need a reliable lender or know of someone buying or selling a home, please give me a call at 404.644.5220 or email me at

Friday, October 8, 2010

Variance Won, Police Release Interactive System

Hogan's Get Variance

It wasn't a standing-room only gathering at the Council Chambers of Dunwoody City Hall for Thursday night's Zoning Board of Appeals hearing. But it felt like it. And it felt like Laura & Ben Hogan, our neighbors at 4800 Summerford Dr., were on trial for their lives. The Hogan's have out-grown their home, and the only way they could comfortably remain in Springfield was an addition. But to add on to their home, the Hogan had to file for a stream buffer variance, as a large portion of the addition was within 75 feet of the "stream" that lines the east end of their property (see previous blog for more on the stream). The city had recommended to the ZBA that the variance be denied.

City Planner Howard Koontz handles such variances, and I believe Howard's denial of the Hogan's request was legitimate based on what is written in the code. Most everything Howard wrote in his decision was accurate (he did make a couple of mistakes, which he admitted at the hearing). However, while Howard's decision was based on strict code, it lacked some logic. As well as a little common sense. Howard wrote that there were other areas of the Hogan's yard, outside the stream buffer, which could easily handle the addition. That is true. However, to do so, the Hogan's would have to build their additional bedroom off the kitchen. Doesn't make much sense.

Howard also wrote, "The applicant is requesting permission to erect a structure almost entirely in the stream buffer." Again, Howard is correct. However, this is the crux of the matter. The stream in question is not a stream at all (although identified as a stream by our governing bodies). It is a ditch that only contains water after it rains. And within a couple of hours, the water is completely gone.

Well the seven-member ZBA, made up of respected Dunwoody residents, obviously let common sense rule the day. After hearing from an eloquent Ben Hogan, as well as neighbors Josh Sacks, Drew Engle, Ross Lane, Anne Davenport and Mike Volan, the board began its deliberations. In his opening remarks, board member Bill MaCahan said, "I've never seen such support for a neighbor!" Bill not only was referring to the 20+ neighbors that attended the hearing (all in favor of the Hogan's receiving their variance), but all the emails that poured in. The die was cast.

The board ruled 7-0 in favor of the Hogan's. And with that, expect the construction of their addition to begin soon!

Dunwoody Police Introduce Interactive Defense System

The Dunwoody Police Department is releasing a new web-based information system. The department has been testing Interactive Defense. It will greatly increase two-way communications between the Dunwoody Police and the citizens.

Some of the highlights of this program are:
  • Individual accounts for every resident to receive e-mails directly from Dunwoody officers.
  • Residents can choose to receive wanted person, missing person and suspicious person lookouts via text message, email or both. If someone has information, they can share it, anonymously if they choose to, directly with the detective/officer that is handling the case.
  • Residents will be able to enter and maintain their own vacation watches for their homes. These requests will go directly to the officers on the street. Residents will have the option of receiving text message, email alerts or both, as the officers are able to check their home.
  • Residents can enter their serial numbers into their “File Cabinet,” which stores them into a secure database. This information can be recalled later, by the owner, from any Internet connection.
The police department encourages all Dunwoody citizens to log onto: Live Interactions and create their account so the department can communicate more effectively and efficiently.

If you have any questions or concerns contact (678) 205-6470, or

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dunwoody E-Newsletter, Springfield Variance, Georgetown Master Plan

The City of Dunwoody's October E-Newsletter is out. To view it - click here or on the photo above.

Stream Buffer Variance

Tonight the City of Dunwoody's Zoning Board of Appeals will hear from Springfield neighbors Laura & Ben Hogan as the seek a stream buffer variance to allow for a very nice addition to their home at 4800 Summerford Dr. The city is recommending to the board that the variance be denied. However, the city, in its report, appears to have made a couple of significant mistakes concerning the addition. In the city's recommendation, it says the addition will be constructed within 25 feet of the stream (and I use the word stream lightly as water is only present in the "ditch" when it rains). According to the plans, the addition would be no closer than the current structure, which is approximately 55 feet. Huge difference. Also the addition does not include a massive patio within the boundary of the stream buffer (75 feet from any stream). The plans call for the patio to be outside the buffer and much smaller than reported by the city.

The way I see it, allowing the Hogan's addition is a "no-brainer" for Springfield residents. It not only increase the value of the neighborhood, but it does not encroach on any neighbor’s property and it does not compromise the characteristics of the neighborhood.

If you agree and have the time, please email the Zoning Board of Appeals (which the board welcomes) at and/or come to tonight's hearing at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers of Dunwoody City Hall, which is located at 41 Perimeter Center East, Dunwoody, Georgia 30346.

Georgetown Meeting

The City of Dunwoody held its 2nd public workshop on the Georgetown/North Shallowford Master Plan last night at Peachtree Charter Middle School. About 60 residents were in attendance. The meeting started with a summary of the survey residents completed during the first meeting last month. There was a total of 94 surveys. Councilman John Heneghan has posted all the results on his Dunwoody North blogsite. Click here for the 84-page Powerpoint presentation of the survey and how residents responded to a series of pictures - asked to score between 1-to-5 on what they would like the Georgetown/North Shallowford area to look like in the future. The presentation gets very interesting starting with slide 12.

After this summary, those in attendance broke into four groups of 10-15 people. Each group sat at a table with a facilitator. They were asked to place, within the Georgetown district, where they would like to see senior housing, residential housing mix use, civic buildings, and open space.

Looking at the results afterward, it was surprising to see the consistency among the four groups. Most favored senior housing (independent living, empty-nester type housing) in the area near the Atrium because of its proximity to Kroger and other shopping, or where the old Shallowford hospital was located.

Most saw civic buildings including city hall/police station in the pipe-farm area. Also, most wanted bike lanes and better pedestrian amenities along the major roadways. Many of the areas within the district were deemed to be long-term redevelopment opportunities because of current ownership. An example of this was the Georgia Power property and the old Shallowford School, which DeKalb County School System has showed no interest in selling. These areas were dismissed as being on any short-term redevelopment wish list.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

School Board Election; Kingsley Festival

As the November elections approach, one of the most important races is that for DeKalb County School Board, District 1. It is important because it not only concerns the education of our children, but how our school taxes dollars are spent as well as our property values.

Last week there was a candidate forum at Dunwoody City Hall which, I'm told, only a dozen or so people attended (video available on John Heneghan's website). There is another forum tomorrow, Thursday, October 7, from 6:30-9:00 p.m. at the DeKalb Medical Center, Main Campus, in the Hospital Theater Auditorium on the ground floor (click here for more information).

I will not be able to attend tomorrow night's forum, however I plan to go to the Dunwoody Homeowners Association's candidate forum at 7 pm, Tuesday, October 26 at Dunwoody United Methodist's Fellowship Hall. It will not only feature the three candidates for the school board post, but the two candidates running for our Dunwoody seat in the Georgia Senate and Georgia House. All the candidates for these positions have given written notice that they will be in attendance.
By the way, one of the best websites to keep up with Dunwoody schools is DeKalb School Daze.
Kingsley Fall Festival
Looking for cost-effective entertainment this weekend? Kingsley Charter Elementary School is hosting its Fall Festival this Saturday from 10am-2pm. For more information - click here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Update from Councilman Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
There is a lot going on in Dunwoody, all of it good.
We have begun work on master redevelopment plans for Georgetown and Dunwoody Village. Both of these are aging 1970’s strip shopping centers and will be ripe for redevelopment in a few years once the economy recovers. Keeping in mind that we don’t own the property in these commercial centers, this process allows us to develop a community vision outlining what we would like to see. We can then present this to the property owners and say, “if you build this, we will streamline approval.” It is an exciting process and it challenges us to think creatively about what we would like Dunwoody to be like in ten or twenty years. You can find out more, and provide input online, at these two links: Dunwoody Village and Georgetown.

We are deep in the budget process for 2011. We are not planning a tax increase for either homeowners or businesses. This will be the first year in which we have all of our revenue sources in place and we will have completed most of the expense associated with our city’s start-up. These numbers could change because we are still discussing the budget but it looks like we will invest $1.8 million in repaving (up from $750,000 this year), $350,000 in constructing new sidewalks (up from $170,000 this year) and an additional $200,000 in engineering studies to improve problem intersections (actual construction to be budgeted in 2012).

The biggest item for discussion is whether or not to expand the police department by ten percent with the creation of a new four-person unit focused just on traffic enforcement. This plan would ratchet-up the number officers enforcing our traffic laws and issuing citations It would also free up other officers to focus on crime and crime prevention.

Mayor Ken Wright gave a speech earlier this month at the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and challenged us all to start a dialog on parks. We are horribly underserved when it comes to greenspace. We have Brook Run, which remains largely undeveloped, and the Dunwoody Nature Center/Dunwoody Park ball fields—and that is about it. Our annual budget can provide operational expenses and very modest improvements to our existing parks. However, if we want to create new parks, develop Brook Run, create walking and biking trails and greenways it will require a commitment from Dunwoody residents and commercial property owners. That commitment would be in the form of a parks bond issue.
There are quite a few pieces of property available today at bargain prices because of the economy. We may have an opportunity to transform Dunwoody into a place rich in parks and trails. We can also develop and enhance Brook Run, the Dunwoody Nature Center, the Donaldson-Bannister House and the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center.

No one is talking about putting a bond referendum on the ballot in 2011, but we may want to engage in a discussion and perhaps move towards a voter referendum sometime in 2012 or 2013. Long before that, we will have public forums and develop ways for residents to provide their thoughts. We have started the process of putting together a long-term parks master plan which will help us see where we are and will allow us to look at what we may (or may not) want to implement. This is not something that will be decided by me, the mayor, or the city council; this would be something decided by the voters of Dunwoody.