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


Rick said...

ZBA, the most powerful Board/Committee in the city!

Bob Fiscella said...

They certainly do have a lot of power!