Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dunwoody Real Estate; City Makes Purchase; Redistricting

Have you noticed a few new real estate yard signs popping up lately (including one of mine on Mt. Vernon Rd)?   It's that time of year where hope springs eternal.  The good news is that we have seen an uptick in the market as far as activity is concerned.  There are currently 24 homes in Dunwoody in the 30338 zip code that are currently under contract to be sold.  However, pricing remains flat, at best, or still in a slight decline. 
There are currently 144 active listings in Dunwoody in 30338.  To view any of these listings, with photos, click on the first link below.  The view the listings by price only, in descending order, click the second link.

City Purchases PVC Farm

The PVC Purchase (click photo to enlarge)
Some exciting news from the City of Dunwoody.  With the price of land as low as it's been in nearly a decade, and with the possibility that we will not see an opportunity like this again in our lifetime, the city has purchased the land between Chamblee Dunwoody Rd and Shallowford Rd, affectionately known as the PVC Farm.  I commend the city on this purchase.  It accomplishes two goals:  1) creating more greenspace within the city.  2) prevent more high-density housing from being built within the boundaries of the city.  The official release is below.

Dunwoody – February 24, 2011 – The City of Dunwoody has concluded negotiations with Wells Fargo Bank and will acquire a 16.18 acre property located at 4000 Dunwoody Park. The City intends to close on the property towards the end of April for a final sales price of $5,000,000. The property has been one of the focal points of the City’s on-going master planning effort for the Georgetown / North Shallowford area.

The property is bounded on the west by Chamblee Dunwoody Road and on the east by North Shallowford Road, a few blocks south of the intersection of the two roads. The property is zoned for a high-density, multi-family development and previous owners planned the development for 280 multi-family residential units.
Through the Georgetown / North Shallowford area master planning effort, and the previous Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the City received extensive feedback and input from the community indicating this area has an overabundance of apartments and this property could better serve the community as a park and civic or institutional use. The City’s purchase of this land ensures future development of the site will not further strain the local schools and road infrastructure with additional residential units.
The City intends to utilize the majority of the land to create a new neighborhood park. The City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, adopted in 2010, notes that the City currently has 3.23 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. Both the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and on-going Parks and Recreation Master Plan note that the City of Dunwoody suffers from a significant deficit of parks and open space compared to similar jurisdictions as well as when compared to National Recreation and Parks Association guidelines which suggest at least 6.25 – 10.5 acres per 1,000 residents. This purchase will start to close this gap and provide the Georgetown / North Shallowford area with a catalytic redevelopment opportunity and a signature park.

Mayor Ken Wright is thrilled by the prospect of adding parkland in Dunwoody. “The addition of 16 acres of park land is a watershed moment for Dunwoody and a generational game changer for the Georgetown/North Shallowford community,” said Mayor Wright. “The City Council and I are thrilled to jump start the revitalization of the Georgetown/North Shallowford area of Dunwoody and are relieved that this purchase will head off the inevitable development of the land for more apartments as well as help us move forward in our effort to eliminate our monumental deficit of green space.”

Public Meetings on DeKalb Redistricting

On Tuesday, March 1, 2011 and Thursday, March 3, 2011, DeKalb County School System will host public hearings regarding the Superintendent's Recommendations (February 7, 2011) for the Proposed 2011-12 School Year Redistricting and Consolidation plan. The public hearings will be held both days at 6:30 pm at the Administrative and Instructional Complex Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA 30083.

Ramona Tyson
The goal of the public hearings is to provide a fair and equitable opportunity for citizens representing all regions of the DeKalb County School District to comment on the Superintendent's February 7th recommendations concerning the redistricting and consolidation plan. DeKalb County citizens are encouraged to come out and express their opinion on the Superintendent's recommendation. Each person will have an opportunity to provide their opinion on a public comment form. There will also be opportunities for speaking. There is a PDF document on the DCSS website that outlines the process for the upcoming public hearings on March 1 and March 3. Beginning today, February 21, the team will start receiving calls and conclude taking requests by Friday, February 25 at 3:00 pm. Speakers will be notified by 5:00 pm on Monday, February 28, 2011 via email or phone.
We will place the date, time and location of the Public Hearings on your school's marquee.
For more information on the Superintendent's recommendation, please go to:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dunwoody Makes Its Voice Heard; Traffic Relief

I was unable to attend the special meeting last night at Dunwoody City Hall concerning the proposed greenway underneath the powerlines that run through the city.  Apparently it was a spirited meeting in which many homeowners, who's property the greenway would cut across, voiced their opinions loud and clear.
For a very throughout recap of the meet, read the latest post on John Heneghan's Dunwoody North blogsite.  Sorry I wasn't there!

Relief for Ashford Dunwoody at I-285?

Fox5 ATLANTA - Commuters in highly-congested areas will see something new in the next year. New traffic lane designs called diverging diamonds are planned for some clogged interstate overpasses.
Diverging diamonds hold the promise of low-cost help for traffic blockages.
Ashford-Dunwoody Road at Interstate-285 ranks as one of the worst bottlenecks in Metro Atlanta. Drivers dread it.

Click photo to watch Fox 5 video
This intersection is slated to be reconfigured. The change will involve traffic which now turns left at the end of the Ashford Dunwoody bridge to enter I-285 under a diverging diamond design.
The cars will be routed to the left lanes before crossing the bridge, allowing them to easily turn left onto the interstate.
Jill Goldberg of the state Department of Transportation says the department hopes to award a diverging diamond contract later in the year. Work could potentially begin early next year.
DOT officials said the only one other diverging diamond design that has been implemented in the U.S. is in Springfield, Missouri.
Many other diverging diamonds are planned and more are in the works for Metro Atlanta, including interchanges in Gwinnett and Cobb counties.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day; DHA Meeting Reveals Survery Results; Sparks Controversy

DHA Survey

The Dunwoody Homeowners' Association recently sent an email survey to its 1,400 members concerning Chick-fil-A's plans to build a restaurant off Mt. Vernon at Dunwoody Club Dr.  At last night's monthly meeting, the DHA revealed the results of the survey, in which 310 DHA members responded to the seven questions.  Below are the Results.

1.  The E-mail request to participate in this Survey included links to view the complete application for Rezoning and the requests for Variances submitted to the City (of Dunwoody) by Chick-fil-A.  These links show the current site plan and the proposed site plan.  Did you review these Documents before starting this survey?
Yes      89.7%
No        10.3%

2.  The Jett Ferry, Mt. Vernon, Dunwoody Club commercial area contains three shopping centers.  How close do you live to this commercial node?
Within 500 yards     2.8%
Withing 1,000 yards   3.8%
Within 1 mile            28.8%
Over a Mile away    65.2%

3.  Two of the shopping centers bordering Jett Ferry in this commercial node are in the City of Dunwoody (the shopping center featuring Kroger is in Sandy Springs).  Do you support adding more fast food locations with drive-thrus to either of the shopping centers currently without them?
Yes     34.5%
No     16.0%
Maybe, depends on Who, What, Where    44.5%
I don't care     5.0%

4.  Chick-fil-A has started the application process with the City of Dunwoody for a rezoning to allow them to build a Chick-fil-A on the triangle at Dunwoody Club and Mt. Vernon.  This would replace the building where Blockbuser was located.  Do you support the rezoning of only that portion of the shopping center which contains the closed Blockbuster building and that portion of the lot East of the Dunwoody Club entrance from Neighborhood Shopping District to C-1 (commercial zoning) to allow for the construction of a fast food restaurant with a drive-thru as shown in the initial application (Neighborhood Shopping zoning does not allow restaurant drive-thrus)?
I don't care one way or another      1.3%
Yes to Chick-fil-A's request as submitted     69.7%
Yes to Chick-fil-A, but without a drive-thru     10.3%
I want Chick-fil-A here but not this particular site plan     4.8%
I'm unsure and need more information to decide      3.9%
No        10.0%

5.  Besides a rezoning of the eastern portion of the shopping center, Chick-fil-A has also applied for variances to our current zoning standards.  The main variances are to decrease the setback from the streets, decrease required landscaping coverage 60% to 80% and a decrease in parking requirements by approximately 70%.  The existing building will be torn down with no new entrances to the shopping center requested.  Do you support the granting of these variances in order to construct a new fast food restaurant with a drive-thru?
Yes   35.2%
No    17.7%
I'm unsure and need more information to decide    9.4%
I'd like to see a Chick-fil-A here, but I want the site to conform to the landscape and parking standards set by our city.       37.7%

6.  The City of Dunwoody recently adopted a Comprehensive Land Use Plan to guide redevelopment over the next decade.  Master plans are currently in development for two commercial nodes:  Dunwoody Village and the Georgetown area.  These Master Plans get more specific and go into more detail that the city-wide Comprehensive Plan.  Do you want the Dunwoody City Council to contract for a detailed master plan for that part of the Dunwoody Club, Jett Ferry, Mt. Vernon commercial node which is within the city limits?
Yes      43.0%
No    23.1%
I don't care    22.8%

7.  This is the first time the DHA membership has been polled on an issue via this method.  Do you think DHA should continue this manner of polling as needed in the future?
Yes       96.4%
No          1.0

Chick-fil-A's plans to build a restaurant at this location has become a source of heated debate, as was the case again at last night's DHA meeting.  Bob Lundsten, who's chief of staff for DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, as well as a zoning guru, says bending the rules for Chick-fil-A could very well open-up the city to numerous lawsuits by other, less desireable businesses that want to come into Dunwoody.  However, others say the spot zoning, combined with serveral factors, will prevent that from happening. 
City of Dunwoody Councilman John Heneghan, Robert Wittenstein and Doug Thompson attended last night's meeting, soaking up the spirted debate.

DHA Welcomes Nancy Jester

DeKalb County School System board member Nancy Jester was at last night's meeting updating the DHA on the redrawing of attendance lines.  Among Nancy's thoughts, she said she had issues with the Jefferson Apartments seemingly being carved out of Dunwoody Elementary School and moved to Vanderlyn.  Said Jester, not necessarily speaking specifically about the Jefferson, "I don't think we should be in the business of social engineering.  I have an issue with that."  Nancy stressed that the lines have to make geographical sense adding, "a district that looks like Laos stops passing the smell test." 
Nancy also said that she has been told by DCSS officials that the old Chamblee Middle School on Chamblee Dunwoody Rd. near Shallowford Rd. and Peeler Rd. will be torn down.  She said DCSS is addressing that this year.  Councilman Wittenstein, partially tongue-in-cheek, said the city has no problem with DCSS donating the property to Dunwoody, which could turn the site into a park.   Wouldn't that be nice!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superintendent Reveals Her Recommendations

Recommendations of DeKalb Superintendent Ramona Tyson
DeKalb County School System Superintendent Ramona Tyson on Monday night unveiled her recommendations for the new attendance lines for all schools countywide.  Tyson's recommendations now go to the school board, which will unveil the final lines on March 7 (the full map is available by clicking DCSS). 
Certainly not everyone in Dunwoody is pleased with the lines, but it appears that the superintendent did pay attention to the voices heard at the numerous public workshops.  I commend Ms. Tyson on her work, heaven knows it wasn't easy.  I do have some concerns, but hopefully those will be addressed over the next month. 
Of course the lines would have been a lot easier to draw if our past superintendent had worked a little harder at his job instead of filling the gas tanks of his many relatives!

DeKalb Budget Meeting

A reminder that there will be a DeKalb County budget meeting Tuesday evening at Montgomery Elementary School hosted by commissioners Elaine Boyer and Kathy Gannon.  DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is recommending that our taxes be raised by 2.32 mil.  Here is another opportunity to let your voice be heard and keep DeKalb County spending under control. 
For more information go to and read two blog entries prior.

Remembering Ronald Reagan

Lost in the hype of Sunday's Super Bowl (by the way, I blew another prediction) was the celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan. 
Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, we should all take our personal conduct cues from our 40th president. 
You see with Reagan, it was always about respect.  Respect for the office (he never took off his jacket in the oval office), respect for his opponents (one of his best friends in Washington was his fieriest adversary, Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill), and respect for his fellow man.  Even if you didn't love his politics, it was hard not to love the man. 
I enjoyed reading this online interview with former Secretary of State James Baker, who ran two political campaigns against Reagan.
And I enjoyed reliving the humor and wit of Reagan.  Click the photo below - I guarantee you will laugh!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superintendent Unveils Redistricting Plan; DeKalb Tax Increase, Super Bowl

Redistricting Plan 2020 - Meeting Monday Night 

Ramona Tyson
The next DCSS Board of Education meeting will be held Monday night, February 7, 2011, at 6:00 PM. It is on the agenda for Ms. Tyson to present her 2020 Master Vision Plan recommendation. The Board Meeting will be held at the board room in the Administrative and Instructional Center (AIC) on Mountain Industrial Boulevard. Directions, the agenda and additional information may be found at the DCSS website: There is plenty of parking, and there are a large number of seats available for public viewing. I imagine it will be very crowded. If you are a Comcast subscriber, you may view the board meeting on Channel 24 through our PDS-24 broadcast. If you have another television/cable provider, you still may view the broadcast over the internet. The DCSS website streams the live video. You may have to download a video player to view the live stream. All of this information may also be found at the DCSS Website.

DeKalb County—District One

2011 Budget Review
Elaine Boyer

Join DeKalb County Commissioners Elaine Boyer and Kathy Gannon for an overview of the proposed county budget for 2011. Residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions and ask questions.  Make plans to attend one of these two meetings being held in your district:

Tuesday, February 15th—7:00 PM until 8:30 PM
Montgomery Elementary School
3995 Ashford Dunwoody Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30319
Hosted by: Commissioner Elaine Boyer & Commissioner Kathy Gannon

The DeKalb budget proposed by CEO Burrell Ellis includes a millage increase of 2.32 for residents of unincorporated DeKalb and perhaps as much as 1.5 mils for residents in DeKalb's incorporated cities. These meetings will allow the citizens to have input on what services they view as essential and how they would like to see the Commission deal with the budget shortfall.
I don't know about you, but if we can't meet our budget at home, we eliminate things that aren't absolutely necessary.  Obviously, Mr. Ellis feels otherwise.  Instead of eliminating non-essential services, he thinks it's a good idea to raise our taxes.  If you feel strongly about this issue, make plans to attend the meeting above and let your voice be heard!

Super Bowl Pick

Alright, last time I made a prediction on this blog, I could not have been more wrong.  I had the Falcons beating the Packers to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  The Falcons lost 48-21.  That prediction came more from the heart than the brain.
I have left the heart out of tonight's prediction:  The Steelers beat the Packers in a closely-contested game, 21-17.   Take it for what it is worth!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Odds & Ends

Vanderlyn Elementary School's PTA is hosting it's Vanderdash fun run on Saturday, March 26.  For more information, click on the photo below.

Dunwoody Murder Suspect to Appear in Court

The man accused of murdering a Dunwoody father outside his son’s daycare in November is expected to appear before a DeKalb magistrate judge on Feb. 8.

Hemy Zvi Neuman, 48, of Marietta, was charged with the Nov. 18 murder of Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman, who had dropped his 2-year-old son off at the Dunwoody Prep preschool and nursery, located at 5493 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody. Neuman was arrested Jan. 4 and remains without bond in the DeKalb County Jail.
Click Murder Suspect to read full story.

Suspect Robs Dunwoody Bank, Hails Cab

By Larry Hartstein
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Dunwoody police are looking for the man who robbed a bank near Perimeter Mall Wednesday, then took a taxi to get away.
The suspect walked into Fidelity Bank on Perimeter Center West about 9:15 a.m. He handed a teller a note demanding money, and was given an undisclosed amount of cash. Witnesses saw him run toward the MARTA station before he got into a cab that left the area.
Police say the suspect might be responsible for a previous bank robbery, too.
Anyone with information on the incident should call Dunwoody Police Det. Andrew Thompson at 678-382-6921 or email

New Pastor for All Saints

Msgr. Hugh Marren (far right).
Click photo to enlarge
All Saints Church has a new pastor, it is Monsignor Hugh Marren, whose been serving as the pastor at St. Andrew in Roswell.  The 65-year old Marren replaces Monsignor Donal Kiernan, who announced his retirement in December.  Msgr. Kiernan remains at All Saints in his retirement.