Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Update From Councilman Wittenstein

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

It has been a busy month for the City of Dunwoody. After a year of discussion and investigation, we voted on Monday to contract with ChatComm (the Sandy Springs/Johns Creek joint venture) for 911 call center service. This was a difficult decision and the council was split on this (the vote was 5 to 2). In the end I supported spending additional city funds to get the higher level of service offered by ChatComm. Nothing will change for the next six months; we will use that as transition time. Expect to see us complete a cut-over around October 1.
Also this month we established a long-range transportation plan. It is available on our website: Transportation Plan. (Caution, it is 223 pages!) We established the following projects as our highest priority items:

Click on photo to read full document
 Please keep in mind that we have not budgeted ANY of these projects. We will begin looking for grants and matching funds but none of these improvements are imminent. If we, as a community, want to invest in these projects we will have to collectively decide that they are important enough to funnel our tax dollars into them. That can be done either very slowly using our current tax dollars or more quickly by accepting higher property taxes. That will be a decision made by the community as a whole (not the City Council.)

We also completed work this month on two redevelopment master plans. One is for Dunwoody Village and one is for the Georgetown/Shallowford area. These plans act as conceptual blueprints to encourage the landowners and developers in the area. It allows private developers to see our vision for redevelopment and sends the message that if you follow this plan, you will have community support and the city’s support. It will be many years before the economy creates enough pressure for sizable redevelopment but small pieces are starting to turn over and can be built to follow these new plans.

The most difficult activity we have been engaged in lately has been development of a long-range parks master plan. This plan is still in development. What makes this so hard is the need to balance the needs of the Dunwoody community with the concerns of the neighbors. We have heard over and over through this process, “we Love living next to <> but Please, Please don’t put a <> near my house or it will ruin my quality of life.”

Many of the neighbors want to keep the parks near them just as they are. I am sympathetic to the neighbors’ concerns and I understand that there are pros and cons to living next to a public park but I am reluctant to accept the current status quo. Before this process is over, we are bound to upset quite a few people. As someone who has signed up for public service, that is very difficult to do.

In April we will look at folding our newly acquired 16 acre park that stretches from Chamblee Dunwoody Road over to North Shallowford Road (formally the “PVC Farm”) in Georgetown into the parks plan and I hope a revised plan will get passed in May or June. As with Transportation, it will be great to have a plan. The next step will be the community discussion on funding.

Lemonade Days (April 14-17) and The Dunwoody Arts Festival (May 7-8) are both coming up. Both are wonderful events for our community!



Monday, March 28, 2011

Councilman Shortal Request Immediate Input

Good (morning) my fellow citizens. The following is a one item update and request for you input. Regret the short notice but the 911 issue had been moved to the April meeting but apparently is now back on the meeting for Monday, 28 MAR at 7 PM.

911 .... DeKalb County (DC) 911 has made strides to enhance their system. Their response time across the board has improved. They have provided the items that we went to them with and requested, they have filled their vacancies and are adding additional personal (these moves should not be affected by the DC budget cuts as these funds come from phone 911 fees) and the 911 Chief is a dedicated and quality individual ... grew up in Dunwoody and his parents still live here. As we look forward it is fairly sure that we will be in DC ... thus I say let us use our efforts to try to make the entire County better. We definitely are not sure that we have the 911 revenues accurate .... that is a fact. It is now agreed that EMS/Fire reaction time will be a little slower as we go thru a switching and forwarding operation to get the info from Chat-Comm (Chat-Comm is Sandy Springs/Johns Creek 911 service) to the DC Fire & Rescue. Although not the predominate factor cost needs to be considered .... over a three year period rough estimates are from $1.1 million to as high as $1.8 million for three years for us to go with Chat-Comm. There is no separate budgeted funds to pay for the cost of going to Chat-Comm .. it will come out of general funds. Since we have lots of infrastructure problems excess funds can always be used .... it is also always nice to have reserve funds for a "rainy day." There should be no hurry to move ....if after a certain period DC county 911 has not performed as advertised we can always give them a six months notice and leave. Please reply ASAP ... the meeting is tomorrow night ... by informing me:

1. I want to stay with DC for 911 service but check to ensure that DC 911 meets the performance standards that they promised.

2. I want to leave DC 911 service now and go to Chat-Comm.

That is all. Please pass this on to your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA and/or anyone who maybe interested. Thanks for your continued support and involvement in our City.

Let Us Continue To Build Our City Together
Denny Shortal
Dunwoody City Council, District One, Post-1
Mayor Pro Tem
PH (O) 678-382-6700 (C) 678-246-9006

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tips For the Tax Season

If you're like me, you haven't finalized your 2010 taxes yet (I know a few folks who haven't even started them).   If that's the case, the tips below may come in handy, especially if you are a small business owner.  And the good news, this year tax returns are not due until April 18!

1. Business clothing with logos: You can deduct clothing you buy for business use only if it can't be used for ordinary street wear. This means you can't deduct a regular business suit. However, you may deduct the cost of a sport jacket, coat or other clothing item with a company logo on it.
2. Car expenses if you take standard mileage rate: If, like most small businesspeople, you use the standard mileage rate to deduct your car expenses, you get to deduct 50 cents for every business mile you drove in 2010. You don't get to separately deduct the cost of gas, insurance, depreciation and similar items because these are all included in the standard mileage rate.
However, you can still deduct certain expenses, including the interest you pay on a loan for your business car, parking and tolls. However, you can't deduct the cost of parking tickets.
3. Home telephone expenses: You get no deduction for a single phone in your home; but you may deduct the cost of long-distance phone calls and special phone services you use for business such as call waiting or message center. You may deduct the full cost of a second phone line you use at home for business, including a cell phone.
4. Business gifts: Gifts you purchase for clients are deductible as a business expense, but the deduction is limited to $25 per person per year. However, the $25 limit applies only to gifts to individuals.
It doesn't apply if you give a gift to an entire company, unless the gift was intended for a particular person or group of people within the company. Such companywide gifts are deductible in any amount, as long as it is reasonable.
5. Continuing-education courses: You can deduct the cost of continuing-education courses you must take each year to maintain a yearly license. Education that improves your knowledge and skills in your business is also deductible -- for example, you can deduct the cost of a webinar on how to use social media to find sales prospects.
6. Tax-preparation fees: You can deduct the cost of hiring a tax professional to prepare your business tax return. If the same tax pro prepares your personal and business return, you can deduct only the cost of preparing the business portion. Make sure that you get an itemized bill showing the portion of the tax preparation fee allocated to your business.
7. ATM fees, credit card fees, and interest: You can deduct ATM fees, credit card fees and other bank charges you paid during 2010 for all your business accounts.
8. Subscriptions: Trade publications are deductible. You can also deduct the cost of subscribing to an online trade services.
9. Greeting cards: Greeting cards you send to clients and sales prospects are a deductible advertising expense.
10. Websites: You can deduct the cost of designing and maintaining a website you use for business. You can also deduct your Internet hosting fees and the cost of obtaining a domain name for your business.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dunwoody Real Estate Moving; City Council Meeting

While we have yet to see an upswing in the price of housing in Dunwoody, or the Atlanta market in general, we are seeing a great deal of activity this spring compared with the previous two springs.  There are currently 151 active listings in Dunwoody in the 30338 zip code, while there are 32 homes that are currently under contract.  The 21 percent ratio of homes under contract to active listings is the best we have seen in a long time. 
You can click on the first link below to view all 151 listings (with photos) in descending order of price.  Click the second link to see a line item of all 151 homes.  Also, you can click the photo above to see my listing on Mt. Vernon Rd - a fabulous renovation in the heart of Dunwoody.  I also have a great listing off Jett Ferry - click on the photo below to view.

Dunwoody City Council Meeting

The agenda is out for the Dunwoody city council meeting on Monday evening, 7:30pm at City Hall (there is a public work session that starts at 6pm).  Among the items on the agenda, discussion of 911 services.   Should the city switch from DeKalb County to Chatcomm?  I don't have the information that city council or the city manager have, but on the surface it appears to me that switching is not cost effective.  At least not at this point in time.  And that switching will not benefit our emergency services.  Active Dunwoody resident Joe Seconder has written to the council, giving his thoughts.  Click here to read Joe's comments.  Click here to view entire agenda.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

All Saints Fish Fry Hits The Big Time

On Ash Wednesday and every Friday night during the Lenten season - save for Good Friday - the Knights of Columbus at All Saints Church host a fish fry for the community (everyone is invited).  What started as a small event in 1997 has grown into a Dunwoody institution over the past 14 years.  At last night's fish fry, a new record was set as over 1,100 meals were served.  Click on the photo above to watch the 11Alive story by former All Saints parishioner Fred Kalil.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dunwoody Rides to Capitol; Arts Festival Needs Volunteers

Want to spend this coming Tuesday morning with the Mayor and a few of city council's finest?  Then grab your bike and helmet and head over to Fresh Market at 9:30.  Dunwoody is taking part in the Georgia Rides to the Capitol event on March 22.  For more information, click on the link.  A big thanks to our resident cycling expert Joe Seconder for getting the city involved.  Oh, did I mention their would be a police escort, and that Governor Deal would be waiting on the capitol steps for the cyclists arrival?

Dunwoody Arts Festival Needs Volunteers

Plans for Dunwoody Art Festival 2011 are in full swing. The Festival will be Mother's Day weekend, May 7 & 8. This year the Festival is hosting 180 local, regional and national artisans.

Looking toward this year's Festival, we can't help but remember the success of last year's event. The volunteers were certainly one of the big reasons that Dunwoody Art Festival was just named "Best New Event" by the Southeast Festivals and Events Association. The Mother's Day show picked up the gold medal among festivals from Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. We truly feel we won this prestigious honor because of all of our wonderful volunteers who helped present this colorful and whimsical show to the Dunwoody community. Without your support and generosity, the Festival would not have reached this level of success. We share this award with you!
Get Your Free T-shirt

Win Gift Certificates To Our Fabulous Dunwoody Restaurants

Over 350 volunteers are needed to produce this fun and exciting event that Dunwoody friends and neighbors can call their own. As a thank-you to those who volunteer, we're having a weekly drawing for a $25 gift certificate from some of our local restaurants. Three lucky volunteers will each win one of these treats every week. To win, you must be signed up to volunteer:
  • There is no limit on the number of times you can win.
  • The more positions you sign up for, the more chances you have to win.
  • The earlier you sign up, the greater the chances you have of winning.
  • Winners will be drawn each Wednesday through May 4 and will be announced weekly.
  • Winners may pick up their gift certificates during the Festival at the Volunteer Check-in tent
Thank you for your wonderful show of community spirit in the great City of Dunwoody. If you have any questions regarding volunteering, please feel free to contact me at  To volunteer, click on Dunwoody Arts Festival Volunteers.

Kathy Koenigsberg
Volunteer Chairman

Saturday, March 12, 2011

City Council Agenda; Spring Ahead

Dunwoody City Council has a work session on Monday (no votes) - some important items will be the topic of discussion.  Council will address the Transportation Master Plan, the Parks Master Plan, the Dunwoody Village Master Plan and the Georgetown/Shallowford Master Plan. 
Council will also discuss 911 services - whether to stay with DeKalb County or switch to privately-owned ChatComm.  I'll admit that I don't know all the numbers, but on the surface it appears that switching will cost taxpayers more money.  At the February Council Meeting, Major Conroy of DeKalb shared that the county is considering charging Dunwoody for the use of their radio system if we decide to pursue an alternative arrangement for police dispatching.
Click on the photo above to see the full agenda.

A reminder that Daylight Saving Time starts at 2AM Sunday morning.  Don't forget to set your clock one hour ahead.  Love the extra daylight - hate losing the hour of sleep!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Does Dunwoody's Transportation Plan Affect You?

I have yet to see the agenda for this coming night's Dunwoody City Council Meeting.  However, I believe the city's Comprehensive Transportation Plan will be discussed.  The CTP will, according to the city's website:

• Identify transportation needs and appropriate strategies
• Identify specific actions to implement the goals of the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan
• Define necessary transportation priorities, policies, projects and/or programs

Michael Smith
The city's public works director, Michael Smith, was gracious enough to hold a Q&A at the Dunwoody Homeowners' Association meeting this past Sunday night.  Michael told us of some of the short and long-term projects targeted by the plan.
How do these projects affect you?  Hopefully, most of these projects will improve safety as well as alleviate congestion on our roads.  But a few of the projects could encroach on your property.
For example, did you know that one of the candidate projects for evaluation calls for Ashford Center Parkway to be extended through the Dunwoody Library property and connect with Dunwoody Village Parkway (project 20 in the photo above)?  And that the city is studying the intersection of Womack Rd. and Vermack Rd. (project 3) and is considering a traffic signal or roundabout to replace the flashing red light?   
I know the former project has neighbors who live on Joberry Court very concerned.  And the latter ought to be a concern for those that live at or near that intersection by the high school.
This is why it is so important to stay informed, and to be active in the process.  
To view some of the candidate projects for evaluation in the city of Dunwoody's Transportation Plan, click here.

Dunwoody Police Officer a Finalist on America's Most Wanted

I picked up this tidbit from John Henghan's Dunwoody North site - Dunwoody police officer Fidel Espinoza is a finalist for America's Most Wanted All-Star.   Click on the link to vote, and help one of Dunwoody's finest gain much-deserved national recognition.  Offer Espinoza played a large role in starting the police department's highly-successful "Christmas for Kids" program.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Photo Session with the Governor

Retired All Saints Pastor Monsignor Donald Kiernan was honored at the Capitol on Monday for his 60+ years of service to Georgians, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to take part in the photo session with Governor Nathan Deal (first row, 3rd from the left).  Kudos to State Representative Tom Taylor, along with State Senator Fran Millar, for working their magic. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Redisticting is Over? Msgr. Kiernan Honored at Capitol

The DeKalb County School Board voted on Monday to adopt Superintendent Ramona Tyson's plan to close eight schools as part of a redistricting effort.  The plan that was presented by Tyson a month ago was amended to move 28 children from Vanderlyn back to Austin.  It also moved the neighborhoods between Mt. Vernon and Womack (west of Vanderlyn Drive) from Dunwoody Elementary back to Vanderlyn.  And the Camden apartments were shifted from Dunwoody Elementary to Chesnut.
Do the changes make sense?  Not really.  Overcrowded Austin and Vanderlyn add students, while underpopulated DES loses students.  But then, we are dealing with DeKalb County where common sense is often hard to find.  DCSS said it will release maps later this week.  Is this the end of redistricting?  Only time will tell.

Monsignor Kiernan Honored at Capitol

Recently retired All Saints Pastor Monsignor Donald Kiernan will be honored with a resolution at the Capitol on Tuesday.  The Monsignor will be recognized for his "spiritual assistance" to Georgians for more than 60-years, as well as his founding of the Georgia Association of Police Chiefs.  The resolutions are sponsored by Dunwoody Representative Tom Taylor, who deserves major kudos for his part in ensuring that the Monsignor get recognized for his many years of service, and Senator Fran Miller.  Msgr. Kiernan will take part in a photo session with Governor Nathan Deal, and then be recognized on the floor, flanked by a Knights of Columbus Honor Guard.

Lawsuit Planned as Latest School Lines are Revealed Tonight

Tonight the DeKalb County School System Board of Education will vote on Superintendent Ramona Tyson's plans for redistricting.  Tonight's meeting starts at 6pm and will be televised by Comcast, Channel 24.  It should be interesting to say the least!
Meantime, parents in Dunwoody have hired a high-powered attorney, and plan to sue if part of the redistricting plan is approved. 
Click on the photo above (or here on WSBTV) to read and watch the report.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Update From Councilman Wittenstein; Vanderdash

The following is an update from Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein, who touches on the city's purchase of land, the green way and 911 service. A lot of folks have been talking up Chatcomm for our 911 service, but at the end of the day it will cost us a significant amount of money over the first 3-year period as opposed to sticking with DeKalb County.  I'll have more on this in a future blog.

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

First, I want to welcome quite a few new recipients to my monthly e-mail update. If you got this by way of a forward or post and would like to be added to my e-mail list, please e-mail me at If you are receiving this monthly update and would rather not, please let me know at the same e-mail address.
It has been an important month for Dunwoody.
We have signed a letter or intent to purchase the 16 acres of vacant land just north of Georgetown Shopping Center affectionately known as “The PVC Farm” for a future city park. The purchase price of $5 million was half of what the property was on the market for two years ago and it represents a great deal for the city and a tremendous investment for us. It gives us the opportunity to provide a park in an area that desperately needs one, eliminates an ugly eyesore and prevents the construction of several hundred of new apartments.
We continue to discuss and investigate alternatives for 911 service. This is an important decision and there are differences of opinion on the city council. ChatComm offers a superior level of service and an opportunity to work closely with the Sandy Springs police department, but at a higher cost. Any additional general funds spent on 911 are funds that are not available for road repaving or parks so we are working to validate the costs involved. If we can keep the cost modest, I am leaning strongly towards signing a contract with ChatComm. I think the higher level of service justifies the additional expense.
We are in the final stages of approving a Parks and Greenspace Master Plan. I had supported creating greenways throughout Dunwoody, including along the power line easement that runs through Dunwoody. It is clear, however, that the residents who live along the power line easement have come to the conclusion that this won’t enhance their property values or their quality of life. We cannot build a greenway without community support—which we clearly don’t have. As a result, I expect the Greenway to be pulled from the Parks Master Plan prior to passage.
The long range plans for Brook Run, the Dunwoody Nature Center and the other parks in Dunwoody is tremendously exciting. We have an opportunity to make a dramatic improvement in the quality of life in Dunwoody and create a sought-after enclave with parks and greenspace for use by our children and grandchildren.


Vanderlyn's annual fundraising run, the popular Vanderdash, is rapidly approaching, on March 26. For more information, click on Vanderdash.