Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Case for Multi-Use Trail in Brook Run

Yesterday my blog included an editorial piece by former councilman Danny Ross against the city's nearly $1 million expenditure on an impervious concrete trail in Brook Run Park. 
To be fair, today's post is by bicycle enthusiast Joe Seconder, on why this path is needed.

Why reinvent the wheel? In February 2011, I provided the (linked) material which was posted on Heneghan's Dunwoody Blog. It received plenty of comments & feedback of all sorts. I just wanted to re-post it here for a refresher and reminder. The same facts and thoughts hold true today.

I detailed an actual trail in Walnut Creek, CA -- The Iron Horse Trail. When completed, the trial will span 40 miles connecting two counties and nine communities. Interestingly, the demographics of Walnut Creek & Dunwoody are VERY similar. Yet depending on who you speak with in our town, the support or opposition of Multi-Use trails is very DIS-similar.
Click Cycling Joe to read more.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Dunwoody in Need of Cement Trail?

Is Dunwoody in need of the nearly $1 million impervious concrete trail that is about to be constructed through Brooke Run Park?  I really don't know.  Danny Ross, the former city councilman, was among those who initially voted to approve a $30,000 expenditure by the city for a "walking trail."  It has since morphed into an entirely different project.
Danny asked me to blog the article that he wrote in the Dunwoody Reporter.  It is certainly worth the read!

To the editor:

In just a few days, bulldozers and chain saws are scheduled to arrive at Brook Run Park, one of the last urban forests in our community, to construct the equivalent of one lane of I-285, where speeds of 70 mph are allowed, and in some areas cut down enough trees (a 50-foot-wide swath) to build four lanes on I-285. Over 330 trees will be cut to make way for this so called multi-use trail. It does not make sense!
Two years ago, the city completed a master plan with significant community input. During the development of the plan, the consulting firm conducted a survey and found that the number one desire of the citizens was to have “walking trails” through the park.

The City Council, of which I was one of the members, authorized the director of parks and recreation to seek out grant funds to construct this trail.
Before becoming a park, Brook Run had previously been home to the Georgia Retardation Center. Many years ago, six-foot trails were built to provide walking paths for the residents. Over the years, these trails deteriorated. In 2011, the city received a $100,000 grant to construct an eight-foot wide trail in the location of the original trails. This made sense. Without cutting any of the urban forest the entire trail (1.3 miles) could be completed and the city would only have to pay $30,000.
Click Dunwoody Reporter to read full opinion piece.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DHA Discusses Village Parkway - Your Chance for Input

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association holds its December meeting tonight, and there are two items on the agenda that should be of great interest to most all of us who live in the city. 
The first is discussion of the improvements to Dunwoody Village Parkway.  Click on Dunwoody Village Parkway to view the plans presented by the city.  At this evening's meeting, we will hear from the Dunwoody Village Design Review Committee (separate from the city, chaired by DHA member Bill Robinson) on the improvements it has made to the city's plans (unlike a city council meeting where public input is minimal, at DHA meetings you will have a chance to have your say).
I agree, the city has done a poor job of explaining why the redesign of the parkway is necessary.  I believe the city feels, first and foremost, the addition of sidewalks is essential to any redevelopment of the Village - not only for walkers and runners, but for events like the 4th of July parade.  If you read www.savedunwoody.com, a simple repaving and restriping of the lanes will do the trick.  And to a certain extent, I believe Save Dunwoody is correct.  However, it would be a Jerry-rigged solution, and at the end of the day, Dunwoody is a first-class community, and needs a first-class solution.  Sure, we would save about $1 million by simply restriping and pruning trees, but the money is already budgeted, and the city is not asking for a tax increase for the improvements. 
Is the Design Review Committee's plan an improvement of the city's?  I have no idea, but I will be in attendance this evening to find out (the public is welcome and encouraged to attend as well).  The DHA meeting is held in Room 4 at the Spruill Cultural Arts Center, which is the building attached to the library.  The meeting starts at 7:30pm, and is usually over in 60-90 minutes (you can leave at anytime).

The second item of interest is discussion of the proposed City of Dunwoody School system.  Is this a pie-in-the-sky idea?  Sure it is.  But so was the city of Dunwoody.  And, at the end of the day, having our own school system would increase the value of our homes and community by leaps-and-bounds.  I look forward to the discussion.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Odds & Ends

A reminder that the DHA's Light Up Dunwoody is this Sunday from 3pm to 6pm at the Farmhouse.  Santa will be there with his live reindeer (as always a great photo opportunity) as well as face painting, cookie decorating and singing of carols.  The Christmas tree and Farmhouse will be lit at 5:45pm.  Click on the photo below to watch Good Morning Atlanta at the farmhouse Friday - and yes, a guest appearance by yours truly!

Womack/Vermack Intersection & More

Kudos to Dunwoody City Council, which earlier this week voted 5-1 to continue with the design improvements for the Womack/Vermack intersection.  The vote does not mean that a roundabout will necessarily happen, but that the design work will continue as the city tries to make the intersection more traffic-friendly and pedestrian-friendly.  The project would not be moving forward without the hard work of councilman Terry Nall, who understands that council just can't "stick its head in the sand" when it comes to solving traffic congestion issues.  I also have to give credit to Terry for broaching the possibility of Dunwoody having its own school system (click on link to watch video).  Is it likely to happen anytime soon?  No, but why not get the ball rolling?  It will never happen unless someone takes the first step.  Great job Terry!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Womack/Vermack; Update from Councilman Shortal

Dunwoody city council meets on Monday night, and one of the item added to the agenda is discussion of the Womack/Vermack intersection.  Kudos to the councilor (Terry Nall, I presume) that got this item added, as it gives council a chance to redeem itself for its faulty actions at the last council meeting.
In my last blog post, I didn't do a great job of explaining what council actually did at the October 29th meeting. 
By a 4-3 margin, council voted to remove the remainder of the design funding of an intersection improvement at Vermack/Womack road.  Council did this despite the fact that the designs were not complete, and that the Comprehensive Transportation Plan called for much needed improvements as congestion at this intersection is among the worst in Dunwoody.
The four councilors reasons for voting against the funding were, quite frankly, confusing and without merit.  Two councilors said they heard from their constituents (fact is, the only folks they likely heard from was the small, vocal group of neighbors who live near the intersection, that spoke at the Oct. 29th council meeting), another said let's "kick the can down the road," while the last said it was for financial reasons.  Apparently all four have little interest in fixing "what needs to be fixed."   Why else would they vote against funding that was already in the budget, and on a project that was noted as a "priority" in the Comprehensive Plan? At the very least, let's hire an off-duty safety patrol official for 3 hours a day at $35 an hour.
Let's hope council has the courage to make the right decision on Monday night.

Update from Councilman Shortal

Below is an email update from councilman Denis Shortal.  I appreciate the General sending out these updates, but it would have been nice to hear why he voted against the funding above!

My fellow citizens …, the following is an update of some items of interest ...

1. Recycling Fees ... Correction/clarification .... Below is the info I sent out on my last update. It is true that the "blue box" and the initial 100 "blue bags" are free. After you use up your initial two year supply of "blue bags" you can contact DC for a resupply but, there will be a charge of $15 for an additional 100 "blue bags" ... these additional bags will be delivered to your home within about 10 days. Recycling is still a bargain.
"The DeKalb County (DC) Commission voted last week to remove the $30 recycling fee thus making recycling free. The Blue Box Recycling Brigade should now grow by leaps and bounds. You still must sign up for recycling so that DC can properly route the truck to you area on "recycling day." To sign up for recycling service call 404-294-2900 or email to ... sanitation@co.dekalb.ga.us. It takes about a week or so for DC to drop off your Blue Recycling Box and a 100 Blue bags. A 100 bags should last you about two years and when you start to run low on bags just call DC and reorder. I am a late convert to recycling but I can tell you it is a win/win situation. Your current annual DC sanitation fee is $265 - this has been the fee since 2006 and as you know you pay this when you pay your annual property taxes."
2. Veteran's Day ... Dunwoody will celebrate Veteran's Day this coming Monday, 12 NOV 2012, at the Brook Run Park Veterans Memorial at 1:00 PM. The ceremony features the Marine Color Guard from H&S Bn, 4th MLG, Marietta, GA, guest speakers ... COL Charles Guta, USA (RET) and our very own Corporal William "Blake" Yeargin, SCNG - you may also know him as Officer Yeargin of our Dunwoody Police Department - who has recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. I hope to see a large number of our patriotic citizen attend to give thanks for our freedom by honoring our Veterans.

3. Marine Corps Birthday ... Keeping with a military theme, tomorrow, 10 NOV 2012, Marines around the globe will be celebrating the 237th Birthday of the U. S. Marine Corps. Have no doubt that this is a special day for me and all Marines. I attended a celebration last night and today at 1130 and will be at a Marine Corps Birthday Ball in west Georgia tomorrow night. Happy Birthday to all you Marine Warriors and Semper Fidelis.
5. Paving ...With the completion of the paving on Mt Vernon Rd last week all the paving projects for 2012 are now complete. Acadia Builders came to the city and offered to pay 2/3 of the cost of installing new curb, gutter and sidewalk to Layfield Dr and we accepted the offer. (My note ... to me that was an easy and sound financial decision.) This enabled us to widening Mt Vernon Rd all the way to Layfield Dr which is just a few feet from our western city boundary. In paving the name of the game is quality and in my opinion again this year we received a quality paving job across the spectrum. My thanks to our Public Works Director, Michael Smith and his staff for another outstanding job. Michael, you are a tremendous asset to the citizens of Dunwoody.
6. More Paving ... We were recently awarded a $640,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission for the infrastructure and paving funds for Chamblee Dunwoody Road between Cambridge and Valley View. This grant came up on a short notice and thru the professional work of Michael Smith with the assistance of Ted Rhinehart of DeKalb County we were awarded the grant. To be eligible for this grant the project had to be on the planning schedule and be a multi-mode transportation project (cars, pedestrians and bicycles). We are anticipating funding for construction for next year.
A personal note on grants ... if I ran the federal government there would not be any grants especially in light of the fact the government is financially broke. However, I don't run the government and there are grants available and I think it is financially prudent to aggressively pursue ever available grant. Remember if we don't get the grant then some other city will and I can assure you the grant money will be spent .... not saved. At least this way our citizens would get some return of the tax dollars we pay to higher government levels.
7. More Paving ... At our last City Council Meeting a citizen who lives on Vernon Oaks Dr chastised the City Council and Public Works Dir. for the method and the paving of his street. I don't know if he was speaking for all the neighbors or just himself. Now folks, I have heard a lot of outlandish things in the 4+ years we have been working to make this a better city but that was the most astonishing and surprising statements that I have heard. Suffice to say, if your street is on the paving list please notify us if you don't want it paved. I assure you there are hundreds of street where thousands of our citizens live, including me and my neighbors, that would give their "right shoe" to have their street paved.
8. Light Up Dunwoody ... The annual family friendly event, Light Up Dunwoody Christmas Village, takes place on Sunday, 18 NOV, from 3 PM to 6 PM. The lighting of the tree will take place at 5:45 PM. The center of the activities will be in the area of the Farm House. Santa and the Elves will be there and there will be plenty of photo opportunities … so bring your camera. Admission is free ... you can't best that deal. There are plenty of community volunteer opportunities ... please contact Pam Tallmadge @ 770-393-9647 or pam.tallmadgega.us.
9. That is all for today. Please pass this on to all your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone would like to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make that happen. Thanks for your continued support and input.

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

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote; Womack/Vermack Intersection

Tuesday is Election Day - don't forget to vote!  There is much more on the ballot than the presidential race.  To view a sample Dunwoody ballot, click on the image below.

Womack/Vermack Intersection

Despite the recommendation from staff, last week Dunwoody City Council voted to do nothing to alleviate the congestion at the Womack/Vermack Intersection.  It was a 4-3 vote against the improvements, with Councilors Deutsch, Bonser, Heneghan and Shortal voting to keep this hazardous, congested intersection like it is.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out why.  Hopefully they didn't cave to the pressure applied by a small, but vocal group of neighbors who spoke before council prior to the vote.
The roundabout project proposed by staff will not only minimize the congestion at this intersection, but make it safer for pedestrians and bikers (folks at a dangerous intersection near Emory University had the same concerns a few years back, but since a roundabout was constructed, they have become believers and now extoll the virtues of the improvements).
Council Terry Nall has done more homework on this than any other council member, and is pushing for the project to be funded next year. The Dunwoody Homeowners Association unanimously approves the city's continuing of the design process of this intersection, and the roundabout has the support of Dunwoody High School principal Noel Maloof, as well as Dunwoody resident and former mayoral candidate Bob Dallas, who is the former Director of the state's Office of Highway Safety. 

For more on council's head-scratching actions on this intersection, read I'm Just Sayin' Dunwoody, Dunwoody Farmer Bob and Dunwoody Talk's blog posts.  They are much more direct in their indictment of council on this vote.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dunwoody Welcomes Sen. Isakson

The Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce's Fall Gala is this Monday night from 5pm-9pm at the South Terraces, featuring keynote speaker, Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson.  The event is open to the public.  Click on the photo above for more information.  
The event is a great chance to network with fellow Dunwoody business owners and residents. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

DHA To Discuss Womack/Vermack Intersection

Click on agenda to enlarge
Above is the agenda for the DHA's October meeting at 7pm, Sunday at the Spruill Center for the Arts next to the Dunwoody Library.  The item that has my attention is discussion of the Womack/Vermack intersection (city renderings below).  City staff appears to be pushing for a roundabout to replace the flashing red light.  I'm okay with a roundabout as opposed to a traditional stop light, however, I am concerned about pedestrian safety - more specifically the safety of the kids walking to school in the morning and afternoon.  I'm anxious to hear what staff has to say.  I'm also not thrilled with all the added pavement extending from the roundabout along both Womack and Vermack.  If you live near the intersection, please plan to attend the meeting.

Click on photo to enlarge

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dunwoody Football Pancake Breakfast; Update from Councilman Shortal

Update from Councilman Shortal

I'm a day late in getting out Councilman Shortal's update, but it is below and a good read, nonetheless.  Nice to see DeKalb County drop the charge for recycling!

My fellow citizens …, the following is an update of some items of interest ...

1. Recycling Fees ... The DeKalb County (DC) Commission voted last week to remove the $30 recycling fee thus making recycling free. The Blue Box Recycling Brigade should now grow by leaps and bounds. You still must sign up for recycling so that DC can properly route the truck to you area on "recycling day." To sign up for recycling service call 404-294-2900 or email to ... sanitation@co.dekalb.ga.us. It takes about a week or so for DC to drop off your Blue Recycling Box and a 100 Blue bags. A 100 bags should last you about two years and when you start to run low on bags just call DC and reorder. I am a late convert to recycling but I can tell you it is a win/win situation. Your current annual DC sanitation fee is $265 - this has been the fee since 2006 and as you know you pay this when you pay your annual property taxes.
2. Zoning Rewrite Update Public Meeting ... This meeting will take place tonight night, 2 OCT, at your City Hall at 7 PM. I strongly believe that the Zoning Rewrite is the most important task we have undertaking since becoming a city. This is all about what we want our city to be in the future. Very honestly I think the attendance at our public meetings is rather poor but tonight night I hope you will come out and pack the Council Chambers. Don't worry about all the formal zoning language ... just come out and write down your bullet item in layman's terms. By getting involved early you will know what is going on prior to us passing the new City Zoning Ordinance ... if all goes according to plan the ordinance should be voted on in 2013. For me, protection and preservation of our residential areas is high on my list.
3. Walk to School ... Tomorrow, Wed - 3 OCT, is a walk to school day. I will be walking with my usual group to Austin School ... this group leaves Mellow Mushroom in Dunwoody Village at 7:15 AM. Walking to school is a win/win situation. More exercise for our children, helps curb the obesity problem of our youth, less traffic and thus less car pollution. Wherever you live I highly recommend joining the children and parents who are walking in your area. FYI, walk to school is always the first Wednesday of every month.
4. City Council (CC) October Meeting Dates ... As a reminder, the CC meetings have been changed to the 15th and 29th of OCT (the 3rd and 5th Monday) ... this was due to a scheduling conflict.
5. Security ... Remember you are the "eyes and ears" of our Dunwoody Police. Recently in our neighborhood an alert neighbor saw two suspicious men pull into his neighbor driveway and walk around to the back of the house. He knew the neighbors weren't home and called 911 .... after a foot chase our outstanding police officers arrested both of the suspects and they are now in jail. These suspects have been implicated in other burglaries in Dunwoody and surrounding cities. The key to security is all of us should know when our neighbors are normally not home and when they are out of town. Then if you see something going on that doesn't pas the "smell test" call 911 ASAP ... don't hesitate as you will not be bothering our police but rather assisting them keeping the "bad guys" out of our area.
6. More Security ... While major crimes have decreased in Dunwoody, car break-ins are on the rise. Folks, I have hit this issue many times in my updates. By my estimate we can reduce car break-ins by 50% if we just took a couple of extra seconds to ensure we have nothing of valve in our cars that can be seen from the outside. All that the predators are looking for when they walk by your car is something of value .... if they don't see something they move on but if they do see something of value they will break into your car and are gone in a few second ... and you will be the victim. Fellow citizens, please help our Dunwoody Police, and yourselves, by enacting this security tip in your everyday actions.
7. 2013 Budget ... The Dunwoody Budget Committee - I am one of the three members — met last Friday to discuss the 2013 City Budget. Although I believe we made some good decisions there are areas that I believe are of high expenditure concern. Some of these areas of concern are:
Completing Phase II of the Brook Run Park Trail in 2013 ... If we wait until 2014 there is a better possibility of our $7 million park bond suit be adjudicated making these funds, that can only be used in Brook Run, available
The size of the increase in the police budget ... approx. $735,000 ... some of these increases I agree with as necessary ... other increases are excessive
The size of pay increase for city employees ... I firmly believe we can give our employees a pay increase for the fourth straight year ... but I think a 4% increase is excessive
The budget is on our city website (dunwoodyga.gov) for your review and the budget public hearing will take place at the CC meeting on 15 OCT with the final vote at the CC meeting on 29 OCT
8. Dunwoody Woman's Club (DWC) Home Tour ... This annual event, which takes place tomorrow, 3 OCT, raises money for many charity causes in our area. For complete information about the Home Tour go the DWC website at ... http://www.dunwoodywomansclub.org. You can buy a tickets from DWC members, various shop around town and at the door of the homes on the tour. Advance tickets are $25. At one of the homes you may know the folks that are parking cars.
9. Home Owners Associations (HOAs) .... I will be speaking at a HOA on October 8. I will be glad to speak to any HOA in Dunwoody ... just let me know a time and place.
10. That is all for today. Please pass this on to all your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone would like to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make that happen. Thanks for your continued support and input.

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

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vermack/Womack Intersection Improvements

I spent a few minutes at Dunwoody High School last night talking with city officials about the two proposals to alleviate the traffic congestion during rush hours at the Vermack/Womack intersection.  One proposal is a roundabout (above).  The other is a traffic light (below).  The cost of the projects range from $600,000 to just north of $1,000,000. 
Either project will solve the traffic issues, but not without creating other problems - mainly safety concerns for children walking to school, and encroaching on neighboring properties.  And, oh yea, there's the price tag.

Click photo to enlarge
 After speaking with city officials and neighbors, the latter who seem unanimous in opposition to either proposal, I believe the most cost-effective solution is the best solution (one not suggested by the city, but some of the neighbors) - hire part-time safety-trained personal to act as traffic officers at the intersection.  One of the neighbors told me finding retired or off-duty officials to handle the job would not be a problem (I have no idea).  He said the going rate is $35 per hour.  At a maximum of four hours per day (two in the morning, two in the evening), the cost would be less than $30,000 a year. 

Not only would this plan be prohibitively more cost effective, but likely do a better job in alleviating traffic issues.  It definitely would be safer than either of the city's proposals (and city officials will tell you that safety needs to come first). 
I know the city spent in excess of $100,000 to perform a study and hire a company to come up with their two proposals, but to me, the neighbors' solution is far superior.  At the very least, the city should test this plan to determine if it works.  The cost would be minimal.  Why not at least give it a shot?  And, if it works, it would give city officials an additional $600,000-$1,000,000 to waste spend on their beloved makeover of Dunwoody Village Parkway!
Just my two-cents worth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Councilman Update and Ethics Board Meeting

The following is an update from Councilman Terry Nall.  I am particularly interested in the Vermack/Womack intersection meeting, as I don't live far from there and am very familiar with the heavy congestion during both morning and afternoon rush hours.  It's too bad this project is not higher on the list of the city's priorities and has to take a backseat to the mess that is Dunwoody Village Parkway.  Whatever happened to "fixing what needs fixing!" 

Upcoming City Council Meetings at 7:00pm

September 24
October 15 (note this one-time change to 3rd Monday)
October 29 (note this one-time change to 5th Monday)

Project Renaissance Parks and Trail

Two additional public meetings are scheduled to hear your input for the design of the four public parks and trail within the 35-acre Project Renaissance development in Georgetown. These additional meetings are during the day in an effort to reach those who are unable to attend night meetings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 9:30am-11:00am AND 3:30pm-5:30pm
Dunwoody Public Library; 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road

Vermack Road & Womack Road Intersection

A public meeting is scheduled to share your feedback about the design possibilities for the Vermack/Womack intersection improvement:

Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Dunwoody High School Cafeteria (Note the revised location)

The two conceptual designs include a traditional traffic light and a roundabout. After an advance view of the designs, I personally favor the roundabout design for these reasons:

  • Retains a 24-hour traffic calming effect on Womack and Vermack - all cars will slow down to 15 mph to proceed through it
  • Has a protected pedestrian island so a pedestrian crosses just one travel lane at a time - a vast improvement over today's configuration
  • Involves the least amount of right of way acquisition
  • Reduces potential for head-on and t-bone crashes
  • Retains the neighborhood look and feel
  • Improves the efficiency of the intersection, but doesn't add additional capacity for volume
  • Offers the best intersection improvement ratings for the projected over the next 25 years
  • Less expensive than the traffic light design option.
Zoning Code Rewrite

Module 2 of the Zoning Code Rewrite Project will be ready for public input in early October. You're invited to attend the public meeting of this next module and share your thoughts. More information about the entire project is at www.zoningdunwoody.com.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 7:00pm
City Hall, Council Chambers; 41 Perimeter Center East

A Message from Dunwoody Police

September 14th at about 3:30 PM a 14-year old student from Dunwoody High school reported that as he was walking home from school on Manhasset Dr, a white Nissan Frontier 2 door pickup drove up to him. He said the passenger of the truck asked if he wanted a ride. The DHS student was savvy enough to immediately walk up to the nearest home and call his parents and 911. The Nissan continued toward Manhasset Dr and Mt. Vernon Rd and was not seen again. Officers were in the area within minutes but did not locate the suspects.
Talk with your children, even the older ones, and make sure they know what to do in the event something like this happens to them. It was very smart of the student in this case when he walked up to the nearest house and got on his cell phone. Encourage students to walk with friends. Children should never approach strange vehicles or people. In fact, take several steps away from strangers and their vehicles. Call 911 and report any and all suspicious people and or vehicles immediately.
If you have input or suggestions on these or any other City Council issues, please let me know. I am available to organizations, church groups, neighborhood associations, etc. that desire a City Council member to attend and provide in-person updates.

Terry Nall
Dunwoody City Council (At Large)
Email: terry.nall@dunwoodyga.gov

Ethics Board Meets

The Dunwoody Board of Ethics met last night and recommended City Council sort out the mess before having any formal hearings.  The board also dismissed charges against all council members except Adrian Bonser and Mayor Mike Davis.  I'm guessing the charge against the mayor will be dismissed in the near future as well. 
For more on how the hearing went, read the ethics story in the Dunwoody Reporter or check out Kerry de Vallette's blog at I'm just sayin' Dunwoody.
I was unable to make last night's meeting, but I do want to go to one to see how the board operates.  However, when Kerry uses words like "laborious" to describe last night's meeting, it doesn't sound like I'm missing much!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Update from Councilman Nall

The following update was provided by Councilman Terry Nall.  It is a partial update, as Terry sent it out on Monday, and my apologies, I'm just now getting it posted so I have omitted the dated materials. 
I'm glad to see council finally get around to talking about possible traffic congestion improvements to the Vermack/Womack intersection.  I'd love to see some talk about improvements along Mt. Vernon Rd., as well. These are roads/intersections that are more pressing, unlike Dunwoody Village Parkway, which was not on any one's radar until the council brought it up in the last year or so.  Quite frankly, I never heard anyone talk about changes to DVP in the first 16 years I lived in Dunwoody!  It seems the only reason we are even talking about Dunwoody Village Parkway is because we have secured federal and state grants.  It's as if the city painted itself into a corner with these grants, and now is basically forced to spent $1 million of capital improvement funds, unnecessarily.  Granted, at some point in time, Dunwoody Village Parkway probably needs to be addressed concerning redevelopment of the Village.  But not now.  Just one humble voter's opinion. 

Vermack Road & Womack Road Intersection Public Meeting

Continuing with City Council's desire to make substantial traffic congestion improvements, a public meeting is scheduled to share your feedback about the design possibilities for Vermack/Womack intersection as noted below:

Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
City Hall - Council Chambers; 41 Perimeter Center East

Dunwoody Village Parkway

Last Monday, the Council divided on the vote to continue with the original scope of the Dunwoody Village Parkway project, which was designed, funded, and approved by last year's Council. The project includes tearing out the parkway median, reducing lanes of traffic, and adding dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks for a total cost of over two million dollars to be funded from Federal and State grants and capital improvement funds from the City of Dunwoody.
Though some elements of the project have merit, such as the much needed sidewalks, I believe the parkway project is not our highest priority at this time in light of the other infrastructure priorities we face. However, the City ran the risk of blacklisting from future grants if we cancelled the plan completely.
I recommended a compromise plan, as reported in the August 29 issue of the Crier (click here) that would not add dedicated bike lanes as the traffic counts do not warrant it, save the median and its landscaping (after proper pruning), add sidewalks and streetscapes, and avoid $300,000 of the median demolition cost.
After much discussion, the final vote was 5-2 in favor of continuing with the project as previously approved by last year's Council. While I did not share my colleagues' vision and votes, we remain colleagues and neighbors both before and after Council meetings. On this issue, we simply agree to disagree.
This parkway work will not begin until after the July 4, 2013 parade.

Fire/Rescue Service

This year, Dekalb County increased its millage rate for Fire/Rescue service from 2.70 to 3.29 mills. This is an annual increase of 22% and a 30% increase over the last two years. DeKalb County also relocated out of Dunwoody its fire/rescue ambulance unit that was stationed at the Roberts Drive Fire Station 12.
At last Monday's Council meeting, we learned the average Dekalb Fire/Rescue response time in Dunwoody for the first six months of 2012 (measured from when a citizen first contacts ChatComm 911 to when the first fire/rescue unit arrives) is almost 11 minutes. Because this is just an average, some Dunwoody residents receive a much longer response time. In my opinion, that's not acceptable in life-threatening situations where the "window of opportunity" for optimum care is half this time. At my request, the city manager is researching the many fire district service models available to Dunwoody. More on this public safety initiative is to come later this year.
If you have input or suggestions on these or any other City Council issues, please let me know. I am available to organizations, church groups, neighborhood associations, etc. that desire a City Council member to attend and provide in-person updates.

Terry Nall
Dunwoody City Council (At Large)
Email: terry.nall@dunwoodyga.gov

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Odds & Ends

Wow - I cannot believe it's been 15 days since my last post.  That's the longest I've gone between posts since I started blogging four years ago.  I'll never be a threat to John Heneghan's record number of post in one year (in 2009, John had 534 posts.  My record is 131 in 2010). 
A lot has happened since my last blog.  Dunwoody real estate has caught fire, at least comparatively speaking.  I have two Dunwoody proper listings, and both went under contract.  One was under contract in less than two weeks, the other had multiple offers.  I also have a buyer under contract on a home in Dunwoody North.  And I even have an offer on my $1,200,000 listing on the Dunwoody side of Sandy Springs (click on photo above to view more pictures and listing details of this fabulous home on the Hooch).  Other agents are experiencing similar results.  Now if we can just get prices up!!!

Butterfly Festival

I went to my first Butterfly Festival at the Dunwoody Nature Center on Saturday and it was fabulous!  In 18 years living in Dunwoody, this is the first time I've attended.  Truth be told, I didn't even know the festival existed until DNC Executive Director Alan Mothner asked me if our All Saints' Knights of Columbus would volunteer to grill hot dogs and help as servers.  Alan - it was a lot of fun.  My guys estimated they grilled up almost 700 franks!

DeKalb Tax Bill Snafu

Oh, how I love DeKalb County.  Last year I filed an appeal of my property taxes.  Finally, in May of this year, I received a postal notification of my hearing.  The only problem was, I received it two days AFTER the hearing!
The hearing was rescheduled, and when I finally had my day in court (so to speak), I got $52,000 knocked off my assessment, and in the process froze my taxes for the next couple of years.
Well last week I received my tax bill for 2012, and lo and behold, the $52,000 had magically reappeared!  DeKalb tells me it was an error, and that my mortgage company will be notified.  Like I said, I love DeKalb County!

Bad Press for Dunwoody PD

It hasn't been a good week for the Dunwoody Police Department.  Chief Billy Grogan's staff is feeling the heat for not treating Andrea Sneiderman as a suspect in her late husband Rusty's murder right from the get-go.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution has called the department to task.
I remember when the murder happened, my neighbor blurted out, "you watch, the wife is involved."  Even he knew!  I'm not sure if the DPD handled this in the correct manner, but I'm willing to give the department a pass.  Dunwoody Police have done too much right to let this drag the department down. 

Bob - You Da Man

Finally, I'm tired or reading follow up comments on the Crier, the Patch, the Dunwoody Reporter and other blog sites slamming Bob Lundsten for going public on an executive session leak.  Here's a guy that's done more for the Dunwoody community than all of those nameless critics combined.  He was a past president of the DHA spending countless volunteer hours ensuring we had the best zoning possible (under DeKalb County), was responsible for lifesaving portable defibrillators in every Dunwoody Police car and was a large part of the creation of the Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run, which donates thousands of pounds of food to the needy every year.  Bob thanks for standing up for what you believe in and walking the walk.  I owe you a breakfast at Old Hickory House!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dunwoody Paving Project

This week, the City will be paving on Winters Chapel Monday-Wednesday with a lane closure between 9:00am and 4:00pm.

The City will also be paving Broughton, Tyndall and Tichenor Courts on Monday. Starting Wednesday, there will be periodic lane closures on Mount Vernon west of Ashford Dunwoody for work on the bicycle and pedestrian improvement project.
To lean more about the City's ongoing paving and construction project follow the link below.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thumbs Down on T-SPLOST, Thumbs Up on Brookhaven

There will not be a one percent sales tax on Dunwoody residents, or for that matter Atlanta area residents, to pay for transportation projects.  The T-SPLOST vote was defeated soundly on Tuesday, by almost a 2-to-1 margin.  Why did it fail so miserably? 
The reason I voted against it wasn't so much that I didn't want to pay an additional penny to resolve metro traffic issues, but that the tax really didn't solve the major congestion problems.
For years, our legislatures have known that we need a northern arc in the worst possible way.  We need an outer perimeter on the north side, stretching from I-575 near Woodstock to I-85 near Highway 316.  No ands, ifs or buts about it.  It would do wonders to alleviate traffic on I-285.  However, our legislatures know that such a proposal would get major resistance from the folks who live close to any major thoroughfare project.  Our legislatures don't have the stomach to push for it.  If we're going to spent $7.2 billion dollars, that needs to be part of the plan. 

Click T-SPLOST to read more on the T-SPLOST vote.  Click Results to see statewide results.  the T-SPLOST vote was a regional.   Of the 12 regions across the state of Georgia, nine voted against it. 

New City of Brookhaven

The city of Dunwoody will have a new neighbor.  On Tuesday, residents of the Brookhaven area voted to incorporate - congratulations!  It seemed like a no-brainer.  For more on the vote, click Dunwoody Reporter. 
Perhaps the new city of Brookhaven and the city of Dunwoody can get together and form a fire department.  Dunwoody city council is looking into the possibility of starting its own fire department, however the cost might not make sense.  However, splitting the cost between two or three cities may be a way to make it work financially, as well as provide better service than DeKalb County.  Stay tuned.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Tuesday is election day, don't forget to vote.  The big item on the ballot is the T-SPLOST.  But there is also an important school board election as well.  To view a sample ballot and find your polling place, click VOTE.  See you at the polls!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

T- SPLOST Debate, Return of the Blackberry

The most important item on next Tuesday's ballot is the T-SPLOST referendum.  Do you know what it is?  Or how much it will cost? 
The DHA is holding a T-SPLOST debate/forum 7pm Thursday night at the Perimeter College auditorium. 
Speaking in favor of the T-SPLOST will be Bob Dallas, past Director, Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety and Terry Lawler, Executive Director of the Regional Business Coalition of Metro Atlanta. Speaking in opposition to the T-SPLOST will be Ron Sifen, Past President of the Cobb County Civic Coalition, and Mike Lowry of the Georgia Tea Party.

This forum will be conducted in a Question and Answer format. Questions will be asked by the Moderator, and the parties will alternate their responses. The parties have agreed to the format and time limits of the debate. Audience members may submit questions in writing to the Moderator, Greg Crnkovich, A DHA board member. Program starts at 7:00 PM and ends at 8:30 PM.

The DHA hopes that you will attend to hear both sides of the issue and ask your questions regarding the T-Splost referendum, which is on all ballots for the General Primary Election Tuesday, July 31. For maps and project lists go to: http://www.metroatlantatransportationreferendum.com/

Phone Woes - Call Me, Maybe

Okay, sometime soon I will relinquish my Blackberry and trade up to an iphone or android.  That day almost happened on Tuesday, as my phone was on the fritz.  The keypad stopped working.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the T-mobile store.  Actually, the funny thing happened IN the T-mobile store.I was bemoaning to the young clerk, who just told me my beloved Blackberry was "fried," the hefty price tag on the new phones.  A Samsung Galaxy S III for $199 upfront, and $20 per month for 20 months! 
As we were discussing the new phones and my options, I casually was tossing my fried Blackberry in the air.  Well, on one of the throws, the phone slipped through my hands, and crashed onto the tiled flooring.  I bent down to pick it up, and guess what?  The keypad was back -working perfectly! 
The moral of the story?  I'll let you know when I figure it out.  In the meantime, I'll keep using my Blackberry.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Update from Councilman Shortal

The following update was emailed to me from Councilman Denis Shortal this morning.  It preceeds this evening's city council meeting.

My fellow citizens .... the following is an update of items that maybe of interest ...

1. Good News - Charlie Was Found ... My thanks to all of you who got involved in the search for the McCrocy's family Dog ... Charlie. About a day after I sent out the email with Charlie's photo asking for help, some fine citizens spotted Charlie and he is home safe and sound. Below is a note from the McCrorys and photo of Charlie after he was found:


We would like to thank everyone in Dunwoody for helping us bring Charlie home. We found him this afternoon in a backyard on Withmere Way. We have lived in Dunwoody for many years, but this experience has really showed us the true community of Dunwoody. We would like to thank all our family and friends for their relentless searching (too many to name right here but you all know who you are), as well as total strangers who reached out with sightings info, offerings of help and some just calling and e-mailing to check on the search. We will be eternally grateful to the Dunwoody community for bringing Charlie back to us!

2. Green Market .... For those of you looking for the Green Market it has moved to the Spruill Center Gallery which is located on the corner of Ashford Dunwoody Rd and Asbury Square. The Green Market will still be on Wednesday mornings with the same vendors and great selections. The reason for the move was the Post Office needed the old location space do to the closing of the Post Office Branch on Shallowford Rd.

3. Paving ... There are three different paving projects that are on going somewhat simultaneously by three different contractors ... Paving is a great enhancement to our City but paving will require patience from all of us as there will be traffic disruptions.  Full Depth Reclamation Paving (FDRP) .... There are seven streets in this project ... These are streets that had extensive deterioration and lacked adequate pavement thickness for normal resurfacing. FDRP is a process where the existing pavement is completely pulverized, mixed with the underlying soil and then cement is added to form a stabilized base which is then overlain with new asphalt pavement. (That is probably more info than you needed.) One of those streets in now complete in Leisure Valley ... this is street DC accepted before our cityhood. The street wasn't up to specs and by default the responsibility fell upon us when we became a city ... (as you know the City has responsibility for all streets and roads within our boundaries). This is a new construction area where the old builders went broke. We were fortunate enough to work out an arrangement where the new builders paid about 56% of the cost. The other streets in this project are... Tennille Ct, Vernon Oaks Dr, Tichenor Ct, Broughton Ct, Tyndall Ct and Arnaud Ct. Total cost of this portion of the repaving is approx. $370K.

Capital Paving Plan (CPP). CPP is the type of paving we have done in the last two years. This process involved milling the streets, deep patching the bad spots and then overlain with new asphalt. This work was started over a week ago on Perimeter Center East which is currently a little over half done. The other streets in this project are Ashford Ctr Pkwy, portions of Winters Chapel Rd, Ashley Ct, Sanlee Ln, Arrie Way, Lakesprings Cr, Lakesprings Ct, Charmant Pl, Joel Pl, Joel Ln and W. Fontainbleau Ct. The rain we had last week slowed progress on this project but I won't complain about the rain as it was needed to get our lawns, etc. back to good health.

The third Paving Project is the enhancements on Mt Vernon Rd … this includes widening the road, adding curb and gutter where needed, adding sidewalks on the south side and repaving ... there will be bike lanes as part of this enhancement. There will be some tree removal (which is currently in progress) involved in this project to accommodate the sidewalks. A second part of this project is enhancement to Chamblee Dunwoody Rd south of Womack Rd. This portion of the project has been put on temporary hold pending the outcome of a "shovel ready" grant that we found and have applied for ... we are awaiting the outcome of that grant application.

4. City Signage ... Thanks to all of you for your input. There is a blond lady that I hang around with a lot and she also agrees with your point of view. You can rest easy as we are going back to the "drawing board" on the city/way finding signage. That is one of the reasons we became a city .... your representatives are fellow citizens that you know, and can contact easily and they will respond. The public feedback is a key part in running our city as long as that feedback is not individual self-motivated ... in this case it definitely worked. I was out on the road with the paving crews this week and I have a fairly good working knowledge of that subject. When it comes to art and signs ... I personally can't even draw a "stick man." We will get a couple of graphic art type folks combined with some citizens with a good corporate knowledge of historic Dunwoody and proceed forward.

5. Voting ... Candidate Primaries and other major issues are on the 31 JUL 2102 election ballot .... just nine days for today. This is your website for all voting Information ... http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/default.html

How and Where to Vote ... See under "Normal Voting" below for instructions to see "specific" sample ballot for your area of DC.

You can still vote absentee but time is getting short. Go to the above website and on the left side of the page click on "Application and Forms" and in the middle of the next page click on "Absentee Ballot Application." Fill out the application -- remember this is a primary and you must choose either a Republican or Democratic Ballot (the general non-partisan issues will be on both on these ballots). At this date I recommend you fax your ballot application to DC Election Office (DCEO) ... Fax Ph # is 404-298-4038. Your application must be received NLT 4 PM on Friday, 27 JUL ... You will receive your ballot in the mail .... fill it out and mail it back to the address shown. To be counted your ballot must be received NLT 31 JUL at the DCEO.

Advance Voting ... Advance Voting is voting in person from 7 AM to 7 PM at five polling places around DC starting 23 thru 27 JUL 2012 ... the closest Advance Voting Polling Place to us is Chamblee City Hall, 5468 Peachtree Rd, Chamblee, GA 30341. Remember whenever you vote in person you need a picture ID.

Normal Voting ... Normal Voting will be at your regular polling place on Tuesday, 31 JUL from 7 AM to 7 PM. To find your regular polling place go to the above website, click on "Current Election Information" ... first items on the top left column ... and on the next page click on "Voter Specific Sample Ballot," it is the second item in the center of the page, fill out the required personal information and click "submit" and a page will come up showing your polling place and location. Also about 1/2 way down that page you will see a paragraph entitled "Your Sample Ballot(s)" and at the bottom of that paragraph you can select the "specific" Republican or Democratic ballot for you area of DC.

My Comment of Voting ... Over the last 10 months I have been the senior Marine at the funeral, in the Atlanta area, for two very patriotic young Marines who lost their lives preserve your privilege to vote. Pls. keep faith with them by voting at this and all subsequent elections!

6. TSPLOST .... This issue, among others, will be on all ballots for the 31 JUL election. Basically it adds a one cent to the sales tax in each region. There are 12 regions in the state and DeKalb and nine other counties are in the region which encompasses the greater Atlanta Region. Each of the 12 regions across the state will vote independent of each other whether or not to pass TSPLOST … i.e., only those regions that vote in favor of TSPLOST will have TSPLOST. As I see it the positive for Dunwoody are ... we would get approx. $12 million from the regional funds to complete the Mt Vernon Rd enhancement from the city east boundary to Ashford Dunwoody Rd and additional $112.5 Million with $337.5 million in matching federal funds to enhance the I-285 / 400 intersection plus we would get approx. $800 — 900K annually for the 10 year life of TSPLOST for capital road enhancements within our city. The negative are it is a sales tax increase of approx. 14% ... also we are the only region to have a 85%/15% split where 85% of the funds go to regional projects across the region and 15% of the funds go to local projects for the individual counties and cities ...… all other regions have a 75% / 25% split. The last negative factor is trust. How you vote is your decision ... you decide!

7. DeKalb County Fire & Rescue (DCF&R) ...… Currently DCF&R is planning on outsourcing ambulance service in DC. There is currently a Request for Proposal (RFP) on the street with a due date of 9 AUG 2012. If this project goes forth this will probably be implemented sometime later this fall. This is brought on by the fiscal issues in DC. How it is currently envisioned to work is that when you place an EMT / Paramedic 911 call the first response would be a fire truck from one of our fire stations and on the truck will be an EMT and a Paramedic. At the same time the contract ambulance will be dispatched to the scene with an EMT and Paramedic on board to take anyone who requires it to a medical facility. I will keep you updated as this situation develops. I like the current system better.

8. Stage Door Players (SDP) ... Meredy and I went to see SDP production of "High Society" last night ... all we can say it was excellent and we highly recommend the play. The remaining shows are on Th, Fr and Sat 26, 27 & 28 JUL and 2, 3 and 4 AUG @ 8 PM ... There is also a Sunday Matinee on 29 JUL and 5 AUG at I think 2:30 PM. Call 770-396-1726 or go on line at info@stage door players.net. The plays have been sold out so get your tickets early. If you haven't been to SDP we would highly recommend you start supporting this crown jewel intimate theater of Dunwoody. One day I envision some of our generous citizens stepping forward with the funds to renovate the Brook Run Theater (I am pretty sure we can get the votes to name it after you) which would be a venue enhancement while more that doubling the seating capacity.

9. City Meetings and Event of Interest ...
23 JUL @ 7 PM ... City Council Meeting @ City Hall
24 JUL @ 1 PM ... Dunwoody Design Review Committee Meeting ... At the Dunwoody Homeowners Association Office ... 5527 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd.
24 JUL @ 4 PM ... Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Meeting at City Hall
26 JUL @ 7 PM ... TSPLOST Forum @ Georgia Perimeter College (GPC)
28 JUL @ 7 PM ... Dunwoody Nature Center (DNC) Summer Concert @ the DNC ... Bring your food and beverages in a picnic basket and enjoy a wonderful evening for the entire family.
01 AUG @ 7 PM ... Dunwoody Zoning and Land Development Code Rewrite ... Public meeting @ The Fellowship Hall @ DUMC

10. Dunwoody Bakery Grand Re-opening ... I attended this event this passed week. Jill, the owner tells me she uses all organic ingredients and everything is also gluten free. She is going to start serving lunch starting in August.

11. Pat Sadler .... At tomorrow night's city council meeting we will honor Pat Sadler who for the last ten years has been the President of Dunwoody Senior Baseball. Pat, is moving to NC to retire and play golf. Pat, on behalf of all the citizens of our fair city ... Thanks You! You are my definition of a real "community activist."

12. It is about time I put an end to this update before I have to get a copy write. Please pass this on to all your friends, neighbors, members of your HOA or anyone else you think maybe interested. If anyone would like to be added to my email list please let me know and I will make that happen. Thanks for your continued support and remember that each of us are the 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

Friday, July 20, 2012

911 Follow Up, T-SPOLST

Dunwoody City Council meets again on Monday evening, and Councilman John Heneghan, true to his word, had an update on the city's 911 services placed on the agenda
Two blog posts ago, I published an email by former Councilman Danny Ross on the progress  - or lack thereof - of service provider ChatComm's CAD-to-CAD (computer-aided dispatch) function (read July 14).
Since that time, I spoke with Councilman Terry Nall, who says don't be so quick to place all the blame on ChatComm, the private company hired by the city to replace DeKalb County's 911 services.  Terry says a lot of the issue lies within DeKalb County and two of its IT departments , which can't seem to get on the same page. 
And to add fuel to the fire - so to speak - DeKalb has pulled one of its rescue crews - Unit 12 - out of Dunwoody in order to serve other areas of the county. 
One other item on the agenda of note, longtime Dunwoody resident and remodelor Sam Portis will be added to the Design Review Advisory Committee.   Any committee that has Sam as a member is better for it!

T-SPLOST Prospects Look Dim

I found the following article on Dunwoody Patch concerning T-SPLOST very interesting.  In some respects, T-SPLOST makes a lot of sense.  In others, it makes no sense.  15 years ago Georgia legislatures had the opportunity to do the right thing and build a northern arc.  They didn't have the backbone.  And now the metro area suffers.  We still need a northern arc, however it's not part of the penny tax.  My inclination is to vote against T-SPLOST.   And I am very pleased to see the Ga.400 toll coming to an end, albeit 3 years too late.

By Perry Parks
Georgia Republicans' aversion to any kind of tax, and concern about riling the Tea Party, are helping to consolidate opposition to the state's one-percent sales tax referendum for transportation, UGA professor Charles Bullock said in an analysis of a Patch survey.

Patch's unscientific survey of about 60 state Republican activists, candidates and office holders showed overwhelming opposition to the TSPLOST referendum. Bullock, a longtime observer of Georgia politics, says that while the Tea Party didn't put up as many primary challengers to sitting Republican legislators as it had hoped, anti-tax pressure within the party remains high.
Click Dunwoody Patch to read full story.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Real Estate Update, Dunwoody News

As we approach the final weeks of July, time to update the Dunwoody real estate market.  We still have yet to see an increase in sales prices, however we have not seen a drop since January.  And that's a good thing when you consider the steady decline in sales prices each of the previous 13 quarters.
So, it appears that we have bottomed out.  Let's hope that's the case.  However, the housing market is tied to the jobs market, and until we see a decrease in the unemployment numbers, don't expect to see an increase in pricing.
The last two months, a total of 50 single-family, detached homes sold in zip codes 30338 and 30360 with a median sales price of $350,000.   The highest sale was $882,500.  The lowest was $160,000. 
To view any of the sold homes in the past two months (with photos), click on the first link (the list price is top right.  The sales price is bottom left).  To view sold homes in a line item report, click on the second link.

There are currently 124 active homes listed for sale in Dunwoody, with a median asking price of $376,950.  To view any of the active listings, click on the link below.  Of course you can always check active listings by clicking on the home at the top left corner of my blog at http://www.dunwoodyusa.com/.  By the way, that is my newest Dunwoody listing above.  For full details, click on the photo.  It's a fabulous renovation with open floorplan zoned to Kingsley Elementary School, listed for $315,000. 

Congrats to Dunwoody city officials for putting the kibosh on its wayfinding signage program.  The signs were awful looking and the price was too high (read Dunwoody Talk for more details and opinions).  About four or five weeks ago, I was asked to be a member of a focus group for the signs.  I expressed my opinion then that they would never fly in Dunwoody.  The city contracted with a company from Pittsburgh to design the signs, and as well intentioned as its employees were, the signs just didn't speak Dunwoody. 
The following was taken from the city's release on the suspension of the program, and I couldn't agree more.  "Mayor and council asked for input and received it from many residents (either by email or via posts on blogs and news web sites) and took action based on that input. Thanks to Mayor Davis, our city council members, and staff for doing the right thing."
Now if the city would start to slowly but surely lose the Walmart logo and "Smart City" tagline!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Was Dunwoody Sold a Bill of Goods?

It hasn't been a very good time for our young city.  These wild ethics charges are an embarrassment for Dunwoody (read AJC), and now my friend at Dunwoody Talk is bringing to light some hard-to-defend spending by city hall (Rick, I couldn't agree more.  The signs are not only ugly, but the spending is unnecessary).
If that isn't enough, Dunwoody has paid an awful lot of money for a 911 service that still isn't doing what it is supposed to do.  And it may end up costing homeowners money.  How do I know this?
My friend Greg Crnkovich wrote the following comment on John Heneghan's blog (and by the way, how anyone can file an ethics complaint against a man with an impeccable reputation like John's is laughable):

     "Why did the Council forego the monthly updates requested of (Police) Chief Grogan and (City Manager) Warren Hutmacher as to the status of the (911) Chattcomm switch-over? I am surprised to learn that more than 9 months after the changeover, the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) function has yet to be functional. This was supposed to be complete by March, 2012.
     "Since I am in your district, I would like to request that you put an agenda item before the Council to publicly disclose the costs of the transfer and any additional costs incurred in this switch over, to date.
      "I would also ask that you consider appointing or hiring a program manager unrelated to the City to get this issue resolved, promptly.
      "It appears to this citizen that there is not proper oversight of the process by the people who are currently in charge."
      Greg Crnkovich

John immediately responded to Greg:

     "Greg, I understand and share your concerns on the switchover delay.  I will happily ask to have this item on the next agenda."

Well after reading the above, I decided to forward that exchange to former Councilman Danny Ross, who was the only member of council to vote against the switch of 911 services from DeKalb County to Chatcomm (I was also against it for no other reason than cost.  Read former Councilman Robert Wittenstein's cost figures from November, 2010). 
Danny's response to me was immediate and in no uncertain terms (I have omitted one name from his email response).

     "Bob - Greg is not correct on when the CAD to CAD was suppose to be completed. The date was October 3, 2011. Attached you will find a compilation of e-mails relating to this subject dating back to May 2011. You will note until late July 2011 (one year ago) Hutmacher assured the council that the project was on schedule. It was not until late July, early August that he finally revealed to the council that the October 3rd date was not going to happen. By then it was too late to change the switch over for police 911. If I were on the council today, I would be calling for his resignation, as I indicated in the October council meeting that "heads should roll" if this is not completed by the then promised date of January 3, 2012.
The date continues to slide each month. During the council meeting on July 9th, I watched the portion related to this matter. Hutmacher continues to give the same excuses for not having this done. Without question, the IT department should be overseeing this, not (omitted). (omitted) is a very nice person, but totally incompetent in overseeing this. All (omitted) does is serve as a conduit of the information given by ChatComm, DeKalb and the other parties (OSSI and InterAct). Our IT supplier has a highly qualified person on their staff that was a policeman and who is schooled in E-911. That was a major reason that as a member of the selection team, I pushed for switching IT supplier during our renewal process this past year.
     "To my knowledge, ChatComm (and Hutmacher) have not supplied council with a report on the Fire and EMS dispatch times since February. At that time, it was taking over 3.5 minutes to dispatch calls related to Fire and EMS (1.5 minutes for ChatComm and 2 minutes for DeKalb call takers). I am surprised that ISO (Insurance Services Organization), the organization that establishes the grading for response (which should be 1 minute or less) has not cited Dunwoody on this and possibly lowered our rating from a 3 to a 4 or worse. If this were to happen, the insurance rates on the average homeowner in Dunwoody would increase over $200 per year (see attached ISO Report). The first responder to a fire or EMS event should be 5 minutes. As you can see, with the dispatch time we have, this only leaves 1.5 minutes for the respondent to arrive at the scene once the dispatch is finally completed. Thank God we have not had any (more) fatalities thus far!
      "Thanks for sending Greg's questions. I have copied John Heneghan and Greg on my response to you. John and Bob, feel free to post the attachment (and this e-mail response) on your blog if you wish. Greg, thanks for bringing this important issue to John's attention."
     Danny Ross

I have no idea who is responsible for the delay in the switch, but when it affects my pocketbook - I'm all ears.  I agree with Danny, this should have happened months ago, and if it's ChatComm's fault that it hasn't, the city of Dunwoody should be getting a refund (I'm still waiting for a traffic officer to handle the ridiculous jam on Womack Rd. every school morning, but am told we don't have the budget.  The money spent on ChatComm would have more than paid for that officer)!
In the end, I don't know if Chatcomm's services are better than DeKalb County's.  But the county was willing to bend over backwards to keep Dunwoody as a client.  And Dunwoody said no.  As a result, our money, and even our lives, are at stake!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July Post Post Mortem

Congratulations to Pam Tallmadge and her sidekick Penny Forman on staging another success 4th of July parade! 
There were a couple hitches this year that forced a delay, but I think most everyone had a great time as usual. 
One of my highlights was watching the Black Hawk land in the Village, and then take off after the parade.  Talk about a spectacle.   And talk about force.  As the Black Hawk was landing, the wind coming off the propeller was strong enough to knock over an elderly gentleman (fortunately, he appeared to be okay after receiving lightening-fast medical attention), blow orange traffic barrels and chairs like they were hot dog wrappers, and even destroy the Knights of Columbus tent that was, at the very least, 75 feet away (three of the metal legs to the tent were snapped in two)!

While I have a great time at the parade, it's also one of my least favorite events.  As a member of the DHA parade committee in charge of traffic control at the Village, I make a few enemies every year.
When the parade makes the left turn off Dunwoody Village Parkway into the parking lot, and then makes the final right turn at the corner by the cleaners heading towards the post office, many of the drivers of the cars and floats just want to stop and park right there - it makes for an easy walk back to the festival area. 
However, if these vehicles are allowed to park, or even spend a lengthy period of time trying to unload personnel and props, the parade starts to back up and slow down.  Invariably, I get into a heated discussion with a few of the drivers. 
Yesterday, I got into it with a member of the DeKalb EMS crew.   The EMS vehicle made the turn by the cleaners, pulled up about 50 yards and then just stopped.  One member of the crew started heading back to the festival area, and another member started out that way as well while the driver remained.  I asked the driver if he could pull up, or at least move as close to the curb as possible.  That's when the second member of the crew doubled-back.  He said told me they had a person they needed attention, and that the vehicle needed to be there.  I said fine, but please pull over to the curb.  That's when he started into me, and basically told me they didn't have to move.  I told him I'd work it out with the driver, while he proceeded to yell at me.  That's when I asked him, "if you've got an emergency, why are you wasting time talking to me?"  He proceeded to yap-on for another 30 seconds, before leaving. 
Bottom line, if you're driving a vehicle in the parade, please following directions. 
And with that said, 95 percent of the parade participants are fabulous in helping with traffic control - thank you so much!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Heat is On; Tax Appeal

Above is the WSB forecast for the next five days.  I've seen other forecast that say temperatures on Saturday could go as high as 105 degrees (reminds me of my days growing up in the 'burbs of Houston)!  If you plan to be outside, drink as much water as you can - it's virtually impossible to over-hydrate.  The good news is the high temperature for the 4th of July will be about 94 degrees, hopefully no higher than the mid-to-high 80's for the parade.  By the way, the average daily high temperature for this time of year is 88 degrees.

Tax Appeal

Have you filed an appeal for your 2012 property taxes yet?   The deadline is rapidly approaching.   Last week, I had my DeKalb County Board of Equalization hearing for my 2011 tax appeal (no surprise the county is backed up, so don't expect to have your 2012 hearing until late next spring or early summer).  I was over prepared!
The week leading up to my hearing, I spent about three or four hours gathering all the comps, photos, pricing from contractors for improvements, etc. 
My hearing was 1:30pm last Wednesday at the Callaway Building in Decatur.  I arrived at approximately 12:45pm, and was No.9 on the list (actually, I would have been 13 or 14 on the list, but my neighbhor, who was scheduled for her appeal at the same time, signed me up when she arrived at 12:30pm).
At approximately 2:30pm, I was called into the small conference room for my hearing.  In the room were the three Board of Equalization members (non-county employees who are property owners in DeKalb and have received 40 hours of training) and the county appraiser who assessed my property (and is entirely overworked assessing many if not most of the properties in Dunwoody and the surrounding area).
The board asked if I would like to present my case first.  I choose to defer (much better to have the opposition lay its cards on the table first).  At that time, the county appraiser glanced at my paperwork, then thumbed through his and said, "I will accept his value."  He accepted the value I had filed with the county online almost a year prior!  My hearing, which can last up to 15 minutes, was over in less than 30 seconds.  And the appraised value of my property was reduced $52,000.
Bottom line, if you appeal your taxes, set up a hearing and actually appear.  Your chances of getting a reduction are greatly increased.  Just showing up makes all the difference!

What is a stream buffer?

What is a stream buffer, and why should I care?  If you ever plan an addition for your home, or even extend a deck or add a screened porch, knowing the regulations concerning a stream buffer could be very valuable. 
There is an education forum and informational meeting on stream buffers tonight from 7-9 p.m. at Dunwoody City Hall, 41 Perimeter Center East Dunwoody, GA 30346 in the Council Chambers.
The agenda items include: Benefits of Stream Buffers, Stream Buffers as Regulatory Tools to Promote Surface Water Quality, Variance Processes, Types of Streams – Which should be protected with buffers?
There will be a panel of experts as well as an opportunity for questions following the panel discussion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tax Rate, Good Laugh

I did not get a chance to attend the city council meeting Tuesday night (I was at Kingsley's exciting swim meet against Gainsborough, a nail-biting three-point loss, 395-392, that came down to the final length of the last race), but was glad to see council approved the current millage rate of 2.74 for 2012.  Our millage rate remains the lowest in DeKalb County, as it should.  With the PCID powering our taxes, our rate should always be the lowest in the county!
By the way, a couple of contentious - but important - moments at last night's council meeting.  Click on Councilman John Heneghan's blogsite to watch.

I am a proud member of the National Association of Realtors, but I do get embarrassed, at times, by the antics of some of my fellow members.  In particular, their "creativity" in self-promotion.  I think you'll enjoy the video below (click on photo to watch).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dunwoody Odds & Ends

I received the following update from Councilman Denis Shortal late Sunday evening. 

My fellow citizens ... the following is a quick update on three items ... I will follow up with a more detailed update later this week...

1. City Council Date Change .... In case you haven't gotten the word this Monday's City Council meeting has been move to this Tuesday ... 26 JUN. The Work Session will be at 6 PM and the Regular Meeting will be at 7PM. The reason for the change is that some of the City Council members as well as city staff are attending the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) annual convention which concludes late tomorrow afternoon.
2. Ad Valorem Tax Rate .... We will vote on the City of Dunwoody Ad Valor em (property) tax rate for 2012 ... I think it is fairly well settles that the tax rate will remain at 2.74 mils. For the four straight year there will be no city property tax rate increase. I think we should all be proud of the fact that we have greatly increased services without increases taxes. FYI, if we had not incorporated as a city this tax rate would be approx. 30% higher. The challenge for all of us is to remain fiscally responsible to keep taxes low.
3. Property Tax Assessment Adjustment ... The (attached link) is a list of those properties in Dunwoody, as well as some other areas in DC, that have had the assessment adjusted. I received the list (FYI, my property didn't make the list) from our DC Commissioner, Elaine Boyer's office. Although the list is accurate as we know to date you will need to follow up with the DC Assessors Office to insure complete accuracy .... do not rely on the list as a final document.

Dunwoody Parade

The 4th of July Parade is just a little more than a week away.  While this year's parade will be a touch light on marching bands compared with years past, it will have a flyover by a Black Hawk helicopter that will land at Dunwoody Village Parkway, at approximately 8:30am.  While the Black Hawk is going to be a hit, especially with the younger kids, as a member of the parade committee I can tell you that it is somewhat of a logistics issue.  Not only is the propeller 57-feet long, but the helicopter will need another 100 feet perimeter to land safely (as you can see from the clicking here, the Black Hawk produces a pretty strong breeze)!

Green Market Move to Spruill Gallery

By Tom Odor
Dunwoody Patch

It’s official. The Dunwoody Green Market will relocate to the Spruill Gallery on July 18.
Paula Guilbeau, market president, and Robert Kinsey, Chief Executive Officer of the Spruill Center for the Arts, signed papers agreeing to the move and had them notarized last Wednesday at Piedmont Bank in Dunwoody Village. Guilbeau then obtained an administrative permit from the city allowing the market to do business at the gallery.
The permit is a Special Administrative Permit that allows temporary outdoor sales of merchandise from July 18 through November 21 at the Spruill Gallery, said Edie Daman, Marketing and Public Relations manager for the City of Dunwoody. The market will need to reapply for a permit to do business in 2013, Damann added.
Click Dunwoody Patch to read full story.