Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dirt Put to Good Use, Nature Center Sale, Ticketing at Murphey Candler

I received the following news release from the city of Dunwoody today.  Congrats to city officials for killing two birds with one stone:  1) solving the dump truck issue on Glaze Drive and 2) finding a location where 5,700 cubic yards of dirt can be put to good use. 
An all purpose field at the back of Brook Run Park is exactly what the city needs.  And it wouldn't hurt if one end of the field had a baseball diamond and a backstop (for either pick up games or organized practices).
Of course, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association gets a big pat on the back for making this possible.  It was the DHA that first raised a red flag on the city permitting the dumping of all this dirt in a residential area.  While procedure was followed in issuing the permit, if officials had dug a little deeper, they likely would have had second thoughts, and potentially prevented the residents of Glaze Dr. from having the veins popping in their neck, seeing red!

Dunwoody, GA – March 29, 2012 – The City of Dunwoody today began moving soil from the Chamblee High School construction site on Chamblee Dunwoody Road to a location within Brook Run Park which the City intends to use as a future open play field and recreational site.

The soil currently is being hauled in and placed at a spot where the old hospital facility was located in the northwest area of Brook Run Park. Once in place, the dirt will be moved, graded and leveled to accommodate an approximate 3,000-square-foot open play field and recreation area.
The dirt from the construction site was previously permitted for a location on Glaze Drive in Dunwoody. After meeting with local residents, City officials explored alternate locations and determined the Brook Run Park site as an available and optimum place for the construction soil.
“We are pleased to have found both an alternative site for the soil coming from the construction site and a beneficial use for the dirt being moved,” said Brent Walker, City of Dunwoody Parks and Recreation Manager. “We are doing everything possible to ensure this operation is safe, efficient and as non-intrusive a process as possible for residents and park visitors.”
The City this week ran thorough tests on the soil and determined the contents are well within all of the required U.S. Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) environmental standards. The soil tests performed by the City have shown that the soil is un-impacted and permissible to use on the Brook Run Park location.
The City is working with an experienced contractor to move the soil from its present location at the Chamblee High School construction site. The contractor and City estimate all hauling operations will take approximately two weeks and have made arrangements to not perform any hauling activities during weekend hours.

Dunwoody Nature Center Spring Sale

The Dunwoody Nature Center is having its Spring plant sale through March 31. All ordering is online; information, plant descriptions and pictures and payment instructions can be found at This year the Nature Center is offering hard-to-find Spring wildflowers, which you won’t see in big-box stores or even in most nurseries. This is a painless way to support the DNC, not to mention the pleasure you’ll get from these lovely flowers every Spring.

Traffic Tickets at Murphey Candler

If you are a Murphey Candler family and spend many of your spring evenings at the ballpark, be very careful where you park your car.  DeKalb Police are on a ticket-writing spree!  Unfortunately, Murphey Candler does not have enough parking spaces, thus, sometimes parents are forced to be creative in finding or "making" a space.  I can understand DeKalb Police ticketing cars that hop curbs and park in some very precarious areas, but police officers need to exercise common sense.  Take a look at the photo below.  Does the white Jeep warrant a ticket?  It got one!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sneiderman's Brother Gives Emotional Plea

Click photo to watch Steve Sneiderman's emotional plea asking judge that Hemy Neuman receive a life sentence without parole.
By Staff Reports
For the AJC
In the sentencing phase of the trial, Steve Sneiderman spoke for the victim's family. All capitalizing and other emphasis come directly from his printed statement:

Your Honor:

I am Steven Sneiderman, Rusty Sneiderman's brother. I am here today to speak on behalf of my parents, Marilyn and Donald Sneiderman, my wife Lisa, my daughter Samantha and, especially, Rusty's children Sophia and Ian.
We appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today and share with the Court the impact this crime has had on our family.
During our investigation and the trial, my mother has repeatedly asked me, "When is this about Rusty?" Unfortunately, I have been forced to explain to her this trial was really not about him. As a lawyer, I understand why that is so, but now it is important for you to know a little more about Rusty and why his murder and the subsequent loss of him from our lives is so devastating. There have been so many lies told to this court about Rusty, even to the extent of the defense shamefully equating my brother's life with that of this killer. So let's set the record straight:
Click Sneiderman to read full statement.

Neuman Found Guilty!


March 15, 2012 A Georgia judge today sentenced Hemy Neuman to life in prison without parole for the murder of father and entrepreneur Rusty Sneiderman.

Dekalb County Judge Gregory Adams made the ruling minutes after Neuman, 48, expressed his apologies for Sneiderman's death.
Adams called Sneiderman's death "a planned execution."
"I fully understand you're sorry but this was by your hands," Adams said, noting that Neuman had attended Sneiderman's funeral. "... His family can decide if they'll accept [your] words 15 months after the shooting."
The judge said Neuman has a right to appeal.
A jury found Hemy Neuman guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt but mentally ill." The "mentally ill" designation means Neuman will receive mental health treatment in prison. The jury forewoman was in tears as she read the verdict earlier this afternoon.
Click Neuman to read full story.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Real Estate Update - Buy Now; Final Arguments Heard in Neuman Trial

While we have yet to see an increase in home prices in the Dunwoody area, or metro Atlanta for that matter, all signs continue to point towards a gradual, if not methodical, rebound in the housing market. 
With that said, there has never been a better time for first-time home buyers or "move-up" buyers with prices at or near the bottom and interest rates at historic lows. 
How many times have we heard the phrase, "Buy low, sell high?" I don’t think real estate can get much lower than it is today.  Even Warren Buffet and Donald Trump are touting the opportunities that real estate presents for building wealth.

There are currently 113 active detached listings in Dunwoody in the 30338 and 30360 zip codes, ranging in price from $185,000 to $1,099,900.  There are currently 42 homes under contract.  The active listings to pendings ratio of 2.7-to-1 is as good as we've seen in the last 5 years.   In addition, 16 homes have sold in the past 30 days.

To view any active listing, including photos, click on the first link.  To view as a line item, click on the 2nd link.  To view the sales price of the 16 homes that sold in the past 30 days, click on the 3rd link.

Sold Homes (sale price at bottom of each listing)

If you know of anyone considering a home sale or purchase, I would be happy to consult with them, and provide exceptional service.


Defense Says Andrea Sneiderman Pulled Trigger

Atlanta (CNN) -- The defense and prosecution in the trial of a man accused of killing another man outside a Georgia day care center delivered their closing arguments on Tuesday.

Hemy Neuman is charged with murder in the death of Russell "Rusty" Sneiderman in November 2010.
Sneiderman was shot multiple times in the parking lot of Dunwoody Prep in suburban Atlanta after dropping off his son, in what police described as an apparent "cold and calculated murder."
Neuman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his defense on Tuesday also implicated the victim's wife in the murder. Andrea Sneiderman has not been charged.
"The gun in this case was in Hemy's hand, but the trigger -- I respectfully suggest -- was pulled by Andrea Sneiderman," defense attorney Doug Peters told the jury.
Click CNN to read full story.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Georgetown Redevelopment Plan

Click on photo and then link at bottom of page to see more sketches.
The City of Dunwoody now has a much more definitive idea of what it wants to do with the PVC Farm, provided council votes to approve the new plan. On Thursday, the city unveiled what it is calling “Project Renaissance – A New Georgetown.”  The plan calls for the redevelopment of not only the 16 acres known as the PVC Farm, but the 19 acres once occupied by the Emory Hospital campus (part of the failed park's bond purchase), which the city has under contract under a 60-day "free look" option. 
“We’ve come up with a plan to start transforming Georgetown,” Mayor Mike Davis said. "It's an opportunity to stimulate Georgetown, to kick start a dynamic redevelopment."

The plan calls for a public-private partnership with the the city holding onto 17 acres, much of which will become parks and greenspace and perhaps even city hall, with the other 18 acres being sold to developers, who would work under city guidelines.  City Manager Warren Hutmacher said he envisioned 70 single-family homes on the PVC Farm parcel, with 40 homes on the Emory Hospital parcel.  These are only preliminary numbers.  The plan also calls for a retail node on the Shallowford Rd. side of the PVC Farm.
The plan also calls for a trail connecting the new greenspaces to Brook Run Park, with the routing of the trail still to be determined.

Just who will the developer(s) be?  The city has issued "Invitation for Proposals" (IFPs) encouraging interested developers and participants to submit ideas, concepts and designs.  Hutmacher didn't say how the city determined which developers to invite, but did say the developer that is chosen would be asked to put down a $100,000 deposit.  Both Hutmacher and Mayor Davis stressed that public input would be important, and all proposals would be put online. 
I think public vetting of the plans is vital.  On the surface, there doesn't appear to be any negatives.  It gives the city much-needed greenspace, and adds low-density, owner-occupied housing.  And, because developers would purchase 18 acres, it theoretically wouldn't cost the city more than the original $5 million-plus it paid for the PVC Farm.  While the plan appears solid, I reserve judgement at the time being.
Much more to come at Monday's city council meeting (click City Council Meeting to see agenda).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vote, Update from Councilman Shortal

A reminder to get out and vote today.  Beside the Republican primary, Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated DeKalb County is also on the ballot. 

Update from Councilman Shortal

The following update was emailed to me by Councilman Denis Shortal.

My fellow citizens ... the following are some items of interest ....

1. Zoning Rewrite .... As you know we hired a firm in 2011 to rewrite our zoning ordinance. In my opinion, this is the number one priority in our city for 2012. Among other reasons of why this is important is that we must align our Zoning Ordinance (ZO) with our Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), Georgetown/Shallowford Master Plan (GTSMP), Dunwoody Village Master Plan (DVMP) and Transportation Master Plan (TMP) so that ZO will withstand any possible future legal challenge. I, and others, have been pushing to have this completed by the end of 2012. The rewrite itself is scheduled to be completed by that timeline. However, by time the rewritten ZO is vetted (public hearing, council meetings, etc.) it will probably be the first quarter of 2013 before the final draft is approved by the City Council. It is very important that each of you stay involved in this process. The attendance at the initial public meeting was a little disappointing. In addition to public meetings, of which there will be more as time goes on, you can go to our city website — — and on the right side of the home page you will see a green box with the statement "Zoning Code Rewrite Project" in red lettering. Click on that box and on the next page click on "Zoning and Land Development Code Rewrite." In the middle of the next page as you scroll down you will see a box with "Patch" written in it .... click on the box and you can view the presentation and issue discussed at the initial meeting. You can also sign up to receive updates as updates become available. At the last city council meeting a Citizen's Rewrite Sounding Board, with membership, was approved. In our march to city hood "Zoning" was the number one reason given by our citizens of why they wanted to become a city .... so please stay involved in this most important project.

2. Storm Sewer Fees .... At the last city council meeting the Council voted to raise the annual "Storm Sewer Residential Fees" from $48 to $69 .... this is a $21 or 44% annual increase. This fee is shown on your annual property tax statement. Most of you know I am a strong proponent of low taxes/fees. IMO, spending money boils down to needs vs wants ... and storm sewers are a basic need. We have estimated that storm sewers would be our largest financial liability. Since we completed the inventory of all our storm sewers we now know it is the largest financial liability of our City. Concerning this increase, my question was is that large of an increase needed. The one thing I want to try to avoid is having to come back to the citizens for another increase. I am hoping that by fixing the worst storm sewers first we can stay ahead of the curve. Most of our storm pipes are a corrugated metal pipe (CMP) which has a life span of 30-35 years. A lot of our storm sewers are approaching that life span. As we replace or resleeve where possible our storm sewer pipes we will be using a new pipe made out of a thick hard plastic-like material or concrete pipes where necessary ... both of these pipes have a greatly increased life span vs the CMP. We will be asking to put this pipe material as a requirement as part of our zoning code rewrite ... this will effect any future development or repairs of storm sewers. Some of you have ask about the sewer fee we pay to the County ... that is for sanitation sewer which is part of our water bill ...… the storm sewer is for water run off from the street, water ways, etc., and is a totally separate system from the sanitation sewers.

3. City Way Finding/Information Signs Project .... In this year's budget in included $150,000 for new city way finding signs. These include new street signs, information signs, directional signs, etc. This is a multi-year project and I voted against this budget item because there is not a total cost figure for this project to completion. In other words, we know how much we are going to spend this year but do not have a figure for additional cost in the out years. That being said, the Council voted 5-2 to proceed with the Way Finding Project and I will work with members of the Council to implement the project in the most efficient manner. One thing that should be mentioned is that many of our current signs do not meet the new guidelines for size, illumination, etc. We have had a meeting with the firm that is doing the design work and they have taken the Council and Staff's inputs and will be coming back with some basic design/color schemes incorporating our inputs. Hopefully we will have something to show you in the near future at a council meeting. If all goes well, the first new signs will appear sometime late this fall.

4. Executive Session Leak… Executive sessions (ES) are closed meetings use to discuss sensitive issues such as legal matters, personnel and real estate. To go into ES a motion must be made and passed by a majority of the council. Only the council members and essential personnel are allowed in ES. Everything said or done in ES in confidential information. Anyone breaking the confidentiality of ES maybe subject to disciplinary action by the Council. The leaking of the proceedings of ES can be a financial detriment to the city and/or be a cause for possible legal action against the city. It seems somewhat apparent that one or more individuals may have leaked information of the proceedings of the City Council ES that was held on 3 FEB 2012. The Mayor and City Council has hired Mr. Bob Wilson to investigate the circumstances behind the leak of information from the 3 FEB 2012 ES. I support this investigation.

5. Weather Sirens .... I am a strong supporter of the installation of weather sirens. After my personal conversations with the Director of Emergency Services after a Level 5 tornado hit his city of Joplin, MO last year I have become a bigger proponent of sirens. As a history lesson Dunwoody actually had sirens until the early 1980s when, I am told, the sirens were sold by DC to Cobb County. Sandy Springs has recently installed sirens and are now going thru the testing phase. The sources of their funding were grants from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Emergency Agency and their own local funds. We applied for grants in 2011 but were not successful. We will apply again this year for grants to help fund this project. IMO, severe storms and tornadoes are the number one risk factor of causalities for our citizens. I will continue to "push this ball down the court." In the mean time the following is a system set up by DC (Code Red Emergency Alert System) for weather alerts .... you will note there is action required by you to participate. I think it is definitely worth considering but I would not rely on it as your sole source of hazardous weather information ...…
The DeKalb Emergency Management Agency is rolling out the next level of this high-speed notification system — called Weather Warning – that will let emergency officials to contact residents in the path of key pending weather events to provide critical warning.That is, of course, if you live in the county and enroll in the newly enhanced Code Red emergency alert system.

“With this enhancement, DeKalb County citizens can receive telephone messages moments after the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm, flood or tornado warning that has a projected path for a certain area,” DeKalb Public Safety Director William “Wiz” Miller said. “This will allow recipients of the alerts more time to prepare and take precautionary measures.”
The targeted nature of the system, Miller said, will reduce false alarms and unnecessary alerts.

Basically, the enhancement calls only registered users in the area projected to be affected by the storm.
Miller pointed to a recent tornado alert outside the county that threatened to skirt DeKalb’s northwestern corner.
“With Code Red, we send out prepopulated messages to all users,” he said. “That’s 240,000 citizens that we notified in that particular storm. Some people didn’t get the notification until after the storm warning had been canceled.”

If the Weather Warning call is missed, an 800 or 866 number is left on call waiting, and users can dial that number to hear the latest weather-related message.
Prior to the upgrades, the system was used to communicate anything from boil warnings, missing child alerts or traffic advisories to police suspect searches or community-wide health hazards.
While the Weather Warning option is only able to make automated phone calls, other Code Red alerts can send emails, text messages or make calls to home or cell phones.
But to use any of the free services, DeKalb residents and businesses must be signed up. And current Code Red users must register to use Weather Warning.
To register, go to the county website ( and click on “Code Red” under “Emergency Alerts.”
The site will provide the option of adding Weather Warning and allow you to choose alerts about tornado, flash flood or severe thunderstorm warnings -- or all of the choices.
Those without Internet access who want to register can call 770-270-0413 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

6. Safety Issues .... Issue # 1 ... Recently I was going to the ATL Airport at about 0530. As I was driving on Mt Vernon Rd, in the vicinity of Dunwoody Station, in the dark I came upon a runner on the road in dark clothing with no reflectors, lights, etc. on. Folks that is not very smart. I know the human body is tough but it is no match for a 3,000 lb. car. If you have to run or bike in the dark pls. light yourself up like a Christmas Tree with lights, reflectors, etc..

Issue # 2 .... As I run (if you can still call what I do running) and bike thru the neighborhoods, I notice many homes w/o the name and/or address on the curb in front of their home or on the mailbox located on the street. I know the emergency vehicles have a GPS system but what if the GPS fails or it is a very dark night, etc? I highly recommend that each of you check to ensure you have your address on your street mailbox or on a sign using illuminated paint on the curb in front of your home.

7. Security Issues .... I encourage each of you to get to know your neighbors and set up a system where you can watch each other's house when one of you are gone from your residence. If you see something that doesn't pass the "smell test"... than call 911 ASAP. No matter how many police officers we have they can't be everywhere at once and we are their extra eyes and ears. Preventing crime in our City requires all of us to stay vigilant.

Solicitors .... Any solicitors that come to your door, with the possible except of scouts and local school kids, must have a permit from the City to solicit. If they don't have a visible permit then call 911. Even if they have a permit I would recommend you do not let them inside your home to use the bathroom or whatever. We had a situation recently where a solicitor ask the resident to use the bathroom and then helped themselves to a few of the residents valuable items.

Car Security ... REPEAT ITEM ... During a recent 16 day period we had 22 cases of "larcenies from vehicles." These vehicles all had items of value in plain view for the thief to help themselves. In addition to the pain of losing the items and a broken window/door lock for the owner these incidents use valuable time that our police officers could use patrol our streets to enhance the safety of our citizens. A theft can be in and out of your vehicle in a matter of a few seconds. Pls. be vigilant and keep all items of value out-of-sight in your vehicle ... please pass the word!

8. Elections .... Tomorrow, Tuesday - 6 MAR 2012, is the Presidential Preference Primary. You will have to select a Democratic or Republican Ballot and then vote for the candidate of your choice for the ballot you select. Voting will be at your normal polling location and the polls will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM. A lot of our relatives, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans have paid the supreme sacrifice to earn us the right to vote .... so please exercise that precious right/privilege.

9. Walk to School .... This Wednesday, 7 MAR 2012, is a Walk to School Day in Dunwoody. Parents and students are urged to walk to school that day .... and every other day when possible. I will be walking with the Austin School parents and children and we will be departing from the Mellow Mushroom in the Village at 7:30 AM. See you all there. As a safety note, everyone please be aware that there will be large groups of our parents and children walking to all our city schools that morning.

10. Stay Informed .... I ask each of you to stay informed as to what is going on in our City. I recommend that every few days you go on our city website .... ... and check the calendar (it can be selected from our "Home Page"), etc. for what is going on. Come to meetings when ever you can ... City Council (2nd and 4th Mondays of the month @ 6PM & 7PM respectively), Zoning Bd of Appeals (1st TH of each month @ 7PM), Sustainability Commission (2nd TH of each month @ 7:45 AM), Community Council (2nd TH of each month @ 7 PM) and Planning Commission (2nd TU of each month @ 7 PM). Contact your reps or if they are not available contact any one of us on the Council. Come to public hearing ... these are conducted in an effort to stay transparent and to keep you informed. Your input is sought.

11. That is about all for this evening/morning. 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 of our city ... as well as your personal and collective involvement. All of you make all of this worth doing.

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