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.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Councilwoman Files Ethics Complaints

By Patrick Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dunwoody City Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, who is facing an ethics investigation, filed ethics complaints of her own Thursday against Mayor Mike Davis and the rest of the City Council, alleging that two public meetings were held illegally over the past six months.
Bonser's complaint alleges the City Council held an illegal closed meeting Feb. 3 to discuss the sale of real estate, then met again last month without proper notice to discuss ethics charges against her.
Bonser has been named as a possible source of a leak from the February meeting in which city leaders discussed the sale and acquisition of property for a land development the city is co-sponsoring. City Attorney Brian Anderson, who was also accused of leaking the information, resigned last month.

Click AJC to read the full story and Dunwoody Reporter to read a similar story followed by some interesting comments.  I admit, I don't quite understand the logic of the complaint, in the fact that the councilwoman was in attendance at the Feb. 3 meeting and didn't object at the time.  City Council meets again on Tuesday night - the agenda is posted on Councilman John Heneghan's blog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Dunwoody Principals

DeKalb County has appointed a new principal at Dunwoody High School, as well as principals at Vanderlyn and Dunwoody Elementary. 
The new principal at Dunwoody High is Noel Maloof, and personally I think he is a great choice.  Noel is no stranger to the community.  He has been the principal at Vanderlyn the past four years, prior to that he was an assistant principal at Dunwoody High for three years.  Noel is a no nonsense guy who gets involved with the kids.  I can only speak from personal experience, but I have found him to be very approachable, and receptive to well thought-out ideas. 
The following are excepts from a letter from Maloof posted on the Vanderlyn website:
"I want you to know that I am passionate about teaching and learning. I also recognize that the children we teach today will be the adults who shape the future. As educators, we have an obligation to influence that future in a positive way. We must provide an education that prepares them for success. Our students require a knowledge base that not only covers the traditional areas of language, math, science, and social studies, but also competencies in technology, leadership, life skills, and communication. My goal is to develop independent, life-long learners in a student-centered atmosphere.

"There are two truths in education. First, all students can learn, given the right educational setting. Second, there is a direct correlation between teacher expectations and student achievement. A classroom that excites the love of learning and holds students to their highest potential will facilitate great success. It is essential that we utilize data to determine our progress and explore effective, research-based, instructional practices to meet the needs of all students. Education is ultimately about the children we teach."

Maloof's replacement at Vanderlyn is assistant principal Tracey Crenshaw.  Dunwoody Elementary assistant principal Jennifer Pittman Sanders has been promoted to principal replacing Johnathan Clark.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dunwoody Real Estate Update

4934 Conover Dr., my latest listing (click here for more details)
The Dunwoody real estate market continues to show an increase in volume in 2012, however pricing remains flat.  But that's not a bad thing considering what we experienced in 2011.
Through the first 5 months of 2012, 107 homes have sold in Dunwoody in the 30338 and 30360 zip code, with a median average price of $349,900.  During the same period in 2011, only 94 homes sold with a median average of $350,000. 
Is that reason to celebrate?  No, but look at the chart below and it's easy to see why it appears the market has bottomed out.  Let's hope the increase in volume continues, and we start to actually see an increase in pricing. 

There are currently 133 homes for sale in Dunwoody in the 30338 and 30360 zip code, ranging in price from $1,099,990 to $185,000.  To view any of the listings, in descending order by price, click on the link below. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Diverging Diamond, Barbara Dodd

The diverging diamond interchange at Ashford Dunwoody and I-285 is now open for business.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia is spending $5.5 million to fix the traffic backups that are common in the area. The design will route traffic from right lanes to left lanes so motorists can avoid waiting for an arrow allowing a left-hand turn.

Department of Transportation officials have plans to try similar designs at the Interstate 85 interchanges at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road.
Click on the photo below to watch Dunwoodys DDI in action Monday morning!
Click to watch CBS Atlanta story Monday morning.
 The passing of Barbara Dodd

Dunwoody lost one of its most involved, classiest ladies this weekend when Barbara Dodd unexpectedly passed away at the age of 74. 
I didn't know Barbara as well as many, but I did know her well enough to keenly understand just how much she cared about people and about her community.  And she had a great sense of humor (but I wouldn't expect anything less from a fellow Texan)!
Click AJC to read Barbara's obituary on the Atlanta Journal Constitution or go to John Heneghan's blog for a nice tribute.  Barbara - I miss you already ...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Soap Box Derby, Shortal Update, Ethics Board

Update from Councilman Shortal

My fellow citizens .... the following is a short update of items of interest ...

1. Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) ... The DDI is getting the final work completed this weekend. This is the DDI that is being installed at the Ashford Dunwoody Rd / I-285 intersection. Timelines follow:

-Friday, 1 JUN 2012 at 9 PM Ashford Dunwoody Rd bridge over I-285 will be closed and will remain closed until 5 AM Monday, 4 JUN 2012. All the on and off ramps located here to/from I-285 will remain open during this period.
-From Friday, 1 JUN 2012 at 9 PM until Monday, 4 JUN 2012 the DDI lanes and markings will be painted and new traffic signals will be installed and tested.
-Monday, 4 JUN 2012 at 5 AM - weather, etc permitting - the Ashford Dunwoody Rd / I-285 bridge will be opened and the DDI will be fully operational and in use.
-For those of you that weren't at the test run of the DDI on 19 MAY 2012 I recommend you go to the following website to study the traffic flows particularly visualizing the specific lanes you will be using for your travels thru the interchange. This is a continuous flowing website. The website is ... ...… copy and paste this to you browser.
-From 5 AM Monday until approx. 1 PM on Monday, 1 JUN 2012 there will police officers at this intersection and bridge to assist. Like any change of this magnitude it will take some "getting use to" but by just follow the lane markings and stop lights and you should handle this with relative ease. I recommend allotting a few extra moments on the first few days that you use the interchange.
-The DDI is a relatively low cost method of improving traffic flow as well as safety.
-We will all need some extra patiences the first few days of operations until everyone becomes familiar with the interchange. This will be the first of several DDIs built in Georgia. Yes, you can DDI !

2. Donaldson-Bannister Farmhouse Celebration. This Sunday, 3 JUN 2012 form Noon to 4:30 PM the Dunwoody Preservation Trust present a "Preservation Celebration - Back in Time" at the Donaldson-Bannister Farmhouse (DBF). Admission is free and open to the public. It is going to be a celebration and fundraiser for the DBF. This is a great introduction for all of our citizens to become familiar with one of the "historical gems" of our great City. So bring your family, friends, neighbors and blankets and chairs and come on over for a good time ... no coolers or pets please. There will be Bluegrass Music, tours, kid's crafts, 3-legged races, horseshoes, petting farm, cake auction (you may know the auctioneer), and food truck. If you are interesting in helping .... you can call 678-641-1186 to register/donate a cake for the auction or call 404-863-2743 or go on line at ... ... to just volunteer for a wide range of tasks ... yes, help is needed. The DBF is located at the corner of Chamblee Dunwoody Rd and Vermack Rd in Dunwoody. The celebration will happen ... Rain or Shine. See you there this Sunday! Mayor Davis and his partner are challenging all comers in the 3-legged race!

3. Security .... In my updates I continually warn everyone NOT to leave anything of value in plain sight in your cars. Here is a little statistic for you .... from 27 APR 2012 to 8 MAY 2012 there were 21 vehicle break-ins (larcenies from vehicles) and yes they had valuables articles in plain sight for the would-be thief who happens to be walking along looking for an easy target. It only takes a thief 10 - 15 seconds at the most to break out your window, take the item and move on. Not only does this damage your car, take up your time getting your car fixed and replacing the item lost but it also uses value police time that could be used for a lot of other police priorities. Please, for you own safety, keep your valuables in your car out of sight and keep your car lock.

4. Greater Perimeter Business Expo .... I attend this Expo today and I pass my thanks to all those that did all the work and the businesses that had booths at the Expo. This was the first joint Business Expo put on by the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce and the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. The Expo was well attended and from the feedback I received from the vendors and attendees is was a great success. This is another example of the excellent cooperation between our two great cities of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs.

5. It is time for me to do some of the items on my "husband-to-do-list" so I best end this update. I will have more update info later. 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

Ethics Board to Hear Complaint

By Jason Massad
Dunwoody Patch

Dunwoody city council members have signed a formal complaint against Councilwoman Adrian Bonser, asking that a city board that deals with ethical violations look at allegations she leaked confidential information.

The letter, dated May 29, says that Bonser violated a city ordinance and a city charter provision that prohibits disclosing privileged information "to advance the financial" or "other private interest" from the city's executive sessions.
Click Dunwoody Patch to read full story.