Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DHS Academy of Finance Garage Sale - Dunwoody School Daze

Dunwoody School Daze

DHS Academy of Finance is still raising money for their trip to the NYSE.

Let's support the next generation learning how to be creative and make a living!

BTW - 2526 Lost Mine Trail is off of Tilly Mill Road, near the Doraville city line, near the Buddhist meditation center.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dunwoody Election Season Hits the Ground Running

Qualifying for Dunwoody city office is open this week through Friday.  General Election information for qualifying as a candidate is available from the city website.  We'll know what the race looks like finally on Friday afternoon.

This is the first time since the inaugural city elections that city council seats have been contested.  The city coucil doesn't always make decisions directly, but they do impact every decision.  What isn't handled in council chambers is decided by the employees they hire and the commissions they appoint.  You can tell alot about an elected official by who they appoint to a commission.  A lot has changed since the first election and there were plenty of surprises between campaign rhetoric and actual actions when the votes were counted.  You can tell alot about an official by those differences too.

Get to know the candidates, not as your neighbors, not as your friends, not as the guy/gal you wave to while walking his/her dog as you drive past.  Get to know them as potential government agents and try to see what kind of decisions they are going to make.  Chatting over a cold beer at the pool may bring a different answer than a serious debate in executive session.  All of these decisions are going to affect how citizens and visitors make a living, from the multinational corporation all the way down to the lowly solopreneur.

A few candidates and their representatives have contacted me to inquire if I will post about them on the Working Girl.  I will and to keep it fair and impartial I'm going to come up with a list of questions that I will pose to everyone running in a contested race.  Anyone who wants to respond is welcome to and their comments will be posted in their entirety, unedited (not even a spell check!) as they come in.

Regarding a few of the other questions I've received:

No, I am not running for office.  I've said this before, I'm more effective in the private sector. 

No, I will not be creating any campaign websites for this particular season.  I've got a big batch of long-term projects on my desk and I don't have the time to commit to a seasonal site that requires frequent time-sensitive updates and interactivity.  Maybe next time, OK?

I am not sure whether I will make any endorsements on the Working Girl.  We'll see how that pans out as we get closer to November.  If I do, it will be after Halloween has passed and we all know what that event is like.

What I will do is make some suggestions to our esteemed neighbors-turned-candidates that will get repeated on election day.

Stay classy.  No matter who wins and who loses, we still have to live together.  Things to avoid include
  • Cheap shots at your opponents that don't have anything to do with managing the city
  • Creating personal controversies.  Remember how the Pankey campaign in 2008 allegedly tried to create dirt on Adrian Bonser?  Like that.  Don't do it.
  • Gratuitous negative campaigning.  I don't care what the marketing statistics say, negativity will bounce back on you.
  • Putting flyers on cars parked at a church/synagogue during worship.  Enough said.
  • Bragging about your campaign's strengths if you win.  The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.
This is a small town.  Creating more conflict in a race than absolutely necessary can follow you around like a bad smell and can compromise any positive input you have on this city. 

This campaign will go down a lot easier if you can focus on your strengths, abilities, and spell out as much as you are able your intentions for Dunwoody.  Compare yourself with your opponent when you must and be a lady or gentleman about it.

See you on November 8!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Are Dunwoody Banks a Frequent Target for Thieves???

Yes.  Again.

I believe this is the second time this branch of Regions Bank has been hit.  The Chase branch near the Village has been hit three times.

If these low-lifes are this brazen when it comes to armed robbery in our banks, then no business that handles cash is safe.  That's about 2500 - 3000 establishments.  That number doesn't include homes.

What is it going to take to convince this segment of society that Dunwoody isn't worth their trouble?  A bullet to the head?  Hard time busting rocks?  Getting dragged out of the brush and mauled by a K-9 officer?  Group beatdown by soccer moms who are sick of this crap?

I'm wide open to suggestions, folks.

Here's DPD's official press release.  If you have a tip, call DPD, yadda yadda yadda.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog: Solicitation in Dunwoody - changes need to be made.

Heneghan’s Dunwoody Blog: Solicitation in Dunwoody - changes need to be made.

I've seen a lot of these emails floating around about how random people "claiming" to be selling door-to-door are scoping out potential targets for burglary.

I've had my own encounters. Like the well-dressed young gentleman claiming to be soliciting for a youth organization - but he doesn't have any sales materials with him. Or the young lady claiming to be from Georgia Perimeter College soliticing for another alleged charity. At 10 PM. Again, with no sales materials but says "[she] can go get it."

Then you have your solicitors who go through the permiting process and show said permit on request, but they don't know where to paint the line between making an assertive sales pitch and being an intrusive PITA.

The only solicitors I purchase from are the ones already exempted in the current ordinance: Girl Scouts (I need my Samoas, dammit!) school kids selling wrapping paper, Boy Scouts selling popcorn, and the like. Otherwise, I bring up my defensive posture backed by a full-on attitude problem that makes me look like I'm more trouble than I'm worth. That way if a "solicitor" does have bad intentions, they'll move on down the road.

This is why I think a community marketplace (see post further down) would be an asset; not-for-profits and others who would consider selling door-to-door would have a place to set up shop and see customers without risking putting off homeowners who would feel threatened by this type of action at their door.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From Patch: Dunwoody Moms Create Important New Children's Book

Two Dunwoody mothers have turned a difficult subject into what they hope is an accessible and even fun lesson for children.

Tatiana Matthews and Allison Fears have just self-published their first children’s book ‘Fred the Fox Shouts “No!”,’ a book that takes on the issue of sexual abuse.

“A few years ago I realized that there was a huge hole in the publications and curriculum that was offered for kids,” Matthews said. “Everything seemed to be focused on stranger danger and there was very little that was geared toward safety with people we know and trust.”

Full Article

Too often we remember the lesson of "be polite", "don't create a scene", etc.  In general that's good advice but when there's danger, you have to make a scene.  It's true for adults as well as children.

Buy the book online here. 

You can also contact the authors who are looking for opportunities to make presentations to local groups

Dunwoody High School Academy of Finance Puts Lessons into Action

The Dunwoody High Academy of Finance is raising money for its trip to the NYSE.  In addition to raising their own money for their own trip, they are also donating a portion of the proceeds to the Intreped Fallen Heroes Fund.

The Academy will deliver Krispy Kremes TO YOUR DOOR on Saturday the 27th.  To pay on delivery, get your order in TODAY via this form on the AhA! Connection.  You can also link to Academy members' email with questions.

I love this group and more high schools (public and private) need a Finance Academy.  From Dunwoody High's wikipedia page:
The Academy of Finance is a two-year program in which students gain specialized preparation in the field of finance while completing their normal course curriculum. Over the course of the program, students are introduced to four segments of business: Entrepreneurship, Marketing, International Business and Personal Finance. Students practice real world activities while preparing marketing plans for products and competing in financial competitions. Business partners from the community visit the class and work with the students to prepare them for their future. Each year, the academy students visit the New York Mercantile Exchange, the Stock Exchange, and an investment bank to experience how the world’s largest financial center operates.
If we want more business in town, we have to see that the kids in school get a chance to learn first hand what that entails.  These teens are learning by doing - they're going out and earning their own money with their own effort for their own field trip.  I'm putting my money where my mouth is and supporting this effort.
There are other Academy of Finance fundraisers around town supported by other businesses so if you see one, lend them a hand!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Local Business Films Grand Opening for TLC Series

It's not a Dunwoody business but lots of Dunwoody moms and girls of all ages flock here for parties and "girl-time" fun.  It started as a cupcake bakery but it has become so much more.

Pink Pastry Parlor has been around for some time at the corner of Holcome Bridge and Spalding but is now located in Rivermont Plaza, down by the corner of Holcombe Bridge and Nesbit Ferry in Alpharetta.

Today's grand opening festivities were filmed by a production company for a TLC reality series, tentatively titled "Pink" that is slated to air in November, according to the producers on site.  Little girls from all over North DeKalb and North Fulton lined up to have their makeup done and explore the newly-expanded location.

Hint - there are now TWO pillow-fight and bounce-on-the-bed rooms.  And a baking class room, and a grownup girl/pink party room.  And lots more pink "hand" chairs for pedicures.  And a separate fashion show room.  And a HUGE movies-and-toys-for-the-really-little-girls room.

Production crew was everywhere and there was no ignoring them.  Their detachment is like the guards at Buckingham Palace:  they don't interact with anyone, even to smile or speak, and they don't visibly react  to anyone or anything aside from pointing the camera or boom.  That brings its own sense of intimidation, like Sasquatch the Sound Guy here.  I whispered that his testerone levels will eventually recover.  I thought I saw a tear in the corner of his eye.

The potential here is huge because they've expanded their clientele to include adults as well as children and teens.  It's ok to be a grown woman who likes to indulge the little girl inside (timely article from Knitternall here) and it's one more place where moms can get away from it all, even for just a couple of hours.  (Dunwoody MOMs South, St Brigid's Circle @ All Saints and Greater North Fulton Alumnae of Phi Mu, I'm talking to YOU!!!)

Go ahead.  Have a cupcake.


I'm a web geek so I have to give the website some commentary. was created by the store's owner with a commercially-available template and the latest version of WordPress.  WP has come a long way from "just a blog" to a growing powerhouse of content management.  It's not right for every project but I'm finding more and more opportunities to use it for clients.

They covered most of the bases:  social media links, video, consistent naviagation, easy-to-find contact information.  Beautiful layout to frame their information. 

But there's a couple of lessons to be learned too:
1.  NEVER put "coming soon" on a page.  Back in "the day" it was helpful to remind visitors to keep checking back but today it turns into an albatross.  Everyone (yours truly included) forgets to update the page with the "coming soon" content.
2.  NEVER (and I mean NEV-ER) launch a page or a blog without real information on it.  If you don't have anything to blog about (and they sure did today!) don't post it in your navigation bar.  If any of your content involves the words "Lorem ipsum" or "Hello World" you're not finished yet.  Make sure your blog sidebars promote only relevant links and content as well.  No one cares about 

I'll have more to chat about in the "Opportunity" sense once the sugar buzz wears off!  When I hear about the series airing, I'll post it here.  Or, if someone else has details, post a comment.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You Know You're in Dunwoody When....

Just a little fun with the truth at the end of the week.  Have a great weekend, everybody!

You Know You're in Dunwoody When....

  • down-home family supper involves a run to Kroger for pre-washed, evenly cut and bagged collard greens, pre-peeled onions, diced-and-measured mirepois, and hot pre-cooked BBQ ribs.  Don't forget the ready-to-bake potatoes in their own foil. 
  • social plans in the Spring involve Methodist and Jewish friends organizing a camp out at the Catholic place for dinner on Friday. 
  • community activists want to turn backyards into full-on working barnyards, regardless of the impact around them.  HOWEVER - they also think a garage sale sign on a street corner is a hanging offense.
  • once a week a crowd of minivans and SUVs will converge on a street corner or parking lot so that their kids can walk to school. 
  • trick-or-treating on Halloween requires finding a parking spot three hours before ringing the first doorbell. 
  • no one pays retail for baby clothing or supplies.  Just wait a week and you'll hear about a consignment sale.
  • drive-through restaurants do brisk business for local citizens and visitors, while the legality of menu boards for said restaurants are debated for 18 months at a time - by the people using the drive-throughs. 
  • when someone is injured or has a new baby, a line of volunteers spontaneously forms to bring dinner for a few weeks.  The pertinent details are distributed across town in less than an hour. 
Are there any others?  The comments are wide open.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Opportunity Knocking - Dunwoody needs a permanent community marketplace

The Dunwoody Green Market (DGM) opens shop  at the Dunwoody Post Office on Wednesday mornings.  It's a great little outlet for local farmers (and lately, artisans and cooks) who will never get shelf space at Kroger or Publix to offer their wares directly to the public that seeks out small business to purchase from. 

Why is it perched at the Post Office?  Good question with an interesting story.  Originally the "green market" was to be an organic farmers' market hosted at a church.  Problem:  churches (and other houses of worship) are zoned residential.  And according to our city ordinances, there is to be no business with customer contact in a residential zone.  (That has been slightly modified with a SLUP procedure.  However, if my neighbor the violin teacher had to go through a couple of circles of hell to get one student at a time in her home, imagine the response to a market with several hundred shoppers.)

Making an exception to the ordinance for enterprises housed at religious facilities would not hold water when the inevitable lawsuits spring up.  The city council was not ready to overhaul the ordinances regarding zoning and business operations.  What to do?

Bob Lundsten came up with the idea of asking the Post Office to allow the market to borrow their property once a week.  US Post Offices are by definition federal land.  City ordinances don't apply.  So while the DGM is in the Post Office's good graces, the market opens every Wednesday - legally.

How lucky do you feel existing at the whim of the Feds?  I wouldn't.  The USPS can revoke its permission at any time.  They can close that location and sell the land, which they routinely threaten to do.  Or the market can stifle its own growth to fit within the property it's allowed to use.    The market is already growing - it's not just "organic farming" anymore.  You have artisans, prepared food sellers, bakers, a pizzeria(!!) and who knows what else will be added from time to time.  The other businesses in Dunwoody Village that DO pay taxes without finding a loophole tlike DGM has aren't too thrilled.  Plus, there are other business enterprises that are either home-based or otherwise don't rise to the level of a stand-alone brick-and-mortar storefront that need outlets to meet their customers.  Then you have mobile enterprises like the "upscale mobile restaurants" (read:  roach coach w/out the roach) like "Hail Ceasar". 

With a variety of vacant commercial properties that can be negotiated, it's time for one of these landlords to organize the good old fashioned Flea Market.  I wouldn't call it a flea market though.  Anything with "flea" in the name isn't going to be considered upscale enough for Dunwoody.  How about Community Market? 

The Premise  (This is general there would be a lot of details and bugs to work out.)

Find one of the many legally-zoned storefronts in town not currently used.  Examples:  the Ace Hardware at Mt Vernon and Dunwoody Club or the old Blockbuster next to Azima Salon and the BP gas station near the Village. 

Persuade the landlord to convert the unused storefront into a part-time (at least) or full-time (ideal) marketplace.  Charge rent to whoever has something to sell or promote.  The DGM could potentially negotiate a rent for all of its members and camp in its own section.  In addition, home-based businesses promoting themselves, not-for-profits selling for charity or doing other promotions could also rent spots.  Or even brick-and-mortars could promote their wares.  Any specialty seller looking to carve their niche would have a leg-up to build their following.

By paying rent for a space, taxes get collected and the landlord doesn't have to wait forever for a permanent tenant that doesn't want to change the zoning.

Said landlord could even charge the roachless roach coach to park and sell lunch.

Retail spaces are already zoned for (wait for it...) retail activity so zoning issues are avoided.  If you find a big enough space, you're going to have plenty of parking.  No matter how much people opine regarding alternate transportation, "smart cars", bicycling, or other ideals, people drive their cars.  Especially when they shop.  Even to a local organic "green" market.  The parking lot today was full of cars and SUVs, not Segways.

Retail spaces also have rest rooms.  Lots of people bring lots of kids to the DGM.  Where you have kids, you have need for bathrooms.  Especially if they have diaper changing tables.  That doesn't exist in the current location.

Retail spaces are easier to operate rain or shine.  That roof comes in pretty handy when the rain finally returns.  Electrical power also makes for a wider variety of merchants to join in.  An indoor open-concept community market could operate year-round, even if the DGM is closed for the winter.

The Ace Hardware location would be my first choice.  Don't know if they're getting a tenant or not.  I've heard that Kroger has loosened its grip and a contract is in the works.  The DGM and other merchants could still work in that area.  Like that restaurant in Orchard Park that has been sitting empty forever.  (Yes, I know, it's in Sandy Springs but it came to mind.)  Given the niche audience that DGM and other small merchants market to, there would be no competition with Kroger, or any major supermarket.

There are probably many more storefronts that would fit the bill for this venture that I can't even think of.  Anyone know a landlord willing to take a shot at making some money and gaining some community goodwill in the bargain?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Atlanta Panhellenic is 2nd Runner Up for Outstanding Alumnae Panhellenic Award

From the Atlanta Alumnae Panhellenic Association:
The National Panhellenic Conference announced via their Facebook page that AAPA is the 2nd runner up in their annual Outstanding Alumnae Panhellenic Award. Since 2005, AAPA has ranked in this award competition every year it is eligible. In 2009, AAPA was 1st Runner Up for Most Outstanding Alumnae Panhellenic. AAPA won Most Oustanding Alumane Panhellenic for the 2003 - 2005 biennium.

Congratulations to all 21 of our member sororities for their work in serving women in need, providing scholarships for women in college and grad school, and professional networking and friendship for NPC women of all ages!
The Atlanta Panhellenic has been working with SDOC Publishing for internet services since 2006.  Since taking over the maintenance of the site, there have been two distinctive design changes, the development of a growing news blog, major hosting upgrades, addition of interactive functionality (event calendar and online RSVPs for events), extensive social media integration via Facebook and LinkedIn, and a comprehensive intranet including closed email distribution and private document management.

For fall of 2011, I'm planning further architectural upgrades and greater interactivity, especially internally among the 21 (!!!) individual sororities.

Congratulations, AAPA and continued success for the coming academic year.  I am very proud to be of service.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Opportunity Knocking - Dunwoody Music Festival

Small businesses looking for a local market need look no further than Brook Run Park in October.  The Music Festival, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce is looking for food vendors, artisans, business exhibitors (including non-profits) and sponsors.

There's some way for everyone to get involved here, from small businesses with limited (read:  almost no) budget to large corporations.  Small local businesses have the advantage because of the face-time contact.  The Chamber is expecting 10,000 sets of eyeballs to see your logo, purchase your products, or visit your booth to learn about your services and you.  Food vendors - or restaurants who can create a mobile setup - this one's for you.  (Anyone got the number of that "Hail Ceasar" salad truck that was in the July 4th parade??)

You can submit your application in less than 5 minutes online at  If you have any issues with any of the forms in the application menu, post a comment and I'll get right on it.

Food vendor applications are due AUGUST 30.  (That's 2 weeks from now, gang! Don't put it off to the last minute.)

Marketplace and Business Exhibitor applications are due September 30.  First come, first served.

Marketplace vendor booths are $195 each and Exhibitor booths are $500.  Discounts apply for early submission.
Food vendor pricing is more detailed.  Check out the Food Vendor Application for more info.

Yes, the Chili Cook-Off will be back too.  Info will get posted as soon as Oktober gets it over to me.

See you there!

Friday, August 12, 2011

More nosy social media - LinkedIn

::: Heavy sigh :::

LinkedIn has volunteered your name and photograph to be used for advertising if it feels like it wants to use them. 
I noticed this earlier in the week when my LinkedIn profile photo ended up on an ad.  I knew the new "opt out" alert would come along right after that.

I can't say this enough:  when you're networking for any reason, including advertising your business or services, you are going to forfeit a certain amount of privacy.  That's the cost of doing business as a small business or entrepreneur.

Each person has to decide what is personal promotion, and what info use has crossed the line.  Be vigilant, pay attention, and when someone is using your info without consent, get on them ASAP.  (I just threw a hissy fit at Google - again - for posting a picture of my house.  Double-plus uncool.)  Be careful when using your cell phone to "check in" anywhere and make sure the apps you are using are not revealing your location without your consent. 

Stranger Danger - it's not just for kids anymore.  But it is more complex for us grown folks!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Facebook and Phone Numbers - the latest complaint

About half of my Facebook friends and their friends had the following on their status some time today.

ALL PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE ARE NOW ON FACEBOOK! Go to the right of screen, click on Account, click Edit Friends, see left side of screen, click Contacts - you will see ALL phone numbers from your phone (FB friend or not) are published that you've stored in phone. REMOVE, go to Right column, click on "this page" then REMOVE. How did FB get all our Phone numbers out of our phone?
The following is Facebook's official comment:
Rumors claiming that your phone contacts are visible to everyone on Facebook are false. Our Contacts list, formerly called Phonebook, has existed for a long time. The phone numbers listed there were [snip] either added by your friends themselves and made visible to you, or you have previously synced your phone contacts with Facebook. Just like on your phone, only you can see these numbers.
I thought this might be the case when phone numbers of people NOT on my phone contacts list were visible.  It is startling to see phone numbers under peoples' faces all of a sudden.  The explanation has yet to reach, I'll post it when it does.

Let's be careful out there, people.  Just because some website asks for your phone number so you can talk to your friends doesn't mean you should give it.  Especially your personal or private info.  Facebook, like Google, is nosy as hell.  Between the requirement of cookies on your computer and the API tapping into advertising companies, I'd start feeling naked about now if I used either of these for any kind of networking other than my job.

Maybe all of these sudden scares about info becoming visible are going to get people to pay attention to how much information is taken and shared.  Remember the "right to privacy" touted in legal cases only applies to privacy from the government.  There is no constitutional right to privacy from private individuals or private organizations.  If you value your privacy, limit the information you distribute online and be vigilant about what other companies (*cough*Google*cough*) acquire on their own for their own uses.  Demand that info and photos be removed if used without your express consent.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Opportunity Knocking - SOHO Office

There are a lot of good local print-and-mail shops in Dunwoody but one has an edge.
I do all of my "official SDOC business" at the local SOHO Office store in Orchard Park (near that Kroger and right next door to that restauarnt that doesn't seem to last more than a few months at a time.) 

Technically, this isn't "in" Dunwoody but I do my business here because they offer a corporate meeting room with WiFi.  Sure they have mailboxes, notary, printing, and the usual services too.  But if I'm meeting a client for the first time, or making a presentation, and I don't feel like stalking Starbucks for a half-decent table, the meeting room service makes a very professional impression.  The location even matches my mailing address.  Even the chairs are nice and cushy.

Most of all this is a small, local operation created by a couple of guys looking for new careers with hands-on service.  They understand "small office / home office" needs.  (SOHO - get it?)

Lots of opportunity here.  For part-timers, and entrepreneurs, this set of services is a big hand-up for the inevitable meetings and presentations that have to be given "face time".

SOHO Office is also looking to open new franchises.  If you're in the market for a new career or new business, check out the operation at

For the other mail store companies in town:  you might want to put some serious thought into renting meeting space to meet the needs of entrepreneurs in this growing market.

Friday, August 5, 2011

INTRODUCING ... Traci With An Eye Graphic Design, LLC

I'm proud to present the new (and continually growing) website for Traci With an Eye Graphic Design, LLC.  Traci Sampson has been a Dunwoody Chamber colleague, a partner in crime and business, and a good friend.  She specializes in logo design, print materials, advertising, and interior design.  When her extensive portfolio is uploaded the new site will showcase all of her work. 

You're probably already familiar with Traci's art - she designed the current Dunwoody Music Festival logo in use this year.

Traci is also in the process of developing SDOC's print promotional materials coming soon.

The Traci With An Eye site is based on WordPress with a custom-built theme and functionality for showcasing an art portfolio.  In the mean time the current splash page will get you in contact with her and introduced to her design work.

You can usually find Traci in person at Dunwoody Chamber 1st Monday Networking events so stop by to say hello and get her viewpoint on your logo and print material needs!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Working from home is a reality - Dunwoody moves with glacial speed to acknowledge it

From the Dunwoody Crier coming to a driveway near you tomorrow morning:

After 4 months, Dunwoody approves permit for violin lessons from teacher’s home

Heather Chlup finally has passed the final hurdle to obtaining a special land use permit (SLUP) from the city of Dunwoody so she can give violin lessons from her home on Brierwood Place. City Council Monday unanimously passed the application on second reading, ending an arduous four-month process.

Read the full article here.

I held off on blogging about this particular issue for quite a while. Heather and I had chatted about her embarking on this enterprise and at the time, I had NO idea that she would be the first to endure it. And "endure" is the word.  She never intended to be a "cause celebre" for the Crier or for a blog.  I hope some good comes out of it - like customers.

The paperwork and extra expenses were somewhat expected. But the vicious cloak-and-dagger email campaigns by a homeowners' association were not. This was the same lot that organized a loud, angry mob at a meeting for an ill-advised rezoning.

It is time to realize that working from home is not the death-knell of a cozy neighborhood and does not mean the neighborhood streets will turn into bustling commercial centers.

It is also time to realize that for a community to survive as the economy changes, it's important to have the most flexibility for its residents to make a living. That "perfectly safe, perfectly sane" world of "bedroom communities" where Dad come shome at 5 o'clock sharp every night and leaves his hat on the hatrack before sitting down with the newspaper were only a reality in 1950s' sitcoms. If you think I'm overly concerned, take a look at South DeKalb county. Once a growing residential community, now it is stagnating in poverty. There's no reason why that can't happen to Dunwoody if we don't keep reasonable options open for business and its income.

Rather than make up a new blog, I'll copy and paste the letter I wrote to City Council in advance of their final review. (This was in addition to several others I had written to earlier-level commissions.)

From: SDOC Publishing []
Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 1:56 PM


Subject: SLUP for 4607 Brierwood Place

Hi folks—

I know most of you are aware of the above SLUP and the discussions going on around it. This is my formal, in-writing endorsement of the SLUP and request that you vote in favor of it when it’s gone through the motions at Council. A previously scheduled meeting prevents me from speaking to it in person on Monday.

For the future, I believe it is time for the City to have a very serious re-evaluation of the ordinances regarding home-based businesses and home-based employees. Working from home has been a part of life since this country was founded. It isn’t something new, although technology and economic constraints have made it an easier choice in recent years. There are at least half a dozen residents in my tiny subdivision alone who work from home as business owners or telecommuters. Sometimes we even work with each other. Yet legally, we are all restricted from doing so. Even inside our homes where there is no inherent nuisance to anyone else.

It has been my experience as both a business owner and homeowner that the ordinance as written is overly restrictive and punitive, to the point of being unenforceable and unrealistic. My business (web development) mostly involves the phone and internet. However all business – including mine - requires human contact at some point. All business is not necessarily a store front on a main street with parking lots, as Heather’s application demonstrates. Any conversation regarding a client or their project is against the law! For example:

1) I could have a gathering of 20 people in my house for a club meeting, with as many cars on the street for hors d’oeuvres and conversation. It is perfectly legal according to current ordinances. If one of those people solicits my input as a professional on their web project during that gathering, I have now violated the law. (Note: this actually happened. I hosted the Board of Assistants of the Georgia Mayflower Society in my house. Huge afternoon cocktail thing. Cars parked up and down the street. Everyone was careful not to block driveways or be obnoxious, so there was no problem. But I got really nervous when another board member asked for my input on a web presence for the Society. I have to start with the disclaimer, "We can't talk about this outside because this is my work and I'm breaking the law by discussing it in my house. " Yes, really!)

2) When making a formal presentation to a new client that I do not know well, I either set up shop in Starbucks or rent a corporate meeting room from my mail store. A lot of times, though, I work for clients who are good friends. If a good friend comes over for coffee and chats about the weather, there is no problem. But if they sit in my dining room to discuss their website, I’ve broken the law. (Also happened. I wonder if Chief Grogan is going to arrest me now....)

3) Some of my past clients live on my street. If they walk over to my house (or, if I walk over to theirs) to chat about Halloween, that is allowable. If the conversation turns to their website, we have both broken the law – because we are both resident homeowners doing business in another private residence. (Ditto)

Pretty silly, isn’t it? And yet, that is what is on the books. Not only are these laws unenforceable because enforcement would require measures tantamount to stalking, it leaves business owners and home-based employees vulnerable to complaints based ... on something as petty as a personality conflict. Or the prejudices of an overzealous community activist. Even if a complaint is found to be without merit, the business owner/employee must spend time and money fighting it, just as Heather did in her application. It just isn’t fair.

It is time to bring city ordinances regarding home-based employees and owners in line with reality. There is no major threat to the “residential nature” of our subdivisions by allowing a business owner to have occasional human contact on their property commensurate with that expected by non-commercial property use. There is no benefit to punishing freelancers with arduous and expensive applications because someone might want to visit in person on occasion. It is a waste of tax money to attempt enforcement and a waste of community spirit and goodwill to nano-manage this very common practice.

I know that some of you will not be on Council after the next election. Be that as it may, the conversation on what constitutes reasonable business use at home in this day and age of economic difficulties and a greater push for “sustainability” should start sooner rather than later.


Adrienne Duncan

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions
2090 Dunwoody Club Drive
Suite 106-124
Atlanta, GA 30350