Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dunwoody homeowners do not need a SLUP to have tutors visit their homes

If this sounds obvious, it's not.

The Dunwoody Crier reported the following comment during the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting of June 16 to decide upon whether to accept the appeal made by Manget Way homeowners against a facility developed by Centers for Discovery:
She also said that the facility would involve tutors for the girls in treatment. “Tutors going to and from a home require a special land use permit,” she said, pointing to a case involving an in-home violin teacher.

This statement is incorrect for a couple of reasons.

First, at no time has there ever been a restriction on what type of workers could be hired in a homeowner's private residence.  Any homeowner may have any contractor at any time without seeking permission first.  This includes tutors.  Or doctors or other medical personnel.  Or dog walkers.  Or landscapers.  Or even salespeople.   Chapter 27 of Dunwoody's municipal ordinances only dictates that home business owners from conducting business activities in their own homes.  This is one of the many contradictions in the home business-related ordinances introduced during the ratification process.  Any business representative, home-based or not, can visit any home they wish.  A sales representative can host a "party" in a customer's home with their consent.  The law just wants to see that not take place in the rep's own home.

It's a similar standard for yard signs:  a home business owner may not put a sign in their own yard advertising their business.  But they may put a sign in a customer's yard with the customer's permission to show that they had worked there.

The other problem is that home-based tutors are exempt from the SLUP requirements for "customer contact" as of a special city council meeting of September 17, 2013.    After much demand for "research" and an outright refusal to compromise on the extensive SLUP process that exceeds any "impact" a business owner has, city council voted to allow exceptions for home tutors.  Tutors and other educational enterprises weren't going to obey that requirement anyway.  This exception introduced a number of contradictions in the zoning code as well but home-based educators aren't about to argue and I don't blame them.

The Zoning Board of Appeals opens every meeting with a preamble with the gist of how the board interprets code, but does not create it.  It is unfortunate that this mistake was made during a critical case that is probably  headed to court where subtle interpretations of the law and the credibility of the parties will play a role in the final outcome.  After all of the work that the Manget Way neighbors have put in to build a credible case and seek support from the DHA and legal specialists, I would hate to think that it was all put in jeopardy by this ignorant remark.   Further, it puts the credibility of the ZBA into question for further applicants.  How can any citizen trust in the fair judgement of the ZBA for their zoning questions if they can't get this simple fact right?

I call upon the ZBA members to acknowledge this publicly documented error in their next meeting and correct it for the record and for the edification of the community they serve.**  The correction should be at least as obvious and public as the original error.  Otherwise, the citizens of Dunwoody have no reason to trust in your decisions.

I also call upon the city council to ensure that errors made by the ZBA and other appointed boards are acknowledged publicly for the benefit of the community.**  You seven appointed and voted to approve these board members.  You seven have to accept some responsibility for their accuracy in interpreting our ordinances and ensuring that the public is not misled.  If you are unwilling to hold appointed boards accountable for their actions, then your decisions are equally suspect.

Let's see who has the personal courage to correct an obvious mistake.  I'm sure it will come out eventually on video.  And if this mistake is not corrected publicly... well we have another wrinkle in the next election cycle.

**By this I intend that these clarifications or corrections would be made sincerely.  I wouldn't put it past some of our citizen board members to meet the demand for accuracy in a facetious or otherwise insincere manner.  Once more, let's see how credible are boards and council are.

Disney Junior Channel looking for "unique" homes to shoot promo videos

News alert from Film Friendly Georgia.

If you're interested, don't delay - they are scouting locations fitting the description below immediately.

The City of Dunwoody does not require a SLUP for this type of commercial activity in a home, so the City of Dunwoody will not require paperwork from homeowners.  (Only the production crew.)  But if you are willing to engage in this or any other media activity, please be a good neighbor to the homeowners around yours:

  • Advise them well in advance of the shoot schedule.  One day is not enough.
  • Speak with your neighbors in person.  Taping a flyer to a mailbox is not only illegal, (per US Postal Inspector) but comes across as rude.
  • Make every effort to mitigate any inconvenience to other homeowners.  Listen to their concerns, even the cranky NIMBY ones.  Convey them to the producers and advise the film crew how to avoid encroaching on neighbors property and driveways.
  • Remember, other home business owners can be cited for merely having a "commercial vehicle" parked in front of their house.  Even if you are not bound by the same standards, they're good to follow for film crews as well.


The Disney Junior digital cable and satellite television network is scouting for a very unique home to feature in an upcoming series of on air promos that will feature young children embracing the fantasy of being their favorite Disney character in the confines of their lovely home.

Production is planning to film over a three day period of filming- PLUS one prep and one wrap day – July 15-19, 2014.

The key attributes of the home Disney Junior is hoping to find and film within 30 miles of Atlanta are:

• Approx. 4000 square feet home.
• 2 car garage would be helpful for green screen.
• Nice GREEN GRASS sod yard. Rolling hill a bonus
• Needs wooded- forest like area near or behind…hope to have sidewalk.
• The look is typical American Suburban w/ Pottery Barn & Crate Barrel stylings not Ikea or Modern.
• 4 to 6 bedrooms or rooms that could play as bedrooms for children. Cast will be 4 - 6 years of age.
• Fantasy request girls bedroom w/ built in stage.
• Would like to allow wardrobe/mu and bathrooms in house.
• A deep back yard – maybe 25 feet or larger wide. Portion of yard fenced in.
• Nice Large Kitchen and or dining room
• Other attribute requests will surface later during pre-production.

Because of the impending July 4th holiday, the required bi-coastal location approvals, prop preparations and the permitting process, all scouting needs to hopefully be finished by this Thursday, June 26.

Please send pics to TODAY. We will be touring locations tomorrow/Wednesday.


Wanda Morganstern had this wild idea during a conversation with a location manager while on set. With all the film work pouring into Georgia, it seemed silly to not have a comprehensive database of locations where the property owners have already agreed to have their property used for filming!!

Solace, starring Anthony Hopkins, was FFG's first location for a film and we haven't looked back!!

20+ years of commercial real estate experience in Atlanta and throughout the state allowed Wanda to create a company that eases the process for location managers while representing the property owners to the film and TV industry. The FFG team brought hundreds of locations to the table and our database was born! Within a few chaotic months that wild idea turned into Film Friendly GA.

As Georgia's film industry continues to grow, FFG makes the job of searching for locations easier for the entire film production team.

Please let us know if you'd like your property included in our database!

See you in the movies!
Wanda & the FFG team
Like us on Facebook!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Official: Free Organic Facebook Advertising is Out the Door

From Forbes Magazine on June 6:

Facebook’s Brian Boland has taken to a Facebook blog to talk about the decline of a post’s organic reach in the social network. In his role as ‎VP Ads Product Marketing, he walked through the implications as organic reach becomes a less effective engagement tool.

Boland has suggested why brands should continue to engage in Facebook and gather fans, but the suggestions all feel rather ‘second tier’ to me; fans give you credibility; fans can offer insights into your customer base; fans can be used to create social context which improves auction price for advertising; and fans can make ads more effective when they interact with them, increasing the chances of them being shown on the news feeds of other fans.

Those last two points are my big takeaway. Not that fans can improve your adverts, but Facebook signalling that you should be using adverts around your brand on Facebook if you want to reach your fans and other users. For all the talk of improving the news feed and making it a more engaging place, these efforts are on making it a better place for users. Not for brands.

From Boland's Blog specifically:

There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.
As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed. In addition to the growth in content, people are also liking more Pages. Facebook’s director of product management for News Feed told TechCrunch this April the total number of Pages liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year. With each new Page like, competition in News Feed increases even further.
The second reason involves how News Feed works. Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.
A Facebook presence still has a role to play in boosting your SEO via Open Graph Protocol.  By associating your personal Facebook ID with your website, or individual pages within it, the site's content has more credibility as that created by a human being, rather than mass spam content from Timbuktu.  Which can improve your search engine rankings and increase your visibility.  It will also improve your site's appearance on Facebook or Google + if a visitor shares the info on their personal profile.   Of course you can always pay for ad placement in Facebook and adjust your advertising budget accordingly.

But at the end of the day, whether your website makes sales or changes a visitor's mind on an issue, depends on the quality of what you say and the quality of the visual presentation.  As usual, the techniques to get them through the website front door are constantly changing and require more than one approach, including the old-fashioned, in-person handshake.