Friday, July 14, 2017

UPDATED: Follow up on the Manget Way group home - the status three years later.

In spring and summer of 2014, the Center for Discovery purchased a home on  Manget Way in order to convert it to a treatment facility (or group home, depending upon who you ask) for teens with eating disorders.

I'll not rehash the entire controversy in this post but here are some historical references:

http://sdocpublishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/zoning-retrospective-group-homes.html
(Commentary from this blog)

From the Dunwoody Crier:

http://www.thecrier.net/news/article_95a74d8c-b99a-11e3-8672-0019bb2963f4.html

http://www.thecrier.net/news/article_a1cf7334-16b3-11e4-9da8-0019bb2963f4.html

http://www.thecrier.net/news/article_e8a04420-1c38-11e4-9c21-0019bb2963f4.html

The denoument where the City of Dunwoody settled the inevitable federal lawsuit:

http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2016/07/10/dunwoody-city-council-settles-lawsuits-manget-way-home/

It is now 18 months after this process was legally resolved.

As per my usual this time of year, I submit ORRs to do research on the status of home-based businesses.  License, physical location, cross-reference code enforcement complaints, etc.   As I'm going through the lists and updating the map, a couple of map points jogged my memory about this event.  On the Dunwoody Home Business map, grey markers are used to note homes that have been involved in some zoning controversy but were not home businesses.  (That is, the home owner does not live in the house full time and work there as a secondary use.  The home was converted entirely to a commercial housing facility.  )  Manget Way was one of those markers.

"I wonder what's happening there now?" I thought.

A little Google fairy dust later generated some interesting results.

The facility seems to be open for business.  Here is their website with a video presentation of the homel:
http://www.centerfordiscoveryatlanta.com/location/

Note the street address is obviously Dunwoody but they list the city as Atlanta.  Six of one, half dozen of the other I suppose.

Then since I had the list of business licenses in front of me for the map project, I did a search to see if there was a business license associated with the property.

There is no business license issued to the Center for Discovery home on Manget Way, or to the LLC that made the purchase, Dunwoody DV, LLC.  The only licenses issued to Manget Way addresses are to other home/business owners.

Then I did a search on the LLC.  There is no sign of any company called "Dunwoody DV LLC" in Georgia or any other state.  There is not even a public record of the LLC being dissolved or terminated.  (Another series of records I look up for the home business map.)

My previous searches on code enforcement complaints came up empty on Manget Way complaints.  I have an ORR in the hopper right now and that will bring out more current answers.

So as a result of this extended legal process, there seems to be a mixed bag of outcomes.  Some homeowners sold their properties and relocated when word of this facility spread.  When someone sells a property, that means someone else is buying and those new neighbors don't seem to have any complaints thus far.  All is quiet according to the code enforcement docket.

On the other hand, a  multi-million dollar company is operating freely without a license and without paying the same business taxes that the rest of us have to pay.   I'll be interested to see if our city government follows up on that.

UPDATE 7/17/2017
It came to my attention that there is some confusion about the information above.

1)  The "business license" in Georgia is a colloquialism for an Occupational Tax Certificate.  So when the blog states that Center for Discovery is operating with out a license, it should be understood that "license" is shorthand for "occupational tax certificate".

2)  Center for Discovery is a for-profit business.  There is nothing about it that qualifies as a not-for-profit that would exempt it from taxes or other regulations (Federal Fair Housing Act notwithstanding).

3)  According to the main corporation's press release (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/02/prweb14076227.htm), the opening of Manget Way was announced in mid-February of this year.  There was reference to an "open house" in the blog post.  According to their Facebook page, that open house was held on February 23.  https://www.facebook.com/events/1360773197295404/.  The ORR for code complaints covering this time period is in progress.  We will find out if there were any code complaints associated with this address.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Insights Into Dunwoody After the GA06 Special Election

Even the most staunch, long-term "I've lived in Dunwoody longer than YOU!!" citizen is coming to realize that Dunwoody's population is not a monolith but a mosaic of assorted lifestyles and ideologies.  Like it or not, there are people different from "us" (whoever "us" may be) living in our fair city.

Not everyone is accepting that fact peacefully.  In fact, a few weeks ago an anonymous Dunwoody resident posted this comment to Stan Jester's blog, regarding where "REAL" Dunwoodians live and that "those others" should be cut off outside of city limits.



But is this right?  Is our city split along district lines, with District 3 being all "those" whackos?

Let's take a look at how Dunwoody voted in the House District 06 special election.  This image was taken from an interactive map that showed precinct results from all District 06 precincts.  (View it in Firefox for best results.  Mousing over or tapping each precinct will highlight the borders and give a final vote tally.)
http://www.myajc.com/news/gen-politics/how-each-neighborhood-voted-the-6th-district-runoff/72ZamHK2RQLoVsvFhcfWjM/

Here is what Dunwoody looks like.  Red and Blue are self-explanatory


What's this we see?  Dunwoody's districts, divided via north/south lines are not the boundaries of the red and blue majority votes.  The ideological divide in this case split along a roughly east-west  through all three districts.  The "blue" segment is a mix of apartments, condos, large-scale commercial space and long-established single family neighborhoods.  The "red" district sees its own share of high-density housing as well.

The putz who wrote the stupid comment above may well change his tune to say, "Well, just cut off that perimeter district" instead of Dunwoody's east side - same difference."

Not so fast there, Skippy.

The perimeter area houses the commercial districts that are paying 70% of the property taxes, which are keeping residential tax rates stable.  And - making the existence of Dunwoody feasible as a city.\

So what did we learn from this week, aside from the fact that if we never see a canvasser again it will be too soon?
  • Ideologies and lifestyles are a broad, diverse mix in Dunwoody.  The days of the stereotypical one-type of resident is long gone.
  • You probably live next to someone who thinks and lives differently than you do.
  • Our districts are all a steady mix of these ideologies.  There is no cutting one off saying "I have no need of you."
  • We'll all be a lot happier if we can coexist in spite of these differences.  No one is going anywhere.



Monday, June 5, 2017

DHA June Recap

A closed SunTrust branch is planned to become a hotel with a walkable retail/restaurant center.



Next up, Brent Walker from Dunwoody Parks & Rec reviews the current state of the Brook Run Master Plan.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Who wants to see a former Dunwoody bank transform into something new?

Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting this Sunday, June 4


Our June board meeting is this Sunday, June 4th at 7:30pm in Room 4 of the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center at 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road (attached to the Library.) Branch Properties will present their preliminary plans to redevelop the site at Ashford Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center East that currently houses a closed SunTrust Bank building (see the property on Google Maps here). We will also get a presentation from Brent Walker, Parks and Recreation Director, on the Dunwoody Parks Master Plan with details on the proposed Brook Run Plan.


Here's the official agenda. Print or save to your device and bring it along. See you Sunday!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

INTRODUCING: Vintage Barber Shop of Sandy Springs, GA



We've been busy little bunnies these past few month, even with online commentaries and special events and kids' school activities.  Here's the first new website debut of the year.

Vintage Barber Shop is owned by Dunwoody resident Yury Abramov.  If his name sounds familiar, you've probably read his story in the Atlanta Jewish Times once or twice.  Yury contacted me after finding my business info on NextDoor.

Yury specializes in "old school" barbering for men and boys and his shop is every bit the typical 1950s "vibe".  He had two key problems to solve.  1 - the website design.  Stock theme that had nothing to do with the look and feel of his shop.  2 - online appointments.  Yury wanted his shop to accept appointment bookings online and give his business an edge over the competition.

You would think that everyone and their mother would have an appointment booking form online but you would be wrong.  Very few salons of any kind, let alone mens' barber shops have a self-hosted appointment booking form.  Fewer still have forms that can be used from a phone or tablet.  First order of business was to audition several candidates for this WordPress website.  We settled on a form that looks great on every screen, is customized, can handle group appointments (think a dad with several kids) and sends email confirmations to both the customer and stylist.


Make an appointment with Yury or one of his assistants in just a moment by using this website form.


Next order of business was the design.  1950s look meets 21st century technology is not as straightforward as it sounds.  The 1950s saw three distinct fashion trends in design.  First, you have your stereotypical black-and-white sitcom with a pop of pastel.  Think "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Pleasantville".  Then you had Jack Kerouac and the beatniks.  Think Maynard Krebs from "Dobie Gillis" or Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face".  Then you had the quasi-criminal element in Greasers.  Think "Rebel Without A Cause".  

The first draft of the website was definitely more toward the Beatnik label.  (Believe it or not, Ripley, I try to go very funky in designs when I can get away with it.)  Lots of animated diagonal lines and off-centered elements in bright pastels on black.   That attempt got a quick thumbs-down and we moved into the homey "Pleasantville" mode you see today.  

Finally, when a WordPress or other open source content management system website has been around for some time, or when features come and go, there is going to be some left behind "orphan" data.  You know how when you deactivate and delete a plugin, the data is supposed to be removed along with it?  Doesn't happen and WordPress plugins are notorious for this.  Extra data that goes unused not only slows the site down but can also be a security risk.  I went through and uninstalled a mountain of obsolete plugins and then manually removed their data from the back-end database line by line.  Just a reminder:  manually editing a database is not a DIY job unless you've done time as a database administrator somewhere.  If you don't know what you're doing, hire a professional or face the horrors of WSOD (White Screen Of Death) when the site fails.

We're in "soft launch" mode at Vintage Barber today.  The site is live and accepting appointments to flush out any quirks that escaped the previous quality control review and get Google integrated at various points.  Drop Yury a line and enjoy a hot towel w/ the haircut!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Just another Tuesday night in Dunwoody

CHAMBLEE, GA (CBS46) -


Police say two people were shot late Tuesday after an argument in Chamblee.

The shooting occurred outside a gas station in the 4300 block of North Peachtree Road.

A spokesperson with Chamblee police told CBS46 that two groups got into an argument, which led to the shooting.

One person was shot in the foot and is expected to be OK, according to authorities. However, police say another person was shot in the abdomen and was in critical condition when taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Read more: http://www.cbs46.com/story/35501921/police-investigate-shooting-at-gas-station-in-chamblee#ixzz4hxeD7hPx

Time to get back to the important news.  Like, ya know...  public safety?

Priorities



While parts of our community can enjoy some end-of-the-school-year frivolity, I'm finishing up two websites for two excited clients.  Gotta work to pay the bills.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dunwoody Memorial Day Tribute and More Brook Run News

The City of Dunwoody will host its Memorial Day Tribute on
Monday, May 29th from 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 
Veterans Memorial at Brook Run Park.


Afterwards, take a stroll to the back side of the park (just keep following the road or trail) and think about what you would like Dunwoody to do to improve this side of Brook Run.

Public Input Meeting - Parks Master Plan Final Concept for Brook Run Park
Tuesday, May 16th at 6pm
After acquiring community feedback at the initial public input meeting held in January, the parks & Recreation Department invites you to view and comment on the final parks master plan concept for Brook Run Park.



The meeting will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16th in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. Please provide your feedback and input on this the final parks master plan concept for Brook Run Park. The concept will be posted to the city website following the meeting to allow for additional community input.

I can't tell if the decision has been made, or if differing opinions offered during "community input" will be incorporated into the plan.   But this looks like the best opportunity to see the direction.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dunwoody Homeowners Association Public Board of Directors Meeting - May 7, 2017


The DHA's next public board meeting will be this Sunday, May 7. Please come out and be part of the conversation about community events and development!

Dunwoody Homeowners Association

Board of Directors Meeting

Sunday, May 7, 2017 @ 7:30 P.M.
North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, Room 4
5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30338


1. Announcements and introduction of distinguished visitors


2. Approval of minutes for March 5th, 2017 meeting—Lindsay Ballow


3. Presentation and discussion: Proposed redevelopment plan for Perimeter Center Parkway East property – Grubb Properties, Todd Williams and Andrew Rosti

(The property in question is the office complex where Dunwoody City Hall is now housed.)


4. Presentation and discussion: Solarize Dunwoody – Tina Wilkinson


5. Request for support for Dunwoody Woman’s Club – Gerri Penn


6. Request for support for Stage Door Players – Robert Egizio


7. Board only session: Votes as needed on any motions including:

 Involvement in Solarize Dunwoody

 Dunwoody Woman’s Club request for funds ($1,000 included in budget)

 Dunwoody Stage Door Players request for funds ($1,000 included in budget)

.

8. Adjourn


Next meeting: Sunday, June 4, 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Code Enforcement - Food for Thought

Dunwoody is missing a Chief Code Enforcement Officer, and that role's immediate superior, the Community Development Director.

How much code enforcement is actually happening?

If someone files a complaint, does it get recorded?  Or followed?  Or anything?

I don't know the answers to these questions.  But one of my routine ORRs might answer it in coming weeks.

Cross your fingers for a break in the rain and wind so all can enjoy food trucks tonight!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Newly-Paved Mt Vernon is Sinking. Questions About Standards and City Priorities

From Channel 46:


"Alessandro Salvo owns GS Construction. His company made the repairs, but not before warning city and county leaders on numerous occasions that using stone would cause the road to settle, or even sink.

“There’s no way to know how much it’s going to settle,” Salvo said. “They view this as a warranty and poor workmanship issue, and our response is that no, it’s not a poor workmanship issue, this is a design flaw. We told you not to put this type of stone here.”

Read more: http://www.cbs46.com/story/35299345/contractor-warned-officials-about-sinking-roadway#ixzz4g1DLXwTh" CBS46 News



 There's a very easy way to find out who is telling the truth and to whom the contractor spoke if in fact he did warn about this problem: Open Records Request on all emails to and from GS Construction, going back to the date the RFPs for the Mt Vernon sewer line replacement and repaving were issued.

The nice clerk who has been helping me compile information about the (lack of) impact made by home businesses is probably really tired of hearing from me.   (Hi Eric!) I'll bet he'd appreciate talking to someone new.  Give him a shout by using the City of Dunwoody Online Open Records Request System.  Electronic, non-certified records are free!

https://mycusthelp.com/DUNWOODYGA/_cs/SupportHome.aspx

If the contractor is telling the truth, (and I am leaning toward that option because he put his face, voice, and company name on the record and on camera to make his point, while the city council members who ran their campaigns on the promise to pave more roads are not responding) then we have a new urgency to answer the question:  what exactly are our city council members priorities?

Paving roads implies quality work that will last at least a generation.  No public discussion about quality infrastructure work.

So what is a priority in city council?

  • Chastizing a home business owner who went to extra lengths to show his enterprise would not infringe on his neighbors.
  • Change home business regulations in spite of the fact there have been no documented complaints justifying the actions.
  • Fast-track legalized farm animals for a small handful of citizens - within one day of the above action.
  • Try to help a local business skirt the state alcohol laws.  Then, failing this, revert to "don't ask, don't tell" as the standard for handing out alcohol without a pouring license.


These aren't legislative priorities, gang.  In my opinion, these are legislative favors for personal friends.

And while our representatives are arguing these small points, newly-rebuilt city roads are sinking.  School trailers are getting ignored.  What else is falling by the wayside???

Food Truck Thursday Celebrates Yom Ha-atzmaut on May 4!

It's everybody's favorite Food Truck Thursday - Kosher Night sponsored by the MJCCA!

An assortment of Kosher food trucks will join the usual group at Brook Run Park.

Get there early to score some beef ribs.  It's worth it to brave the wet weather that's supposed to arrive.

Brook Run Park between the Skate Park and Childrens' Playground
MJCCA-sponsored entertainment on the field.
5 PM - 8:30 PM  (Seriously, weather permitting)


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ashford Dunwoody Road Repair & Lane Closure

From Dunwoody City Hall e-blast:


ALERT: Ashford Dunwoody Road Repair & Lane Closure


Planned for Thursday May 4, 2017 (8pm to midnight)

The City of Dunwoody will conduct work on Ashford Dunwoody Road this Thursday (May 4, 2017) starting at approximately 8:00 p.m. and lasting until midnight.

This work necessitates closing down a few hundred feet of the southbound lane on the west side of Ashford Dunwoody for approximately 4 hours (8:00 p.m. to midnight). All construction work is dependent on optimal weather conditions.

The location of the construction work will be on the west side of Ashford Dunwoody Road, directly across the street from the Exxon gas station. Please refer to map below for an approximate layout and construction footprint area.

Please use alternate routes and avoid the area during the construction process.


Town Hall with Commissioner Jester Wednesday May 3



WHERE:  Dunwoody Library
WHEN:  May 3, 2017
WHAT TIME:  6:30 PM til 8:00 PM

Bring your questions and your comments

More info via Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1798043007190489



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wildcat Golf Classic for Dunwoody HS Football

When:  Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Where:  Rivermont Golf Club

How do I sign up?  http://birdeasepro.com/wildcatclassic

Enjoy golf and other fundraising events in this gala to support Dunwoody Football.  Please see the info in the image below for details.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

NEWS FLASH: Dunwoody Community Devel. Director resigns

Just heard the news that Steve Foote, Dunwoody's Community Development Director has resigned and will be leaving his post in May.

Details to follow when available.

Comments are open for more input.  If you are adding details, please include some form of verification.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dunwoody Government and Home Business: "Rooney Eats it!"

Let's review the last six months.

December 2016:  Dunwoody's 3rd ever SLUP application to see customers is heard in the usual public proceedings.  Applicant jumps through excessive hoops to prove he respects his neighbors and the integrity of said neighborhood.

In spite of neighbor support, the usual suspects circulate petitions, trespass on the applicant's property to take photos, and lie through their teeth about the homeowner's intentions to city council to oppose the application.

January 2017:  City council lines up behind the idea that since the business itself didn't fit the "comprehensive plan" the permit should be denied.  **  The actual facts of the application were ignored in favor of a personal value judgement with a personal interpretation of a city planning document.  All city council members were unanimous in their support.

February 2017:  Community Development Director Steve Foote proposes removing ALL "Type B" home businesses and removing the application process from the municipal code.

March 2017:  Steve presents these edits to the Dunwoody Homeowners Association monthly meeting.  The proposal is received like a fart in church.

April 2017:  Planning Commission and City Council process the ratification of scaled down edits that include limiting the hours that a homeowner may see a customer and limiting the types of businesses that may bother to seek a Type B license.

During this time, the home business map is getting updated.  So far I had been keeping up with licensed businesses in a list generated by Economic Development and local business directories like the AHA Connection and NextDoor.  I added to this a systematic review of corporation records taken from the state registries.  Specifically, I looked for corporations registered to a home address.  I've only gotten to the "P"s and the number of home businesses documented (and active) has doubled.

In the mean time, there have been no complaints against home businesses filed since June 2016.  The last code violation confirmed against a home business was February 2016.

That's two complaints filed in 14 months, with only one violation.  If we were talking about animals or pets, city council would dismiss these as exceptions.

In spite of Mayor Shortal's pontificating about "protecting the community", there is apparently nothing to be protected from.  These code updates are not solving a problem.  They are a threat against anyone who would dare to submit a "Type B: application.

What makes this scenario funny is that nothing will change.  City Council passes their rules and congratulates themselves on their service.  While all ONE-THOUSAND-PLUS households in this image will continue to do whatever the hell they please because they are clearly not bothering anyone.  Including seeing customers or holding meetings.


The complete map with legend:  here

Go ahead, Rooney!  You just keep chasing Ferris.  We know how this ends.




**In a couple of weeks, the "strict interpretation of the comprehensive plan" applied to home business owners will be thrown aside so council members may enact a "pet" project.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sermon on the Mount - 21st Century Style

I needed to see this today as I help run a political forum in the midst of hyperpartisans and other knee-jerk-reactors.  Not to mention our own city council and their contradictory decisions.

"Treat others as you would be treated".  The Golden Rule.  In Christian doctrine, it comes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, in the gospel according to Matthew.

Every major religion has some ideal analogous to this.  Yet it always keeps getting lost.

So fresh and new for the 21st century is a new term for an ancient ideal:  Emotional Correctness

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I-85 bridge collapse; DeKalb County Schools Closed

I-85 impacts the region so much that all traffic AROUND it will be snarled for months.

DeKalb just threw in the towel and cancelled the last day of classes before spring break.


My son is going to take his train set and fix the bridge tomorrow.  Don't worry, he's got this.

His sisters are pissed (Catholic school in Johns Creek)

Take care if you have to travel tomorrow.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Please Contribute to Dunwoody HS Student's Funeral Cost

A former Dunwoody HS student was killed in a collision on 400 this week.

His family has set up a GoFundMe promotion to assist with funeral expenses.

I made a contribution this morning and I encourage our community to do the same if they have the means.

This is what a community "family" is supposed to do for each other.  It's a great way to counteract the negative epithets brought to light in my previous post.

https://www.gofundme.com/mauricios-funeral-expenses


Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Dunwoody Than You - The Next Generation

More of that "family" sense that Mayor Shortal was talking about during the State of the City.

This screenshot was taken from Stan Jester's blog.  The discussion is regarding questions about a new group that apparently has succeeded the old Dunwoody-Chamblee Parents Council.


In case the highlighted element isn't clear, I've added the choicest parts below: (emphases added)

Most of the Dunwoodians involved are from the far-left whack job sector, aka the east side.

I’d like for city council to reconsider the city borders and draw the line at N Peachtree or maybe more to the west. I think people over there may be happier as residents of Doraville or Chamblee.

The next time Districts 1 and 2 need support on a city initiative, or zoning, or whatever comes up (like the Dunwoody Club Forest rezoning or the Manget Way group home conflict) I'm going to whip this sucker out and remind the mouthpiece that elements of their community think the "whack job sector" isn't "really" Dunwoody....

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"He makes you look like an ass, is what he does, Ed."

Second verse, same as the first.

Hundreds of home business owners are once again put under collective suspicion.  Not because of a spike in code complaints.  The last code complaint filed against a home business was more than 6 months ago.  Not because of some newsworthy disaster.  All is quiet.

No, the latest proposed edits to the Chapter 27 covering home business activity are designed specifically to further chastise a friendly, law-abiding resident who admitted that some of his visitors would seek physical therapy.  And to threaten other counselors and related practitioners already active in the community.

The original edits distributed (and saved for posterity) legally banned all customer contact for these enterprises.  Mr Foote was advised at the last DHA meeting that not only is this a significant enforcement problem, it created a perception and support problem as well.

The latest edits, released this morning, scrap the scorched earth approach and zeroes in on Mr. Roberson's application as a physical therapist.

The ordinance goes on to define what is "acceptable" use of your home.  Behind your closed doors.

None of this is new but the unwarranted scrutiny and hypocritical prejudice by our government officials is getting really old.    Home businesses and all of the activity that goes along with them are a part of Dunwoody's neighborhood fabric and have been for decades.  Even for someone like me whose home business is "acceptable" by the new definitions, I would have to spend money on a legal process, endure abuse from my local HOA, and tolerate wild speculation from residents all over town for the "right" to have people in my office.  Which could ultimately be denied for any reason or none.

So tonight let's pop some popcorn, order a growler from Empire State, and watch the circus that is Planning Commission discuss this agenda item.  Winners in the pool for individual votes and vote spread will be notified by email in the morning.  Whatever happens with this ordinance, life isn't going to change.  The more our city government tries to apply judgments to otherwise legal livelihoods, the more they end up like Principal Rooney chasing Ferris Bueller around Chicago.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Real Hazards of Working From Home

Forget self-righteous government officials and over-zealous HOA officers.  THIS is every telecommuting or home-based entrepreneur's worst nightmare!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

City Proposes Limiting Allowed Paint Colors on Private Homes

From NextDoor

The City of Doraville has on its February 21 Council agenda a discussion of setting limits on allowed paint colors on private homes.

From the discussion via NextDoor (emphases added)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hello Doraville residents. I noticed in the agendas from the Work Session Meeting from 2/16/17 and for the upcoming Council meeting on 2/21/17, that there are proposals made by Sharon Spangler and Shannon Hillard for restricting the external colors that can be used for single home dwellings as well as restrictions for front yard gardens and the type of materials that can be used. There are no specifics listed in the agenda as to what these restrictions could be. I strongly urge anyone who does not like the idea of adding more ordinances that restrict what we can or cannot do with our private properties, our homes, please attend this meeting and let your voice be heard. I will be there since I most certainly do object to this kind of nonsense.

I do not want to see such restrictions become a part of the city's ordinance code. I made a point of not moving into an HOA and certainly do not want the entire city to become one. There are enough ordinances regarding how we maintain our homes in Doraville as it is. I find these proposed types of restrictions a violation of my property rights and freedom of expression. If I want to paint my home purple (and I almost did), then it is no one's business if I do. Don't like it? Then don't look at it. There are far more important things to consider than what color someone's house is.

If I want to use old metal drums for planters or reuse/recycle other types of containers for a front yard garden then I don't see the issue. As long as it is clean and safe, who cares? Once again, how one decorates their home via house colors and gardening styles should not be restricted with very few exceptions in regards to public safety.

The words that are the city's motto, that are on the city's website, their newsletter are the following:

Diversity, Vitality, Community

Diversity:a range of different things; variety. How much variety will exist if everyone's home has to be a neutral color? Or can only be blue, green, or yellow? How different will one home look from another if all planters must be made of a certain material and can only be a certain size?? If all the flower beds are rectangles?

Vitality: the state of being strong and active; energy. And now opinions will vary on this one, but I find nothing so dull and lifeless as a bunch of identical homes with identical lawns. Do we not gain strength and life from diversity?

Community: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Now this one is even trickier. Does Doraville want a community of diversity and vitality where people of different cultures, with different opinions and ideas are able to come together to live in relative harmony? Or does Doraville want a different kind of community?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This is what happens when a city council  has the latitude to edit property rights piecemeal according to the whims of small niche groups.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DeKalb Commission Meets in Dunwoody in February

DeKalb County commissioners are trying to make themselves more accessible to the public by holding their first evening meeting.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners will convene at Dunwoody City Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, one of three evening meetings scheduled this year.

30 minutes are available for public comment starting at 6:30 pm, presumably at the end of the meeting.


Monday, February 6, 2017

We're Still Proud

Thank you for a great season, Falcons!  We'll be back in the fall.
(Patrick, listen up - I want a #11 jersey for Valentine's Day)


Monday, January 30, 2017

Dunwoody Homeowners Association Annual Meeting 2017 - Video Recap

Introductory remarks by Rob Wittenstein.
Rob welcomed all of the elected officials in the audience, including our city council members.  I'm glad they didn't feel a "conflict of interest" over attending and asking questions.  Let's hope that stupidity is permanently put to bed.

   

Introduction and remarks by Chris Carr, Georgia's Attorney General.

Comments by County Commissioner Nancy Jester

GA House Representative Tom Taylor on legislation this session, including HB58 - a proposal to allow the formation of independent school districts

Business of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award



Georgians for Local Area School Systems

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Dunwoody Home Business Map

Welcome, Dunwoody Crier readers!


The map you saw in the newspaper on January 10 is available online here:


It includes a filterable legend to the different types of operations and where confirmed complaints were noted.


Some caveats:

  • This map and the research going into it are not a full time job although I was a full-time database administrator at one time and that's where the skills came from.  
  • The data is as accurate as I could get it but I am not making any guarantees.  Information is changing and becoming available day by day.
  • Each marker has some additional information.  Commentary is my personal opinion.
  • This map still only represents a fraction of the home business community.  Everything here was verified via a public record.  There are many more out there (like MLMs, self-employed neighborhood professionals, etc) who operate by word of mouth and utilize the municipal code's many loopholes to work as part and parcel of our residential community.
  • Actual extent of customer contact is unknown.  Many business operators do so with the tacit blessing of each and every one of our seven city council members.  That fact was not brought out last night.  You're welcome.
  • Dunwoody is not now and has never been a "bedroom community".  That vision is a fiction and is therefore - unsustainable.  Home businesses, including those with customers and employees, are a significant, organic, and vibrant part of our livable community and make significant contributions to our tax base at both municipal and county levels.


Questions are welcome.  Vitriol and denial are not.

Just Another Night at Dunwoody City Council



Communities evolve, like it or not.  Real life is not black and white. The more anyone tries to force that simplicity, the more it crumbles.  Accept the reality that enhances life.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017 State of the Home Business Community - The Commentary

Note:  here are the maps of known home business activity in Dunwoody, broken out by type.  This is what the article below refers to.

Updated 1/8/2017 at 9 PM - 1 additional complaint found, violation NOT confirmed.  Statistics are updated below.

The home business map I created is the only compiled and graphical representation of all residential commercial activity in Dunwoody.  It is also the only entity that uses data to correlate code enforcement complaints with documented home business locations.

I find it disturbing that with all of the erratic hand-wringing and protests and petitions, as well as official judgments from our city government, no one in any official capacity has tried to document this data before.

So how are they making their decisions?  The Force?
Not exactly transparent.  Or fair.  Is it even legal?

I began this map in 2014 after the second home business SLUP applicant was dragged through a knothole in exchange for approval of a daycare for infants and toddlers.  Everyone had a judgement to make about how our "bedroom community" (sic) shouldn't be changed and everyone had a "belief" about the alleged future impact on home values.

But no one who spoke had two facts to rub together, including and especially the city council.  A legal decision was made and an honest citizen's fate decided based on - The Force.

So I made it an intensive hobby to officially request this data from the City of Dunwoody to create that correlation myself.  I had gone along with the stories that benign home business owners with customers were the exception rather than the rule and there was probably a pattern of serious problems with disturbing the neighbors.

Here are some of the processes I had to work though in the data:

The Open Records Request process is easy.  But the amount of data I got was huge.  The number of licensed businesses surpassed 500 just at a glance.  I never expected that many and definitely did not expect that it was such a large part of the overall business community.  Numbers vary from 1/5 to 1/4 depending on the year.

I was told by the person delivering my first ORR on business licenses that they are only maintained on a current, rolling list.  There was no archives of past licensed enterprises that closed or moved.  So the first map generated in June 2014 only contained licenses active for the first six months of 2014.  Any businesses that were open before that and closed or moved were not available via city records.

City licenses were only the first step.  There were also business directories (like the chamber of commerce and The AHA Connection) and the State of Georgia that registers corporations (incorporated enteprises, LLCs, LLPs, etc).  There were many registered to home addresses as the primary business location.  But without a city license.  Again, the number is huge - over 100 at any given time.  So I had to differentiate those on the map.  I used different shades of green for those without complaints.

Even with all of this research, we're still dealing with a gross underestimation of actual home business activity.  There are tutors - who will NEVER apply for the appropriate permit to see their customers after seeing the first two applicants treated so shabbily by their own representatives.  There are MLM and direct marketing reps who host parties and receive merchandise shipments.  I remember how those were excluded by city council as "not really businesses" because they didn't want to appear like they were banning Tupperware parties. (Multi-million dollar industries were declared "not really businesses".  Visualize that one!)  Then you have just hobbies-turned-cottage-industry that have no online record at all and are only known via word-of-mouth.  At the end of the day all of the data is an under-representation of reality.

The SLUPs got their own color marker as well to show they had a permit to see customers.  Those were easy.  Two.  And their addresses were in all of the application documents so they were easy to find.

So when all of the known business locations are entered in and mapped, what do we find?

Dunwoody is saturated with commercial activity in residential neighborhoods.  Single family homes, townhomes, apartments, and condos, it's everywhere.   There are no "bedroom communities" that have a wall separating "residential" and "commercial". 

Dunwoody Home Businesses are now and have always been an integral part of residential life.  Even with customer and/or employee contact.



What happens when we match code enforcement complaints with home businesses?  Are home business locations more likely to receive complaints?

Answer:  NO.

Most code enforcement complaints filed are related to erosion, high grass, or unpermitted construction.  There are hundreds filed every year related to residential areas.

Out of all of these complaints only 12 13 are related to home business activity.  Of these 12, 5 were "operating a business without a license" without a specific "nuisance" noted - that is, beyond the license itself, there was no mention of activity that is specifically prohibited in the municipal code.  3 4 complaints could not be verified.  Not verified = not sure if there really is a legal problem or a misunderstanding, or a a complainer with too much time on their hands.  It could be anything.

I had to broaden the range of dates for code complaints just to generate any numbers at all.
One of the "red marks" - a noise nuisance that resulted in a homeowner selling their home and relocating - was submitted before 2008's cityhood referendum.  (It's the one on Laurelwood drive, on the east end of the city)  The complaint was submitted to DeKalb County who sat on it until Dunwoody incorporated, then the county didnt' have to respond at all.

In the interest of fairness, I made sure to include that complaint because it does represent a negative impact.

But ever since, there have been no complaints filed against a home business in the SE end of Dunwoody.  Not just not confirmed, - not filed.

There is an ORR into code enforcement to get more details on the confirmed nuisance reports.  Until then, enjoy the data.  More interesting stories are in the works.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Updates to Dunwoody's Home Business Dynamics

Commentary will follow soon, espcially on the four documented "nuisances".  These maps were generated with ORR's from Dunwoody city hall and analysis of state incorporation records and publicly available business directories.  Hit the "minus sign" button in the bottom right of each map to zoom out.  Click on a marker for more information and my personal commentary

The comprehensive map with all markers can be found at
https://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=1012300#



ABOVE:  All home businesses with licenses issued by the City of Dunwoody AND have no record of code enforcement complaints.  Total = 570



ABOVE:  All home businesses with active business websites and/or some kind of incorporation WITHOUT a city license AND have no record of code enforcement complaints.  Total = 128

ABOVE:  All known FORMER home businesses that existed at one time in Dunwoody, but are not currently present.  Meaning, they may have closed, the homeowner moved or died, relocated out of town, or migrated to a traditional commercial space.  These also had NO record of code enforcement complaints.   Total = 268

Total number of recorded Dunwoody home businesses with NO code enforcement complaints:  969


ABOVE:  All home businesses that have had a complaint filed against them via code enforcement (licensed or not) since 2009  Yellow = complaint filed, not confirmed.  Orange = cited for operating a business without a license and no other nuisance activity noted.  Red = nuisance activity confirmed.

Total code enforcement complaints filed against a home business since Dunwoody incorporated = 13

Perspective:  the first article published documenting the first version of this map project

Welcome 2017

The new constant is change.
How we embrace it will define the future.

--Queen Elizabeth II