Monday, June 18, 2012

Rezoning Questions Go Gently Down the Stream

Over the weekend I received this message from Joe Seconder via FaceBook and per his request I'm glad to pass it on:

Subject: Invite - Dunwoody Stream Buffer Educational Forum

Hi All,

On behalf of the City of Dunwoody’s Sustainability Commission, you are cordially invited to attend the Dunwoody Stream Buffer Educational Forum at 7 pm on Thursday, June 28th at Dunwoody City Hall.

As we embark on defining stream definitions, this forum can help educate those who may be making the future decisions/

The Forum will cover: Benefits of Stream Buffers, Stream Buffers as Regulatory Tools to Promote Surface Water Quality, Variance Processes, Types of Streams – Which should be protected with buffers?

There will be a panel of experts as well as an opportunity for questions following the panel discussion.

Scheduled Panelists include representatives from:

·         Georgia Environmental Protection Division - Stormwater Unit, Watershed Protection Branch
·         Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission
·         Atlanta Home Builders
·         Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

City Calendar click posting here
Facebook Event click here

Many thanks,

Joe Seconder
During my morning cup(s) 'o joe (sorry, Joe, couldn't resist.  It's that kind of Monday!)  I ran across this entry on John's blog.

Dunwoody Zoning Code Rewrite Meeting - Fri June 22nd
Date: Friday, June 22, 2012
Time: 12:00pm – 1:30pm
Location: City Hall
41 Perimeter Center East

In partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the City will present recommendations for sustainable practices to be incorporated in the Zoning Code Rewrite.  This meeting is a result of a technical assistance grant the City received earlier this year for the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, Green Building Toolkit.

A consultant team led by Code Studio and YR&G is currently working with EPA to assess and make recommendations to the Zoning Code that will be based on sustainable sites, water efficiency, and energy conservation.  This opportunity capitalizes on the rewrite process to advance the incentives and regulations related to sustainable practices to further the City’s sustainability mission.  The presentation is the culmination of assessments made through the EPA Green Building Toolkit, consultant review of existing code, and technical staff input.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend to contribute to the process to ensure a sustainable future for the City of Dunwoody.  The meeting will be streamed and a video posted for members of the public who are unable to attend at the scheduled time.

At the first Zoning Rewrite Sounding Board meeting, we figured out what issues needed to be addressed.  First, we learned that our input was going to be extremely limited.  "Priority" issues that had been already discussed in one of the Land Use plans were strictly off the table, even for discussion or questions.   So the sounding board had no choice but to address popular issues where the comprehensive plans are silent. That's a rant for another day.

We knew that City Hall/Council expected the consultants doing the writing and the sounding board/public attendees giving their input to address all of the questions around "streams", starting with their definitions.  The sounding board tabled this to address it in its own meeting because there was NO way it could be tackled alongside other questions.  It was just too big, too involved, and there was too much data to absorb and sort out.

Which brings us to today.  At first glance, I have some questions....

1)  Why are there two meetings?  Two different times and days?  Are there two different panels?  Two different sets of goals for these gatherings?  That's how it looks.  And both are supposedly put on by "the City" and "the Sustainability Commission"?  First thing I thought of when I saw the Facebook event and then John's blog pointing to an event on the City's website was that the left and right hands aren't talking to each other.

2)  As was pointed out in the comments under John's post, why is this on the City's calendar, but not on the website, which according to the City employees involved is supposed to be THE central point for all communications on this project.  Neither of these events are posted or mentioned in any way.

3)  If the City expects its citizens to be involved in these meetings, you need more than a week's notice.  You also need to rethink having a meeting that fills the entire lunch hour for people who work and have families to care for with activities in the summer months.  Video is fine for a recap but I thought the point was to increase involvement?

So is this just a goof?  Or is the talk of citizen input so much lip service?  Or was someone between a rock and a hard place and there was literally no other time/date/place for this presentation?  Clarification is needed, please.

Behold, the reasons why sounding board held off on discussing "streams" with the consultants writing the code.  It's enough that there's a lot of questions that need answers but the data and the people distributing it seem to be all over the place.  Not even on the same page.  Personally, I haven't formed any opinions yet, and no one is forming them for me.  However I do know the following:

--No one has suggested "eliminating stream buffers".  Whoever started that rumor, knock it off.  It isn't true and you're not helping your cause by spreading it.

--I intend to be very careful about adding restrictions to someone's property.  Especially if "streams" aren't on their official property survey or deed and until now, no one has noticed them.  It's easy to wave the "sustainability" flag when you don't have to pay for the effects of new regulations dropped in your lap out of nowhere.  I hope that at least one of these scheduled meetings explains to affected homeowners why their "streams" are so important and require protection if the state, county, and city haven't bothered to document them.

But bottom line - improve the communication, folks.  Your messages will be taken more seriously if you seem like you're on the same page.

1 comment:

SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...

Update - after writing the post, the Friday 6/22 meeting has been added to "Upcoming Events" on

I think TPTB are scrambling to line up their ducks.

The question still remains: is the 6/28 meeting associated with the zoning rewrite project, or is it an independent event? Looking forward to hearing the answers.