Saturday, August 31, 2013

UPDATE: Winter's Chapel Renaissance

Years ago I blogged that the Winter's Chapel side of Dunwoody has the greatest potential for growth.    Today I saw the beginning of a full-fledged renaissance.  Attractive new shopping and destinations show that Dunwoody Point can be just as valuable and desirable as any other community or shopping center in Dunwoody.  The developers are even paying attention to landscaping and planting trees, just as some segments of our community have demanded for years.  This looks to be just the beginning for the Winter's Chapel city gateway.

1)  Goodbye Supremo, Hello Walmart Neighborhood Market

Full disclosure:  I am not a Walmart fan, for a litany of reasons.  Mainly having to do with the corporate culture that arose after Sam Walton died.  But when your shopping development consists of an abandoned international supermarket that closed suddenly overnight, leaving the half-Dunwoody parking lot to become a trucker's rest stop, Walmart starts looking pretty good.

Rather than the stereotypical "big blue box" and all of the police drama that goes along with it (cf, Dunwoody PD police blotter) Walmart built a "neighborhood market" - a scaled-down version focusing on groceries.  Even though the actual store is in Peachtree Corners, it still borders our city and affects our residents.

Here's some photos I snagged while stopping by this afternoon.

Nice, clean front w/ new pavement.  The landscaping is toward the property's perimeter, behind me.

Inside the front door, pointed toward the produce department.

From the front door, opposite produce.  Walmart kept their promise this time - it's a small scale neighborhood market.

Lots of people from all around the area - Dunwoody as well as Peachtree Corners - peacefully shopping for their needs.  I had no qualms wandering around at all.  Truth be told, there isn't the same wide brand selection as you will find in the Georgetown Kroger or the Dunwoody Hall Publix,  But if you're on the Peeler/Tilly Mill side of town and you need a closer venue to make an uber-quickie trip for your standard groceries, it's a good option.  Walmart isn't fibbing about their prices, either.

Hint to the management:  invest heavily in stocking Halloween candy and decorating supplies in the next couple of months.  Trust me.

2)  Empty Lot to AutoZone

First, there was Glaze's Groceries and hardware.  Then there was an empty lot.  Today there's AutoZone.  I've heard one or two fine folks moan that the presence of an AutoZone is the sign of a bad neighborhood.  I respectfully disagree.  As bicycle and pedestrian advocates point out, our community is "auto centric".  They're right.  We all drive, even if some also like biking and walking at times.  I don't see that deviating too far in the decades to come, even as roads are (re)built to accomodate more bikes and walkers.  And since we all drive, we're all going to be in need of one of these shops sooner or later.

This particular Dunwoody housewife likes to duck in somewhere to pick up power steering fluid (where does it go and why do I sometimes need to top it off?) replace my wiper blades (usually during a driving rainstorm, natch) or stock up on fix-a-flat for those times I can't limp to my favorite mechanic.  Or track down replacement floor mats for the ones my kids managed to destroy.  (Don't ask.)  It's all the more convenient if I don't have to haul it all the way down to Peachtree Industrial and try to line up the car to the right dealership.  Plus, this shop is open well into the evening and on Sundays.  Most independent mechanics are not.  Don't miss the car care section of the site above.

3)  Another Growler in Town - and they're hiring!!

The old "Pizza K" (and a Vietnamese restaurant) in Dunwoody Point is transforming into Empire State Pizza and Growlers.  Work was ongoing and the windows papered over so everything I've heard is right on their website:  local family owned and operated, opening in a couple of weeks (in theory) and they're accepting job applications right online.
The new sign is up over the entrance and construction continues.

Didn't see anyone else around otherwise I would have poked around more and asked about their opening.

The sign says hiring servers, the website says they're hiring everyone.  The PizzaK banner will probablly be the last to go.

Anybody who has the garbanzos to present themselves as "empire state" pizza is going to have a high bar to clear.  I'm more than willing to give them a shot.  They've also just joined the Dunwoody Chamber, so clearly they are investing in our community.

Their domain name is an SEO dream: Says it all.   And it's easy for a human (read:  this human) to remember.

Empire State is joining Gyro Gyro ( a very friendly Greek-style shop), Maximos (another Mediterranean-style shop across the street).

More Dunwoody Point News

Dunwoody Barber Salon in Dunwoody Point recently updated its storefront and is promoting itself as a barber/salon for all ethnicities as seen in the photo gallery on their website.  The shop is also hiring new employees - visit the "About" page for more info.

In related news, the owner, Jermaine Muhammad, recently filed civil rights charges against Dunwoody PD for racial profiling. Details of the results are in the news report link above.

The barber shop, has great reviews on its Facebook page.


Who are the landlords for Winter Village and Dunwoody Point shopping centers?

Winter Village is owned by M&P Shopping Centers.  They operate several neighborhood nodes around the SE, including across metro Atlanta.  Spaces are available, per the website.
Here's the info page for Winter Village.  (Holy moly, that photo is out of date....)
Property manager is Jeremy Rosenthall.  (LinkedIn Profile)

Dunwoody Point does not seem to have a website.
The property owners are Dunwoody Point Entrepreneurs, LLC.  There are two possible office contacts for them.

ALPHARETTA, GA 30022-8441

5000 Winters Chapel Rd, Suite 2
Atlanta, GA 30360
Phone: (770) 409-0518

Who Else Saw This Coming? Anyone paying attention to discussions about Dunwoody Apartments, that's who.

Apartments focus of controversy in Dunwoody  (AJC)

(I caught someone using the AJC servers lurking around on this blog a few days ago.  Now we know why....)

Federal fair housing suit filed against Dunwoody, code enforcement (Crier)

(AJC article has comments about code violations and opinions of Dunwoody Glen and Lacota residents.)

Articles lurked by the local news media in advance of these articles:

What exactly is Dunwoody being "transparent" about?

Dunwoody City Council wants to buy the "Northchase" apartments....

(Highlight was the YouTube mashup of Star Wars vignettes "I've got a bad feeling about this...."

Here's an article no one is talking about.
Because it doesn't fit the legal agenda at hand.

Christmas For Kids Returns Early in 2013

Lawyers can be hired and cries of "racism" can be thrown around like candy on Mt. Vernon at the 4th of July.  But when the chips were really down - when families in these apartments lost their homes and belongings in a fire, it was Dunwoody Police and Dunwoody residents who stepped up to provide for their needs.  I know this because I was there.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Inspiration

I learned graphics the old-fashioned way:  apprenticing at the School of Hard Knocks.

My Uncle Charlie has been a commercial artist in New York City since I was born.  He always made sure I had art supplies to play with and to learn from.  Professional-grade markers and paper to calligraphy sets.  I learned how to draw different fonts, create effects with just ink and paper, and how to blend colors and draw what I could see:  either with my eyes, or just what was behind them.

It wasn't until years and years later that his influence became my living instead of just something to play with.  In fact, it was Chaz who developed the first draft of SDOC's corporate logo when I was just getting off the ground.

Chaz is (finally....) on Facebook.  (Thank you Cousin Janet for dragging your dad into this century.  How big was the monkey wrench????  ;-P   )

Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to the Drawing Board for Friday

The real issues happening in my office today.  Happy Friday!

How to Choose a large-scale Content Management System
(click to view original size)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Zoning Rewrite Hype-Free Zone: What does it really say?

The newly-revised zoning ordinances are easy to read.  Yet, so many have no idea what is in them.  Or worse - they do know and continue to distribute misinformation about both the words and intent.

The ratification process has started.  Both Community Council and Planning Commission have reviewed the rewrite and passed it with revisions noted in their minutes

Planning Commission Summary

Community Council Summary

Neither of these commissions, comprised of Dunwoody homeowners, objected to the standards in the proposed code regarding the restructured regulations for home occupations.  Not even with an edit.  So out of the blue, we have the usual objections and concerns in spite of the Sounding Board's and consultants' attempts to write an ordinance that will codify the best practices that home business owners employ to maintain their community "feel", and limit or prohibit practices that could lead to the degradation of the community's quality.

Here's what the ordinance actually says.  Commentary in red for clarification of some of the worst misinformation.

27-10.30 Home Occupations
27-10.30-A. Purpose
The home occupation regulations of this section are intended to allow Dunwoody
residents to engage in customary home-based work activities, while also helping to
ensure that neighboring residents are not subjected to adverse operational and land
use impacts (e.g., excessive noise or traffic or public safety hazards) that are not typical of residential neighborhoods.
27-10.30-B. Type A and Type B Home Occupations
Two types of home occupations are defined and regulated under this section: Type A
and Type B.
1. Type A Home Occupations
Type A home occupations are those in which household residents use their home
as a place of work, with no employees, customers or clients coming to the site.
Typical examples include telecommuting office workers, writers, consultants,
artists and crafts people.
2. Type B Home Occupations
Type B home occupation are those in which household residents use their home
as a place of work and either one non-resident employee or customers come to
the site. Typical examples include tutors, teachers, photographers and licensed
therapists or counselors.
27-10.30-C. Exemptions
1. Personal Care Homes
Personal care homes are not regulated as home occupations and are exempt
from the home occupation regulations of this section. Personal care homes are
allowed as indicated in the use tables of Sec. 27-4.20 and Sec. 27-5.20. Supplemental regulations applicable to some personal care homes can be found in Sec.
2. Day Care
Day care uses are not regulated as home occupations and are exempt from the
home occupation regulations of this section. Day care uses are allowed as indicated in the use tables of Sec. 27-4.20 and Sec. 27-5.20. Supplemental regulations applicable to some day care uses can be found in Sec. 27-9.70.
Federal law prohibits the outright banning of home-based daycare as long as all required licenses are obtained.
3. Bed and Breakfast
Bed and breakfasts are not regulated as home occupations and are exempt from
the home occupation regulations of this section. Bed and breakfasts are allowed
as indicated in the use tables of Sec. 27-4.20 and Sec. 27-5.20. Supplemental
regulations applicable to bed and breakfasts can be found in Sec. 27-9.30.
27-10.30-D. Prohibited Home Occupations
The following uses are expressly prohibited as home occupations:
1. any type of assembly, cleaning, maintenance or repair of vehicles or equipment
with internal combustion engines or of large appliances (such as washing machines, clothes dryers or refrigerators);
2. dispatch centers or other businesses where employees come to the site and are
dispatched to other locations;
3. equipment or supply rental businesses;
4. taxi, limo, van or bus services;
5. tow truck services;
6. taxidermists;
7. restaurants;
tattoo, piercing;
fortune telling or psychic services
(These were redacted for duplication.  One of the most frequent misstatements is that "anyone can open a massage parlor or such as long as they have only one customer at a time.  Not true - any type of establishment that is banned from residential zoning districts is also banned as a home based business.  The code does not allow for adult entertainment, fortune telling, medical services, etc.)
8. funeral or interment services;
9. animal care, grooming or boarding businesses; and
10. any use involving the use or storage of vehicles, products, parts, machinery or
similar materials or equipment outside of a completely enclosed building.
Bottom line, engaging in any of the above occupations from home, or anything that is prohibited in a residential zoning district, is an automatic code violation when a complaint is filed and penalties get levied.  
10.30-E. Where Allowed
1. Type A Home Occupations
Type A home occupations are permitted as of right as an accessory use to a principal use in the household living use category. Type A home occupations are subject to the general regulations of Sec. 27-10.30-F and all other applicable regulations of this section. More than one Type A home occupation is allowed as an accessory activity.
One more:  the business owner has to be living in the home as their residence.  For the record, I advocated that only home OWNERS should be allowed to be home business owners.  Apparently, that is not legally permissible.  Anyone allowing a home they own but do not live in as an outlet for their own business is in violation and code enforcement can penalize them as soon as a complaint is filed and confirmed.
2. Type B Home Occupations
Type B home occupations may be approved as an accessory use to a principal
use in the household living use category only as expressly stated in Sec. 27-10.30-
G. Type B home occupations are subject to the general regulations of Sec. 27-
10.30-F, the supplemental regulations of Sec. 27-10.30-G and all other applicable
regulations of this section. Multiple Type B home occupations are prohibited as
an accessory use to a household living use, and a Type A home occupation may
not be conducted with a Type B home occupation.
Limits the amount of activity around the home in question.  Will some try to have multiple businesses anyway?  Probably.  But if a complaint gets filed with evidence, this is the standard that gets applied.
27-10.30-F. General Regulations
All Type A and Type B home occupations are subject to the following general regulations.
1. Home occupations must be accessory and secondary to the use of a dwelling
unit for residential purposes. They may not change the character of the residential building they occupy or adversely affect the character of the surrounding 
(Emphases added.  The whole point is to define what activities are detrimental to a neighborhood and which are not.  The proposal that home occupations will inherently negatively impact a community is void.  The consideration has already been addressed.  )
Home occupations may not, for example, produce light, noise,
vibration, odor, parking demand, or traffic impacts to that are not typical of a
residential neighborhood in Dunwoody. Home occupations must be operated so
as not to create or cause a nuisance.
(Again, the point is to avoid nuisance behaviour.  One of the great fears that gets repeated often is that even with a limit of one customer at a time, having many customers back-to-back would nullify the neighborhood protections.  Not so.  If that many cars are using a business, then an aggrieved party may snap a picture or video and identify both a noise, pollution and general "nuisance" violation to code enforcement.)
2. Any tools or equipment used as part of a home occupation must be operated in
a manner or sound-proofed so as not to be audible beyond the lot lines of the
subject property.
(see above)
3. External structural alterations or site improvements that change the residential
character of the lot upon which a home occupation is located are prohibited.
Examples of such prohibited alterations include construction of parking lots, the
addition of commercial-like exterior lighting or the addition of a separate building entrance that is visible from abutting streets.
(Prevents converting homes and lawns to store fronts with parking lots.  Again, mitigates the action that fuels most fears in this regard.)
4. Signs that directly or indirectly, name, advertise, or call attention to a business,
product, service or other commercial activity occurring on the subject property
are prohibited.
(Signs for contractors or anything else are permitted, just not for an occupation on the premises.)
5. Home occupations and all related activities, including storage (other than the
lawful parking or storage of vehicles), must be conducted entirely within the
dwelling unit.
The area devoted to the conduct of all home occupations present on the property is limited to 25% of the dwelling unit’s floor area or 500 square feet, whichever is less.
7. No window display or other public display of any material or merchandise is allowed.
(See above #4)
8. The use or storage of hazardous substances is prohibited, except at the “consumer commodity” level, as that term is defined in 49 C.F.R. Sec. 171.8.
9. Only passenger automobiles, passenger vans and passenger trucks may be used
in the conduct of a home occupation. No other types of vehicles may be parked
or stored on the premises.
(Even if it's just a take-home car from a non-home-occupation, it has to be a passenger vehicle or don't park it in the driveway.  Allows for bumper stickers, decals, and even car wraps on private vehicles used for more than just business, but does not permit a commercial parking lot.)
10. The provisions of paragraph 9 (above) are not intended to prohibit deliveries and
pickups by common carrier delivery vehicles (e.g., postal service, united parcel
service, FedEx, et al.) of the type typically used in residential neighborhoods.
27-10.30-G. Supplemental Regulations for Type B Home Occupations
Type B home occupations are subject to the following regulations in addition to the
general regulations of Sec. 27-10.30-F.
1. Customers or clients may visit the site only from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. No more than
2 clients or customers may be present at any one time, except that up to 3 students may be present at one time in a teaching-related home occupation (e.g.,
tutor or music/dance instructor).
(The thought behind this was two occupants of one car visiting at one time.  Addresses concerns about increased traffic.  Also addresses concerns about the hours of operation and sets limits commensurate with limits on residential contractors, landscapers, and others commonly used in residential neighborhoods.)
2. One nonresident employee is allowed with a Type B home occupation if no customers come to the site at any time. Home occupations that have clients, customers or students coming to the site at any time may not have nonresident
employees. For the purpose of this provision, the term “nonresident employee”
includes an employee, business partner, co-owner or any other person affiliated
with the home occupation, who does not live at the site, but who visits the site
as part of the home occupation.
(again, intended to address traffic questions)
3. No stock in trade may be displayed or kept for sale on the premises and no onpremise sales may be conducted.
(Apparently, city hall has removed specialty parties like Pampered Chef and Southern Living at Home are not considered "home businesses" so this section does not apply to that segment.)
4. Teaching-related home occupations are permitted as of right.subject to the administrative permit procedures. All other Type B home occupations are subject
to approval of an special land use permit administrative permit in accordance
with Article 23.
accessory use, but the general regulations of Sec. 27-10.30-F apply to the combined home occupation uses.
(For the record, I advocated in Sounding Board for all owners with customer contact to be permitted, including tutors.  However, this population is the least compliant of all business owners in Dunwoody.  To make matters more complex, most Dunwoody residents, even those vehemently opposed to acknowledging that home business owners may operate without a negative impact, have supported home-based instruction,, as well as other home businesses in some way at some time.  This includes City Council members, committee and commission members, and board members of both DHA and DNCA.  And county employees.)

As much as I would like to speak to these thoughts in City Council tonight, I have a previous engagement.  I am working.  At home.  With my husband as a business consultant.  Administering various tasks. Writing proposals. Taking care of my customers.  Same as most home business owners.  Which is why you don't hear them speak up that often.  They're minding their own business, making a living, and maintaining their property so they are contributing positively to their communities.