Thursday, July 28, 2016

(UPDATED) Will Dunwoody Finance New Commercial Development in the Perimeter? Find out Tonight, July 28.

There is a special called meeting of the Development Authority tonight, July 28, 2016.

The backstory:
Transwestern wants to build an office building on a parcel of Perimeter Mall's parking lot that was purchased earlier this year.  They went to great effort and expense, per an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, to purchase this property.  They went to great efforts to design a building that will connect via skybridge to both Perimeter Mall and the Dunwoody MARTA parking lot.  There were a few minor requests for SLUPs to allow encroachments and parking allowances to make the plan work.  But at the same time, Transwestern had 1) no tenants lined up and 2) a plan for a tax abatement so that the city would "encourage" their completion of the project.

Here's DWG's take on the presentation from June:

Tonight, Transwestern is going in front of the Development Authority with a different plan.  According to the documents associated with tonight's meeting, Transwestern proposes to have Dunwoody fund the construction via municipal bonds, then lease the building back to them.  The City of Dunwoody would become Transwestern's landlord.

UPDATE:  Joe Seconder contacted Economic Development director Mike Starling and received the following response:

I would like to clear a misunderstanding concerning the Development Authority. The City does not borrow money nor does it provide any City Credit towards these “Bond” transactions. These are private placement bonds that are financed totally by the developer. The Development Authority provides a lease back to the developer in order to provide tax incentives for projects. I would be happy to sit down with you to explain how this process works.
So we're back to the original proposal - a tax break for a company building a speculative office-space project in Dunwoody.  My smell test has not improved.  There are still questions that have yet to be answered.

Here's what the Dunwoody citizen needs to consider:

1)  There has been no public discussion beyond the DHA meeting in June.  So the request for municipal bonds is a bolt out of the blue.
2)  Do we, the citizens, want our government to use our city's bond rating to finance commercial development, not to redevelop "blighted" or "run down" parts of the city but to build in the most sought-after real estate in the southeast?  Do we want to issue tax abatements for speculative projects that developers want to get engaged in, until it's time for the tax bill?
3)  If the answer to #2 is "yes", what minimum basic requirements should there be for a developer to avail themselves of this process?  Guaranteed tenants perhaps?  Or a national brand or headquarters?
4)  What are the long-term consequences, both pro and con, to Dunwoody's government getting into the "landlord" business tax abatement upon request?

And finally - the elephant in the room:  is this resolution the reason why Denny Shortal does not want members of the DHA discussing new development?

Please note:  there will be no public comment before the vote!  Public comment will only be accepted at the end of the meeting.  If you have an opinion on this matter, communicate it to the Development Authority and our government representatives NOW! 

Dunwoody Development Authority:

Mayor and City Council:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Treetop Quest in Brook Run Seeks "Operator"

Treetop Quest, the obstacle course company operating in a corner of Brook Run Park seeks an "operator" to run all major operations of the park.

Wages:  $10 per hour, part time

The ad was posted to Craigslist and spread via Twitter

View the ad here:

Treetop Obstacle Course Operator

Operators are the eyes and ears of the Park. They help create a fun atmosphere through friendly, fun, high-energy assistance while ensuring safety regulations are respected. No experience needed; we provide necessary training.

We are seeking fun, motivated and professional operators to join our team on a flexible schedule:

- Treetop Quest open days:

o Every weekend & Holidays in August through November

o Group reservations during the week

Weekend AND weekday availability necessary. We have 2 locations: Buford and Dunwoody.


- Daily opening and closing of the Course

- Morning inspection: Inspecting each platform and obstacle for safety and cleanliness

- Greet participants

- Equip, advise and prevent participants

- Lead a safety briefing/orientation talk and demonstration

- Enforce park regulations

- Monitor participants going through obstacles, and coach them

- Handle off the ground rescue situations

Profile required:

- Must be 18 and older

- Athletic, dynamic with an outgoing personality, a sense of hospitality and good communication skills

- Must be patient and able to lead groups of kids as well as adults

- Must be reliable and this position requires a strong commitment to security

- Practicing outdoor activities and/or a tour guide experience are a plus

- Will be exposed to all weather conditions, frequent standing, sitting, walking, lifting of weight in excess of 40 pounds, stooping, reaching, climbing, and able to visually identify safety hazards

- Must have a flexible work schedule (including evenings, weekends and holidays)


Contact info:



Please apply online at

Please do not apply if you do not meet the above qualifications. Only candidates being considered will be contacted.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Special Called Meeting to Review DeKalb's SPLOST - Again

From Councilman Terry Nall:

Thanks for the recap.

Now that we have clear confirmation of erroneous legislative language (HB 596) that makes our homestead property tax freeze disappear if the eHOST /SPLOST referendum passes, we should all be working to stop the referendum from being called by BOC rather than spending our time on changing the distribution formula via an IGA.

We cannot rely on a promised legislative fix in January and simply hope it can be retroactive. The stakes for our citizens are too high to take this risk.

In my personal view, any city approving and/or encouraging the SPLOST resolution and companion IGA at this point, especially with the new information on HB 596 now known and confirmed, is putting its citizens last, not first.

Thanks again for your recap and your service for DMA.

From Commissioner Nancy Jester:

Nancy's blog goes into more detail about why this county SPLOST could result in massive tax increases for Dunwoody homeowners:

Below is the video I streamed live from the Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting on July 10.

Dunwoody City Council voted last week, 6-1, to defer entering into an IGA with the county on spending projects for this proposed SPLOST. There is no project list and for all of the reasons described above by our representatives, it looks like a financially bad deal for our city.  The special called meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, July 18 at 8:00 AM at council chambers.

Dunwoody City Council (esp Shortal) please note:

The DHA was the forum by which Commissioner Jester could direct her comments to the public and field any questions.  The Dunwoody Homeowners Association did not vote to take a position on her comments.  So if there's any negative fallout from whatever your decision is, kindly refrain from backlashing the DHA.  It isn't their fault.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dunwoody Homeowners Association Agenda - updated 9:15 PM

Sunday, July 10, 2016 | 7:30 pm 
North DeKalb Cultural Center, Room 4

Update was distributed July 7 at 9:15 pm

1. Announcements and introduction of distinguished visitors

2. Approval of minutes for June 5, 2016 meeting—Lindsay Ballow

3. Overview of city actions related to DHA membership – Mayor Shortal

4. Brief report on 4th of July parade –Robert Wittenstein

5. Request for Sponsorship – Dunwoody Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization – Laurie Nichols

6. Presentation – SunTrust Bank development proposal for bank relocation in Dunwoody Village—Den Webb (Smith, Gambrell & Russell), Terri Lasoff (SunTrust), Bart Sargent (Architect), Davis Blumenthal (Engineer/Project Manager)

7. Discussion – City actions related to DHA members on city boards and city board members attending DHA meetings; DHA response.

Board only session: Votes as needed on any motions including:
  • DHA action related to city policy changes re: DHA
  • Dunwoody Elementary School Request for funds
  • Potential removal of inactive board members

The word of the day is:


[uh-koun-tuh-buh l]


subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something;responsible; answerable.

Last month, the Dunwoody City Council met secretly to change city policy and ban DHA members (not just voting members but ALL members) from serving on certain city boards.  The fact that this conversation regarding dual board membership (public vs private) has been regularly reviewed and questioned over the years is irrelevant.  The action of creating policy outside of a public forum represents the greatest ethical failing of our city government to date.

Realizing this, the council called an emergency public meeting and suspended implementation of this illegally-created policy.

The DHA is now going to discuss how best to hold our government accountable for their actions and how best to legally advocate for that position.  We were supposed to have as a guest speaker an attorney specializing in City Planning and Zoning to discuss a legal perspective on the question; a scheduling conflict came up but Rob will be presenting his thoughts for the board to cosider.

Denny Shortal accepted Rob's invitation to attend the DHA meeting.  He will give a speech but will not stay for the later discussion.  Just like the special called meeting.


SunTrust is in the process of purchasing the Old Hickory House property.  Their legally-required "public meeting" was held a couple of weeks ago.  They are holding a second public meeting with the DHA voluntarily to further reach out to the public.

A couple of points from that first presentation:

1)  This is not an issue of "adding" another bank.  No banks are being added.  SunTrust is merely relocating from a rented space to a new custom built space.  They know the competition is tough here; their goal is to serve their customers.

2)  At the time of the first public meeting, a rumor was circulating on Facebook that the landlords of Shops of Dunwoody refused to share their parking lot with SunTrust (or anyone else) and threatened to "boot" the cars of employees or customers of SunTrust.  I showed the Facebook posts to the team presenting and the categorically denied the rumor.  They pointed out that the storefront where they met was rented from Shops of Dunwoody and there have been no threats of penalizing SunTrust customers or employees in any way.

3)  Even with the requested drive through customer service area and 2 additional parking spaces, they intend to design and landscape the property so it is in greater compliance with the spirit and letter of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Overlay District than it is now.

4)  The presentation team consisted of the property architect, engineer, a corporate real estate executive from Suntrust, the Atlanta area bank manager and the branch manager.  I expect this same team on Sunday.

DHA board meetings are open to the public; come visit and develop an informed opinion on these and other issues affecting our city.