Monday, September 24, 2018

Fall Festival and Haunted Trail at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve [OCT 27]


Photo by Amy Lincoln
The Fall Festival & Haunted Trail at the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is scheduled for SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, from 5:30 – 8:00.

We’ll have a bonfire, games, food, live music with Hot Tamale Ringwald, and the oh-so-scary haunted trail.

This year we will be requesting donations to help offset expenses and support the Preserve.

Please come and bring your friends! We still need many volunteers, especially for lighting and haunting. Click here to volunteer:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Loving guerilla pothole repair

7/20/2018-onward Update:  Thank you, DeKalb County, for patching the holes at Suzanne/Eastway and Woodridge/Alberson.


Dear DeKalb County,

At the risk of ending an excellent team-building exercise on the Facebook page, the residents of Medlock request your help with some sorely needed road repairs. We know your road crews are stretched thin and so is the budget, but a little help would be appreciated before the potholes become self-aware and start talking back like that old Geico ad...

Suzanne and Eastway:  Currently landscaped with purslane and lovingly surrounded by cones to warn drivers, this pothole was born around April 25. A smaller, aspirational pothole can be seen on the background and is currently being evaluated for native xeriscaping.

Update 1: They are heeereee! Drone footage captured a wild pig wreaking havoc on the landscaping. Without a doubt, this is some folks' worst nightmare sprung to life.
Update 2: Disaster averted. The neighborhood patrol has handled the wild pig infestation. Overnight, a McCastle and other amenities have popped up and we expect this listing to appear on Zillow any second now. Disclosure to interested buyers: will require flood insurance.
Ode to baby Alberson Lake, at the corner of Woodridge and Alberson: "I’ve watched you grow from a small dip in the road to a 3x5 crater that hosts its own ecosystem, from algae to mosquitoes to frogs. We’ve known you so long you should probably be a member of this group. You’ve had a good run. But you’re now work order #5911616 and DeKalb County has assigned you to the Asphalt Department for fixing." And, to qualify such drastic measures, the poster explained: "My breaking point was when one of the neighborhood kids said, “Don’t let your dogs swim in there.”" Another neighbor warned "there is no lifeguard on duty."

Easements are known to function as wildlife corridors. This pothole's proximity is the next step in the rewilding of Medlock Park...

Update 1: Hidden wildlife camera captures a coyote in full cry.

Update 2: Deer, often seen around the neighborhood, have found a new watering hole.

And because if there's nothing this neighborhood enjoys more than sharing an educational link, here's 13 Pavement Defects and Failures You Should Know!


The "Laughter is the Best Medicine" troupe at Medlock Park

Update #?: Fox 5 Atlanta shares our silliness:

Friday, June 29, 2018

Two SLUP meetings for home-adjacent properties [July 3]

Neighbors received the following two rezoning/SLUP meeting announcements mid-month. They are scheduled for July 3, 2018, not exactly the most available date for most! Please attend if you can, and strategize with your neighbors to cover both meetings as they are on the same evening. 

1) Quick Trip on Lawrenceville Hwy: approval for extra gas pumps and alcohol sales
Concerns: This is complicated. It is a rezoning for a "portion" of the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve parcel [note: the nature preserve, although maintained by volunteers, is privately owned]. There appears to be confusion on the part of the County and the representing attorney as to how such a rezoning (for part of a property) would proceed. Additionally, the rezoning of that portion is to accommodate a dumpster which would be within the existing buffer (and putting dumpsters close to homes is a very bad idea: think noise and varmint). Right now the gas station impacts the first 4 houses on Harrington; with the new plan, it will expand its impact to the first 6 houses on Harrington. Additionally, there's the question of the desirability of allowing alcohol sales at this location, and alcohol sales seems to be driving the need for additional space and more parking.

UPDATE: Neighbors are working with QuickTrip to address issues.

2) RJ Crickets: seeks to stay open until 2am Friday-Saturday.
Concerns: The neighborhood had major issues with a prior businesses at this location that stayed open after midnight. Allowing later hours will potentially diminish quality of life for residents by inviting the same late-night problems that were experienced before:
- limited on-site parking means parking spilled onto residential streets, along with associated noise; trash was routinely left on streets/yards by business guests; cars were sometimes parked on residential front yards/lawns, resulting damages to private property
- noise and light pollution continued late into the night
- late night nuisance/criminal behavior led to safety concerns

UPDATE: this SLUP was withdrawn.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Community meeting notes (6/11/18)

Approximately 60 residents were in attendance.

Distracted Driver Bill
Representative Renitta Shannon discussed HB673, the distracted driver bill that passed recently.  The bill states that while operating a vehicle (meaning, while on the road, moving or not), drivers are not to touch their cell phones/tablets (wireless communication device) with any part of their body except for making an emergency call. Drivers may use hands-free access which means voice activation and earphones. Drivers may adjust settings (e.g., start a music or navigation app) while parked, but are not to touch the device once they are on the road. Drivers can make/take calls as long as they do so without touching the phone; drivers are not to text (already illegal) or record videos while driving. Again, note that the law applies even if a driver is stuck in traffic that is not moving. The law goes live on July 30. See this article for more details:

Scott Circle Lots
Presented by Ted Ward, MANA Parks and Greenspace Chair. Footing for a small bridge over a culvert, connecting Medlock Park to the Scott lots, is now in place. Fundraising continues towards securing funding to build the bridge.

The DeKalb Quality of Life Unit
Presented by A. Claire Farley (Community Prosecutor, Assistant Solicitor General) and Karen Scott (Code Enforcement Prosecutor, Assistant Solicitor General). In a nutshell, code enforcement used to be defined as a victimless crime; beyond reporting nuisances/code violations, citizens affected by these issues had little representation. This unit is tasked with following up on complaints, escalating cases for non-compliant offenders, and showing up in court to forcefully represent the public's perspective. We've already seen this unit at work in addressing the junkyard situation at Vol Repairs. Their presentation appears below.

DeKalb Solicitor General's Quality of Life Unit Presentation (pdf) and website.

Clifton Corridor Updates
Presented by MARTA representatives Brian Hobbs (MARTA Transit System Project Manager) and Scott Brown (Clifton Corridor Project Team Leader). There is now a preferred option for this MARTA line that would, when/if completed, run from Lindbergh to Avondale stations, connecting keep employers in the area (Emory University, CDC and DeKalb Medical). This plan is currently under the NEPA review (required before funding can be approved). Following several years of study, two finalists (Alternatives 6 and 7) emerged. Alternative 7 requires extensive underground work and therefore is too costly and Alternative 6, mostly at grade but with some tunnels, is currently the preferred solution. It would cover 8.3 miles from Lindbergh to Avondale and is expected to cover that distance in ~26 minutes. Construction would begin in 2022, operation in 2026.
As proposed... Phase 1 stops at Emory (City of Atlanta); Phase 2 would cross into unincorporated DeKalb Co.
Progress on this line is dictated by available funding; currently, funding is secured for the portion that is in City of Atlanta only. With Emory University's recent annexation, that means that existing funding stretches only as far as the Emory connection (Phase I).

The remaining portion (Emory to Avondale, Phase II) is in DeKalb County and no funding has been identified.

Phase I runs along CSX alignment, would be above-ground on Clifton Rd and would consist of light rail (think Atlanta streetcar but with longer cars, vs. MARTA heavy rail trains). Light rail cars have overhead power lines and are quieter than heavy rail (per noise/vibration analyses). The line would start at Lindbergh Station and have stops at Cheshire Bridge and Sage Hill/Briarcliff. It would wend its way to Clifton Road (with stops at CDC, Emory's Rollins buildings/Conference Center) and go underground in the portion between CDC Parkway and Gatewood Rd. The next portion (on Clifton Road) would be light rail on the median lanes; these would turn onto Haywood Drive (with a stop facing Druid Hills High) and on to North Decatur Road.

For Atlanta, decisions to move forward would be made in September. As to Phase 2, DeKalb has a master planning session coming up and transit discussions should be part of it. As these new rail systems develop, MARTA would adjust bus service to maximize access (e.g., connect this new light rail to other destinations such as North DeKalb Mall). But again, past Emory, this new line will only connect to Avondale if DeKalb County comes up with the necessary funds.

On North Decatur Road, light rail would travel two ways alongside car lanes; bike lanes would also be considered. This obviously would require some widening of North Decatur Road. The light rail cars would control crossing lights for efficient travel times. Long conversations remain ahead of us.

These stations are proposed as walk-up stations with no parking lots for commuters. Audience members asked if this will cause problems with commuters parking on residential streets; the answer was that MARTA would help provide enforcement. Should the DeKalb portion be developed, there would be stops at North Decatur/Clairmont Roads, Suburban Plaza, DeKalb Medical Center, Irwin Way, and Your DeKalb Farmers Market before reaching the Avondale station.

Preliminary plans propose several underground pedestrian crossings at our crazy 6-way intersection (North Decatur Rd./Medlock Rd./Scott Blvd). Cheers from the audience! 

We can expect additional workshops in summer/early fall for additional public input. Of course we will share that information in this space as soon as it is available.

Clifton Corridor Presentation to Medlock Community (pdf format), includes several slides with information specific to the Medlock area.

Clifton Corridor Fact Sheet (Spring 2018) (pdf)

North DeKalb Mall Updates

Presented by Theresa Same, MANA Zoning Chair.  Theresa briefly covered the same information presented in this post

As discussed at that community meeting on April 26, 2018, the project's scope requires an impact study. A meeting took place on June 1, 2018 (community representatives were not invited) and Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, the company handling zoning for this development, shared a letter of understanding that outlines the discussion that took place then. This document was prepared by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA),  a state-level authority that oversees mobility and air quality for 13 area counties (DeKalb and Fulton included). The study must also be shared with the Atlanta Regional Commission, DeKalb County and GDOT District 7 (which encompasses Cobb, Clayton DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton and Rockdale counties). See the document here (pdf). The letter states the project will be built in one phase, with a completion date of 2021.

On June 13, the AJC briefly reported on the North DeKalb Mall redevelopment (currently dubbed Decatur Landing) and shared some preliminary plans [see those plans here (pdf)]. The AJC article states it will take a couple of years to finalize the plans.
One of the schematics from the proposed redevelopment. The existing structure (mall only) will be demolished and
the new redevelopment will include a Costco and residential space. Of existing tenants, Marshall's, Burlington Coat Factory and the AMC Theater will remain but they will be in newly built spaces. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Community Meeting: North DeKalb Mall Redevelopment [Apr 26]

These are notes from tonight's meeting. If corrections are made at a later date, they will be annotated.
Q = question from audience
A = Answer from developer or comment from another audience member

Schematic of redevelopment plan.
Overlay showing proposal vs. existing structures
DeKalb Mall Development Meeting
200 chairs, probably 250-300 people

Great turnout! Photo by Maria Ginex Zorka
Dan Webb ran the meeting.

Site right now is 50 acres, town center C2

Lost tenants like Macy’s, lost others, internet sale impact
Trying to do something more market-appropriate

(Describing the site map)
New theater to the right, food hall; hardscape/courtyard outside food hall surrounded by retail and food space, smaller retail kiosks. 2 stories, 2nd story is 2500 sq ft offices
More retail/restaurant to the west
Blank area is designed for residents 425 apts, 40-50 town homes
Residential facing floodplain
Costco, gas pumps, “power retail center”
            Lease rights/obligations to relocate Burlington, etc to that area during constructions
Hotel parcel on east side
Won’t see back of buildings
No plan for hotel, marriot-type
Have made “concessions” – accommodate path trail, would provide lighting, clean up greenspace
Early in process, zoning not filed yet, aiming May 3 deadline
ARC will review application
            Chuckles at traffic implications
Reality: C2 means any amount of retail could go in, could have significant traffic anyway due to zoning

Question about destroying floodplain?
            Make area more usable, access to N. DeKalb Mall community garden, Clyde Shepherd Nat Preserve

After ARC review 3-4 months, regional impact study in Aug/Sept then to zoning

Q: In advance of demolition, reuse/deconstruction for non-profits? Needs to be arranged well in advance. Removal of useful items for resale, benefit agencies
            A: will make a note of it

Q: is another comparable development in Atlanta?
            A: TownBrookhaven (more townhomes/units) or Perimeter Place, smaller than Avalon in Alpharetta

Q:  What about hotel?
            A: 5 story, 150 rm hotel; no more info yet. Probably Marriot or Hilton
            Q: is there enough demand?
            A: yes, lots of interest

Q: Traffic – getting out of subdivision. Orion main entrance? Current traffic patterns and how they work with development?
            A: Orion considered main entrance by owners. Traffic will be studied exhaustively, full traffic study will be available. Study larger area, when school in session.

Q: Water, seweage, potholes, what when we have a drought?
            A: Conversation about storm water, sewage. There is sewage impact and what will be increase or decrease? Working through those issues. Possibly upgrades

Q: Multi-family, is all parking for residents or do they share deck on foodcourt?
            A: probably wrapped deck
            Q: creek—construction runoff, contamination
            A: will follow law, monitored by engineering team and county

Q: Pedestrian-friendly but see huge swath of biuldings, have some pedestrian break in the middle. Excited to work with PATH,
            A: hard to see but finer level of detail should show pedestrian access
            Q: detention area: can do as an amenity vs. big mudhole
            A: will look at that

Q: Excited about development, mentioned PATH… dangerous crossing on N Druid Hills, improve access for that neighborhood

Q: using any solar or update the electrical/utilities to be more environmentally safe?
            A: have not heard of that. Question now is zoning, those other engineering details are premature

Q: Are there a lot of jr boxes/anchors in addition to Costco. As we sit in empty store, will these be Amazon-proof?
            A: there are existing tenants with right to relocate, power center is for them to relocate. Business that are doing well will relocate. Around new food court is smaller scale space for retail,
            Q: as opposed to Northlake, everything is demolished here?
            A: true

Q: Is this drawing on line/be future drawings online?
                        A: filing with County. Drawings will be available May 3 for filing.

Q: Could you tell rationale for site selection for Costco? It backs to private residences, trucks coming and going.
            A: issue being discussed; loading area sunken in Townhaven Costco. But discussion continues

Q: Left/right turns, lights. Volume is much higher than light cycle allows. Consider raingardens to catch runoff. Sufficient tree plantings. Housing is skyrocketing in cost, what is your price point on rentals, can do 10% for low-income housing? (audience claps)
            A: Does not know price points, too early. Munti-family units would be rentals. A significant would be workforce housing (for rentals).

Q: Difficult to drive around here, expect robust pedestrian/cycle access. Public greenspace, public music events?
            A: 50-acre site, there will be robust sidewalk network; focus for greenspace is no back.
                        Q: ACTIVE greenspace
                        A: will talk about it

Q: Where will PATH connectivity be located?
            A: wherever you want it
            Q: Noise? Security/safety, fence is knocked down.
            A: discussing what to do with that.

Q: PATH: we  @ LITTLE CREEK—there is very little connectivity from other side of Orion. Current sidewalk, curb cut for wheelchair blocked by guardrail. County talked of connecting across Lawrenceville a long time ago. Any way to connect to Clyde Shepherd? (clapping)
            A: Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is interested in being a partner, discussing

Q: Marshall Orson—housing and impact on schools, and traffic. Service to schools in cluster. School system left out of planning process. Want to support community but are you factoring school and traffic impact (applause)
            A: absolutely

Q: This may be premature, concern for current businesses. New developments look great but are bringing chains. I want to see something in this plan for “mom and pop” store, non-profits, others to be able to afford to be in this area.
            A: There are areas for smaller scale businesses. Power center is to relocate current big boxes.

Q: Plans for Emory shuttle?
            A: Heard about this recently. No details

Q: Outer loop will on outside perimeter?
            A: secondary loop more on west site, primary drive center of site
            Traffic will change a bit

Q: Conversation with MARTA – routes?        
            A: unknown, can talk more, too early to discuss

Q: Shuttle has impacted road integrity.

Q: Around property, you have Horse Farm, Clyde Shepherd Nat Preserve. Adding 400+ apts… when we don’t know full impact of other apartments recently built will impact. Valley brook Rd –one way in and out.
            A: traffic study will be more intensive than previous developments.
            Q: also impact on CSNP and Horse Farm: noise impact on wildlife/animals.  A lot of us bought in here because of canopy.
            A: this area is already developed
            Q: It will NOT be the same. You said there is no impact
            A: undisturbed in terms of current us. Fuqua was a church and 33 houses, that was more of an impact.

Q: Who is traffic engineer?
            A: Kimberly Horne

Q: you said traffic could improve?
            A: study of intersections, sync lights,

Q: more people, how can it improve?
            A: people can do a lot of things without getting in care. Some reduction in traffic

Q: if all works to plan, deadlines?
            A: May 3 + DRI process = summer DeKalb Co… so end of year, so 8-9 months. Then 4-6 months permitting, then construction can begin. It will be phased (power center built). It will be a while. Will get more info.

Q: When/how participate in regional impact—input from public?
            A: DRI review is not public, 3 public meetings, etc. that all still applies.

Q: Suggestion: people are interested in seeing comparison of current traffic vs proposed development.
            A: addressed in traffic study

Q: Trees removed, and will movies still be $6. (applause and laughter)
            A: Not known plan for area, don’t know

Q: Any renderings of looks, finishes
            A: Yes, later. There will be answers to all this later

Q: Goes to movies every week. Will leave theater up while development happens? What about Dollar Tree and Post Office?
            A: Not sure about Dollar Tree and Post Office.  Movie theater will stay open.

Q: Walking inside mall.  It’s dry and warm. Where are we going to wal\?
            A: outside
            Q: don’t want to walk outside!
            A: outside on nice sidewalks and landscape. Can’t afford to maintain malls just for walking. Walk around Costco… and they have samples.

Q: My experience, other developments, things won’t be sold. All these commitments made to people, what happens to commitments? SJ Collins is selling another Whole Foods. Don’t trust people for continuum.
            A: Will be zoned to site, only what’s on site plan can be built. Let’s say 10 years from now, they can’t just build something industrial, would need to repreat process. There will be conditions in place, targeted requirements, we’ve done this with other projects around here. The conditions can be exhaustive. Another can be a private agreement with neighborhood groups.

Q: If it goes to DRI/DeKalb Co, and they say certain components not approved, can project happen?
            A: not sure,
            Q: is deal contingent on any plan
            A: multi-family is driving current zoning

Q: similar question: townhomes would be part. Pulled out on Decatur Crossing.
            A: 2nd phase went through which cancelled that proposal

Q:  How to stay on top of this development? The minutia. Noise of dumpsters every morning.  What noise level from trash, loading/unloading?
            A: taking notes and working through these questions. Probably will drill down to these details

Q: Why so many apts vs townhomes? So many apartments everywhere. How did you come up with the numbers?
            A: There are developers who have own data and #s that will sell or rent. Market forces. Started as all-multifamily deal. Some neighbors wanted for-sale items and that’s where that came from. I’m a realtor, believe there’s market for for-sale (applause).

Q: (something about impact of schools, families = # cars)
            A: Having this conversation with Decatur… so protective of schools. Question is what’s impact on schools? Decatur has 4 yrs of history and impact is surprisingly low. This type of use is probably not high student.
A: 425 units inhabited by families? Data says a lot of singles, younger couples.
A: Even if 425, multiply by 1.7 cars. Napkin calculation… 3,000 cars/day during commutes.  They may walk around to get breakfast but will need to drive. Traffic backs up from Lawrenceville Hwy to 85.  (applause).

A: Hospital and Druid Hills School --- new buidings coming in the area…

A: But those people are already here.

A: N Druid Hills is a high performing school, IB program expanding, grab more of that residential space than you might think. Likely to draw more students. [Orson comment] More revenue but do the broader analysis. If you draw an extra 200 students, that requires the schools to adapt. School systems get left out of these discussions.

Q: [Theresa Same] Need to clarify something, I’m part of the neighborhoods meeting group, we asked for townhomes but did NOT ask for them in addition to apartments. So looking for a reduction in # of apartments. The group did not ask to add MORE apartments.
            A: Webb said he has not been to all meetings, he just wanted to clarify the idea of 50 townhomes came from the community.

NB: if anyone wishes to send their comments/concerns to the Cross-Neighborhoods Council, email them at 

Q: What groups are you meeting with and will continue to meet?
            A: we have reps from Laurel Ridge, MANA, Valley Brook, N Druid Valley, Tuxworth Springs, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, Good Growth DeKalb, Clairmont Heights, Horse Farm...

Clarification: there is no representative from the horse farm but during the meeting, a gentleman identified himself as being part of the cross-neighborhoods council and also representing the interests of the Little Creek Horse Farm.

Q: Look forward for progress. Ready for Costco

Q: Also happy to see development. Concerned about apartments—building more when other apts are not filled yet.  But traffic really is impacting the area.

Q: Don’t say no kids. Glad to see development but did not know this was happening until a couple weeks ago. Can we list the people listed who are in the group, who are the contacts?
            A: Need representatives, can’t have meetings of 300 people…

End of meeting

Thursday, April 19, 2018

South Peachtree Creek PATH trail update: Emory connector now complete

PATH has published an update on how the South Peachtree Creek Trail is coming closer to connecting to the Emory campus:

Emory University will celebrate the opening of campus-side portion of the trail on April 20. There is now a paved PATH section to safely convey  cyclists and pedestrians under Clairmont Road, and a widened sidewalk connecting to the Emory campus.
New path under Clairmont Road and expanded sidewalk along the Emory campus on Clairmont Rd.
A visual recap: green marks the existing South Peachtree Creek PATH that connects Medlock Park to Mason Mill Park and on to North Druid Hills Road. Purple marks the new Emory PATH connector.
Finally, to connect the dots, PATH says that
"The final portion of the trail will connect Old Clairmont Road to Clairmont Place, following South Peachtree Creek along Clairmont Lake before turning along the railroad tracks to follow Burnt Fork Creek as it flows through the Ira B. Melton Park. By the end of this year, Medlock Park, Mason Mill Park and North Druid Hills Road will be connected by trail to both Emory University's main campus and its Clairmont campus."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Rezoning/SLUP for North DeKalb Mall: Community Meeting [Apr 26]

North DeKalb Mall, perimeter highlighted in yellow.
After years of speculation, the redevelopment of North DeKalb Mall is gathering speed. The DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Council (representing residential communities in the vicinity) has met with the developer once, and strongly encourages residents in all surrounding areas to attend a community rezoning meeting, to take place on April 26 (see details below). The developer will reveal their current plan, and attendees will have a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and later follow up with our Commissioners to provide feedback on the proposed plan. The DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Council welcomes feedback at

As reported by Decaturish and TomorrowsNewsToday, this will be a significant redevelopment; the scope is such that the Atlanta Regional Commission must provide a local impact assessment before plans can be finalized. Because the proposal seeks to convert the property from commercial to multiple use (it proposes multi-family homes) and requests a gas pump (presumably for Costco), the developer must secure a Special Land Use Permit.
Community meeting announcement for April 26, 2018, as distributed to some neighbors.
Although we will have to wait until the community meeting for additional details about this proposal's layout, we know so far that:
the site is 40+ acres
the developer proposes:
 •  450 multi-family units
 •  a hotel (152 rooms)
 •  restaurants
 •  other retail (this would include a Costco)
 •  some current businesses (AMC Theater, Burlington Coat Factory) would remain operational during the remodel
 Please share this information with friends and neighbors.