Monday, October 20, 2014

Great show @ Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

Thanks to the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve volunteer crew for organizing another wonderful harvest festival. Great turnout and the perfect weather to walk around the preserve, say hello to neighbors, partake in some s'mores...


... and enjoy great music by The Higher Choir.

Check out The Higher Choir's website here. Photo by Tanya.

Pumpkins with an attitude :)

An even higher choir :) -- these fellas were honking as they headed towards the harvest festival around 5:40 pm. 

2nd Annual Avondale Estates Garden Club Tree Walk [Oct 25]

Click to enlarge.
From Nancy Martin
"Mother Nature will reveal the newest colors in her fall collection during the second annual Avondale Tree Walk on Saturday, October 25th from 10:00 am- Noon. Sponsored by the Avondale Estates Garden Club as a conservation project, this year’s walk will include beautiful specimens chosen by the Tree Walk Committee to strut on the catwalk of Avondale Estates. 
Local arborists who will lead the walk include Mark Livingston, Arborguard; Gretchen Musser, Elements of Landscape Design; Neil Norton, ISA Certified Arborist; Gary Peiffer, Dekalb Co. Extension Agent; Steve Sanchez, HGOR; and Joan Scales, U.S. Forestry Commission. 
Tree Walk Guides will point out the enormous benefits trees add to the urban environment, such as: 
• For every ton of new wood that grows, about 1.8 tons of carbon dioxide is removed from the air and 1 .3 tons of oxygen is produced;
• One recent study reported that urban trees could be about 10 times as effective as forest trees for lowering carbon dioxide in cities;
• Trees provide climate control & moderate the “heat island” effect of the urban setting;
• Trees protect soil and water quality. 
To take part in this free event, meet in the parking lot of the Avondale Community Club at 59 Lakeshore Drive at 10:00 am. A new feature of this year’s walk will be the opportunity to ask a panel of experts about any concerns homeowners have with trees in their landscapes. The Avondale Estates Garden Club is a member club of The DeKalb County Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc., The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc., the Redbud District of GCG, and the National Garden Clubs, Inc."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Annexation Round-Up: DeKalb County Edition

A City of South DeKalb? This week (h/t to Deanne!), our representative Rahn Mayo (D - Decatur. District 84) issued a press release through his email list on his stance on annexation,

"Generally speaking I support a community in pursuit of self determination. My reluctance to supporting additional new cities in DeKalb County is based on the lack of cohesiveness with which new cities are often created. In the past, there has been a tremendous disconnect between DeKalb citizens, and political leaders driving cityhood efforts. In my opinion, cityhood plans have provided very little concern for the impact on the DeKalb County as a whole. 

I have witnessed what appears to be "cherry picking" of valuable commercial assets by newly formed cities and communities sponsoring annexation plans. Furthermore, there are often contentious boundary disputes with maps and exclusion of neighborhoods bordering proposed cities, which often feel neglected and without input regarding their fate. 

Currently, there are several proposals for annexation and incorporation in DeKalb County. I recently requested a feasibility study (on behalf of organizers) from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, for a proposed City of South DeKalb. My current position is to carefully review the feasibility and equity concerns of each cityhood and annexation plan and consider the overall fiscal impact on DeKalb County as a whole."

Brookhaven favored? The City of Briarcliff, in conjunction with the City of Lakeside leadership, protested a move by North Druid Hills Rd businesses east of I-85 to requested inclusion into Brookhaven. These businesses have been part of the Lakeside Initiative's map and would be important in providing services for a new city in north central DeKalb (aka the expected  Lakeside/Briarcliff combined city proposal).

Briarcliff and Lakeside tango! Briarcliff/Lakeside Briarcliff and Lakeside continue to struggle towards compromise, but Reporter Newspapers says that they are not ready to release a combined map yet.

A Tale of Two Cities? Even after the 2014's messy legislative session, compromise in map-making was stalled.  Late in August, State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-80, Brookhaven/Chamblee), with the blessing of the House Government Affairs Committee, set a November 15 deadline for finalizing new city and annexation maps. The Brookhaven Post reported that State Representative Scott Holcomb (D-81, Northlake/Brookhaven) guesses that when five-member House Government Affairs sub-committee meets, they will propose a two-city solution for North DeKalb: Tucker and the expected combination of the Briarcliff and Lakeside proposals.

Charter helter-skelter.  The Druid Hills Charter Cluster withdrew its petition amid allegations that the DeKalb County School System illegally log-jammed the review and approval process, and stated that the organizers would "step away from our efforts in order to give life to other active processes underway in our communities that affect our constituency, such as annexation and city-hood." Druid Hills residents have been pondering the possibility of annexation into the City of Atlanta; in that eventuality, Druid Hills High School, Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary schools would join the Atlanta Public School System. Update: WABE/NPR reports on this issue.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve Harvest Festival [Oct 19]

from Chris Beck, CSNP President:
"We are looking forward to seeing everyone next Sunday from 4-7pm. A local girl scout troop will be holding a bake sale and we will have hot dogs, drinks, and fixings available as well. We will also be joined by Cutie the sheep, who is part of flock who will be grazing our English ivy later this winter. Come early to walk the trails and do a little bird watching or geocaching."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MANA annexation survey will launch this weekend

The MANA Annexation Survey seeks feedback from
residents within our organization's boundaries.
Click to enlarge.
Over the coming weekend, MANA volunteers will distribute the latest issue of the Medlock Matters newsletter. The newsletter includes the usual updates about going ons around the neighborhood, but is also a special issue on cityhood and annexation that complements our annexation survey. To get this information out there as soon as possible, the Fall newsletter is now available online (pdf) ahead of the print edition.

We encourage you to read articles by your MANA Board as they explore the potential impact of annexation and cityhood on key concerns such as our property taxes and schools. Much is unknown, but we still need to voice our preference so that our elected representatives and annexation proponents understand our wishes.

The home-delivered newsletter includes an insert with our survey and instructions on how to complete it by the October 28 deadline. Survey content is shared below. We hope that this information is useful and encourages conversation and discussion. We will start reporting on our survey results at the next community meeting (October 27). For timeline information, see our earlier post.

Thank you for your patience as we prepared these materials.


NEWSLETTER INSERT


ANNEXATION AND PROPOSAL MAP:

Click to enlarge.
This map (dated July 2014) was shared by the City of Tucker Initiative and has been edited to highlight key features. The map has been cropped to focus on annexation activity in our area. The Medlock Area Neighborhood Association (MANA) has been highlighted in white. Proposed cities are labeled in italics and existing cities are labeled in capital letters. To see the unedited map, click here.

We highlight Decatur’s proposed annexations (which include Suburban Plaza, Medlock Plaza where Meltons is located, and the whole Medline LCI study area as well as businesses at the Clairmont and North Decatur Road intersection, among others) because their annexation into Decatur would primarily allocate those properties’ commercial taxes to a small city that already possesses ample resources. Combined, these commercial annexations would increase Decatur’s footprint by more than 10%. We believe these commercial properties should serve as large a number of DeKalb citizens as possible:

City of Decatur population (2013):
~ 20,000
DeKalb County population (2013):
~ 700,000 (~500,000 unincorporated)
Proposed Briarcliff population (2013):
~ 93,000
Proposed Lakeside population (2013):
~ 63,000 

The map also illustrates how the Medlock neighborhood might be squeezed into an unincorporated island scenario.

SURVEY QUESTIONS: 

This is a sample, shared to ensure all residents have ample time to prepare for the survey -- do not complete it or send it in. The real survey is being distributed with the newsletter. If you don't receive a newsletter and you live within the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association's boundaries, email medlockassoc@gmail.com.

I. Respondent Information: Questions marked with an asterisk require an answer. Age information will help us better understand our population and represent our residents’ diverse needs and concerns, now and in the near future. Please answer as many questions as you can.

Your Name (optional):
Your Street*:

Describe your household: how many residents in each age category?*

 [ _____ ]  0-4         [ _____ ]  5-10         [ _____ ]  11-14      [ _____ ]  15-18      [ _____ ]  19-30  

 [ _____ ]  31-40     [ _____ ]  41-50       [ _____ ]  51-60      [ _____ ]  61-70       [ _____ ]  71+

II. Annexation Questions: If we had the opportunity to vote on this...

The Medlock neighborhood faces several possible options as alternatives to remaining in unincorporated DeKalb County. MANA board members met with City of Decatur officials who stated they are not interested in annexing our Medlock Park neighborhood, however, the Decatur City Commission has not voted on such a decision.
Each item is a separate question; you may answer “yes” or “no” on multiple proposals. 

How would you vote on a proposal to become part of City of Decatur?*
☐ YES: annex to City of Decatur    ☐ NO: remain in unincorporated DeKalb County

How would you vote on a proposal to become part of a new city to the north (currently represented by the Briarcliff and/or Lakeside proposals)?*
☐ YES: annex to a new city (Briarcliff/Lakeside)    ☐ NO: remain in unincorporated DeKalb County

How would you vote on a proposal to become part of City of Atlanta?*
☐ YES: annex to City of Atlanta    ☐ NO: remain in unincorporated DeKalb County

Would you support a one-year moratorium on all new cities and annexations in DeKalb County?*
☐ YES: I would support a 1-year moratorium during which we stay in unincorporated DeKalb County
☐ NO: the legislature should take action now

All things being equal, what is your preferred outcome for our Medlock Park neighborhood? Please rank these options, from 1 to 5, with 1 being your most favorite and 5 being your least favorite.* Please do not use the same number more than once.

[___] Join City of Atlanta  

[___] Join City of Decatur

[___] Join a new city to the north (currently represented by the Briarcliff/Lakeside proposals)

[___] Remain unincorporated

[___] 1-year moratorium on annexations by new AND existing cities

Comments:

Druid Hills Charter Cluster withdraws its petition

In a letter published on its Facebook page, the  Druid Hills Charter Cluster explains why it has decided to withdraw its petition to create a charter cluster involving the Druid Hills High School and all its feeder schools.  See https://www.facebook.com/DruidHillsCharterCluster for the whole statement.