Friday, March 30, 2012

DeKalb Co. Board of Commissioners says NO to cell towers

Patch reports that the DeKalb Board of Commissioners (BOC) has unanimously asked CEO Ellis to prevent the Board of Education (BOE) from allowing T-Mobile to place cell phone towers on school grounds. The article includes a pdf of the letter, in which the Commissioners accuse the BOE of placing the county in an "untenable situation."

Medlock Park neighbors fought hard to prevent a tower from being added to the Medlock Elementary school property. Here's to hoping that other neighborhoods can reverse this ill-conceived scheme with help from the BOC and CEO.

In their letter, the Commissioners argue as Medlock neighbors did: that the BOE is bound by zoning law when a decision is self-serving ("proprietary") and unrelated to its educational ("governmental") mission. In other words, loopholes that violate the spirit of the County's zoning law are violations of the zoning law, whether you are a private individual or a government agency.

Patch states that
 The school board and the school system, so far, have been unreceptive to protestations since their approval vote. Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson continues to look ahead, Woods said.
"The decision was made well before her administration," she said. "Her point of view is that we need to focus on decisions yet to be made."
By this logic, the Superintendent would never correct or reverse previous administrative policy that has been found to be damaging to our students and community. Surely she did not mean that! Happily, there's an easy way for her to clarify: end these shenanigans.

Clifton Corridor / MARTA documents

MARTA has updated its Clifton Corridor website with lots of fun documents and maps. The Existing and Future Trends Report is particularly chock-full of information about what is and what could be.

Note that MANA falls within the "Clifton Corridor" as show in this screen capture from the above report:
Clifton Corridor boundary (dashed black line) per the Alternatives Analysis report

Community Gardening Workshop [Mar 31]

from Commissioner Gannon's website:
Click to enlarge

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

DeKalb needs to plan ahead

AJC reports [link now dead, sorry!] that if Brookhaven becomes a city, DeKalb county stands to lose on $25-27 millions in taxes, "some as early as December."

But the County says it can't plan until it knows for a fact that Brookhaven will remove that money from county coffers. According to the County,
“Our only options are to raise revenues, reduce expenses or draw down our reserves,” said chief operating officer Richard Stogner, adding a mix of those options will be the most likely outcome."
This makes no sense whatsoever. County Commissioner Elaine Boyer agrees: “The problem with DeKalb County is we never plan ahead.”

Surely that can change. Even today. Before unincorporated DeKalb ends up "left behind" in this cityhood and annexation rapture party.

If Brookhaven passess, if DeKalb County loses on that chunk of its tax base without adjusting its budget (and likely cutting services), it will be left to its citizens to swallow a 2 mil increase in their taxes to make up the difference.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

AJC encourages DeKalb Co. to better manage its sewage system

Today, the AJC has an article outlining how cooking grease is the main culprit in sewage spills, and points to successful approaches by Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, who spend 25%-60% of their budgets (respectively) in preventive maintenance of their sewer systems, in contrast with DeKalb, whose "regular maintenance program fell off about 15 years ago, in an apparent bid to keep water rates low." The lack of system maintenance is directly damaging and unsanitary (when sewage spills into our creeks), but also costly when the EPA fines the County and mandates clean-ups (as it did in 2010).

It's easy to blame the County, but we must also look to our own habits, as cooking fats tie into food preparation at home and dining elsewhere. When fats, oils and grease (FOG) solidify in cold water, the stage is set for clogs that are responsible for 73% of DeKalb's sewage spills, per AJC's report.

DeKalb has a FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) website that  primarily focuses on commercial sewage regulation and includes this gruesome tutorial...

Click to enlarge
But we need more information to encourage all DeKalb County residents to reduce the amount of FOGs we add to the County's water processing infrastructure.  To learn what you can do to help, please take a moment to review this nifty Unclog the Fog brochure produced by Gwinett County's Department of Water Resources. Another brochure by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality explains that by rinsing dishes in cold water, we can solidify some of those fats so that they can be scraped off or caught by sink screens for disposal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More details on MARTA @ Suburban Plaza, Emory, CDC

more info...

Link to proposed plan (and map): CCA_LPA_FACTSHEET_3_20_2012.pdf
MARTA Planning staff have completed the review of community feedback and technical analysis and have finalized a recommended locally preferred alternative (LPA) for the Clifton Corridor.  The LPA is the alternative that, based on technical analysis and stakeholder input, would most effectively address the needs of the corridor and goals and objectives of the project.The LRT 1 Alternative has been identified as the recommended LPA (see attachment), which includes 8.8 miles of new light rail service from Lindbergh Center Station in north-central Atlanta to Avondale Station in west-central DeKalb County.  The alternative includes 10 light rail station platforms and would provide direct service to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Emory University and Hospital, and the DeKalb Medical Center.  Further, the alternative would provide an alternative means for high-capacity evacuation from the CDC in the event of an emergency situation.

MARTA Planning staff will present the LPA recommendation to the MARTA Planning and External Relations Committee on March 26th at 10:00 a.m. and to the MARTA Board on April 9that 1:30 p.m.  We hope that your schedule will allow you to attend.   There will be a public comment period prior to both meetings.  Both meetings will be held at:

MARTA Headquarters
6th Floor Board Room
2424 Piedmont Road
Atlanta, GA 30324
(Adjacent to the Lindbergh Center MARTA Rail Station on the Red and Gold Lines)

Upon MARTA Board approval, we will present the LPA to the Atlanta Regional Commission for adoption and incorporation into the long-range transportation plan.  Afterwards, the LPA will be advanced through the next step in the federal project development process which is the completion of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the MARTA Project Manager, Jason Morgan at 404-848-4494 or by email at

Leah Vaughan
Sycamore Consulting, Inc.
195 Arizona Avenue
Unit LW4
Atlanta, Georgia 30307
404-377-9147 Phone
404-377-9091 Fax

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

MARTA @ Suburban Plaza?

Per MARTA's website, this Clifton Corridor plan is "pending approval" from the MARTA Board of Directors:

  • "8.8 miles of light rail double track (includes tunnels and elevated sections)
  • 10 light rail station platforms
    • Lindbergh Center (Transfer to Red or Gold Lines)
    • Cheshire Bridge
    • Sage Hill
    • CDC/Emory Point
    • Emory-Rollins
    • Emory-Clairmont
    • North Decatur
    • Suburban Plaza
    • DeKalb Medical Center
    • Avondale Station (transfer to Blue Line)
  • 3 additional optional stations for consideration
    • Piedmont (Transfer to BeltLine)
    • DeKalb Industrial
    • North Arcadia (old DeVry campus)
  • 2 Maintenance and/or storage facilities"
Note that they are seeking public comment at the meetings below:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Creative Loafing reports on Walmart's move into cities

Follow the link to Creative Loafing's Walmart Cometh cover story, subtitled The big-box retailer and progressive's worst enemy moves closer to the heart of metro Atlanta.

Lord love a (wood) duck

For additional information on wood ducks, visit the  Ducks Unlimited website.
This announcement relates to the trails behind Druid Hills Middle School (known as Shamrock Middle School to the faithful):

Dear neighbors,

We are fortunate to have the rare and incredibly shy wood duck nesting in our neighborhood. In order to encourage their successful mating, we will be closing the blue trail soon so that the birds can have the solitude they need. Please respect the barricades closing the trail and do not go around them.

We have also noticed an increase in vandalism along the trails. So far there have been three bird houses broken, numerous trail markers removed, spray painting on several trees and the tree house, a fire built ON a picnic table in the DH middle school outdoor classroom, and rip rap moved from the banks of homeowners. We suspect this is mischief being had by some typical teens. If you are the proud parent of teens in the neighborhood, could you please speak with them about respecting the hard work that others have done to create these trails and outdoors classroom. Also, please respect the privacy of thos e living along the trail or creek.

Please share this with surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom enjoy these trails.

Carol Hayes, Chair
Burnt Fork Watershed Alliance

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Notes from the town hall meeting with DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis [March 13]

The meeting started promptly at 7pm. Mr. Ellis fielded questions from the audience until around 8:40pm, sometimes with added comments from departmental directors. For complaints about County services, the CEO directed a staff member to collect the person's contact information for follow-up.

1) Animal Services Task Force Report

The majority of the questions related to the DeKalb Animal Services Task Force report. Around 20 (?) audience members wore red shirts to show their support for this cause. Mr. Ellis explained the shelter's deteriorated state came to his attention soon after his election, which led to the establishment of the task force; in response to the first question of the evening, he stated that "we have a problem with animal services." He explained that he received the task force report around 2 weeks ago and in the interim, has held several meetings and visited the shelter as well. As a result of these findings and in discussion with the Board of Commissioners (BOC), 10 new positions have been approved. These will be both for individuals to work on the field and at the kennels. These individuals will be cross-trained so that they can be nimble as far as performing multiple tasks (e.g. help with adoptions). 

DeKalb Co. Animal Shelter: Call to Action [March 13, ongoing]

WSB reports on the DeKalb Animal Shelter situation. It ain't pretty.

For a show of concern, join tonight's Town Hall meeting to take place today (Tuesday, March 13) at Eastlake YMCA at 7:00 pm.

The article links to the report (released mid-February). Here's are some disturbing quotes:

While modest efforts at improvements have been undertaken during the tenure of and prior to the Task Force, the facility is dirty, malodorous, wet and dark. The DASE Center is physically located at the bottom of a hill on an old landfill behind the County’s jail and coroner facilities and adjacent to an incinerator used to dispose of the thousands of animals euthanized in the shelter. During periods of heavy rain, a number of areas on the property experience standing water, particularly areas in the parking area and along the side of the building. Standing water that collects in the grassy area along the side of the building often seeps into the building, flooding the office space used by the enforcement officers. Furthermore, flooding in the parking lot makes some parking spaces close to the building inaccessible. During the Task Force tenure, an issue with standing water at the rear of the facility in the animal intake area was addressed. . . . 

North Decatur Presbyterian recognized for environmental stewardship

For excellence in worship and education, North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur won the Light Award at the Sixth Annual GIPPY Awards.  
North Decatur Presbyterian Church took a systematic approach to worship and education in 2011. As a result, Creation care became a part of the rhythm and practice of the congregation. For each season, North Decatur Presbyterian encouraged spiritual growth opportunities and took concrete steps to reduce their ecological footprint. . . .
Read all about it here.

Dog found -- East St. in Decatur

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring cleaning, anyone? Yard sales & recycling coming up... [March 10 and on]

Time for a little spring cleaning and sprucing up? Mark your calendar because...

SALES (Saturday, March 10) 

1. Estate Sale to benefit Angels Among Us Pet Rescue and Second Life Animal Rescue Thrift Store. Saturday March 10
9am and 4pm
846 Gaylemont Circle

2. Multi-home garage sale
Saturday March 10 
8am sharp (no early birds!)
@ corner of Suzanne and Eastway

3. Children's consignment sale
March 9 (9am-4pm) & 10 (9am-2pm). Shop for clothes, toys, books and everything you need for your child / teenager. Sizes are newborn thru junior size clothes.
Location: Decatur First United Methodist at 300 E Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA


Electronics recycling @ City of Decatur [March 17]

Styrofoam recycling & paper shredding @ City of Decatur [March 31]

Electronics recycling @ DeKalb County [year-round]

Mobile phone recycling @ DeKalb County [year-round]

Styrofoam and Paint Disposal, Electronics Recycling & Paper Shredding by City of Atlanta [every 2nd Saturday]

And don't forget this awesome list that Jean Cohen put together last fall for the MANA yard sale, which lists locations where you can drop off donations and recyclables year-round.

Daylight Savings cometh [March 11]

For most Americans, daylight saving time 2012 will begin 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, when most states will spring forward an hour. Time will fall back to standard time again on Sunday, November 4, 2012, when daylight saving time ends...
National Geographic explains this wretched custom here.

Resource for local teens

Local Teens Get Grounded
Source: Clifton Community Partnership Update/Spring 2012
The opening of a new teen center plans to provide a safe haven for local youths to come together through laughter, enrichment and service. 
“Get Grounded is the place to be for sixth to twelfth graders,” says Angie Waddell, co-founder and executive director of Get Grounded. “We offer a number of different enrichment programs and workshops designed for participants to explore something new and unique.”
Located just off North Decatur Road at 1944 Ridgewood Drive, the teen center will offer programs for youths that promote positive peer connection and interaction; promote teen health through proper nutrition and physical and emotional exercise; and training for specific trade that will impart knowledge and/or develop skills among other things. . . . the teen center will evolve into a facility that offers an art studio, community outreach, game room, lounge, music studio, performance theatre, recording studio, study room and yoga. 
Read the rest of the article here or visit the Get Grounded website.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday alcohol sales vote, DeKalb County (oh, and Super Tuesday) [Mar 6]

Update: Unincorporated DeKalb voted YES, now we wait for the County to announce the effective date (AJC says: May 1).

As to the primary, it went this way [with 96% of precincts reporting]: Newt Gingrich (43%) Mitt Romney (26%), Rick Santorum (26%) and Ron Paul (6%) with other candidates in the ballot getting ~1% each.

Original post:

A quick reminder that tuesday is "Super Tuesday" of presidential primary fame. We are also having a special election on whether DeKalb County should allow Sunday alcohol sales.

As a reminder, Georgia's is an open primary and the voter may request a ballot for any party. The alcohol sales vote appears in all ballots, as seen in the samples below; click either sample to enlarge.

If voted at Medlock Elementary you will more than likely now vote at North Decatur Presbyterian Church (611 Medlock Road), for the year 2011. A new polling place will be permanently assigned and announced after the redistricting decisions are made, in time for the 2012 elections.

Golden Retriever FOUND (City of Decatur)