Friday, December 21, 2012

Lost dog now found

Yay! IttyBitty is back home now with her people :)

Winter's here!


Happy Winter Solstice!

With this cold and windy front, please be careful as you drive around the neighborhood: the trashcans are feeling very frisky.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lost cat now found

YAY! She's back home on her ottoman, where she belongs.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Decatur commissioners vote YES on annexation

MANA's reaction later... for now, Patch has a meeting summary.

Commissioner Boykin recused himself from the discussion or vote on the A.3 annexation zone (the North Decatur Rd./Clairmont Road intersection), which includes his Bicycle South store. On zone B.3 (Suburban Plaza area), he voted against annexation based on feelings of discomfort with the proposal once the referendum option was dismissed by city planners.

Several unincorporated DeKalb residents, including some who are being annexed against their wishes, spoke against the proposal; so did several commercial land owners and shop keepers in the affected area.

No one spoke in favor of the annexation plan.

SACS finds "little evidence of the Board's concern for the academic well-being of the district's students and a constant focus on the adults serving the system"

SACS stopped short of suggesting these; we don't.
Image via brosen.com

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) is

"placing the district on probation, leading to possible removal of the school board. After a six-month investigation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools found evidence of missing money, school board nepotism and board member influence on which schools students, particularly athletes, attend. Read it and weep @ AJC


The full report appears at http://www.11alive.com/assetpool/documents/121217025005_SACS%20Review%20Report%20for%20DeKalb%20County.pdf. A few choice quotes:

• "The Board models a negative behavioral image that affects leaders and staff throughout the district.... The Board operates in a dysfunctional manner in several areas... Board members brazenly disregard the policies set forth for the effective operation of the school system... Although Board members have participated in conflict resolution... they display what was described as abhorrent behavior including yelling at each other during meetings...."

• "Board members do not demonstrate professionalism, respect for each other, or knowledge of their roles and responsibilities... and interfere with the functioning of schools by demanding information" and insert themselves into "issues that clearly should be addressed by the Superintendent and her staff." 

• "A review of the board meetings provided.... Interview and artifacts revealed that the system is dealing with a financial crisis... excessive amount of resources used to pay legal fees, purported to be approximately $11 million annually..."

• "...the district's current policy and procedure associated with drawing attendance zones as well as closing or opening new schools is poorly constructed and ineffectively administered. The result has been community outrage, confusion, and feelings of abandonment." Individual board members "barter with each other for votes to amend the attendance zones to satisfy individual or constituent groups of people in the county rather than establishing a proper infrastructure based on the needs of all students in the county."

• And sadly, the Board's dysfunctional behavior is catching: the report also cautions that "board members-elect... are already visiting 'their' schools and thereby perpetuating a culture of interference and ignoring the autonomy of the staff in its day to day operations of the system and schools."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Contact your DeKalb Delegation to voice your annexation concerns

Sign  the  PETITION
What businesses are affected? Click here to find out.
If you want to voice your opinion about the proposed City of Decatur annexation of multiple commercial lots along North Decatur Road, you have several options:

•  Sign the petition (to be delivered to the DeKalb Delegation and City of Decatur)

•  Email your legislators directly (information for the DeKalb Delegation and City of Decatur officials appears below). 

• Attend the December 17 City of Decatur City Commission Meeting, which will include a vote on the annexation plan (7:30pm, Decatur City Hall, 509 N McDonough St. (corner of McDonough and Trinity) @ Lower level -  City Commission Room. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30pm but is typically well-attended, so plan on arriving early. Follow this link to the meeting agenda and the City Manager's Annexation Recommendation memo.

If the City of Decatur Commission approves the annexation recommendation, the plan moves to the Legislature for approval per this schedule:

January –  April, 2013: General Assembly considers and adopts local act authorizing referendum, if needed. 
November 5, 2013: Referendum is held, if needed. 
December 15, 2013: Annexation is effective.  
June 1, 2014: First Installment tax bills due. 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Anti-annexation petition to the City of Decatur

<Update: original image removed per request, replaced with above 7/11/2013.>

We the undersigned strongly oppose the City of Decatur plan to annex several commercial properties along North Decatur Road. The inevitable tax increases will undoubtedly be a hardship for the tenants and owners of these properties, which are owned by families and individuals who have been long-time owners of their centers and have served our community well. To rip them out of the unincorporated area in order to enrich the Decatur city coffers seems excessively greedy, not in the best interest of surrounding neighborhoods, and in serious conflict with the positive image the City of Decatur has cultivated for years.
We are also extremely concerned that our own property taxes will also have to be raised to cover the loss of their tax contribution to the county coffers....
To sign the petition, go to the Clairmont Heights website @ http://clairmontheights.org/node/3034

Other posts relating to the current annexation issue are available here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Annexation worries: a call to action

"I am Locutus of Borg.
Resistance is futile.
Your life, as it has been,  is over.
From this time forward, you will service us." 
As we have previously reported, there are serious concerns about City of Decatur's (CoD) plan to annex nearby commercial areas, and the aggressive pace of proceedings only adds to the tension.

While we wait for DeKalb County to release its 2013 budget this week, we hope to see a more concrete analysis of what this annexation might mean to the County and its unincorporated residents. MANA and CHCA members are reaching out to local legislators (both County and CoD) as well as to local business owners in an effort to better understand the justification of the annexation as well as potential financial effects. 

Specifically, we are trying to study the changes triggered by annexation: when a given business is removed from unincorporated DeKalb and into CoD, where does the money go? 

- how much money is removed from DeKalb's budget and transferred to City of Decatur's? What impact does that have on economies of scale, services, property taxes?
- what is the long-term impact of annexation?
- how is the DeKalb County School District budget impacted?
- how are business owners impacted? [Patch has published a letter that touches upon this topic]

Timeline [thanks to Tanya Myers for collecting this information]

Per the December 3 City of Decatur work session, the timeline for annexation is as follows:

January –  April, 2013: General Assembly considers and adopts local act authorizing referendum, if needed.*
November 5, 2013: Referendum is held, if needed.
December 15, 2013: Annexation is effective.
June 1, 2014: First Installment tax bills due.
August, 2014: School year begins

*The annexation report that Merriss presented talks more about the need for a resident's referendum: 
"Based on the City Commission's objectives, public comment and a cost/benefit analysis, it is recommended that the City Commission consider asking the General Assembly to adopt legislation annexing the areas included in option A.3 and B.3 and annexing partial parcels where the majority of the existing lot is already within the city limits or where the residence is located in the city limits. A review of the Georgia Code sections applying to annexations indicates that a referendum is only required if the area to be annexed is more than 50 percent residential. 
Because these two areas are significantly less than 50% residential, it appears that a referendum would not be required but it would be prudent to obtain the City Attorney's confirmation."
The Process and What Can We Do?

With City of Decatur having redrawn the proposed annexation lines, the approval process shifts to the General Assembly. We need to let our representatives know our concerns about the annexation plan.

1) On December 17, City of Decatur is scheduled to vote on its latest proposal to annex many nearby commercial properties. Mark your calendars and plan to attend to show our opposition--look for more details on the Medlock Park Neighbors Facebook page  and on the MANA website soon.

December 17, 2012

7:00 pm

Decatur City Hall

509 N McDonough St

(corner of McDonough and Trinity)  

Lower level -  City Commission Room


2) Attend one of the meetings being hosted by the DeKalb Delegation. Neighborhoodnewspapers.com alerted that:
The DeKalb County Legislative Delegation of the Georgia House of Representatives will have three upcoming town hall meetings: The purpose of these meetings is to discuss important issues and initiatives likely to come before the general assembly in the 2013 legislative session. 
The delegation would also like to hear comments and concerns from their constituents as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. All DeKalb County residents are strongly encouraged to attend.  
The meeting dates are [updated per State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver's website; dates confirmed by Rep. Kendrick on Dec. 17]:
Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Cross Keys High School 1626 N. Druid Hills Road, NE, Atlanta
Jan. 3, 2013 at 6 p.m. at the Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur
Jan. 8, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. at the Porter Sanford Center, 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur
 
Jan. 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm at Agnes Scott College (Rebekah Scott Hall)141 East College Avenue, 
Decatur, GA 30030

The members of the DeKalb Delegation are:

Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia)
Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta)
Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates)
Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain)
Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody)
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)
Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain)
Rep. Ernest “Coach” Williams (D-Avondale Estates)
Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Pam Stephenson (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Rahn Mayo (D-Decatur)
Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D-Lithonia)
Rep. Elect Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia)
Rep. Elect Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) 

1st Annual Medlock Neighborhood 5K Jingle Jog [Dec. 15]

For more information or questions, visit http://www.facebook.com/events/133360976818983/

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A brief zoning update

Some quick announcements from the MANA Zoning committee:

• Selig has all three permits (demolition, land disturbance, and building) required to build the Walmart.  They are on schedule to begin construction in early 2013. Everyone who has left the center already has done so by choice and Selig has let them out of their leases without penalty.

• Maggie Monastesse, the owner of Decatur Estate & Wayback Antique (and longtime tenant at Suburban Plaza), reports that they have secured a site for their store at 2272 Lawrenceville Highway. This is the location of the old Jake's Toadhouse, across from Home Depot and next to O'Reilley Auto Parts. The new location is a bit bigger than the current space and Maggie says they are very excited and happy that after 20+ years in the community, purchasing this property means they can set roots and stay local for many years to come. They plan to open in Spring 2013.

• Observant Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve users noticed survey flags around the Subaru dealership (which backs up to the nature preserve); it seems that there is a team working to survey South Fork Peachtree Creek for purposes as yet undefined. UPDATE: The Shepherd family is planning to sell the Subaru dealership.
• The Royal Dealership is currently performing environmental remediation (tanks and soil removed, working on asbestos removal).

• We have not heard any news regarding the sale of Scott Boulevard Baptist Church or nearby homes.

Addendum: two more updates!

Suburban Custom Awards and Framing has moved from Suburban Plaza to 215 Laredo Dr., close to Your DeKalb Farmer's Market.


•  OnStage Atlanta (OSA) has found a new home in a 18,000 square foot facility at 2969 East Ponce de Leon Ave. This is very close to DeKalb Farmer's Market and Kudzu Antiques.  The new location will feature two performance spaces, a rehearsal hall, gallery/second lobby, offices, and storage. Although smaller in square footage than the Suburban Plaza space, OSA's press release promises the new space will offer better flow for both patrons and performers. OSA also reminds everyone that they are still at Suburban Plaza so come enjoy their current plays: Nuncrackers, Merry Little Holiday Shorts, and Dear Edwina.

Monday, December 10, 2012

DeKalb to discuss budget decisions this week

from today's AJC:

By the end of the week, DeKalb County residents should find out what services the county’s chief executive officer wants to cut and whether he will ask for a second tax hike in three years.  Read it all @ AJC.
The CEO must release his plan this week (expected Friday) and the County Commission will then review the final budget next February.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Annexation "Areas of Interest" -- a closer look

The City of Decatur has released updated maps of areas it wishes to annex; the focus is on commercial properties. For City of Decatur annexation plans, refer to their annexation page.

Highlights of nearby areas included in City of Decatur's most recent annexation plan. 
The outlines of the proposed annexation areas are based on City of Decatur's maps below. Click to enlarge.
MANA is working to ascertain the effect these annexations would have on DeKalb County at large as well as on our own long-term interests, given the current discussion about other possible cities that may include us. Annexation of these commercial properties by City of Decatur is not a desirable outcome in either scenario. 

"Area of interest" A.3 includes the Clairmont/North Decatur Rd. intersection. Proposed annexation area B.3 includes the nearby corridor encompassing North Decatur Rd., Medlock Rd. and Scott Blvd.

Source: City of Decatur website
The green line borders the annexation target.


Area A.3, among others, includes North Decatur Plaza Shopping Center (Publix, Petco, UPS Store, Edible Arrangements, etc.), Holiday In Express, Decatur Package Store, Clairmont Animal Hospital, Emory Alliance Credit Union, North Decatur Center (Willy's Mexican Cantina, Eagle Eye Bookshop, Kinko/FedEx, Suntrust Bank, etc)... McDonald's, Chevron gas station, Shell gas station, Jiffy Lube, Los Loros Restaurant, Yami Sushi Restaurant, Kaplan, North Decatur Plaza (ChocoLate, Saigon Cafe, Camera Doctor, Wuxtry, Bicycle South, Mattress Firm, Rainbow Grocery, McMahon Shoes, Mediterranean Grill, Finders Keepers, Little Caesar's, Philly South Side, Suno's)...


Area A.3, overlaid on Google map, using roads as anchor points.  Area within proposed annexation line is highlighted in light green. Click to enlarge.

Source: City of Decatur website.
The green line borders the annexation target.







Area  B.3 includes, among others, Suburban Plaza (to include Walmart and others), Intown Ace Hardware, Eye Physicians and Surgeons, Correct Med, Family Practice of Atlanta, Scott Auto Repair, Fiesta Package, Chevron gas station & Hertz car rental,  Gulf (formerly Marathon) gas station, Avon, future site of Meehan's (formerly Maddy's)...





Area B.3, overlaid on Google map, using roads as anchor points.  Area within proposed annexation line is highlighted in light green. Click to enlarge.
Per DecaturMetro
These area don’t achieve the goal of cleaning up the city’s boundary, but they do provide the city with some commercially heavy areas – Area A.3 is 97% and Area B.3 is 62% commercial – a frequent, publicly stated goal of the commission, who is openly worried about the great reliance on residential property taxes in the city. (Residential taxes account for more than 4/5ths of the city’s revenues currently.) 
The city’s cost/income calculations for the two areas are as follows… 
Area A.3
Expenditures – $344,500
Revenues – $429,520
Net Diff – $85,020
 
Area B.3
Expenditures – $355,000
Revenues – $395,840
Net Diff – $40,080

Annexation is certainly a hot topic. Remember to check CHCA's cityhood information page and if you have questions, attend the January 13 info session organized by the Briarcliff Woods East Neighborhood Association.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cityhood discussion [Jan 8]

Kevin Levitas asked us to share the following information:
Click to enlarge.
A panel will discuss the pros and cons of incorporating additional cities in DeKalb on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, at 7:00 p.m., at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church.

Speakers will include State Reps. Billy Mitchell and Tom Taylor, DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon and former Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

City of Decatur updates its annexation menu: two sides of commercial, hold the residential

Decatur Patch reported on last night's City of Decatur commission meeting that the new recommendation is to

1) drop most of the residential areas being considered. By dropping most of the residential areas, the City may be able to bypass the need for a referendum and still secure the commercial properties.

2) annex the heavily commercial areas comprised by Suburban Plaza and Emory Commons. This plan reduces the pressure on City of Decatur schools (by not adding as many students) and benefits the City's budget (by securing commercial area revenues they can use to provide services to City of Decatur residents without, hopefully, having to increase their tax rates).

As noted elsewhere [see the Impacts on county taxes or services, Scenarios section, @ CHCA website], the County will still receive some taxes from these properties, just not as much. The textbook explanation is that these transfers should be neutral: the revenue that is "lost" by the County is offset by their being relieved from providing certain services the City now assumes. The entity on the "losing" side of such an exchange is expected to adjust its overall budget (via planning and management) to ensure level of service is maintained.

An example of how these plans affect us directly would be police and firefighting duties--City of Decatur would be responsible for patrolling and serving Suburban Plaza, Emory Commons, and any other annexed properties.

Additional information should be available next week at the City of Decatur's Annexation page.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Annual Christmas tree sale benefits North Druid Hills High School

The Druid Hills High School PTSA benefits from holiday tree sales at the Suburban Plaza lot at the corner of N. Decatur Rd. and Scott Blvd.  

This annual event continues to be a significant source of funding, providing instructional technology, books and digital media for classrooms at DHHS. 

Please encourage your family, friends and neighbors who buy live trees for the holidays to buy trees at Suburban Plaza and to make your checks payable to Druid Hills High School.  For visuals, check out their video.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cityhood resource @ CHCA website

With so many moving parts and unknowns, cityhood discussions can be overwhelming.

Mercifully, Tim at the CHCA has assembled a summary in a clever cascading format that outlines the big picture then lets you zoom in on the details.

Also note the permanent link on the left margin of the CHCA website so you can easily return for updates.

Click on the image to the left to visit http://clairmontheights.org/node/3002.

Thanks, Tim!

Both

Riding the thermals
at Medlock for breakfast
chipmunk or squirrel
or both?


12/1/2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

FOUND: Old girl needs home



FOUND November 21, 2012 near Decatur

Older, sweet, female, brindle Pitbull mix. Please give this dog a home-looking for a permanent home or foster if can’t find the owner! She is well trained and playful. CALL Angela at 404.398.3573

She was found across the QT on Lawrenceville Hwy.