Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Student Registration at Laurel Ridge Elementary School

Laurel Ridge Elementary has posted the hours for registering new students for the 2013-2014 school year:

Monday, June 3rd through June 6th - 8:30-11:30

Tuesdays in June & July - 9:00-11:00

Wednesdays in June & July - 2:00-4:00

More information about Laurel Ridge Elementary is available here:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DeKalb Zoning Code revamp: continued

The DeKalb Zoning Code update meeting of May 20, 2013 was well attended, and included representatives from many area neighborhoods. The meeting was led by Andrew Baker (interim director for planning and sustainability), Marian Eisenberg (zoning administrator) and Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon.
The presenters emphasized that this is a "total re-write" to match the zoning code to comprehensive County planning documentsencourage higher density development in areas that are already zoned as commercial (this in response to public requests that residential areas be protected); redevelop underutilized space; and improve "predictability"--meaning, that people should have access to a County map that clearly highlights what uses are allowed in a given area so they can factor that information into personal and financial decisions.

Upon approval of the new zoning code [see previous MANA summary here], the Planning Director will become the "interpreter" of the code, and the new code will supersede any conflicting information on Chapter 14 of the DeKalb (Land Code Ordinance).

The May 20 presentation is available at:

The full draft of the zoning code (Table of Contents and Articles 1-9) is available at

Additional notes from the meeting:
  • the County will soon have GIS maps
  • the biggest change in this code revamp is "what can be done administratively" regarding Article 5 (Site Design and Building Form Standards)
  • an audience member asked about the need for an "early warning" system to let civic associations and residents know when an nearby area is being considered for redevelopment (vs. waiting for an official county sign of a public hearing that announces permits or re-zoning are being voted upon)
  • there was a comment about who is considered an "aggrieved party" and the answer was that individuals can be aggrieved, neighborhood associations cannot.
  • an audience member asked about administrative variances. Requests to change density will always fall under re-zoning.  The interaction between administrative decisions and the new criteria will likely lead to the development of new benchmarks for appeals.
Commissioner Gannon noted that the schedule for adoption suggests the code will be voted upon at the May 28 Board of Commissioners meeting. However, the Commissioners are strongly encouraging citizen involvement and comments on the plan, and Commissioner Gannon said they would probably defer the vote and allow a couple of months to finalize the existing zoning code draft. As of today, the appointment of Andrew Baker as director of planning and zoning remains on the May 28 meeting agenda, and so is a resolution to increase storm water utility fees,  but a vote on the zoning code is not in evidence.

To submit comments online, go to

For suggestions & comments, contact Marian B. Eisenberg, Zoning Administrator, 404-371-4922.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Decatur Arts Festival [May 25, 26]

Screen capture via the Decatur Arts Festival Program.

The 25th Decatur Arts Festival is next weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Although a number of other art-focused activities have been going all this month, if you want to catch performance at the bandstand or the artist's market, the weekend is the time for that.

Per the schedule, you can expect to find the following types of artwork for sale: 2D and 3D mixed media, ceramics, digital, drawings, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, leather, paintings (oil, acrylic, watercolor)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rain, rain

The Creek at Moody Bridge, Wood Trail Ln.
May rainfall to date, via the Weather Channel.

In case you are wondering, and confirmed by the extreme greenness of everything, yes, we are above average in rain for the month of May.

Scattered thunderstorms predicted for Monday... bring an umbrella!


And the soil is finally warming up.

Friday, May 17, 2013

DeKalb Zoning Code Update

DeKalb County is updating its zoning code. Commissioner Rader's office asks that we
Please review prior to the meeting with Commissioners Rader and Gannon on May 20th at 7:00pm in Conference Room A of the Clark Harrison Building (330 W. Ponce de Leon, Decatur 30030).  Parking is available on the street or in the county lot next to the Maloof Building after 5pm.
The New Zoning Code public draft can be found at:, and some of the listed documents are highlighted below. If you can't attend the meeting, you may send your comments online.

Schedule of Adoption: This plan has been in development for a while and many meetings have taken place already. The Board of Commissioners will vote on May 28, and the plan becomes effective on August 2013.
The Proposed Districts and Conversions document "summarizes the proposed structure of the new zoning code. It also includes data regarding existing zoning districts providing the justification of the new structure. The updated DeKalb Zoning Ordinance will implement the policies of the DeKalb County 2025 Comprehensive Plan with fewer zoning  districts, balanced with greater design standards. ... The three primary residential districts (R-75, R-85, and R-100) will remain the same."

Meeting and Briefings includes a summary of the process leading to the code update, and shows an emphasis on mixed use and intent to "create new design standards and criteria for development" in the way of "Block and lot standards, street and yard standards, lasndscaping, streetscapes, open space, site improvements, building form and configuration and building materials." Article 2 emphasizes incentives for high density developments.

More realistic poultry coming
to unincorporated DeKalb County?
Under Article 4, Table 4.1 summarizes allowable uses depending on lot designation. The document notes that the zoning update "Adds new uses such as senior housing, farmers markets, and urban gardens." Keeping of poultry/pigeons is now listed as "permitted" for R75, R85 and R100 lots (typical Medlock homes) but "keeping of livestock" remains off-limits [N.B. Will seek additional information about the meaning of the yellow highlight. ---> yellow highlights do not mean anything, focus on the abbreviation inside the cell. If the cell is empty, that particular use is not allowed]. DeKalb County defines livestock as "domestic animals and fowl customarily kept on a farm including horses, mules, donkeys, cows, cattle, sheep, goats, ducks, geese and turkeys."
Cropped section of table 4.1, from [May 7]. 


Click to enlarge.

Article 5 focuses on standards for lot size, street design, sidewalks, streescapes, open space, and building materials. It also calls for "new developments like cottage homes and townhouse products." Both the townhouse and cottage concepts feature shared open areas accessible to all neighbors.

Those are just a couple highlights. For additional information of what is cover under each article, please review the above documents at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Join Medlock Park's Nextdoor community

Medlock neighbors: there's a new community-building tool available, and we hope you will check it out. Nextdoor is free, and differs from other neighborhood online groups (Yahoo group, Facebook) in that
Only people who actually live in a neighborhood are eligible to join the Nextdoor network for their area and everybody has to use their real identities on the site, which Nextdoor says is essential for keeping the quality of conversations on the site high.
A Nextdoor community called Medlock Park has been established by the MANA neighborhood watch coordinator. Since safety announcements are of interest to neighbors who live near MANA, at their request, our Nextdoor boundary has been extended to include additional streets as follows:

By request, "Medlock Park" Nextdoor boundaries extend slightly beyond MANA boundaries.
For MANA boundaries, see our About page.
To join the Medlock Park Nextdoor community, sign up via Nextdoor uses publicly available information to confirm that the person signing up resides at the stated location. If you are a resident and are not able to sign up, contact for assistance.

Birds-eye View of Nextdoor:

Nextdoor's default
What's the point? Nextdoor offers an opportunity for discussions that only include residents of MANA and nearby streets. You can email neighbors who are members, invite neighbors who are not, see the neighborhood resident directory, and start discussions on topics relevant to our community.

I just want to get neighborhood watch alerts: Not interested in neighborhood discussions? No problem! Go to your Settings {under your name, via drop-down menu on the top right margin}, then click on Email, and you will be able to customize what types of alerts arrive to your email or to your text-enabled phone. For example, if you only wish to receive emergency alerts, you can set the "Urgent Alerts (SMS)" item to "immediate updates" and set all other potential notifications to "no email". Otherwise, you can follow discussions via Nextdoor on your web browser, or by enabling email alerts to new discussion items.

Who is reading this stuff? Information you add to Nextdoor is only visible to other Medlock Nextdoor members. You have the option of including additional information in your profile (e.g., pets, hobbies, etc) but this is not required.

Per Nextdoor's policy, neighbors should not share content posted on the Medlock Nextdoor site with non-members.  "Nextdoor's Privacy Policy forbids people from sharing content posted on a Nextdoor website with people who do not yet live in the neighborhood. However, an agent can describe generally how Nextdoor is used in the neighborhood and display the Nextdoor Demo site to illustrate how the website works."

 !  Please refer to Nextdoor's Guidelines and Member Agreement regarding appropriate use of the site and its content.

Organization: See screenshot above. By default, Nextdoor allows users to post comments or start discussions under the following categories: Classified, Crime and Safety, Documents, Free Items, General, Lost & Found, and Recommendations. These posts are visible to all Medlock Nextdoor members. 

Private Groups: Members also may create additional interest groups that can be public [Medlock users can join with a click] or private [must await moderator permission]. The creator of the group is the default moderator and can add additional users (but as noted, for a public group, members can add themselves). Posts to a group appear in the "news feeds" for the above categories (General, Classified, Crime, etc.). In the case of a public group, the comment is visible to everyone, but for a private group, the comment is visible to subscribers only.

Too much! If a neighbor becomes too much for you, you can find them through the neighborhood directory and mute them; their posts will disappear from all discussions you view.

Documents: We can upload documents to share with our neighbors. 

Events: Users can create events and descriptions thereof. Again, such information is only visible to Medlock Nextdoor users.

You may notice the Nearby Neighborhoods link in the above image. This feature is currently disabled as works out the details to allow communication between different Nextdoor neighborhoods.

Can I invite my neighbor to join? Yes. Just follow the instructions at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cityhood meeting recap

Creative Loafing has a summary of the May 6 meeting on cityhood information meeting:
Close to 300 DeKalb County residents filed into the Clairmont Hills Baptist Church last night to hear lawmakers and community activists discuss the county's growing cityhood movement. 
Many citizens have remained up in arms over the past few months as community groups have introduced a flurry of new city plans. Cartographers have liberally carved out borders that, on occasion, clash with other proposals for potential cities such as Lakeside, Briarcliff, Druid Hills, and LaVista Hills, and Stonecrest.  Read the rest @ Creative Loafing
MANA board attendees report the meeting was very well run by Mary Margaret Oliver, and shared the following "take home" messages:
  • "For a city to be viable, they need to get 40% of their revenue from commercial.  The City of Decatur is now at 80/20 which is why they “need” more commercial revenue.  Jason Carter bottom-lined the problem:  There just isn’t enough to go around so everyone is fighting over the same turf."
  • "any new city needs to take over three services from the county at a minimum.  Everyone wants land use/zoning.  In fact the speaker form Druid Hills said that that is their only issue with De Kalb County and if that could be resolved they would be happy with the status quo."
  • "The main reasons for seeking cityhood were:  Land use, permitting, zoning and parks with schools being a hope for the future."
  • "The City of Decatur is moving forward with annexing the 2 commercial areas but was vague about it... The representative spoke about how low the commercial % was in COD, how their borders need to be 'straightened out'" but the comments were "vague".
Update: Another report of the meeting is available at Atlanta Progressive News.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

This weather is crazy

Flood watch and weather advisory! But this squirrel knows better.
This rain's driving even the squirrels inside!
Photo and caption by Deb Elkin

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reminder: Cityhood sponsors discuss current proposals [Monday, May 6]

via Mary Margaret Oliver (District 92, GA House of Representatives):

Members of the DeKalb House and Senate delegations, including those who have introduced legislation to create new cities or annex new areas to existing cities, will hold a Town Hall meeting on May 6, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Clairmont Hills Baptist Church, 1995 Clairmont Drive, Decatur 30033, the corner of Clairmont and North Druid Hills Road.  We want all DeKalb citizens to learn about the options available to them for local governance, and how you may participate in the efforts that will be on-going this summer. PLEASE JOIN US! 
House Rules of the Georgia General Assembly require that a new city may only be created over a two year term, not in one year.  Legislation, listed below by primary sponsor, was filed in the 2013 Session that ended March 28, 2013, to give an opportunity procedurally to create possible new DeKalb cities of Druid Hills, LaVista Hills, Lakeside, Stonecrest, City of DeKalb, and Tucker.  Also, annexation bills are pending for Chamblee and being discussed for Decatur, and legislative limitations on annexations options have also been filed.  We ask neighborhood associations or groups who are reviewing current legislation, or working for or against possible new cities to describe briefly their efforts.  
The meeting will provide information on the costs of planning for new cities and the resulting possible tax implications.  We will discuss procedures for legislative enactment, give a summary of ongoing cityhood activities, and learn about other governance options. 
The following are bills that have been introduced and may be reviewed on the General Assembly web site by Bill number:
HB 22---Primary Sponsor Mary Margaret Oliver.  HB 22 sets out additional procedures and enhanced financial requirements for creation of new cities.
HB 619—Primary Sponsor Mary Margaret Oliver.  HB 619 passed in 2013 and allows an area in unincorporated DeKalb that adjoins Chamblee to vote to be annexed into Chamblee
HB 665—Primary Sponsor Mary Margaret Oliver.  HB 665 is a placemholder bill to create new city of Briarcliff/Druid Hills.
HB 677—Primary Sponsor Billy Mitchell.  HB 677 would create a new city of Tucker.
HB 687---Primary Sponsor Pam Stephenson.  HB 687 limits the ability to annex new areas to existing cities by geography.
SB 270—Primary Sponsor Fran Millar.  SB 270 would create city of Lakeside
SB 275—Primary Sponsor Jason Carter.  SB 275 would create new city of LaVista Hills.
SB 278---Primary Sponsor Ron Ramsey.  SB 278 would create new city of Stonecrest. 

Tri-colored female dog, purple harness, recent surgery FOUND [Apr 28]

Posted to Medlock Neighbors Facebook page: