Sunday, June 23, 2013

MANA community meeting notes [June 18]

The meeting took place on June 18 at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. Please mark your calendar for our next meeting, October 21, 7pm, same venue.

Welcome and introductions: Lynn Ganim (MANA VP)
Cityhood initiatives: Davis Fox (Commissioner Gannon's Office)
City of Briarcliff Initiative (Herman Lorenz)
Zoning Updates: Theresa Same (MANA Zoning)
Senior Activities (Lifelong Communities): Kathryn Firago (MANA Senior Outreach)
Schools: Tanya Myers (MANA Education) and Natalie Caudle (N. Druid Hills Charter Cluster Initiative)
Neighborhood Watch (Nextdoor): Barbara Dalton (MANA Neighborhood Watch)
Membership kick-off: Judy Perras (MANA Treasurer)

The meeting began with introductions by VP Lynn Ganim, followed by a very thorough "cityhood primer" presented by Davis Fox, who works with Commissioner Kathie Gannon. Mr. Fox gave context to the cityhood movement in the Atlanta area, and answered questions from the audience [to be posted later this week].

City of Briarcliff planning group (Herman Lorenz)

 • As to the question of how are cities sorted out in the legislature, remember that a few years ago, a proposal went into the legislature for the formation of the city of Ashford. What came out had different boundaries and was called Brookhaven.
 • There are currently two city proposals. Lakeside has a more limited area, they focused on precincts that voted republican. They have gone through contortions to grab commercial property and they included Emory’s Spine Center because they had no other hospital inside their boundaries. Others saw this and got together to try to design a city (i.e., Briarcliff).
• The Carl Vinson Institute will review two city proposals that come in together and charges $22,000 each in that case. Lakeside refused to cooperate. So both groups have to come up with $30,000.
 • A key element of financial feasibility is other revenue. Some studies show proposals with 4 times as much “other” revenue (relative to property tax). Brookhaven had twice as much revenue (relative to property tax). So, there should be no dramatic changes in taxes unless a lot of services are added. 
• Vinson studies can be off (over-estimates), e.g., Sandy Springs study’s estimates of costs to run that city compared to Fulton, DeKalb, City of Atlanta.
 • The City of Briarcliff proposal has collected $15,000 towards the study in around a week of fund-raising. This shows that people believe in a larger city that is more inclusive. Also, the City of Briarcliff planning group’s bylaws state that if the $30K goal for the study is not reached, donations will be returned.
• For additional information, see
• To contribute to the Briarcliff proposal, go to

Zoning Update (Theresa Same, MANA)

 • Not much to report on Suburban Plaza. The lawsuit that has things pending has an August court date. There are businesses interested in the development but plans are contingent on Walmart being built.
 • DeKalb County is updating its zoning ordinance. MANA is in agreement with other groups and individuals (Civic Association Network, Good Growth DeKalb) that we need more time to review the new code. So contact your Commissioners, the County, etc. and ask for a delay on the vote that is currently scheduled for June 25.
 • Redevelopment of the Scott Blvd. Baptist Church property: this congregation has been shrinking, and they need to sell. The property is zoned residential. As was mentioned a while back, Fuqua Development is interested. Commissioner Rader and Fuqua met with a small group of civic association leaders to begin sharing information. At this point there are no drawings and the lot in question is the church property only (although Fuqua reported a large majority of Barton Way residents would be interested in selling). The audience brought up the usual concerns for that area: traffic, impact on nearby residents, people feeling they have to sell their homes. We are all trying to schedule another meeting (open to the community) to include plans. Right now, Fuqua is trying to meet a deadline to submit a land change plan.

Lifelong Communities (Kathryn Firago)

A survey is available for those 50 and up to help define what services and improvements would make an area a place where people can appropriately age in place. Kathryn mentioned the AgeWise Connection (the Atlanta Area Agency on Aging, This website lists services and programs available to older adults and persons with disabilities. Contact them for a copy of ther Personal Health Record, a booklet that allows you to make a list of current medications and dosages—this information is useful to bring to medical visits and also to keep available in case of an emergency at home. This document is also can be downloaded from

Schools Update (Tanya Myers, MANA and Natalie Caudle, Druid Hills Charter Cluster)

Tanya reminded everyone to collect Boxtops from participating grocery packages and that she will gladly collect them to deliver them to Laurel Ridge Elementary. This program results in several hundreds of dollars that the school can use for supplies.

Natalie Caudle pointed us to the charter’s website, for more information but explained that hundreds of people have completed surveys and worked together to assemble the Druid Hills High School Charter Cluster document. There will be public hearings on July 29, and a vote on August 13. Only parents who reside in the cluster and who have children of school age can vote (also includes those whose children will enter kindergarden in fall 2014). The petition would go to the State on August 16; they will review it within 60 days and Cluster organizers will have 30 days to respond to the State’s concerns, and can ask for mediation if necessary. The premise of the cluster is to offer school attendance options: the International Baccalaureate (IB) at Fernbank and Avondale, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) at Laurel Ridge and McLendon, and a split Montesori-traditional approach at Briar Vista. be IB (Fernbank and Avondale), and Montessori/Traditional (Briar Vista). Residents in the cluster can apply for a different track than the school of their zone, and if not enough spaces are available to accommodate, an internal lottery will be held to place children. If there are still spaces remaining, they will be available to non-residents via lottery. If there are still spaces remaining, then spaces can be made available to children outside attendance zone. Sibling priority is included. ICS is an independent charter and its students track to middle school according to their residential area. Children can’t switch into the Montesori option at Briarvista midstream. The establishment of this charter does not affect other charters—each has its own application process. People without school-age children are not allowed to vote and this causes much frustration, but such is the system in place. Everyone can participate in public meetings and support the effort via donations—the group had to hire a consultant to assist with the process of getting all the documentation together.
June 25: Spirit Night: July 19: Food trucks? (check website calendar for details.

Neighborhood Watch (Barb Dalton)

Barbara announced that MANA has ordered 50 neighborhood watch street signs to replace old and damaged signs and to add more signs. If you’d like to help hang the new signs, contact Also consider joining Nextdoor, an online community that is only open to residents of MANA and nearby neighborhoods. [For more info on Nextdoor, see this post.]

Recycling (Kris Kane)

Recycling is now free in DeKalb County. Contact the county for a free paper recyclables bin, and a supply of plastic bags where you can recycle (together!) plastics, metal cans and glass. See

Call for volunteers: pool party! Volunteers needed to help plan the MANA summer pool party! Contact if you’d like to help. This is a great event that draws lots of folks, usually done as a potluck. Please help organize this great activity.

Membership Drive Kick-Off (Judy Perras)

Judy did a quick budget update and reminded us it's time for a membership drive. MANA is run by volunteers who give up hundreds of hours attending meetings, disseminating information and organizing activities that are of value to our residents. MANA activities over the past year:
• pool party
• Halloween trick-or-treat planning and party
• holiday party to thank volunteers
• holiday wreaths at neighborhood intersections
• senior dinner
• neighborhood work day / clean-up
• three community meetings per year
• three Medlock matters newsletters per year
• an informative, well-maintained MANA website
• regular e-bulletins to keep you up to date
• signs posted for upcoming events
• attendance by board members and volunteers at numerous meetings (in order to have a voice and to keep you informed)

Please join or renew your membership (or make a donation) to support our activities. A membership form is always printed in our newsletter (which was distributed recently) and can also be found here.