Friday, February 28, 2014

Update on Medline LCI Study: community meeting notes

Ideas and concerns collected in prior discussions (left, middle) + hands-on opportunities for people who live, work and play in the area to literally draw better solutions (right)

The February 27 Medline LCI Community Meeting was a success, with Commissioners Rader and Gannon and their staff present to kick off the project. Jen Price (Sycamore Consulting) has kindly secured the presentation slides (see below), so that those who were not able to attend can also participate. Jen has also supplied us with hard copies of the community survey that will be available at the MANA Community Meeting on March 3.

The Medline LCI study group is funded by the Atlanta Regional Commission:
This study focuses on the area around DeKalb Medical Center and will plan for redevelopment of underutilized and vacant properties to create a variety of housing options and an appropriate mix of commercial, office and retail. The study will incorporate Lifelong Communities concepts and the establishment of a “wellness district” for the DeKalb Medical Center area. Additionally, the plan will address sidewalk and bicycle facilities along the major corridors in the area to create a more walkable center and to improve connections to MARTA bus routes and Emory’s Cliff shuttle.
For more information on the Medline LCI Study, see
where you can also find a link to the online survey. There is still time to fill out the community survey!

The presenters emphasized that this is the kick-off to a long process; as the area is developed, we will need to continue to push for investment from developers, with a focus on obtaining concessions that help us create an environment that meets the many and diverse needs of our residents.

A big question in everyone's mind is how to ensure this LCI study yields improvements both short and long-term. The answer goes something like this:
1) as LCI recommendations are finalized, we become eligible for County and Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) funding to complete certain projects
2) finalized Medline area use and design recommendations will be added to the zoning code for the area. This means that future developers will have to abide by those guidelines.
3) the Atlanta Regional Commission requires LCIs to be reviewed every 5 years. This allows the LCI to remain a living, evolving project.

The next Medline LCI community meeting will be on a Saturday in late March; details will be posted soon. The meeting will be held in a charrette format to encourage participation.

The Medline LCI Study began last month and will be completed in June 2014.

Moratorium motion

GRAB-IT! ® -- a new and defective board game that simulates DeKalb County's cityhood and annexation landscape. 
Reviews are mixed: shoddy documentation and many missing pieces!
Last week, the City of Briarcliff initiative released a new map and declared that Briarcliff had "chosen to defer to the published annexation plans of existing cities." This came as a surprise, given that the Vinson Institute study included these commercial properties in the Briarcliff proposal viability test... a study that MANA dues helped support. Briarcliff, at this time, is not on the docket.

New Lakeside map, via
. Click to enlarge.
This week, the Lakeside initiative released a new map that engulfs nearby Laurel Ridge (including Laurel Ridge Elementary School, attended by many Medlock area children) as well as other neighborhoods. In rushed, ongoing committee negotiations, legislators are redrawing proposal boundaries in a manner that makes it difficult for constituents to offer timely feedback. As of this week, the Senate has approved the bill (SB 270); if the bill passes the House, it will need to be voted upon, but only those within its boundaries can voice their support or lack thereof.

Many of these concerns were voiced in the Senate this week, and video is available at Click on the "Senate Day 29 PM link" and cue to 1:29:10 to watch Senator Steve Henson challenge Senator Fran Millar's Lakeside proposal's incursion into Tucker. Then, cue to 1:44:30 and watch Jason Carter light into Senator Millar and describe the broken process that has led to an ever-changing Lakeside map that amounts to a "foray into someone else's district". Thank you for the Medlock/MANA shout-out, Senator Carter, and for speaking for all the communities being aggravated and antagonized by Lakeside's schemes.

There are many reasons not to rush this process; Commissioner Rader articulated them well here. We encourage the legislature to bench all cityhood and annexation proposals for DeKalb County to allow sufficient input from citizens and analysis on the repercussions these changes will have on the County at large. We encourage DeKalb County residents to reach out to their legislators to ensure these concerns are heard and recorded, in particular as SB 270 moves to the House.

Addendum 3/3/2014: City of Decatur's proposed annexation map to which the Briarcliff Initiative defers. Apparently City of Decatur wants the whole Medline LCI area in addition to commercial properties on North Decatur Road.
Highlight of City of Decatur's annexation plan to which the Briarcliff Initiative defers. Red notes desired boundary;
current boundary not quite as visible in black, so it is now highlighted in pink. Click to enlarge or see original image at  Aug 2014 update:
this link now shows a map without the current city boundary. Subliminal inevitability nudge: check!
This is all very exhausting and confusing, thank goodness for Monty Python's take on annexation.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lost dog [Jasmine] sighted in Medlock area

UPDATE: Jasmine sighting  ~4pm Feb 27 "running across the grassy area from Powell Ln toward Clairmont Circle, so if you live in that vicinity (near Emory Woods Apartments) please keep an eye out." Message left @ phone number listed below.

Jasmine is a scared, semi-feral foster who escaped while at DeKalb Animal Services, where she was taken to receive medical treatment for an urinary track infection. She appears to have made it to our neighborhood all the way from Kensington Rd.

She is dragging a green leash and there are concerns that she may get stuck somewhere. Jasmine was sighted in the Medlock area of North Decatur (Willivee) early on Feb. 26. 

She is very skittish and volunteers are trying to set up traps. It is possible she could be lured to a backyard if food were available. If you see her, please contact the above number.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Reminder: Fuqua / Scott Blvd. Church community meeting [Feb 26]

Fuqua Development has arranged a meeting at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church to discuss its plans in more detail on Wednesday, February 26 at 7:00 pm. We hope you will plan to attend.

To review recently released information about this development, see

Friday, February 21, 2014

Reinventing our streets: let's MEDLINE

Cynicism-free vision of what a road can become, via In Transit @ Kickstarter
"What if a street is a place instead of a way to get somewhere?" 

"The life of a city does rest and always has rested on the success of its principal streets."

These are some of ideas raised by In Transit, a Kickstarter documentary that explores the "changed ... definition of a street--from a place where people gathered to meet and conduct business, to a means to get a car from one place to another."

But the cool thing is you don't have to live vicariously through urban planners in other cities. Street reinvention and revitalization is happening right in our very neighborhood. Learn more about the Medline LCI study and join the discussion live [Thursday, February 27th, 6:30—8:00 PM @ North Decatur Presbyterian Church (Sanctuary), 611 Medlock Road, Decatur, GA 30033] or online [learn more about this study and leave feedback].

How do you envision our area, what would you like to see? Please share your thoughts.

And see you on February 27 for a little... terraforming!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lastest City of Briarcliff map

"The City of Briarcliff Initiative announces the release of an updated version of the Briarcliff map. “February 2014 Draft” is available on Briarcliff’s Facebook page, and shows hand drawn lines. Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (HD-82) will present a formal version of this map to the Legislature. Briarcliff has chosen to defer to the published annexation plans of existing cities, in keeping with the city’s core belief that everyone should have a chance to vote on whether they want to be in a city."

[But it should be noted that the owners of non-residential properties are not allowed to vote.]

For the full press release, see

For some recent discussions on City of Decatur's current annexation plan, see DecaturMetro:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lifelong Communities: MANA and Emory School of Public Health team up

from v 31, Medlock Matters

By Kathryn Firago

MANA and School of Public Health team
Last August, many of our neighbors aged 50+ took a survey to help the Lifelong Communities committee understand the needs and wants of this population. Once we had those responses, we had the good fortune of having the Emory School of Public Health provide qualified students in its degree program to analyze the responses and make suggestions to us based on their importance to the community and feasibility of implementation. These young women did us a great service and, by working with our community, each earned an A in their Community Needs Assessment course! The students held focus groups, interviewed key members of the Medlock and Clairmont Heights neighborhoods and researched possible partnerships we could make with other organizations and businesses. Following are some of the items on the plan they have provided to us. The committee has yet to meet in 2014 to discuss this plan in its entirety, but that is scheduled later in February.

Create a Community Buddy System – This is something that many of our neighbors are already doing, but it could be more intentional. Neighbors who would like to volunteer to check in on other neighbors’ safety and well being could be matched with ones who would like to have the contact, be
it weekly or some other time frame. It would be a win-win situation for both. This could aid in elderly neighbors not only getting basic needs met, but also in satisfying social needs for them.
Institute Informal Social Gatherings – Arrange potlucks, walking groups, meet-ups at Melton’s or a local restaurant. Form a knitting group, quilting group, and book club. These could happen frequently and could possibly be hosted by the North Decatur Presbyterian Church as the pastor there has offered to work with MANA more often.

Utilize Facebook and other social networks – This could facilitate more immediate networking and announcements. Meetings for Neighborhood Watch, community meetings and the aforementioned informal gatherings could be publicized not only on the Medlock neighborhood website but also on Nextdoor and Facebook. There could be a service-bartering page to offer and request services, such as yard work, housework, babysitting or pet-sitting. This is another way to connect our neighbors to each other in a more personal way.

Use the Dekalb County Public Library Takeout Service – There is a “Savvy Senior” program that includes book discussion groups, a film series, seasonal tax assistance and volunteer opportunities. A library administrator could travel to our neighborhood to conduct workshops on topics of interest such as coping with diabetes, heart disease, and training in computer use.

These are just a few of the suggestions made by the Emory students. We have many to consider and attempt to implement. If you would like to be a part of this Lifelong Communities committee and start making some of these possibilities a reality, please get in touch with Lynn, Deb, Kathryn or Suzan via

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Intown Ace Hardware love: winter edition

Saporta Report piles on the love for
Intown Ace Hardware :)

Intown remained open during the recent ice storm to keep area residents well-supplied. Thanks, Tony @ Intown Ace!

The AJC also reported on Intown Ace's storm response.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Scott Boulevard Baptist Church update

From the Cross-Neighborhoods Committee, via Theresa Same (MANA Zoning Chair)

A glimpse into what may be...

First, a brief recap: 

As many of you know, Scott Boulevard Baptist Church (SBBC) will soon be closing its doors. Membership has been declining for many years and has dwindled to the point that the congregation can no longer sustain the facility and the property. Last year, after exploring many options and careful consideration, SBBC began looking for a buyer. Atlanta-based Fuqua Development has had this property and all 9 homes on Barton Way under contract since early 2013. I
n June of 2013, MANA became aware of their plans to redevelop the property as a mixed used development (earlier site plans can be viewed here) and these plans were shared in a Community Meeting in July, 2013. After taking some time to think about what makes the most sense at this busy intersection and envisioning this project in a larger context of redevelopment, Fuqua Development is now proposing the project detailed below, which includes apartments, townhomes and limited retail as Phase 1 (Figure 1) of their larger vision (Phase 2, described later in this article).

Current Events

Figure 1.  Proposed development -- Phase 1
[current re-zoning application]
The shaded purple triangle occupies the footprint
of the Scott Blvd. Baptist Church. The unfilled purple trapezoid
depicts Barton Way properties that are under contract
with Fuqua and that would be replaced with townhomes.
Scott Blvd. appears in yellow. 
Click to enlarge.
After multiple deferrals, feedback from Dekalb County Commissioners and the Cross Neighborhoods Committee* and many plan modifications, I can report that Fuqua Development has decided to move forward in their efforts to rezone the Scott Boulevard Baptist Church site as well as 9 homes on Barton Way in order to redevelop the properties. You should expect to see this rezoning on agendas in the next cycle which includes the Community Council 2/24/14 (rescheduled due to weather), the Planning Commission Meeting on 3/4/14, and the Board of Commissioners on 3/25/14.

In this latest plan, Fuqua’s vision includes a walkable, new urbanism-inspired development that includes a 5-story (250 unit) apartment building angled into the corner of North Decatur Road and Scott Boulevard (Figure 2). The building features high quality materials and was designed to maintain a landmark presence on the corner. The building will include 2,000 square feet of street-front retail space on North Decatur Road, which will house a neighborhood-oriented space such as a coffee shop.  This development will also include a parking deck for tenants with a small portion of parking allocated to serve the commercial space.

Figure 2: View from Scott Blvd. and N Decatur Rd. corner. Click to enlarge.

Figures 3-5 below provide additional details of the site's layout and proposed appearance. On the east side of Barton Way, 60 three-story townhomes are planned and would serve as a transition between apartment use and the single-family homes on Blackmon Drive if Phase 2 is not completed.

Figure 3: Proposed structures for Phase 1. Click to enlarge.

Figure 4: Close-up of residential and parking structures outlined in Figure 3 (SBBC parcel). Click to enlarge.

Figure 5: Landscaping details for structures outlined in Figure 3 (SBBC parcel)Click to enlarge.

As part of the meeting process, the Cross-Neighborhoods Committee and Fuqua Development have been discussing zoning conditions and off-site improvements that we hope will create value and minimize the impact of this development for the existing community while promoting a grander vision for future development in our area. It should be noted that the Cross Neighborhoods Committee has not agreed to support this project and will only make such a determination after the larger Community is allowed to weigh in. Those conditions and off-site improvements are extensive and include but are not limited to:

1. Design Limitations: Fuqua Development has agreed to use only brick, glass, stucco, stacked stone, cementious siding and aluminum on the apartment building and the townhomes.  

2. Significant Streetscaping and Landscaping: Fuqua Development has agreed to significantly landscape the perimeter of the project (see Figures 4 and 5). Though it is hard for most of us to imagine, Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road frontages will be redesigned to initiate the transition to a pedestrian-oriented, walkable environment, which will complement streetscape design plans for Suburban Plaza. Starting from the curb, the Fuqua development will include a 6-foot, tree-lined landscape strip, a 8-foot sidewalk, a second 6-foot, tree-lined landscape strip, and up to 14 feet of additional hardscape, creating the feel of a pedestrian boulevard (Figure 5). A sidewalk also will be provided on Barton Way.

3. Restrictions on Site Access: Fuqua Development has agreed to limit vehicular access to the site from North Decatur Road and Scott Boulevard to right-in, right-out turns.

4. Upgrades to 6-point Intersection:  As a result of MANA's Suburban Plaza redevelopment agreement, Selig Enterprises commissioned a traffic study to improve pedestrian safety and use at the 6-point intersection. The Wolverton traffic study suggested many improvements, some of which Patrece Keeter of DeKalb Traffic Engineering has successfully negotiated with GDOT. Fuqua plans to contribute funds to complete the remaining improvements. 

5. Create Bus Stops:  This includes creating an area for Emory's Cliff bus to safely stop along Scott Boulevard as well as a sheltered bus stop on N. Decatur Road for the MARTA bus.  This is contingent upon necessary County and State DOT approvals.

6. Significant Restrictions on Townhomes: There are too many to list, but Fuqua has agreed to numerous zoning conditions to maintain the quality of life and property values of the single family homes on Blackmon Drive should they remain. Supporting our neighbors on Blackmon Drive is a priority for the Committee.

Figure 6: Fuqua shared a master plan (purple, green brown and 
blue areas) that we have overlaid on a Google map. 
The purple area covers Phase 1 as discussed above.
Click to enlarge.

A Phase 2? 

Fuqua Development has designed this project to allow for a Phase 2 which could include but not be limited to the homes on Blackmon Drive, many of which Fuqua already has under contract. This phase (Figure 6) would allow for a more extensive redevelopment to include greenspace, retail, commercial, office and residential components including a new roadway network to improve transportation in the triangle formed by N. Decatur Road, Scott Boulevard and Church Street which would help relieve traffic congestion in the area. Many will be happy to hear that “the natural food store” hopes to locate in this portion of the development. If Phase 2 is realized, the townhomes along Barton Way would not be built.  This area would instead become part of the more comprehensive plan.

Additional Thoughts from the Cross-Neighborhoods Committee

We realize this plan is significantly different from those published previously and is likely to inspire a wide variety of responses. If we must lose the church, most of us on the committee feel that apartments on the corner are a better use than the previously proposed commercial plan. With traffic such a major concern at this intersection, residential use drastically reduces the number of “trips” to and from this property as compared to commercial development in this same location.  If we look at this as a larger plan, it makes sense to move the commercial component away from the already burdened 6-point intersection and use the apartments as a residential buffer from the more intensive commercial and office uses.

One of the benefits of any redevelopment at this site is that Dekalb County will require the property to have proper stormwater management – likely in the form of an underground water vault.  In an area where flooding is a major issue, it’s worth noting that simply bringing this site up to current code will drastically reduce or eliminate the runoff from this property.

We know many of you will ask, "why this property when there are so many other commercial properties available in the area?" While that is a question to better ask Fuqua Development, it is important to remember that the SBBC property is for sale and in a prime location,  from a development stand point.  It is this kind of investment in our area that will serve to stimulate growth and redevelopment along the commercial corridors. Development will certainly have both positive and negative affects for our community.  This Committee is working hard to make sure that should this project move forward, it will add value to the larger community.


We want to hear from you.  Fuqua Development has arranged a meeting at Scott Boulevard Baptist Church to discuss its plans in more detail on Wednesday, February 26 at 7:00 pm. We hope you will plan to attend.  You can also contact your neighborhood representative or neighborhood association to provide feedback, or email

* The Cross-Neighborhoods Committee includes the following neighborhood representatives:  Garrett Asay (Ridgeland Park Resident), Nancy Fox Ciliax (Corresponding Chair, Clairmont Heights Civic Association Board), David Duncan (President, Medlock Commons Homeowners Association), Todd Link (Springdale Heights Resident), Debra Robinson (Blackmon Drive Resident),Theresa Same (Zoning Chair, Medlock Area Neighborhood Association), Mary Shellman (Steering Committee, Good Growth DeKalb), and Deanne Thomas (Decatur Heights Neighborhood Association Transition Team).  Fuqua is represented by Jeff Fuqua (Principal, Fuqua Development), Heather Correa (Partner, Fuqua Development) and Dennis Webb (Attorney, Smith, Gambrell and Russell).