Sunday, August 31, 2014

MARTA survey

Commissioner Rader alerts us to a MARTA study that is "investigating ways to improve access to bus, rail and Mobility (paratransit) services." This comprehensive analysis will request feedback from  both employees and the general public.

Visit the Comprehensive Operations Analysis site at for additional information. It includes a link to a brief survey.

To learn about MARTA's proposed expansion in the Clifton Corridor area, go to Note the menu items on the right margin (fact sheets, maps, etc.). The project suffered a big setback in 2012 when a 1% transportation-focused tax (T-SPLOST) did not muster sufficient support.

Food for thought. As we ponder improvements to public transportation, a recent item in The Economist might provide some food for thought. "Rolling blunder" tackles the recent emphasis on streetcars and the federal subsidies that buoy them. Although popular and fiscally viable in some cases, the article warns that many streetcar and light rail projects are not cost-effective and fail to serve all constituents equally. Buses, they say, are often a "nimbler" solution that is more cost-effective to implement, adjust and maintain (buses, of course, get stuck in traffic unless they have dedicated lanes). Atlanta's own streetcars are currently in test mode; see a recent AJC update here. For highlights on what makes the world's best public transportation systems so good, see

Friday, August 29, 2014

City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) Information Meeting Notes, August 28

Our notes from the meeting, with some additional information and links thrown in...

The meeting took place 7-9pm on August 28 at the North Decatur Presbyterian Church. 50+ people were present as the meeting began, with 10+ indicating they had not attended any other meetings about cityhood. City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) speakers included Allen Venet, Herman Lorenz, Don Broussard, and Amy Parker (COBI leaders and residents of nearby Sagamore Hills, Leafmore and Briarcliff Woods neighborhoods).

An audience member distributed a handout with background on what she believes is a driving force behind some cityhood movements (e.g., ALEC).

Venet and Parker clarified that they have always been interested in our area and included us in their maps. The audience was appreciative that COBI took the time to set up a meeting with us and share information about cityhood and annexation in general and COBI in specific, even if so much is still up in the air. Lynn Ganim (acting MANA president) clarified that MANA is trying to arrange meetings in September with City of Atlanta, City of Decatur and also a representative for the "stay in DeKalb County" viewpoint; once we all have that information, MANA will conduct a survey to see how our residents perceive these different proposals.

Venet summarized the history of the Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker proposals, per the 2014 legislative session. Venet also mentioned Lakeside was invited to this meeting but wasn't present and Ganim read the email she received from Mary Kay Woodworth (chairperson of the Lakeside City Alliance) explaining that Lakeside rejected the invitation because “prematurely holding an informational cityhood meeting could set unrealistic or unattainable expectations.” Venet added that he also asked Bill Floyd of the DeKalb Municipal Association’s to attend, and Floyd also declined. It would appears that these groups value being “strategic” above communicating with neighbors who are sincerely worried about how cityhood and annexation will affect their communities. 

Venet gave a very round-about answer to the question of how City of Decatur's annexation plan affects the Vinson Study’s viability assessment for Briarcliff. The question resurfaced later, and Lorenz and Broussard added that little pieces here and there don't change much but if you add them up, they have an effect. They also noted that the Vinson study did not include Emory Point and that is a big revenue generator. They did not state that Suburban Plaza/Medline + Emory Commons (and nearby businesses) have a similar combined value (i.e., that their loss to annexation by Decatur would be compensated by Emory Point). Audience members asked if COBI would need to re-do their feasibility study in view of Decatur’s annexation plan. Venet said that Representative Mike Jacobs said no and sort of waived that requirement but it is understood that if there is a referendum, an updated study with finalized boundary lines would be needed. Venet encouraged the audience to review the Vinson Institute feasibility study, which is posted on the COBI website.

There was no follow-up to the comment that City of Decatur started out with one annexation map and then expanded the boundary further so that it now completely engulfs the Medline LCI study area; it all looks similar to the “cherry-picking” that resulted in Lakeside’s very irregular borders and which has been roundly criticized. City of Decatur has approved a contract for the Sizemore Group to complete an annexation study. Sizemore was a major player in the Medline LCI study. You can see MANA, CHCA and Good Growth DeKalb’s concerns about the study here (in particular, about the eventual routing of Scott Blvd/ N Decatur Rd. traffic through our neighborhoods, conveniently outside City of Decatur borders). 

COBI clarified that at this point, Medlock Park and Clairmont Heights are simply looking into be included in a proposal so as to have the opportunity to vote should the proposal succeed ratification by the legislature and governor.

Venet said that he had talked to Senator Jason Carter and Carter said he would support the Briarcliff proposal [should the proposal be approved by the legislature, should Carter be elected governor].

People asked about Emory University’s involvement in all this and Venet said that Emory originally claimed neutrality, but in reality remains attached to its Atlanta identity. Venet also explained that Emory believes a light rail connecting the campus to MARTA is critical to its future growth, and Emory is impressed with Atlanta's recent successes securing federal funds for projects such as the Beltline and streetcars. 

Schools were discussed very, very briefly. There was no reason for the Vinson Institute to include anything about schools in the Briarcliff study because constitutionally, COBI will not touch the schools. Unless the state constitution changes, schools come into play only under an annexation scenario into an existing city that has a grandfathered school systems (that would mean Decatur or Atlanta). The school buildings themselves are owned by the school district, not by the County. Should there be a transfer of ownership, fund generated by the sale would not go to the municipal government but rather to the school district.

As to progress in negotiations between the overlapping Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker proposals, Venet stated that this is all very new (per this week’s announcement that the three organizations must finalize their maps by November 15) and that the COBI board is meeting later this week. He also shared that Representative Jacobs had named Bill Floyd to “mediate” process through which maps will be finalized (this was also mentioned in the CAN meeting the previous evening). Venet was uncertain about what this mediation will entail. Bill Floyd previously served as mayor of Decatur and now represents the DeKalb Municipal Association (DMA), which lobbies for cities; he also serves in the County’s Task Force, representing DMA, and as noted above, declined participating in this meeting.

The audience asked what might happen if “no one picks us” so to speak. COBI explained that these proposals will not be allowed to carve a "donut" or island where a neighborhood is surrounded by cities and cut off from an unincorporated area. However, that there is a risk of an area being left out of nearby proposals and being left as "a schmear" connecting to a larger tract of unincorporated land and this is bad—quality of services can be affected simply as a matter of geography. The island scenario would be if our area were cut off the unincorporated parts of the County by Atlanta to the west, Decatur to the south, and some new city or cities to the north/west. The "schmear" scenario would be if we had a new city to the north, Atlanta and Decatur to the west and south respectively, while remaining municipally connected to unincorporated DeKalb to the east and south.

The meeting thus concluded, we left pondering dairy metaphors: who moved our cheese, and how to not become a schmear in DeKalb County’s history.

Please stay tuned for additional meeting announcements.

MANA's October 11 yard sale: sign up by Sept 26

Click to enlarge. Download pdf.
MANA is hosting a Neighborhood Yard Sale 
Saturday, October 11th, 2014,

Sign-up is now CLOSED. Map coming soon!

MANA handles the details so you can focus on your $ales: For a small fee of $10.00, MANA will place all ads, put up all signs, provide a sign or balloon for your mailbox, and design neighborhood maps designating addresses and locations of all of the participating homes. All you have to do is just sign up, set up your items, make some money, have some fun! Sellers must be located within MANA boundaries.

Preparing for the sale: Are you conflicted about signing up because you dread getting ready for the sale? We hear you! Here are several links with great tips about what to do 2-3 weeks prior, the week of, and the day of the sale, from checklists and pricing to how to arrange and price items and how much cash to have on hand.

After the sale: See below for options for donating/recycling items that don't sell. We contacted the American Kidney Fund and Goodwill to ask about scheduling a multi-household collection but it appears each household must schedule separately. The American Kidney Fund did specify that following our yard sale, the earliest pickup dates would be Oct 13, 15, and subsequent Mondays and Wednesdays. Interested individuals can start checking availability on October 1 by calling or using their online form.

UPDATE: Decatur is doing an electronics recycling event on October 11 too. How convenient!

DeKalb Electronics Recycling

Area Non-Profit Organizations that Accept Donations (updated: August 2014)

For more info
(asterisk denotes tax-deductible donation)
Will pick up
Drop off info
Closest location to Medlock Area
Picks up 6 days a week
* American Kidney Fund  / American Kidney Services
Yes, call in advance to schedule or use online form
See web for bin locations, & Value Village stores
Bin at Chevron at 1923 Clairmont Rd 
no large appliances or large furniture for pickup

The Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta
Yes, use online form
908 Murphy Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30310

Call ahead
Monday - Friday, 9 am to 3 pm 
763 Trabert Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Suits, Separates, Handbags, Jewelry & Accessories;

Goodwill Industries
Trailer is staffed during day hours
Trailer permanently in parking lot behind Macy’s at N. DeKalb Mall on Lawrenceville Hwy side

When store is open
2935 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033
Open 7 days a week into evening
Call for potential pickup of large appliances or furniture
Can drop off at numerous locations and churches
2050-C Chamblee Tucker Road
Atlanta, GA  30341

more info here and locations
Schedule pick-ups here
before 6 pm
2857 E. College Avenue
Avondale Estates, GA 30030

Mon-Tue: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Wed: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM, Thr-Fri: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Sat: 10:00 AM - 6
Call for potential pickup of large items
Open Wed thru Sunday, check web for hours
1 N. Clarendon Ave near intersection at E. College Ave
Proceeds support homeless animals

See website for other locations, FAQ, & call for hours
see drop-off locations here
Distributes to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reminder: City of Briarcliff Initiative Information Meeting [Aug 28]

August 28, at 7:00 p.m.
North Decatur Presbyterian Church (611 Medlock Road)

This meeting is being organized and led by the City of Briarcliff group, whose proposal to the 2014 legislature included the Medlock and Clairmont Heights areas.

The Lakeside Alliance, whose map partially overlaps Briarcliff's while excluding the Medlock and Clairmont Heights, is aware of the meeting but has opted to not participate.

MANA is also in the process of organizing a September meeting(s) to include representatives from City of Atlanta and City of Decatur--details coming soon.

Through these meetings, we hope to obtain credible, practical information to help us evaluate any choices presented to us in the coming months.

To see all our posts on cityhood, click here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

GA House to DeKalb proposed cities: clean up your room!

That's the message from the House Government Affairs Committee. The AJC reports that
"Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, would appoint a panel of five House of Representatives members to draw city boundaries if the City of Briarcliff Initiative, Lakeside Yes and Tucker 2015 can’t agree by Nov. 15. The instructions were developed by Jacobs and Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody." Read the rest @ AJC
The last legislative session ended in a mad scramble as the Briarcliff, Tucker and Lakeside cityhood initiatives failed to resolve their overlapping boundaries and nearby DeKalb cities called dibs on unincorporated commercial property they wish to annex before someone else does. City of Decatur tried and failed to grab a big swath of commercial property along North Decatur Road.

See our post last winter for a recap of where things were at the end of the last legislative session; alas, there's little progress form then to now.

City of Briarcliff Initiative representatives will discuss where Medlock stands as they look ahead to the consideration by the 2015 state Legislature of proposed new cities in DeKalb County. The meeting is Thursday, August 28, at 7:00 at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. This is the time to ask your questions about one of the possible choices facing us in the near future.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ATL Tomorrow's News Today reports on Suburban Plaza

Read it here:

Starbucks: in progress
The main update seems to be that Cozy Burger will be closed Aug 25 - Sept 1. and open again on Sept. 2.  Their site is marked as the future location of Starbucks (drive-through permitting is progressing).

As to the question of other retailers, in the comments, the blog author notes that "New information obtained today indicates that deals are "done" for LA Fitness, HomeGoods and Starbucks and "close" for ROSS."

See all our Suburban Plaza posts here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Medlock Park Yard Sale [Oct 11]

Save the date: Saturday, October 11th (8am-3pm)

For a small fee of $10.00, MANA will place all ads, put up all signs, provide a sign/balloon for your mailbox of the participating location, and design neighborhood maps designating addresses and locations of all of the participating homes. More details to be posted this week. Please spread the word!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Annexation into Atlanta: emerging facts

via Lynn Ganim, acting MANA President

MANA will hold an informational meeting on this topic as soon as it can be arranged.  In the meantime, don’t forget the City of Briarcliff meeting on Thursday, August 28, at 7:00 at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. We still don’t know where our area stands with the proposals for new cities.

Annexation into Atlanta: More Information

Blue area shows neighborhoods represented at a meeting to explore
the idea of annexation to City of Atlanta. Atlanta is highlighted in green,
Brookhaven in grey and Decatur in pink. For entertainment purposes only.
 This map does not pretend to be comprehensive, final or pretty. 

Map via Google. Click to enlarge.
Last week MANA representatives, along with representatives of 15-20 other civic associations, attended a meeting hosted by the Druid Hills Civic Association to discuss the issues and questions surrounding possible annexation into the City of Atlanta. Except for a brief mention, the question of what happens to schools was not explored at this meeting.  What follows is a summary from notes of a very detailed discussion.

• Atlanta’s annexation stance. Alex Wan, Atlanta city councilman, stated that within the Atlanta City Council there is considerable interest in the possibility of annexing the represented areas.  He stated that Atlanta will not recruit, but it “welcomes any community.” He later explained that Atlanta wants to grow because having a larger population gives it more visibility and clout, as well as, of course, additional tax revenues. (Incidentally, he indicated that Atlanta does not need to annex additional businesses.)

• Public safety.  Atlanta, with a population of approximately 440,000, has 2000 police, while DeKalb County, with a population of approximately 700,000, has approximately 1200.

• Representation. Most likely the newly-annexed areas would be represented by existing council people.  Councilman Wan say that he now represents 33,000 people, which is a smaller number than that represented by DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader.

• Taxes. Studies have been done to show that, for houses valued at $200,000 or less, taxes are lower for those in Atlanta than in unincorporated DeKalb. For more expensive houses the rates are higher in Atlanta but not significantly. See spread sheet at  Many variables go into computing tax rates, so comparisons are not absolute. Some rates are higher in Atlanta than in DeKalb, but apparently the difference is not as large as many fear in most cases .

If an area is annexed into a city in the future, it remains in its current county; taxes are adjusted, depending on which services the city takes over from the county.

In addition, the HOST tax credit (a partial offset to a percentage of sales tax, enacted in the 1980’s), which has kept DeKalb County taxes lower than those in some other areas, has been adversely affected by the creation of new cities and will have to be recalculated at some point by the state legislature. When that happens, it will mean higher taxes for those left in unincorporated DeKalb. (See for link to an article discussing the impact of incorporations on the HOST credit and other issues involving taxation).

• Infrastructure.  Councilman Wan stated that city boundary moves will not change the provider of infrastructure, although that could be negotiated.  This means that water and sewer would continue to be provided to the annexed areas by DeKalb County.  That could be negotiated, but, according to Mr. Wan, is not likely. (This is an area about which we’re not completely clear.)

• Zoning.  Atlanta has Neighborhood Planning Units with actual power to affect zoning decisions, with much more power than our Community Council, which can only recommend.  The City also has a design unity structure which functions to maintain consistency in architecture and historic preservation.

• Process.  There are three paths to annexation in Georgia.  A single property owner may ask to be annexed into an adjacent city.  This clearly doesn’t apply here.  Second, 60% of landowners must petition the city and then 60% of registered voters must vote for annexation, which is virtually impossible to achieve in an area the size of which we’re discussing. Third, and most likely in this case, the state legislature would approve a referendum in a specific area, which would pass if 50%, plus one, of those who show up vote for annexation.

• How we would get to a referendum. Councilman Wan suggested that this most likely would happen if the legislature (as people expect) approves what is essentially Lakeside, then has this large swath of unincorporated DeKalb in the “borderlands” of incorporated cities.  In order to  “clean things up,” the legislature could then approve annexation of these left-out areas into Atlanta, since Decatur wants nothing to do with us, except to annex our businesses. Of course, none of this is definite.

• Schools. Representative Mary Margaret Oliver stated that much of what happens with the schools depends on what the Druid Hills Charter Cluster does next (litigation or some other approach).  This concern was only mentioned, not discussed in detail.  Also, Councilman Wan said it is likely that Atlanta could contract with DeKalb County for the County to continue educating the students who would then be ATL students. There obviously will be substantive discussions on this topic as time goes on.

As long and complex as this “summary” is, there are many additional details and unanswered questions, which is why we need to begin to educate ourselves now. It’s important that we take the time to study these options to understand the potential effects of different proposals on us individually and as a neighborhood.

The attendees at last week’s meeting emphasized the need to inform their neighborhoods in detail of the possibilities and then conduct surveys on preferences of residents.  This needs to be done quickly, with education and survey results completed by Thanksgiving, if at all possible.

MANA continues to research as much as we can about this and other vital cityhood/annexation issues affecting the Medlock area and will continue to report to you as we learn more. There is much to be done .  If you have questions or brief comments, please contact

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hawk homecoming

In mid-June, neighbors spotted and eventually helped corral a wounded female red-tailed hawk. Luckily, neighbor Kathryn Dudek is the Wildlife Director at the Chattahoochee Nature Center and was able to transport the hawk to the wildlife center for evaluation and rehabilitation. Today, some 70 days later, lady hawk came home.
Last june: all patched up. Photo via the Chattahoochee 
Nature Center's Facebook page
Last june: wing wound. Photo via the 
Chattahoochee Nature Center's Facebook page

The hawk was released at Medlock Park to the delight of a large group of neighborhood well-wishers. And what a show it was: the hawk launched without hesitation and with strong wingbeats took herself to a high perch on a pine tree. On the ground, the crowd cheered. Kathryn watched and waited for the bird to stick the landing and then she too was off the ground, jumping for joy.

Magic trick: Months ago, in went a wounded hawk...  
This particular hawk had a "fracture to its right radius and ulna, as well as punctures to the right thigh" likely from a dog or squirrel bite, and there were also maggots in the wound. Once the wounds healed and the bandages were removed, the bird received physical therapy to recover full range of motion.

Kathryn shared some additional tidbits. The hawk now sports a namesake red tail which means she is a mature two-year-old. A hawk like this has a grip strength of around 250 pounds per square inch (for comparison, a man's grip is in the 100 psi range). Kathryn said she could feel the squeeze and a talon did pierce the kevlar gloves she was wearing for protection, leaving a tiny pin prick.  Because lady hawk was gone for a while, we may hear some arguments overhead as she reclaims her home turf from other resident hawks.

And today, out came this beauty!
Rodents despair: big mama's home. 
Our thanks to Kathryn for her education and rescue efforts in the neighborhood and beyond, and for bringing this hawk home. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a community-supported non-profit organization that focuses on educating about the natural environment with an emphasis on the wildlife communities that make a home along the Chattahoochee River. Visit the Center's Wildlife Rehabilitation Facebook Page for many examples of critters that have been hurt but are now on their way to recovery thanks to wildlife rehabilitators. To make a donation earmarked towards wildlife rehab, click here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Druid Hills Charter Cluster meeting [Aug 27]

Ongoing dissatisfaction the DeKalb County Board of Education's management of the schools under its care is a key driver for calls for cityhood and annexation that are currently fragmenting DeKalb County.

Parents, educators and concerned neighbors have been exploring ways to improve DeKalb public schools serving our area. The Druid Hills Charter Cluster was created (visit their site here) with a goal to enhance "school autonomy, parental involvement, and student and teacher progress."  The cluster includes its namesake, Druid Hills High, as well as its feeder schools: Druid Hills Middle School, Briar Vista Elementary, Fernbank Elementary, Laurel Ridge Elementary and McLendon Elementary.

The initial charter was not approved and a revised version has been submitted. The Emory La Vista Parent Council has a sample support letter that challenges the Board of Education's rejection of the initial proposal (click here to read it). This rebuttal notes that "the State Office of Charter Schools and the DeKalb County Schools Director of the Office of Charter Schools found the DHCC petition met the Georgia Charter Schools Act criteria". The cluster would grant
"...governance of seven diverse school communities - five feeder elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school - to a non-profit board sourced from educational professionals including former Georgia Department of Education officials, former principals of DeKalb County Schools, and individuals vested in the cluster and its surrounding businesses and organizations."
The Emory La Vista Parent Council has  organized an information meeting to educate residents about how the proposal works and what is at stake.

Charter Cluster Meeting
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Sagamore Hills Elementary School
1865 Alderbrook Road, Atlanta, GA 30345
Join us at 9:15 am
(refreshments begin at 8:45 am)

If you are unable to attend, please consider voicing your support directly to the DeKalb Board of Education. The above petition website includes a sample letter and quick link with email addresses for all DeKalb Board of Education leaders:,,,,,,,,,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ripples: Druid Hills ponders annexation to Atlanta

from Lynn Ganim, Acting MANA President

As many of you know, the Druid Hills neighborhood has been considering annexation into the City of Atlanta. MANA representatives have been talking with some of the people involved and will continue to follow these issues closely to ensure that our voices are heard and our questions are answered; we will be meeting with representatives of neighborhood associations in interested/involved areas and some representatives of the City of Atlanta this week. We’re urging you to send to any questions you have to by Thursday morning [Aug 21]. We can’t guarantee answers, but we’ll try to present  as many questions as we can.

Many unanswered questions remain in the Druid Hills annexation possibility: taxes, services, schools, governmental representation, and, most important, whether or not we want to, or can, become a part of such a movement. Unfortunately, the political maneuverings within DeKalb County probably will not permit us to sit comfortably in our quiet neighborhood; we will be affected by outside forces if we are not aware of all the possibilities. 

At this point we simply do not know enough to recommend or oppose any annexation proposal; the important point is to learn as much as possible so that we can make educated decisions. MANA is working hard to ensure that our neighborhood has the best information available and is aware of all the options available to us. We do not know whether this line of investigation will lead to anything significant, but we will continue to report to you and ask for your questions.  As we gather enough verifiable information, we’ll let you know and, as necessary, hold meetings to discuss these issues.
We will be surveying the MANA membership—and perhaps others in the neighborhood if logistics permit-- in a few weeks to get your ideas and responses to these issues.  

2) Also see our post last week for additional information

Starbucks SLUP at Suburban Plaza

As noted in our June post, Selig Enterprises seeks a special land use permit (SLUP) for a drive-through Starbucks at Suburban Plaza. The plan will be reviewed by the Community Council on August 19, by the Planning Commission on September 9, and by the Board of Commissioners on September 23, 2014.  DeKalb County requires SLUPS for all drive-throughs. The proposed drive-through is within the parking lot and requires no additional curb cuts.

It appears that the drive-through concept allowed Selig to slightly reconfigure the layout of shops at the corner of North Decatur Rd. and Church St. "Shop J" (the proposed Starbucks) now features sidewalk access from North Decatur Rd. and a patio. An area area marked "Future Retail Shops" has been added and appears to add an additional ~4,000 SF next to "Tenant H."

August 2014: Proposed location for a street-facing Starbucks and patio. The Starbucks building is highlighted in green, the drive-through (with dashed rectangles denoting vehicles) appears in light green.

The 2012 and 2014 schematics are quite similar. In addition to the changes mentioned above, there is some additional information about how retail space might be configured (see blue highlights below).

Comparison of 2012 and 2014 redevelopment plans, emphasizing updates. The yellow area on the 2012 map
is part of the Walmart building.

We do not have any new information about future tenants other than those mentioned last April (LA Fitness with daycare facility, HomeGoodsJo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores). Demolition is proceeding as scheduled this summer.

The unenhanced plan for Suburban Plaza, dated August 2014, appears below.

August 2014: Full plan for Suburban Plaza

Friday, August 15, 2014

It looks worse before it looks better

Big Lots,  Hancock's Fabrics, Uniform Alternative and other businesses
remain open at SuburbanPlaza. 
Suburban Plaza's redevelopment continues. The initial razing to prepare the site where Walmart will be built has been pretty tidy so far. A security fence surrounds the work area and demolition has proceeded up to the location of the old Piccadilly's. This is as far as Walmart-related demolition goes. This week, crews were dismantling parking lot lights and spreading wood mulch to limit the erosion of exposed topsoil.
View from the old Piccadilly's and a whole lotta mulch, facing the Medlock / North Decatur / Scott Blvd intersection.
Sweeping view from the North Decatur Road side.
As to how this fits into the overall plan, here's The Plan. See all other Suburban Plaza posts here.
Blue dots outline structures now demolished; yellow marks Walmart's future footprint.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lost cat: Billie

This Main Coon (female, spayed, around 10 pounds, so, smallish for a Main Coon) was last seen on Willivee Drive between Desmond and North Decatur on Monday 7/29/14.

She has a distinctive black spot on her nose. See photo.

If you spot her, please contact her owners at 404.325.2692.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Annexations and Cityhood: it is (again) time to get involved [Aug 28]

from Lynn Ganim, Acting MANA President

As most of you know, discussions continue about proposed cities in unincorporated DeKalb County. For those who haven’t been following this saga, here are the basics.  Last year the Medlock area was included in the maps for a proposed City of Briarcliff but was left off the maps for the partially-overlapping proposed City of Lakeside.  For various reasons, beyond mortal and non-politicians’ understanding, the state legislature failed to pass any legislation for new cities and told these two, plus the proposed City of Tucker, to solve their differences among themselves. Lakeside and Briarcliff are in discussions with each other, but, as of now, we have no information about where Medlock would stand if there were a merger between the two proposed cities. And, of course, no one knows what the legislature will do when it convenes in January.  The City of Briarcliff  Initiative has scheduled an informational meeting for Medlock and Clairmont Heights at North Decatur Presbyterian Church, 611 Medlock Road [map] beginning at 7:00pm on August 28. The Lakeside City Alliance has also been invited.

In the meantime, reports are that Emory has stated it does not want to be included in any new city. Druid Hills has had preliminary discussion about being annexed into the City of Atlanta, and those discussions continue. (See for the complete Druid Hills statement.)  MANA (and CHCA) representatives have talked with some of the people involved and will continue to follow these issues closely to ensure that our voices are heard and our questions are answered; we will be meeting with representatives of neighborhood associations in interested/involved areas and some representatives of the City of Atlanta later this month.

Many of us would be happy to see this turmoil go away and leave us in relative peace in unincorporated DeKalb County.  And many people are rightly concerned about the probable negative effect of these moves on the rest of the county.

The problem is that if any of these possible scenarios occurs, Medlock will be left as an island between whatever new entities evolve and the City of Decatur. (Based on recent maps and discussions, Decatur's annexation strategy targets commercial property, while minimizing residential annexations.) Also, the tax base of those left in the county will be affected in ways not yet fully understood. In theory, the DeKalb County Schools are not a part of this discussion, but, of course, no one can be sure at this point, especially in the case of a Druid Hills annexation into Atlanta.

Obviously, many uncertainties and unanswered questions exist, but we’ll continue to participate in discussions and monitor and communicate information on options possible for Medlock. In the meantime, we ask that you send us your questions and concerns so we can raise them at the appropriate forums. Also MANA and CHCA are planning to compile and distribute a survey to find out how you feel and, as necessary, we will hold neighborhood meetings. The discussions occurring now and in the near future can have a significant impact on our neighborhood and each of us individually; we urge you to follow them closely.

Time is of the essence. The DeKalb Operations Task Force's incorporation and annexation subcommittee will meet on August 20, September 17, October 15 and November 12 [see complete meeting schedule here or download the pdf]. The Operations Task Force was created earlier this year in response to citizen dissatisfaction with the County's operations, transparency and responsiveness. All meetings will take place at the Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, GA 30030 [map] at 6 p.m. The Task Force holds a mandate
"to explore and study (1) the financial, business, zoning and quality of life impact on residents and government operations caused by the creation of new cities and annexations; (2) the effectiveness of the current governance structure of DeKalb County and ethics and transparency in County operations; (3) the equitable distribution of Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) proceeds and legacy pension costs between the DeKalb County and it’s cities; and (4) other related matters. The Operations Task Force is charged with making recommendations that can be forwarded to the Georgia General Assembly in December 2014."
Please send questions and brief comments to; of course, the Medlock Park Neighbors facebook page is always a good forum for more extended discussions.

- - - - - - -
The Civic Association Network (CAN) posts notes from many County meetings. These are their notes from the July 16, 2014 Operations Task Force Incorporation and Annexation subcommittee meeting.

Decatur Book Festival [Aug. 29-31]
"The AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the five largest overall. Since its launch, more than 1,000 world-class authors and hundreds of thousands of festival-goers have crowded the historic downtown Decatur square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children's area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more. 
The Decatur Book Festival is a community based non-profit that counts on your donations to operate each year. We are a 501(c)3 and your donation is tax deductible."
Check out their website, in particular the handy "by topic" links on the left margin of the About page. Whether you love to read about the humanities, civil rights, mystery, romance, cooking, business or the environment, this is the book festival for that!

Marc Merlin, who runs the Atlanta Science Tavern Facebook page, has put together a handy, mobile-friendly guide to science events, see The Atlanta Science Tavern has monthly meetings at Manuel's Tavern where guests (usually local scientists) talk about their research in terms that are accessible to those who love science but don't necessarily have scientific training.

For a full list of authors participating this year, click here.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Back to school, drive safe! [Aug 11]

Just a reminder that DeKalb schools will welcome back students on August 11, and that applies to our Laurel Hill Elementary,  International Community School, Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High. Please be extra vigilant for kids who will be walking or riding to school.

ICS has adjusted its hours. Instruction now starts 9:10am and classes dismissed at 4:10pm. Early arrivals start at 7:30am, and the after-school program runs from 4-6pm.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A devilishly convenient way to root for Druid Hills High varsity football

Support the Druid Hills Red Devils and local businesses while saving some cash --what's not to like about this discount card?!

Like magic and through July 2015, your $10 investment turns into 10-20% off at nearby restaurants such as Mediterranean Grill, Willy's, Los Loros, Seven Hens and Suno, among others. You can also get discounts at UPS and Jiffy Lube. See image below for applicable locations.

Don't fumble! Get yours today by contacting Coach Adams

Thursday, August 7, 2014

DeKalb County: ask the CEO about greenspace dollars, annexation, cityhood and education

The AJC reports that DeKalb County's Interim CEO Lee May will host six community meetings during the month of August. The topics will cover "accomplishments and issues, including cityhood and government structure." Lee May (County Commissioner for District 5) was appointed interim CEO by Governor Deal in July 2013 when then CEO Burrell Ellis was suspended following his indictment on felony charges.

The meetings are scheduled to run from 7:00 - 8:30pm on

Aug. 7  at Derwin Brown Memorial South Precinct (2856 H F Shepherd Dr., Decatur, GA 30034),
Aug. 12 at Stonecrest Library (3123 Klondike Rd., Lithonia, GA  30038),
Aug. 14 at St. Timothy United Methodist Church (5365 Memorial Dr., Stone Mountain, GA 30083),
Aug. 19 at Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library (5234 LaVista Rd., Tucker, GA  30084),
Aug. 21 at Welcome Friend Baptist Church (3198 Bouldercrest Rd., Ellenwood, GA 30294), and
Aug. 26 at the Maloof Auditorium (1300 Commerce Dr #5, Decatur, GA 30030).

Please attend or email the Commissioners with your thoughts and concerns. Their contact information appears at the end of this post.

Recently, CEO May released a document reviewing his first year in office as interim CEO. "A Retrospective Look Back, A Progressive Move Forward" outlines accomplishments in public safety, police and fire services, disaster response, infrastructure, sustainable communities, development, leadership and youth services.

July 2014: AJC map shows overlapping 
cityhood proposals.
Hopefully, the above meetings will offer a chance to get answers on topics not covered by this annual report such as

Cityhood:  Some folks in Druid Hills are exploring annexation to the City of Atlanta. In early July, leaders of the overlapping Lakeside and Briarcliff proposals announced a collaboration, but no updates have been issued.  Our neighborhood's fate in these deliberations remains unknown.

Schools: A Druid Hills annexation raises questions about what would happens to DeKalb County public schools located in Druid Hills neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the Druid Hills Charter School Cluster proposal (created in response to dissatisfaction with how DeKalb County schools are administered) continues to meet resistance from the DeKalb Board of Education and Superintendent.

Greenspace funds: It makes more
sense to invest in existing commitments
via Commissioner Kathie Gannon
Greenspace funds: For several months now, the Civic Association Network (CAN) and our Commisioners Rader and Gannon have actively questioned a proposal to use $5 million greenspace dollars to purchase the South DeKalb YMCA. The Board of Commissioners' agenda for August 12 includes a vote on this purchase. Please see this item summarizing Commissioner Gannon's reasoning that the County is better off investing in facilities it already owns and that are in need of maintenance and development.

Commissioners' emails ready for cut/paste:,,,,,,

 Assistant(s) Phone Email
Elaine Boyer
(District 1)
Bob Lundsten
Courtney Townsend
Jeff Rader
(District 2)
Debbie Schneider
Larry Johnson
(District 3)
Ingrid Butler
Sharon Barnes Sutton
(District 4)
Judy T.
Marguerita M. Lance
Lee May
(District 5)

Interim CEO
Edmond Richardson
Kathie Gannon
(Super District 6)
Davis Fox
Stan Watson
(Super District 7)
Kelly LaJoie
Tiffany Campbell