Sunday, June 26, 2016

Notes from Friends of Medlock Park meeting [6/13/16]

notes forwarded by Casey Bordeaux, MANA Greenspace Coordinator

Participants:  Chris Foster, Casey Boudreau, Lisa Crowder, Ted Ward, Dave Butler, Jen Raby,  Joanne Bryan, Barbara Orsich, Katie Curtis

1.     Scott lots
a.     Waiting on update from county on status of bids for demolition for vacant white house – Casey will continue to follow up
b.     993 Scott – not part of FEMA buyout, Commissioner Rader’s office contacted Casey last week that County may be able to buy it to add to existing greenspace. 
                                               i.     Should not be limited by FEMA restrictions on other lots
                                             ii.     Casey will continue to follow up
                                            iii.     Ideas include
1.     Leave driveway to increase parking
2.     Picnic tables
c.     Tree planting
                                               i.     Need to follow up with Fuqua re plans and process, including timeline  – Ted to discuss with Theresa Same
                                             ii.     Dave B to follow up with new County arborist to confirm list of trees
                                            iii.      Start thinking of where to place, on vacant lots as well as in Park
2.     Playground
a.     Group met with Revonda, who is supportive of renovations
b.     Need confirmation of agreement by DHYS as official FOMP contact – Chris will follow up with Revonda
c.     Park Pride can help with fundraising
                                               i.     FOMP playground project will have own page on Park Pride website
                                             ii.     Revonda has list of vendors
                                            iii.     Ideas for fund raising events
1.     Lantern parade
2.     Event at playground
3.     Something at MANA pool party
                                            iv.     DHYS also has FOMP link on its Donate Now page
d.     Need to get going on 1 small, immediate project to
                                               i.     Demonstrate commitment to County & DHYS
                                             ii.     Encourage neighbors to donate and/or participate on future projects
e.     Ideas for small, immediate projects
                                               i.     New trash cans
                                             ii.     Covered benches
3.     DHYS
a.     Met with Comm. Rader
                                               i.     Got ok cover for batting cages, will self fund
                                             ii.     There is money from bond referendum which can use to re-pave inner roads (approx. from where drainage culvert to storage shed).  Have already met with maintenance group and hope work will be done in next couple of months
                                            iii.     Raised $15k from capital campaign which was used to fund survey last year and permitting for new work.
                                            iv.     ADA project will wait
b.     Other ideas from group
                                               i.     Can put sidewalks in, either real ones or just painted lines on side of road
                                             ii.     Can put permanent or moveable objects on wide entrance to playground, to discourage driving
4.     Bulletin board
a.     Chris removed ads – need to put something on it to inform that not meant for advertising
b.     Casey will create banner “Medlock Park News” – update:  done!
5.     Fall projects
a.     River cleanup – Oct?
b.     Park cleanup – usually scheduled in Sep
6.     Other

a.     Can get other planting in park, like azaleas or other shrubs along inner road to further separate playground area 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Zoning change request for 1889 Lawrenceville Highway [July 6]

via Google Map

We have been asked to share this announcement and site plan for a rezoning application for 1889 Lawrenceville Highway, at the corner of Orion and Lawrenceville Hwy. The meeting is scheduled for July 6; see below for meeting details.

This notice is for the Pre-Submittal Community Meeting, which developers are required to hold before they submit any plans to DeKalb County.

Click to enlarge.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Zoning change request for 3352 North Druid Hills Road [June 30]

via Google Map
We have been asked to share this announcement for a rezoning application for 3352 North Druid Hills Road (where Grand Slam Golf and Baseball is currently located). The meeting is scheduled for June 30. See below for meeting details.

This notice is for the Pre-Submittal Community Meeting, which developers are required to hold before they submit any plans to DeKalb County.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Phase III of "Decatur Crossing": negotiation summary

via Theresa Same, MANA Zoning Chair

Fuqua Phase III -- approved plan. Click this and other images to enlarge them.
On May 19, 2016, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved Fuqua Development’s “Decatur Crossing” Phase III to redevelop the 9.2-acre, abandoned Ford dealership (which primarily fronts Scott Boulevard with a small frontage on Church Street) into a mixed-use development.  The plan was presented to the Community in January and is outlined here. Following the community meeting, the DeKalb Cross Neighborhoods Council (DCNC)* compiled and considered all feedback received from the community and provided that feedback to Fuqua Development. This feedback was the basis of our negotiations which took place over several months. The BOC voted in favor of the rezoning request with 34 conditions negotiated by the DCNC. These conditions will become part of the permanent zoning for the property.

In addition to the conditions, the DCNC also negotiated a separate, legally binding zoning agreement which includes $60,000 in funding for off site improvements. Combined with earlier contributions from Phases I and II, this amount will be enough to complete pedestrian improvements at the 6-way intersection, sidewalks on Scott Boulevard (between Willow Lane and Medlock Road) and a short multi-use sidewalk on N. Decatur Road (between Fuqua Phase II and Church Street – in front of Church’s Chicken).  It also includes safety improvements along Scott Boulevard at the Tuxworth Springs Condominiums entrance/exit. The legally binding agreement was signed by MANA with the support of the entire DCNC. 

Fuqua III includes senior apartments, a grocery store, a "chicken-themed" restaurant, multi-family apartments, and a storage facility.
The site plan includes a “specialty grocery store,” a senior housing development (minimum of 90 units), a “chicken themed” restaurant with a drive-thru, a multi-family apartment building (maximum of 262 units) and a storage facility. Fifteen percent of the apartments will be reserved as workforce housing** as negotiated in our contract. The development also includes tree-lined 10-foot-wide multi-use sidewalks around the entire perimeter to match the earlier phases, 6-foot sidewalks on the interior of the development as well as a minimum of 16,300 square feet of park space. We also negotiated a bike lane on the small emergency access road that runs between Scott Boulevard and Church Street. 
Elevations for grocery store (seen from Scott Blvd.)
Elevations for "chicken-themed restaurant with drive-through"
Elevations for apartment complex. 
Storage facility.

Storage facility

Senior living complex by Columbia Residential. For an earlier color version of this rendering *that does not include newly negotiated improvements such as balconies*, click here
The DCNC is particularly excited about the senior housing component which will be built and managed by Columbia Residential.  The DCNC hosted a community meeting with Columbia Residential in April to provide information and answer questions from the community. The Medline Study identified senior housing as a priority for our area. The DCNC has been asking Fuqua Development to include this component since Phase I. Now that the rezoning is complete, Columbia Residential will go through the arduous process of applying for funding.  They believe their application will rate very high and are confident that they will be awarded the low income tax credits needed to complete this project.  Because we believe in this project, the DCNC negotiated conditions allowing Columbia two full application cycles to secure funding. We were able to work with Columbia to add more amenities for their residents, such as balconies and stoops to the building. This is a testament to how a collaborative process, bringing together multiple parties, improves the redevelopment process (see these messages from the developer and from Davis Fox at Commissioner Gannon's office).

None of the retailers have been announced yet. 

* Dekalb Cross-Neighborhood Council for this project includes the following neighborhood representatives: Garrett Assay, Ridgeland Park; Jean Logan (Tuxworth Springs Condominiums); Elizabeth Roberts (Valley Brook Civic Association); Theresa Same (Medlock Area Neighborhood Association, Inc.); Mary Shellman (Good Growth Dekalb, Inc.); Jim Smith (Clairmont Heights Civic Association). Fuqua is represented by Jeff Fuqua (Principal, Fuqua Development), Heather Correa (Partner, Fuqua Development), Bill Aiken (Project Manager, Fuqua Development) and Dennis Webb (Attorney, Smith, Gambrell and Russell).

** Workforce housing as defined by the Urban Land Institute was used for this agreement.  The intention is people working in such professions as teachers, nurse, fire fighters could afford to rent these apartments.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

MANA Community Meeting Notes -- June 6, 2016

Some brief notes from this MANA community meeting, attended by ~80 neighbors...

We have a request for someone(s) to organize the neighborhood pool party. Email medlockassoc at gmail if you can assist.

Commissioner Kathie Gannon and Senator Elena Parent stopped by. Senator Parent offered a summary of the last legislative session and reminded us of the run-off election coming soon.

Treasurer's report:
Judy Perras has become our membership chair after several years of serving as treasurer. Adrianne Leonard was voted in as new treasurer. Welcome aboard!

Casey Bordeaux, our Greenspace coordinator, announced a Friends of Medlock Park meeting for next Monday (Mon 6/13 at 7 pm in the DHYS clubhouse) to discuss plans for the park, fall plantings on Scott Dr. flood plain lots. There is now a bulletin board by the Medlock playground, it's available for posting neighborhood information.

Victoria Kingsley from the Central DeKalb Senior Center on Mason Mill Park stopped by to share the June schedule, special June events, and remind seniors about activities such as the catered lunch on Thursdays.

June schedule. Click to enlarge.

1) Tanya Myers, our schools liaison and MANA Secretary, shared that Laurel Ridge Elementary ranked 5th in DeKalb County (the other top-5 schools are in Dunwoody, and Fernbank Elementary). Laurel Ridge was also one of ten schools to score a 5 in DeKalb's climate survey (reflecting school culture)
Tanya also reminded parents of incoming kindergarteners to contact the school to learn about summer deadlines that impact fall enrollment.

Arbor Montessori plans. Click to enlarge
2) Jan Deason shared plans for an Arbor Montessori school expected to open in Fall 2016 at 1434 Scott Blvd. The school's main campus is in Oakgrove / La Vista Road.  The Scott Blvd campus will relocate from its current location at the Emory Presbyterian Church, and will serve children 18 months - 6th grade.

3) The 21st Century STEM Academy, a K-8 science, technology, engineering and math school, plans to open on Clairmont Road (across from the Emory Clairmont Campus entrance).  They did not present at the meeting but hopefully will when their facility is closer to completion.

Theresa Same, Zoning chair, ran through a list of nearby developments and updates and  recognized  DeKalb Cross-Neighborhood Council members Jean Logan (Tuxworth Springs) and  Mary Shellman (Good Growth DeKalb). The group also thanked Larry Diehl who represents us in District 2's Community Council.
  • Sunnybrook and Medlock Rd.: this house is being renovated, the request to rezone has been withdrawn and owner is remodeling the home to sell. A concern (from the Commissioners) about changing the zoning of this lot was that the precedent it would set for the rest of the neighborhood.
  • Residence Inn / Marriot hotel proposed for Blackmon Drive at Scott Blvd: following the June 2 meeting where neighbors showed a strong, unified stand against the project, the developer has communicated that they will not proceed with a rezoning application at this time.
  • Medline LCI: Continuing to work with the County and Commissioners  to address the issue that the Medline LCI plan (which has not yet been adopted by the County) does not appropriately address the edges where the plan meets residential neighborhoods. The recent Marriott hotel proposal is a perfect example of this.
  • Old Chevron station at the Scott/North Decatur corner: will open in August as matters retailer and another store (not announced yet)
  • MANA has brought together a group of neighbors with expertise in zoning to do a mini-study of how our community may grow. Do we control or invite growth, do we try to stay the same? Change a little? Increase density? We need a blueprint sorts to guide future changes instead of having to fight these fights over and over. The group has met once, hope to reconvene soon.
  • Fuqua Phase III: plan approved last May 19 (details coming soon), with 34 conditions that will be permanently attached to the site plan (remain in place even if properties are sold).
  • Naley dealership: being developed by SJ Collins to include a "Whole Foods 365", restaurants and retail and 300 luxury apartments. Community meeting on June 13--please attend! Neighborhood input gives the community leverage in negotiations with developers.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

What the DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Council Actually Does

How the Sausage Gets Made – What the DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Council Actually Does

by Mary Shellman

Who we are: The DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Council (DCNC) is a coalition of community leaders representing residents in negotiations with developers concerning commercial and residential development in and around our neighborhoods. The DCNC alliance aims to ensure that the outcome of local economic development will bring measurable, permanent improvements to the lives of affected residents.

MANA’s Zoning Chair, Theresa Same, maintains a robust leadership role on the DCNC, working to identify project specific impacted communities; sharing her zoning expertise; and bringing a tactful yet calm approach to negotiations.

Coming from varied backgrounds, the other DCNC members each bring unique skills and a willingness to work hard for their communities. In addition to MANA, the current DCNC team working on the Fuqua 3 project represents Clairmont Heights Civic Association (Jim Smith & Michael Dowling), Greater Valley Brook Civic Association (Elizabeth Roberts), Tuxworth Springs Condo Association (Jean Logan), Good Growth DeKalb (Mary Shellman), and the neighborhoods of Ridgeland Park (Garrett Assay) and Springdale Heights (Todd Link).

What we want: DCNC promotes the inclusion of desired amenities such as quality restaurants, employment centers, and service and retail establishments which satisfy the needs of the community; the use of quality construction materials and desirable architectural styles which are compatible with the existing neighborhoods; and a percentage of affordable workforce housing and senior housing.

We also insist on developments that adhere to smart growth principles by defining traffic patterns and impact on existing neighborhoods and implementing traffic mitigation strategies. We push for enhanced pedestrian and bicycle pathways throughout and surrounding the developments.

In a perfect world, all new development would be parkland. Unfortunately, the most difficult piece to negotiate has been our goal to limit environmental impact by striving to retain, replace and enhance greenspace within development.

What influences negotiations: We are restricted by the dictates of the county zoning code. The amount of leverage we are able to exert during negotiations is directly proportional to the property’s current zoning designation and the type and number of zoning changes and special permits requested by the developer.

We are fortunate to have County Commissioners Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon who have encouraged us and often complement our conditions with their own. Their planning expertise and support has been essential to our efforts.

The contract: Addressing a range of community issues, properly structured contracts can ensure that a developer’s promises regarding community benefits are legally enforceable. Developers “pitching” a project often make promises that are never written into any project approval documents, and even when they are, they may not be monitored and enforced by the relevant government agencies.

The conditions list and contract between DCNC and the developer create an additional enforcement mechanism and expands the class of parties who can enforce these promises.

Community Involvement: We work to maintain a strong community voice in the development of our neighborhoods. Each participant on DCNC represents many residents of DeKalb and our strength during negotiations comes from those numbers. To that end, your participation and input are crucial. Listen up, attend meetings, check the MANA website and send us your feedback. At any time during the process you can email the committee at to send your input and we strongly encourage you to do so.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Community Meeting for Church Street / North Decatur Rd. development [June 13]

As mentioned in this post, the site at the old Naley car dealership (Corner of North Decatur Rd. and Church Street) is being redeveloped. The 18-acre development will include a Whole Foods 365, restaurants, retail, greenspace and apartments.

A pre-application community meeting is scheduled for June 13, 2016 at 7pm at the North Decatur United Methodist Church, 1523 Church Street, Decatur, GA, 30030.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Meeting notes: Blackmon/Scott Blvd. rezoning/SLUP proposal

The pink area highlights the proposed Residence Inn.
Single family homes and the Tuxworth Springs community are adjacent.
Single family homes are also in place across the street fro the
proposed site at the corner of Blackmon Dr. and Scott Blvd.
This is a brief recap of  a zoning pre-submittal meeting for the construction of a Residence Inn extended stay hotel on Blackmon Drive as was announced earlier. The meeting was led by Doug Dillard, representing Danny Patel (Decatur PSC LLC). The purpose of this meeting was to gauge community interest in the project.
The project would require rezoning and a SLUP, neither of which have been applied for at this time.

Around 130 neighbors attended the meeting which certainly was loud at times.

As noted in a handout distributed to the audience (see highlight above), the hotel would feature 134 units, including studio, "queen connector" and 2 bedroom units. The developer seeks to build a four to five-story facility.

Cards were distributed for the audience to write down questions but only a few were read and briefly answered. Mr. Dillard consistently offered the explanation that the corridor will be developed, that higher density is to be expected, and that the issue is whether this kind of use is acceptable to the community. That question was met with a loud NO from the audience.

There was no clarity at the end of the meeting as to whether the developer intends to submit a rezoning/SLUP proposal for this project.

Update: presentation handout (pdf). Note that some renditions are not accurate. For example, the new Blackmon Drive in Fuqua's Phase II development will align with Blackmon Drive in the Medlock neighborhood. Additionally, upon the completion of Fuqua's Phase II, Blackmon Drive (Medlock neighborhood side) will be right turn only onto Scott Blvd., with the exception of emergency vehicles, as was reported last July, 2015.

Update (6/6/16): MANA zoning chair T. Same received an email from the developer that they will not proceed with a rezoning application for this project at this time.