Friday, September 30, 2016

Level-One Drought declared for DeKalb County

Per the September Drought Indicators Report (link below), it's dry and expected to stay that way...
The AJC reports that we are on a level-one drought response holding pattern due to low rain levels. We should limit outdoor watering to the hours of 4pm - 10am. According to the AJC, "One inch of rain or water every 7 to 10 days is all your plants need."

See the GA Environmental Protection Division announcement here.

The September Drought Indicators Report for September 2016 is available here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Emory Campus Traffic Advisory [Oct 1]

via Emory University...
"Several roads on and adjacent to the Emory University campus will experience lane closures between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, due to the 6th annual Winship Win the Fight 5K, in which more than 3,000 walkers and runners are expected to participate: 

• North Decatur Road between Haygood Drive and Clifton Road will have only one lane open in each direction from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. 

• The westbound lane of North Decatur Road, from Clifton Road to the roundabout at Oxford Road, will be closed between 8:30 a.m. and 8:50 a.m., open eastbound only. 

• Oxford Road, from the roundabout to Eagle Row, will be closed northbound between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., open southbound toward the roundabout. Motorists should avoid the area if possible. Those traveling in the area should expect delays until 10:00 a.m"
Registration for the Winship 5K ends September 29.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

SJ Collins development agreement with the Community

This image highlights the new development in context (Suburban Plaza redevelopment & former site of Scott Blvd. Baptist and adjacent plots being redeveloped by Fuqua Development). Image via SJ Collins.
SJ Collins (developer of the parcel at the corner of North Decatur Rd. and Church St.), working with the DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Council (DCNC), signed off on a zoning agreement and conditions based on the input of neighborhood representatives.

Some highlights:
  • traffic enhancements such as thermoplastic pedestrian crossings throughout, a new traffic signal and an upgrade the timing system to coordinate new and existing lights
  • $100,000 towards the installation of a traffic light with pedestrian crossing at the Church St. and Milscott Dr. intersection
  • 10% of the units in the multi-family residential building will be priced as workforce housing (and reserved for residents demonstrating income at or below 80% of area median income)
  • these agreements apply to any future owners of this property. That includes making good faith efforts with any future adjacent developments to maintain connectivity between the properties.
  • 1 acre of open public space was negotiated
  • utilities will be under ground
  • bike racks will be available around the development, one near the grocery store
  • a contact person will be available to address concerns during the construction phase; construction traffic will be routed away from residential streets
Click on the links to see the conditions attached to this development's approval:
UPDATE: SJ Collins has issued a press release and their website has links to
Site Plan per SJ Collins's website

Lawrenceville townhomes, SJ Collins development approved

A very quick zoning update... At last night's meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved these two nearby projects. Click on the links to see all our content on these developments:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Medlock Park: parking lot to be re-paved [Oct 3,4]

BlackJack will seal the Medlock lot next Monday 10/3 and stripe the following day Tuesday 10/4. They do not anticipate requiring the lot any longer than these two days.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Application hearing for proposed townhomes on Lawrenceville Hwy. [Sept 27]

This application will be heard at the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday (9/27) 6:30 pm at the Maloof Building.

via Erik Spavins, President of the Greater Valley Brook Civic Association

Click to enlarge.

Last Thursday, Commissioner Kathy Gannon invited several local leaders to discuss the townhomes proposed for Lawrenceville Highway between Orion and Hollywood Drives. The attendees were: the board of the Greater Valley Brook Civic Association (Erik Spalvins, Kenna Simmons, Jack Barnes, Kimberly Merritt and Elizabeth Roberts), Jim Smith (Dekalb Cross Neighborhood Council), Susan Rossi (Community Council Representative), Jane Donofrio (president of the Little Creek Farm Conservancy) and Mike Cooper (Representative of Little Creek Farm Conservancy) , Davis Fox (Policy and Projects Manager for Commissioner Gannon), and staff of the Dekalb County Planning Department.

We discussed the townhome proposal's merits, the concerns of residents and the concerns of the Conservancy board. The view of the County is that the townhome proposal is a "down zoning" - it is a less intense use of the property than could be allowed under the current zoning. According to County Staff, the zoning would allow up to 18 units per acre whereas this development is less than 11 units per acre.

Commissioner Gannon said she would like to revise the conditions drafted by the developer, the board of the Greater Valley Brook Civic Association and the County Staff. The revision by Commissioner Gannon's office is below for your review. Please let me know if you have comments. If you prefer, you should always feel free to communicate them to Susan Rossi, Commissioner Gannon's office, or Commissioner Barnes-Sutton's office.

We are still working on potential improvements to the intersection of Orion and Lawrenceville Hwy and to the public use areas of the Little Creek Park, however the off-site improvements cannot be a part of the conditions for the zoning. I will provide updates as they are available.

Thank you, Erik

Board of Commissioners 9/27/2016
Proposed Conditions

1. The subject property shall be developed for no more than 41 fee simple townhomes, in substantial compliance with the layout shown on the site plan titled “Lawrenceville Hwy & Orion Dr.”, prepared by Planners and Engineers Collaborative, dated August 22, 2016 and attached as Exhibit A; and in substantial compliance with Elevation Plans dated 8/102016 and attached as Exhibit B. Side elevations shall have windows or other architectural features to prevent blank walls.

2. The proposed development shall be consistent with the conceptual landscaping plan titled, “Tree Replacement Plan”, prepared by Planners and Engineers Collaborative, dated August 15, 2016, and attached as Exhibit C subject to approval by the County Arborist and submitted to the Planning and Sustainability Department on August 22, 2016.

3. No vehicular access shall be permitted from Lawrenceville Highway. Access from Orion Drive and Hollywood Road shall be limited to one curb cut subject per street subject to the Transportation Division of the Department of Public Works.

4. Building facades shall have four sided architectural finishes which shall consist of brick, stone, stucco, hardi-plank or man-made equivalents (such as EIFS, architectural split block) or combination of these finishes.

5. A 50-foot transitional buffer adjacent to single-family detached residential zoned property along the southeast property line shall be established by protecting the existing trees and providing additional landscaping to enhance the buffer as approved by the County arborist. Pedestrian paths are permitted in the buffer.

6. All exterior lighting shall be screened from Little Creek Horse farm and adjacent properties, or shielded to minimize glare and keep light inside the development.

7. The townhome units shall not exceed 35 feet in height as measured by DeKalb County Code and shall be a minimum of 1,800 square feet in unit size.

8. The developer shall design, construct, operate and maintain an underground storm water management plan that is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

9. A mandatory homeowners association shall be created and shall be governed by a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions that shall include, among other components, a provision limiting the number of leased units to 10% of the total units. The homeowner association shall be responsible for the maintenance of the transitional buffer, open space within the property, street lighting, amenity areas, pedestrian paths and other common areas within the site.

10. Open space and common areas within the community shall be owned, maintained, and controlled by the mandatory association.  The common space areas shall be used primarily for recreational purposes; however, they may also include such features as gazebos, benches, amenity areas, walking trails and two dog walk stations with waste receptacles in common areas.

11. The park areas and pedestrian trails in the buffer shall connect to the sidewalks on Orion Dr. & Hollywood Road and will remain open to public use for the larger community.

12. The sidewalks along Lawrenceville Highway shall be a minimum width of ten feet. A minimum six-foot wide landscape strip shall be located between the edge of pavement or edge of curb of Lawrenceville Highway and the sidewalk. The landscape strip shall be planted with a low hedge to separate pedestrians and cyclist from Lawrenceville Highway subject to GDOT approval. Street trees planted at a minimum of 40 feet on center shall be planted on the southern side of the sidewalks, subject to approval by the County Arborist and the Georgia Department of Transportation. The developer shall take all necessary precautions to protect the two specimen oaks on the southwest corner of the property. These precautions include 6’ metal fencing to protect the root zones from vehicles and the storage of building materials during site development and construction. The sidewalks along Orion and Hollywood shall be a minimum of 5 feet in width. The developer shall dedicate the necessary right-of-way to accommodate these improvements.

13. Each townhome may have a fenced yard as permitted by DeKalb ordinance. The proposed development or future homeowners association may not construct a perimeter fence around the property to create a gated community. A gated drive or entrance along Orion shall not be permitted. A exit only gate on Hollywood may be permitted to reduce cut-through traffic

14.  Construction on the property will occur Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00p.m. and on Saturdays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Loud music during construction will not be allowed.  There will be no construction on Sundays and holidays unless such activity arises from an emergency which places the neighboring or subject property at risk of harm or loss.

15. Construction traffic will have a right-in, left-out access to the property on Orion Drive.  The applicant will inform all construction traffic that they must access Orion Drive from Lawrenceville Highway and shall not travel southeast on Orion Drive into the residential area.

16. All land disturbing activity shall be carried out in accordance with the Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act of 1975 and shall contain provisions for application of soil erosion and sedimentation control best measures and practices. In addition, the applicant must also comply with the DeKalb Tree Ordinance and all other best measures and practices required by County, state and federal laws.  The best measures and practices shall apply to all features of the site, including street and utility installations, storm water management facilities, drainage facilities and other temporary and permanent improvements.

17. The approval of this rezoning application by the Board of Commissioners has no bearing on other approvals by the Zoning Board of Appeals or other authority, whose decision should be based on the merits of the application before said authority.

18. Final lot layout subject to sketch plat approval in accordance with DeKalb County Ordinances, Chapter 27 (Zoning Code) & Chapter 14 (Land Development Code) before applying for a Land Disturbance Permit (LDP).

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall Prevention Program [Sept 22]

via Commissioner Rader...

Fall Prevention Program - Date Change Correction:
Fall Prevention Program will be this Thursday, September 22nd at 12:30p.m. with Sandy Bramlett at the Central DeKalb Senior Center. We apologize for the incorrect date previously sent.

Stay Balanced, Active and Independent - Strategies for staying strong, active and independent. Learn how your BODY and BRAIN help with Balance & Fall Prevention, so that you are able to move with comfort and ease, and with youthful vitality. Get the FACTS about Falls, and what to do if you fall, get TIPS on how to prevent falls in the first place, and sample simple brain/body ‘games’ and exercises you can do daily to keep you steady, active and mobile for life. Lunch is available on Thursday, but requires a reservation, at $7.00 per meal. Call Center Director, Victoria Kingsland at Phone: 770-492-5462.
The Central DeKalb Senior Center is located at 1346 McConnell Dr. 
The Center's website is:
That page includes links to the monthly activity schedule, registration form and interest sheet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Volunteers needed @ Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve [Sept 23]

from Chris Beck, President, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve
Last minute call for volunteers!! The Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve has been nominated as one of three finalists for the Cox Conserves Heroes program and WSB-tv needs to get some footage of volunteers working at the Preserve. The footage will be put on the website ( and used for voting as to which finalist wins the prize (a $5000 donation to the non-profit). So, we need anyone who is willing to show up for a short period of time on Friday evening at 5pm or so to haul some mulch, pull some privet, and working on clearing the pond.  We just found out today that they need to have the footage edited by next Tuesday. 
If you can definitely make it, please add your name and number of volunteers to the online form at
Thanks for all of your support for a Preserve and I hope that you can make it out for a short time on Friday. 
Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve
2580 Pine Bluff Drive
Decatur, GA 30033
To see some of our posts on the Preserve, click here, or see the Facebook group.

Things that go croak in the night

According to the Savannah River Ecology Lab: "Although Leopard Frogs are often found close to water, they are more terrestrial than other ranid frogs and can often be found far from water. They are active both by day and night and can be seen in large numbers on rainy nights. Leopard frogs breed primarily in the winter and spring but sometimes breed again in the fall. Often a heavy winter rain will prompt explosive breeding in this species."

Beware, Harrington Drive denizens, beware!

Hey baby, hey baby, hey baby.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Water bill woes? Attend County meeting [Oct 6]

Per the AJC, on the ongoing issue of water bills that do not reflect actual usage, Commissioners Gannon, Jester and Rader are organizing a meeting:
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Maloof Auditorium in downtown Decatur.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Community meeting -- North Decatur Rd./Church St. development [Sept 19]

The site, bound by Church St., N. Decatur Rd. and Milscott Dr.
Following feedback sessions with the community last July and August, SJ Collins will present final concepts of the development to take place at the corner of Church St. and North Decatur Rd. (former Naley dealership).

The 18-acre development will include restaurants, retail, greenspace and apartments. A "365 by Whole Foods" market anchors the development.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Beltline, here we come: South Peachtree Creek expansion to Leafmore Creek Park and Emory University

"The PATH trail that meanders through Medlock Park, following South Peachtree Creek to the Mason Mill Tennis Center will soon double in length...." Read all about it here. It includes some mock-ups of how improvements will look.

Some highlights:
  • Expansion from Mason Mill Tennis Ctr. to North Druid Hills Rd. at Spring Hill Creek Road, linking to the Leafmore Creek neighborhood
  • Southerly expansion to the Clairmont Place retirement Complex. Later, that trail will connect to Clairmont Road near the VA Hospital.
  • "PATH and Emory University are teaming up to connect the Emory Transportation Center on Starvine Way to the South Peachtree Creek Bridge where the trail will pass under Clairmont Road to connect with the future phase described above (D on map). Construction on this phase could begin in early 2017. Emory University plans to make improvements for walking and biking through their campus between the Clairmont Road entrance to the campus and Emory Village. When all extensions are completed, residents of Leafmore, Medlock Park and Emory will be connected by PATH to the Freedom Park Trail and the Atlanta BeltLine."
View this and other images at the PATH's website: open each image in a new tab then zoom in for details.

Friday, September 2, 2016

DeKalb Co. library now checking out... seeds!

"The DeKalb County Public Library has launched what it says is metro Atlanta’s first-of-its-kind seed library.” Read all about it at the AJC:

To go directly to the library's "DeKalb Invests in Growing Gardens (DIGGS) Seed Library", visit