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One year later...

a special report

City of Stonecrest moving forward after year one

By Adrion Bell

revenue of $355,000. Business licenses topped the list for revenue generators bringing in more than $1.2 million, followed by franchise fees that generated $900,000. The city finished its first fiscal year with a balanced budget of $2,674,000 and a net position of $271,964. “Sound fiscal responsibility by the staff and city management is responsible for our net position being in excess instead of a deficiency,” Mayor Jason Lary said. City Manager Michael Harris secured the initial city hall space for 10 months, rent-free. Office furniture, valued at more than $40,000, was purchased from the state and other municipalities for less than $10,000 by Assistant City Manager Plez Joyner and Councilwoman Jazzmin Cobble. The city formed a partnership with CH2M, now Jacobs Engineering Group, in May 2017. Jacobs agreed to staff the city with qualified employees, pay their salaries and purchase the city’s first vehicles. In return, the city pays Jacobs a contracted amount annually.

July marks the first anniversary for city hall staffers in Stonecrest. Twelve months ago, a staff of four – the city manager, city clerk, communications director and community development director – began working out of borrowed space in Tucker City Hall. The small team was tasked with becoming familiar with the Stonecrest Charter and beginning the administrative work of Stonecrest while the newly elected mayor and council hammered away at legislation that set the city’s legal parameters. The staff quickly grew with the addition of a finance manager, assistant city manager, and code enforcement officers. Today, the staff numbers more than 30 and the internal accomplishments needed to set a strong foundation have been abundant. Maintaining a promise of economic development with no tax increases was one of the goals of the new administration. The city received revenues from issuing more than 300 building permits yielding a

Stonecrest by the numbers

4

Number of years to form the City of Stonecrest

$55,250 Revenues from business licenses

114

New business licenses issued

53,394 Number of residents in the city of Stonecrest

965

Building and land development inspections performed

This SPECIAL section sponsored by the city of stonecrest

47

Millions of dollars in SPLOST revenues coming to Stonecrest over 6 years


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Stonecrest

Laying the foundation for smart growth and fiscal r By Adrion Bell

Mayor Jason Lary and the Stonecrest City Council initially adopted several ordinances from DeKalb County so that laws would be in place to govern zoning and code enforcement. Recently, the city began tightening the reins, aligning the business requirements with the requests of its citizens. For example, a portion of the 21,600square-foot facility on Covington Highway will house a liquor store that will move from across the street at 6670 Covington Highway in unincorporated DeKalb County. There is a silver lining in this development, according to the city’s mayor. “We were able to require that the developer of this retail establishment meet certain

security requirements, such as mounted exterior cameras,” the mayor said. “We also asked them to build a first-class building with architectural accents that include stucco, brick, terra cotta, natural stone, and an 8-foot privacy fence to separate them from the neighboring facility. We even required that their trash is hidden behind a privacy fence,” he added. “We are going to control our destiny,” Lary said. Since the first city council meeting, legislation has been passed to reflect the desires of the residents. For example, a city ordinance passed in 2017 prohibits alcohol sales in nude clubs. The clubs also must be in the city’s industrial area. “These limitations discourage nude clubs

in Stonecrest, which is what the residents desire,” Lary said. The mayor, council, and planning commission are working out regulations to govern short-term vacation rentals commonly advertised on Airbnb websites. After a few rentals were used for club-type parties, the city began drafting more stringent requirements. The proposed regulations are strict and will require owners to limit the number of consecutive days a tenant can rent the property. The proposed regulations also limit the number of guests allowed on the premises. City regulations have also hit the industrial area. Recently, an ordinance was approved that forced the owners of a gravel industrial, truck parking lot to treat the area

to control dust and so that its rainwater runoff would be environmentally safe. The lot must also be screened from public view with an opaque fence and a 10-foot wide evergreen landscape buffer. Citizens are now submitting their development ideas as the staff prepares for Comprehensive Plan 2038. The required Comprehensive Plan will outline the city’s growth and development for the next 20 years.

Fiscal responsibility A financial audit was recently completed for the city’s first six months. The 2017 audit was conducted by Mauldin and Jenkins who also completed the city’s first Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. These reports aren’t usually submitted until a city has been in existence for several years, according to

Stonecrest tops job growth list; residential, commercial projects sprouti By Adrion Bell

Recently the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Stonecrest topped the list of metro Atlanta ZIP Codes with the fastest job growth. The AJC article, “Rich Atlanta areas pulling way ahead,” listed Economic Innovation Group, Census Bureau, and staff research as the sources for the ranking, which also placed Stonecrest third for the area with the largest increase in numbers of companies. Stonecrest’s financial reports support this finding. The city’s business license report indicates that 124 new businesses have applied for licensing between January and June 2018. The city is on track to almost double last year’s 114 new licenses issued. Approximately 80 percent of this year’s licenses were issued to businesses with commercial locations and 20 percent to homebased companies, according to Audrey Mays, the city’s accounting manager. Residential growth has matched the city’s business development. This year, 199 new construction residential building permits have been issued. The land is being cleared by D.R. Horton for a new, 200 single-family home subdivision on the corner of Browns Mill and Evans Mill

New residential projects in Sto Parkway, a senior living comm across the city.

roads. n In the next year, D.R. Horton also plans on adding 100 homes to the 600 existing homes in The Parks at Stonecrest. n Two senior living complexes are being constructed at 2654 DeKalb Medical Parkway and 6757 Covington Highway. Developers are planning to construct more than 400 units between the two complexes.

n Recently, Stonecrest has attracted businesses such as Stonecrest 16 IMAX Theatres, Round1 Entertainment, H&M, and Atlanta Sports City. n The Pizza Bar, whose first location is in the Camp Creek Marketplace, will open soon at 7301 Stonecrest Concourse in the former location of Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles.

n Barnacle’s, a sports bar that once occupied a 12,924-square-foot facility, will soon return to Stonecrest in wthat was once Anna’s Linens. Stonecrest residents will see their share of excavating and land clearing equipment as new construction begins to sprout and take form in the city’s vacant lots. n Hiram Properties Inc. is clearing land at Klondike and Browns Mill roads for a 15,000-square-

Stonecrest’s mayor and council members rely on a wide range o Jason Lary, Mayor

Jimmy Clanton, District 1

Rob Turner, District 2

Jason Lary Sr. was elected as Stonecrest’s first mayor on March 21, 2017. Since taking office on May 1, 2017, Mayor Lary has led the efforts to staff the city and secure a location for the first city hall. Through a partnership with CH2M, a worldwide consulting firm, Mayor Lary is serving the citizens of Stonecrest by staffing professionals in code enforcement, planning and zoning, parks and recreation, communications, city management and administrative services. During his first few months in office, Mayor Lary also hired a team of staff attorneys, set up short-term financing to address the city’s cash flow needs and led the effort to begin adopting ordinances that will improve the quality of life for Stonecrest residents. In September 2017, Mayor Lary took the first steps toward implementing the city’s Economic Development Department. One month later, he began efforts to lure major corporations such as Amazon, a company set to open a second, multibillion-dollar headquarters. Mayor Lary crafted an idea to develop a corporate brand for Amazon by eponymously naming the 345 acres to be occupied by the retail giant. The mayor’s efforts will continue as he targets companies like Apple, Micro Center, and Costco. Mayor Lary served as Chairman of Stonecrest Yes, President of Stonecrest City Alliance and is universally known as the father of Stonecrest. Today, Mayor Lary is working with the newly formed Stonecrest Development Authority with the intent of offering incentives that will boost the city’s economic development. Mayor Lary has created the City of Innovation and Excellence to foster a seamless relationship between our constituents, staff, and council members. This leadership and technological solution fosters the long-term goals of our core values –Community, Commerce, and Culture – working together as a world-class city.

Jimmy Clanton is a recently retired digital properties manager with the Georgia Department of Public Health where he was responsible for website development and management. Councilmember Clanton is serving in his second term as president of the Community Civic Association in The Parks of Stonecrest neighborhood. “I’m humbled to be Stonecrest’s first elected and sworn-in city councilman. My focus and mission, as a council member, is to help build a solid foundation to support our destiny of being a world-class city,” he said. Councilman Clanton was appointed as the chairman of the East Metro CID Committee, the Stonecrest Community Leadership, and the Stonecrest Beautification Committee. He is also a member of the city’s Arabia Mountain Overlay Steering Committee.

Rob Turner has served as program operations manager for the Georgia Department of Labor’s Staff Development Distance Learning Center. In this capacity, he serves as the liaison for 43 Career Centers and governmental agencies throughout the state in the conceptual development and production of research and training videos, workshops, career fairs, and teleconferences. Councilman Turner is president of IMPACT Consulting, an educational and professional development firm with a major emphasis on leadership development and staff efficacy. Councilman Turner and his wife Vickie founded The Augustine Preparatory Academy of Atlanta, a preschool thru eighth grade private, independent Christian school in DeKalb County, where he served as chancellor for nine years. As chancellor, Councilman Turner set the course and directives for the school, providing guidance and oversight for operations, budget, and governance. Councilman Turner serves as the director of the city’s Film Commission and has the goal of making Stonecrest a flourishing destination for film and entertainment by promoting the city to motion picture studios, television networks, and digital entertainment companies. The commission will identify and create signature events for film and entertainment focused on bringing tourists and industry to the city. We are developing an online film permit process that will include uploading permit forms, location list, and all system contracts for productions to ensure that we are a camera-ready city.

A city of Stonecrest Special Report


July 28, 2018

responsibility Michael Harris, city manager. The CAFR evaluated the city’s accounting system and budgetary controls. Harris said the city did the extensive financial report to maintain a sense of accountability and transparency. The CAFR listed the city’s total net position as a surplus of $271,964 at the end of 2017. The city recently hired Joel Thibodeaux, former chairman of the Stonecrest Governor’s Commission, as its financial auditor. ThiboJoel Thibodeaux deaux will be responsible for consistently auditing the city’s financial records, establishing internal financial controls, procurement, and the spending of the city’s Special Local Option Tax funds.

ing across the city

onecrest include the Brightstone DeKalb Medical munity (left), and new home construction is underway

foot shopping plaza that will replace a recently demolished, outdated corner store. n Courtesy Dodge Chrysler Jeep is constructing a new dealership adjacent to Walmart on Mall Parkway, and Mayor Jason Lary and the city council recently approved construction of a 21,600-square-foot office and retail development at 6721 Covington Highway near DeKalb Medical Parkway.

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Stonecrest

Beautification is an important cornerstone of the city By Adrion Bell

Stonecrest employs four code enforcement officers who are responsible for enforcing municipal codes, many of which are centered around maintaining the aesthetics of the city. Our four officers cover the city’s 29 square miles effectively and have responded to 1,733 complaints since July 2017. They conducted 2,824 inspections for occupational tax compliance, property maintenance, alcohol licensing, and building code violations. The city’s first code enforcement officers were also applauded for working with Mayor Jason Lary to demolish a vacant hotel that stood near the Mall at Stonecrest for nearly nine years. The city’s beautification is one of its cornerstones and essential for the type of development that we desire, according to the mayor. “We are aligned with Keep DeKalb Beautiful so that our medians and right of ways are maintained,” he said. Mayor Lary and City Council recently appointed 11 people to the Stonecrest Development Authority. This group of local business owners and economic development specialists will develop and promote for the public good and general welfare, trade, commerce, industry, and employment opportunities for the city, according to the mayor. Lary recently joined forces with Doug Stoner to aid in the building, training, and management of the Development Authority. Stoner, a former state representative and senator, serves as the chairman of the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority, managing director of the Development Authority of DeKalb, a consultant for The Atlanta Beltline Partnership Inc., and chairman of the Cobb Transit Advisory Board. Training for Development Authority members began recently. They will soon complete training at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute. Authority members will take tours of other cities like Smyrna to research the works of their counterparts and their development success. Once fully trained, the Stonecrest Development Authority will have the ability access financial resources and incentives to advance the city’s economic development. The Development Authority could is-

Code enforcement officers have investigated more than 1,575 code violations, and citizens have chipped in to help clean up the city.

such as the funding of infrastructure projects or the creation of a downtown city center. The city’s Economic Development Director, Sabrina Wright, is proactively working to recruit businesses to occupy vacant commercial and industrial space. Wright is also working with Councilman Jimmy Clanton on a Shop Stonecrest Initiative that will encourage people to spend their dollars in the city. The mayor and Wright also attended an International Council of Shopping Centers Real Estate Convention (ReCon) recently. The convention is the world’s largest retail real estate convention and provides attendees with global networking opportunities and professional development. Mayor Lary said that they have a lot of things working to make Stonecrest a worldclass city. “Our quality residential developments will increase our area’s household income New projects are keeping our building averages,” he said. “When you have an averinspectors busy and more than 965 building age household income of $85,000 or more, and land development inspections have been companies, nice restaurants, and various completed. amenities are attracted.” sue bonds for business redevelopment and The residential building boom also helps growth, to incentivize economic investments existing businesses thrive.

of experiences while providing effective leadership for the city Jazzmin Cobble, District 3

George Turner, District 4

Diane Daniels Adoma, District 5

Jazzmin Randall Cobble, MPA, GCPA, serves Georgia residents as the operations manager for the Department of Audits and Accounts where she has also earned the Georgia Certified Purchasing Associate Certification. Additionally, this fall she will complete the Georgia Budget and Financial Management Certification. Councilwoman Cobble holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Albany State University. She also holds a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Government and Nonprofit Management from DeVry University. She has worked in Georgia State government for the past eight years through the Departments of Human Resources, Community Health, and Public Health. Councilwoman Cobble is excited to have served District 3 for the past year. In that year, District 3 focused on community cleanups and district community committees. District 3 collaborated with Keep DeKalb Beautiful and adopted the streets that border the district. Our city code enforcement officers have been instrumental in District 3 and in the future, we look forward to pairing city public safety services to continue cultivating safer communities. Councilwoman Cobble serves as the chairwoman of the City’s Finance Committee. She works closely with the city manager, accounting manager, and internal auditor to ensure the city’s finances are in good order and compliant with state laws. She also collaborates with the mayor, city manager, and fellow council members to approve the annual budget and other special financial projects.

George Turner Jr. is a retired MARTA employee where he served for 29 years in several positions including the general superintendent. Councilman Turner has served on several boards, commissions, associations, and volunteer groups to improve the quality of life for South DeKalb residents. Councilman Turner has lived in Stonecrest’s fourth district for more than 25 years and is the past president of the DeKalb County District 5 Community Council. He is very familiar with the codes of DeKalb County and governmental operations. His eight years of volunteer service with the Georgia General Assembly has given him great insight into the operations of state and federal government. He served on the Board of Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and is currently President of Hunters Run II Homeowners Association. In January 2018 Councilman George Turner was elected as Mayor Pro Tem by the city council. In addition, he was appointed to coordinate the postal designation of Stonecrest, GA as an official mailing address with the USPS. As a result, the official recognition date took effect on May 5, 2018. Councilman Turner was appointed co-chair of the Arabia Mountain Overlay Steering Committee to help define the boundaries of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Overlay District and its associated text. These recommendations will be presented to City Council for adoption.

Diane Daniels Adoma is the co-owner of a new technology startup called Status Corporation and is a consulting strategist for Smart City Readiness with DEMO Consulting LLC. She and her ex-husband owned Adoma & Associates and were the first African Americans to own an H&R Block franchise in the southeastern United States. Councilwoman Adoma is an alumna of Vote Run Lead (VRL) and believes community engagement is the rent we pay to breathe on this earth. Councilwoman Adoma is a 25-year veteran businesswoman who has worked with companies such as Adoma & Associates dba H&R Block, Turner Broadcasting, AT&T and many others. Councilwoman Adoma is a graduate of Capella University with a Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Management with an emphasis in human resources, a Master’s degree from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University with an emphasis in marketing. Councilwoman Adoma is a member of the Arabia Mountain Overlay Committee, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, and serves as president of the Brooks Mill Homeowner’s Association and Friends of the Salem Panola Library.

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Stonecrest

ZIP Codes, police, no tax increase, dining options and other FAQs When will the Atlanta Sports City Complex begin construction? The Atlanta Sports City is owned and operated by a private company, APD Solutions. While the mayor, council and city hall staff are supportive and excited about the proposed development, we don’t set the timelines for APD. For more information please visit www. atlantasportscity.com. When will the Stonecrest City Limit signs be placed and why has it taken so long? City limit signs are placed by DeKalb County and the Georgia Department of Transportation. We are working with GDOT to better define our geographical borders which, according to our charter, split certain roads. Our staff is in the final stages of meeting GDOT’s requirements. The signs must be manufactured and should be in place by the end of the year. Does Stonecrest have its own ZIP Code and can this be used as a part of the mailing address? Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service authorized residents and businesses to begin replacing Lithonia with Stonecrest when using its mailing services. The majority of Stonecrest is in the 30038 ZIP code, though some parts of the city are in 30058. Councilman George Turner is working on getting a Stonecrest Post Office with a unique ZIP code. Is the city still planning on forming a police department? Yes, the police department is still in the plans. Some of the money gained from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) will be used to buy equipment for the new department. A Stonecrest police chief is slated to be hired in 2019. What parks and recreational areas will the city be responsible for? There are nine parks totaling more than 2,674 acres and a senior center in Stonecrest. These include Browns Mill Park and Aquatic Center, Southeast Athletic Complex, Davidson Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, and the Lou Walker Senior Center. The mayor and council recently discussed acquiring the parks individually instead of all at once. The acquisitions should begin in 2019. The city is planning on hiring a parks and recreation director later this year. Will my taxes go up with the new city plans? Taxes in Stonecrest have not increased and there are no immediate plans for a tax increase in the future. The city and DeKalb County will benefit from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that voters passed last year. This will fund the city’s capital improvements, roads

Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews

The $200 million, 200-acre Atlanta Sports City at Stonecrest complex was unveiled by developers on Feb 22, 2017.

and infrastructure, and equipment for the police department.

What will it take to bring fine dining and upscale amenities to Stonecrest? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, here are things to consider when choosing a business location: n Demographics: Does the community have a stable economic foundation that will provide a healthy, longlasting environment for the business? According to Restaurant Advisory Service’s website, median household incomes play an important role in the decision on where to locate all restaurants from fast food to fine dining. For casual theme restaurants like TGI Friday’s, the median household income must be at least $35,000. Fine dining restaurants can require a median income of $60,000 or more. Consideration should also be given to who the customers are and their proximity to the location. n Foot and automobile traffic: Most retail businesses and restaurants thrive on foot traffic. It allows the retail

business to visually stimulate the window shopper and restaurants to attract customers with the smell of their cuisine. A good flow of commuter, automobile traffic also helps a business thrive. n Proximity to other businesses and services: Thriving businesses nearby can attract customers and employees who can also become your customers. For example, restaurants often attract lunch crowds from surrounding businesses. Stonecrest has the two of the factors listed by Entrepreneur Magazine. The city’s 2017 median household income is $45,156 and the average household income is $59,817. The mayor, council, and staff are working to bring high-end homes into the area. This will attract buyers with higher incomes which will make our median and average household incomes more attractive to fine dining and upscale amenities. — Adrion Bell

The Stonecrest timeline:

City Hall Ribbon Cutting on Nov. 11, 2017.

n March 24, 2016: Senate Bill

n January 2017: 20 candidates

n November 2016: Residents

n March 21, 2017: Stonecrest holds

208 passes authorizing Stonecrest referendum approve city of Stonecrest in referendum vote

qualify to run for mayor and city council first election

n May 8, 2017: Mayor and five

council members host first council meeting

to attract the tech giant’s second headquarters

n July 12, 2017: Stonecrest opens

n Nov. 11, 2017: City Hall grand

n Oct. 2, 2017: Mayor Jason Lary

n Dec. 29, 2017: Stonecrest passes

for first day of business

proposes creating a city of Amazon

A city of Stonecrest Special Report

opening

its first budget of $6.2 million

Profile for CrossRoadsNews, Inc.

CrossRoadsNews, July 28, 2018 - Section B  

CrossRoadsNews, July 28, 2018 - Section B  

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