February 2019 - Dunwoody Reporters

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FEBRUARY 2019 • VOL. 10 — NO. 2

Dunwoody Reporter ROBIN’S NEST

Dad jokes? They just don’t age well P15

Perimeter Business

Mall parking lots become prime real estate



Fear rises as GDOT eyes back yards, houses for toll lanes BY JOHN RUCH, DYANA BAGBY AND EVELYN ANDREWS


From Y soccer fields to the World Cup P16 COMMUNITY

Experts: I-285 bus transit will work P18

Reporter Extra Podcast & Live Stream

HEAR OUR PODCASTS Interviews with newsmakers and community news updates IN FEBRUARY ► Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst ► Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell

COMING SOON ► Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul ► Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal Go to ReporterNewspapers.net or ‘like’ our Facebook Page for our next podcasts


Dunwoody resident Bob Wolford stands in a narrow Georgia Department of Transportation right of way in the Georgetown neighborhood that could be consumed by the new toll lanes. He is among the residents worried about possible land-taking and noise impacts to homes and community facilities.

Retail recommended for self-storage project; developer says no thanks BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Planning Commission members want people renting a unit at a proposed self-storage building in the Georgetown community to be able to buy a croissant and a cup of cof-

fee or visit with a tax specialist in the same building. The developer, however, said there is no chance of that happening. The situation of a developer securing a recommendation for approval that includes conditions it doesn’t want stems from the See RETAIL on page 17

As the Georgia Department of Transportation moves ahead on plans for a new system of toll lanes along Ga. 400 and I-285, frustration and fear are rising among residents concerned about a different toll – the one on their homes and back yards for possible land-taking. At three community meetings in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs in January, GDOT officials disappointed residents by claiming it’s too soon to know property impacts of the lanes, which could require widening the highways and which may rise over 30 feet high. In a backlash to those meetings, several homeowners reported that GDOT is studying or making offers for land-taking in their yards. And it was revealed that among the options under GDOT consideration is demolishing eight homes on Sandy Springs’ Crestline Parkway for an interchange and tearing down part of a Dunwoody townhouse while leaving the rest standing. “I really do believe this is being done way too quickly, and they’re not being transparent… like saying they have no plans in place when they obviously do,” said Amanda Cusick, a resident of Sandy Springs’ Montrose Lane, who shared a detailed land-taking plan for her street. GDOT’s “express lanes” or “managed lanes” project would add four new toll-only lanes along I-285 and Ga. 400 in the Perimeter Center area over the next decade, with the intent of improving overall traffic flow. The Ga. 400 lanes also would carry a new MARTA bus rapid transit route, which requires other access points and stations. GDOT has repeatedly refused to fulfill open records requests from the Reporter for proposed property-taking information, citing varying and sometimes contradictory grounds, some of which an attorney on the board of the Georgia First Amendment See FEAR on page 19


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A bridge that will connect a multi-use path from the Georgetown community to a multi-use path at the back of the new Townsend at Perimeter townhomes in Perimeter Center is slated to be installed this month. The bridge will cross a small section of the North Fork Nancy Creek near the Georgetown Recreation Club on Old Spring House Lane. Some residents in the area have complained about trees that were cut down for the path. City spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said fewer than 20 trees were cut down and residents in the area were notified last year of the project. Once the bridge is put in place, Trees Atlanta will work with the city to come up with a tree planting plan for the area which could include more than the one-for-one tree removal and replacement plan the city now requires, she added. “The city altered the center line of the trail to minimize the impact on trees, so keeping trees is always a priority,” she said. A great deal of undergrowth and invasive species plants were also removed, which may give the appearance more trees were cut down, she added. The multiuse path in Georgetown will eventually connect to the planned Grubb mixed-use development on Perimeter Center East, where City Hall was formerly located. The multiuse path is part of the Dunwoody Trail system and a plan dating back to 2015 to connect Georgetown to Perimeter Center. There are plans to extend the Georgetown trail behind the Georgetown Recreation Club, adjacent to I-285, to connect to Perimeter Center. But plans for this section of trail is on hold until as the state determines where it will build new toll lanes along I-285.


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A proposal to exempt the city from having to get a zoning variance to encroach in the city’s stream buffer specifically to build the new Brook Run Park athletic fields is not sitting well with some City Council members who question allowing the city to skirt its own ordinance. Revising the current ordinance, however, could save many trees in the park that would otherwise have to be cut down to build the fields at the back of the park, according to city staff. The City Council in December approved spending nearly $7.6 million to build the two fields, add a band shell, renovate the great lawn area, add more parking and restroom facilities. Construction is set to start in March. The city’s code currently reads “multi-use trails and related improvements that are part of a City Council-approved plan” are permitted to encroach upon the first 50 feet of the city’s 75-foot stream buffer without a variance. Community Development Director Richard McLeod presented an amendment to the code to the council at its Jan. 28 meeting that would extend this exemption to cover any and all improvements that are part of a City Council-approved plan. This change would simplify several city approved development plans, he said. Specifically, the revised ordinance would help with construction of the new athletic fields to be built as part of the Brook Run Park master plan. A small stream is located at the back of the park where the multi-use athletic fields are to be built. “I don’t think this sends the right message,” Councilmember Lynn Deutsch said. “We are throwing the process out the window for our project,” Councilmember John Heneghan added. “That’s the wrong way to operate. We should be following the same procedures.” McLeod told the council the revised ordinance could save some trees, but he did not know exactly how many. He also explained in a memo to the council that while the city is not required to conform to the code as is, the amendment was being made “in the interests of transparency and clarity.” McLeod said he would work with Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker to try to find another way to address the ordinance and bring a proposal back to the council in February.


Ambulance response times in Dunwoody for November and December showed mixed results, according to a report from DeKalb County. An agreement reached in October between Mayor Denis Shortal and DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond created tiered response times. Basic life support calls, or BLS calls, require EMTs and 90 percent of those calls should be responded to within 15 minutes. Advanced life support calls, or ALS calls, involve patients in more critical conditions that require paramedics, and 90 percent of those calls should be responded to within nine minutes. DUN


Community | 3


In November, there were 261 calls in Dunwoody. The ALS response time for 90 percent of calls was 11 minutes and 25 seconds, outside the nine-minute requirement agreed to by the county and city. BLS calls did meet the contractual agreement with 90 percent of calls responded to within 14 minutes and 47 seconds. In December, there were 266 calls. Ninety percent of ALS calls were responded to in under nine minutes, but 90 percent of BLS calls were 20 minutes and 48 seconds. Police Chief Billy Grogan updated the City Council on the response times at the Jan. 28 City Council meeting. He said the DeKalb E911 center in mid-December began dispatching AMR calls rather than having AMR dispatch its own calls. All Dunwoody emergency calls go through ChatComm, but AMR calls now go directly to the county E911 center rather than to AMR’s dispatchers. This allows the county to better monitor AMR’s response times, Grogan said. Last year, the city declared an “EMS emergency” and asked to break off from DeKalb County to create its own EMS zone after city officials said complaints of slow ambulance response times went unheeded by the county. The state Region 3 EMS Council that oversees DeKalb County appointed a subcommittee to review the city’s request and DeKalb’s ambulance services. The subcommittee is set to meet on Feb. 7 at Dunwoody City Hall.


Police Chief Billy Grogan and City Councilmember Pam Tallmadge presented a Citizen Commendation to Kevin Addison, a 38-year employee with the U.S. Postal Service, for his role in helping arrest a suspected mail thief who was targeting the Wynterhall

neighborhood. According to police, Addison noticed suspicious mail holds in the neighborhood, where he’s delivered mail for 15 years, and told his supervisors. Police conducted a sting operation that resulted in the arrest of one suspect charged with identity theft. A commendation was also awarded to DYANA BAGBY Craig Charles DowlUSPS Postal Carrier Kevin Addison holds his Citizen ing for his actions on Commendation while members of the Wynterhall neighborhood surround him at the City Council’s Jan. 14 meeting. Addison Nov. 8 when he chased was honored for helping nab a mail thief suspect in the down and tackled a neighborhood during the holiday season last year. suspect for allegedly snatching the wallet of a 77-year-old shopper at the Publix in Dunwoody Village.

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Millar, EEP Events honored by DHA

PARENT INFO MEETING Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. Join us for an informative session about our new state-of-the-art school opening in Spring 2019. Meet the Franchise Owners and learn how Primrose Schools is transforming early education and care. Meeting will be held at Primrose School of Sandy Springs South. 5188 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30342. To RSVP, please call 404.993.7716 or email Rnarang@PrimroseSandySpringsNorth.com. Primrose School of Sandy Springs North 460 Abernathy Road | Sandy Springs, GA 30328 404.993.7716 | PrimroseSandySpringsNorth.com Infants – Pre-Kindergarten & After School Each Primrose school is a privately owned and operated franchise. Primrose Schools® and Balanced Learning® are registered trademarks of Primrose School Franchising Company. ©2019 Primrose School Franchising Company. All rights reserved. See primroseschools.com for ‘fact’ source and curriculum detail. Pending licensure from Dept EEC upon completion of construction.


Former state Sen. Fran Millar spoke during the DHA annual meeting on Jan. 15. He received the Community Service award for his 20 years at the General Assembly.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association honored former state Sen. Fran Millar and EEP Events at its annual meeting held Jan. 13 at the Dunwoody Nature Center’s North Woods Pavilion. Millar, who was defeated in November by Democrat Sally Harrell for the Senate District 40 seat, was awarded the DHA’s Community Service Award for his 20 years at the legislature. EEP Events, owned by Dunwoody residents Jimmy and Leah Economos, was named Business of the Year. EEP Events organizes all the logistics for the DHA’s annual Fourth of July parade and the Light Up Dunwoody yearly holiday event. At the meeting, DHA President Adrienne Duncan was elected to serve another three years on the executive board, including another year as president. Bill Grossman was elected as an at-large member of the executive board. Other members of the executive board are Su Ellis as vice president, John Sparks as treasurer and Gerri Penn as secretary. At the meeting, City Councilmember and key organizer for the Fourth of July parade, Pam Tallmadge, announced the parade’s 2019 theme is “Happy birthday, Dunwoody” in honor of the city’s 10th anniversary. Grand marshals for the parade will be Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan and senior members of the department. The DHA is an influential community organization with about 1,000 members and represents homeowners when it comes to ongoing development in the city.

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Perimeter Business | 5


Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Winter 2019 | A fast-food empire rises P6

Mall parking lots become prime real estate for new development

Special An illustration of the Hyatt Place hotel that is being built behind the Twelve24 office tower on a former section of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. The hotel is slated to open next year.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

project on the former Belk’s store site to include a new hotel and restaurant and a 12-story office tower. “What you’re seeing today throughout country ... is the urban coming into the suburban,” said Mark Hunter, CBRE’s lead retail property management professional based in Chicago. CBRE is a commercial real estate and investment firm. “Developers such as Brookfield are trying to densify their sites to make a more urban, town center feel, and not have a sea of parking lot,” he said. “They want to create a more live, work, shop, play environment.” Even Walmart, known for buying up large tracts land on the outskirts of a city to build their super centers, is looking to redevelop portions of their large parking

As high-density developments continue to make inroads in the once sparse suburbs of north Atlanta, property owners are finding a new area ripe for redevelopment – large, expansive parking lots. Mall owners in Dunwoody and Buckhead are already monetizing their sites and their parking lots with the additions of hotel and office towers, but the future could include residential as well. Perimeter Mall’s owners, Brookfield Properties, got the green light from the city of Dunwoody last month to build two restaurants on nearly three acres of a far corner of their massive parking lot on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in the heart of Perimeter Center. Construction is slated to begin this year. Two years ago, Trammell Crow purchased nearly four acres of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot from the mall’s former owner, General Growth Properties, and is now building a 16-story office tower and 10-story hotel on the site adjacent to the Dunwoody MARTA station. At Phipps Plaza, owner Simon Property Special Group, while not selling Two restaurants are slated to be built at the corner of Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Perimeter Center West, off any of its parking lot, a former section of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. is instead building a new

lots into “town centers” that are intended to bring people together not only to shop but to play in green spaces or even go bowling. Walmart officials made the town centers announcement last year at a retail conference in Atlanta. Parking lots at stores in Colorado, Texas and Washington are already being redeveloped to include a centralized plaza surrounded by off-site retail, like restaurants and coffee shops, on land once set aside to park hundreds of cars. Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling said he was not aware of any plans to create a “town center” at Perimeter Center’s Walmart on Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Their parking lot is shared with several other retailers, he said, and the current Walmart town centers are being built at standalone stores. But as mall owners and other property owners see their parking lots sit large-

ly unused, like at Perimeter Center, there is a push to “maximize their footprint,” Starling said. Selling off chunks of mostly unused parking lots is not a new trend, though. Hunter said it has been common practice for mall developers to buy dozens of acres of land and then sell off peripheral pieces to a business like a fast-food restaurant to help pay for construction and renovation of the mall itself. Today’s mall owners are building more and more of what Hunter calls “food and beverage pads” in parking lots to stake out off-site places for restaurants and cafes, for example. Entertainment is also trending upward, he said, and hotels continue to be valuable commodities. Office demand is high in Buckhead and Simon Properties’ decision to build an office building at its mall makes sense, Hunter said. The market also creContinued on page 9

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6 | Perimeter Business

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A Sandy Springs company aims to build a fast-food empire BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

A Sandy Springs-based company that began as the Arby’s restaurant chain is creating a fast-food empire, buying up other familiar brands and filling up a new headquarters. Inspire Brands takes on reviving dying restaurants through complete interior refreshes, menu changes and bringing humor to the businesses’ social media, such as Arby’s popular jokes with celebrities, the CEO said at a Jan. 24 luncheon held by the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. The company was formed in early 2018 after Arby’s purchased Buffalo Wild Wings and the regional chain Rusty Taco, and more recently acquired Sonic. Arby’s has been headquartered in Sandy Springs at 1155 Perimeter Center West, and is expanding into Three Glenlake Parkway, about a mile west of its current home, to hold all of the companies. The company received over $1.1 million in tax incentives from the state and city for the move and expansion. “We are very proud to call Sandy



Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown gives the keynote speech at the Jan. 24 Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon.

Springs home,” said Paul Brown, who has served as CEO since 2013, when the company was just Arby’s. “We’re lucky to have this great corporate headquarters in our community,” Chip Collins, the outgoing chamber

An illustration shows what the Inspire Brands logo is planned to look like on the company’s new building at Three Glenlake Parkway.

chair, said before handing over the gavel to the next leader, Karen Trylovich. The company plans to move in March into the new building, which is across the street from the MercedesBenz USA headquarters. The building

is being renovated, including installing one of the world’s largest test kitchens, Brown said. “We are obviously thinking we are going to continue to grow,” Brown said. “We have the building now. We’ve got to


To Learn More, Visit PerimeterCID.org or Call 770-390-1780

Perimeter Business | 7



An illustration shows the plan for the interior of Inspire Brands’ new building at Three Glenlake Parkway.

tweet joked about singer Pharrell’s hat being reminiscent of the restaurant’s logo and became one of the mostshared tweets of all time, Brown said. “I think social media is one of the biggest unlocks,” he said. The restaurant has also tried to be “like a friend,” including through embracing comedian Jon Stewart’s frequent jabs about Arby’s, even running an ad as a farewell when he left The Daily Show in 2015, Brown said. Inspire’s plan for Buffalo Wild Wings is a new menu, interior renovations, plating, building design and employee uniforms that will start coming out in March, Brown said. Now the company is thinking about how turn around Sonic. Brown expects those changes in the next year or two, he said. One change that they’re not sure about is bringing back roller-skating employees, Brown said, answering an audience question. “There are logistical and human resource challenges, and our general counsel goes back and forth on how much he likes that,” Brown joked. “The fun aspect that it represents is certainly something we’d want to embrace more than it has been recently.” Another change not currently on the table is expanding healthy options significantly, Brown said, responding to a question from the audience. While non-fried sides have been discussed and healthier sandwiches have been rolled out at Arby’s, healthy options aren’t what typically brings customers to the restaurants, Brown said. “The challenge in that space is that people say they want something and do something else,” he said.

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Mark Becker, Ph. D Georgia State University President

Andrea Lawson Cox Enterprises Manager, VP Talent & Organization Managment

Scott Price UPS Chief Transformation Officer


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MARCH 201 8 Vo l . 2 4 N o. 3



p 34

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buy companies to fill it up.” “We’ve been very clear. We’re not going to stop with Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic,” he said. And those acquisitions are expected to bring more jobs, he said. The company currently has 750 people based at the headquarters, up from 400 a year ago, he said. “Hopefully, that will let us bring more people to our headquarters in Sandy Springs over time,” he said. Inspire has started to specialize in reviving dying brands after its success with Arby’s. “There will be moments in time where we take a brand or a company that needs to be turned around,” he said. “That was Arby’s six years ago, it’s actually Buffalo Wild Wings today, where we have to come in and rethink it.” Arby’s struggled during the 2008 recession and during a merger with Wendy’s, which “wasn’t tremendously successful, to say the least,” but it has since turned around, now seeing increases in sales and expanding, Brown said. That turnaround strategy includes finding what is unique about the brands, Brown said. “We really want to be seen as thinking about things differently,” he said. For Arby’s, that meant selling itself as offering “fast-crafted” fare, since Arby’s doesn’t see itself as offering fast food or as “fast-casual” fare, which typically costs more, Brown said. or Buffalo Wild Wings, Inspire Brands plans to launch a new ad campaign centered on creating memories at the restaurants, Brown said. Changing Arby’s social media strategy has been key in turning the company around, Brown said. One famous

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8 | Perimeter Business

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Agency Socialthèque lounge/event space, Phipps Plaza mall, 3500 Peachtree Rd N.E., Buckhead. agencyatl.com Da Vinci’s Donuts Lenox Square mall, 3393 Peachtree Rd N.E., Buckhead. davincisdonuts.com Dunwoody Place senior living, 1460 South Johnson Ferry Rd N.E., Brookhaven. pegasusseniorliving.com HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern 1221 Ashford Crossing, Dunwoody. hobnobatlanta.com Saint Laurent boutique, Phipps Plaza mall, 3500 Peachtree Rd N.E., Buckhead. ysl.com Valentino accessories, Phipps Plaza mall, 3500 Peachtree Rd N.E., Buckhead. valentino.com


Enjoy free admission and special programs on the second Sunday of each month.

Special Edward Jones-Financial Advisor Jennifer A. Howard opened a new office Jan. 11 at 1870 Independence Square, Suite A, Dunwoody. Helping to cut the ribbon were, front row, from left: Stephanie Freeman, president and CEO of the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce; City Councilmember Jim Riticher; Mayor Denis Shortal; Jennifer Howard; Chris Winter, Jonathan Winter, Patricia Bickel; Brent Morris; Shelley Pritchett; and Rick Cardot; with Chamber members in the back. Info: edwardjones.com.

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Perimeter Business | 9


Mall parking lots become prime real estate for new development Continued from page 5 ates a high daytime population of workers wanting a place to grab lunch or have a cocktail with friends at the end of the day. Phipps Plaza and its tenants provide all of these, and a new office building feeds those existing businesses. The developments at Perimeter Mall and Phipps Plaza continue to be some of the best ways to densify an area such as an expansive parking lots, Hunter said. The trend to watch out for, he added, is the addition of residential to the mix to truly create the live, work, shop, play environment that the real estate market is trending toward. In Atlanta, millennials opt not to live in the suburbs initially and prefer the intown experience, he said. But as they get married and have kids, some will move back to the suburbs for their children’s education. As that continues to happen, mall owners could see a desire for more residential living where there already exists a shop, work and play development. In the San Francisco Bay Area last year, for example, mixed-use residential communities were planned at shopping malls in Richmond, Newark, Fremont and Daly City, according to the San Francisco Business Times. The Newark City Council last year approved Brookfield Properties, owner of the NewPark

Mall and the owner of Perimeter Mall, to build 1,800 residential units in parking lots surrounding the 1.1 million square foot mall. “There will still be the retail core within some malls ... but as you see the evolution of work, play, shop and live, there will be a move to integrate all four cate-

gories,” Hunter said. “Those that do it will be very successful.” The moves by malls and places like Walmart to create new spaces is because there is essentially too much retail space in the U.S. per capita, Hunter said. Building in parking lots is part of “right-sizing the footprint.”

“Most of these locations, and Perimeter Mall is a very good example ... they’re taking advantage of the changing demographics and shopper needs to stay ahead. The whole shop, work, live, play environment is so important to today’s customers,” he said.

Phil Mosier Construction crews work on the parking deck portion of the Twelve24 office tower in Dunwoody. The 16-story office tower is being built on what was once a part of Perimeter Mall’s parking lot. The office tower is slated to open in 2020.


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10 | Art & Entertainment

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A master of illusions on his life of working wonders BY JUDITH SCHONBAK On a small notepad, illusionist Vitaly Beckman draws a leaf. With a simple motion, he slides his hand down the page and the leaf turns green and comes to life. Literally. He lifts it off the page and hands it to an audience member. He can also make your driver’s license picture disappear (don’t we all wish that could happen) and make it appear on someone else’s. He makes pictures in a photo album move; brings a winter-bare tree spring into life with leaves, which he throws into the audience. He teleports and levitates objects, including a paintbrush that paints by itself. Vitaly, who performs under his first name, is hailed as a master of illusion by critics and audiences alike around the world. He designs and invents every one of his illusions. At 31, he is among the youngest well-known illusionists, and is making a name for himself, including performances on Broadway. He makes his first performances in Atlanta on Feb. 9 and 10 at the Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta in Dunwoody. Born in Belarus, his family emigrated to Israel, where he grew up in Haifa. The magic bug bit him at

an early age and he was performing at age 14. His parents urged him to pursue an education that would result in a realworld job, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering . He left that field, however, after only a few years to pursue his passion for magic and illusion. The Reporter caught up with Vitaly from his home in Vancouver between stops on his “Evening of Wonders” tour. Q: What took you from Israel to Canada? A: I wanted to live in North America and my brother lived in Vancouver. There

seemed to be so many possibilities and venues to perform in Canada and the United States. My big dream was to make it to Broadway. Q: When did you first get interested in magic and illusion? A: I played around with card tricks when I was 8 or so, but from a very early age, I drew and painted. I always had a small notepad with me and would draw whatever caught my eye. In fact, my parents thought I would be a painter. When I was 8, they gave me a magic kit. It intrigued me, but mostly I pursued art. I love all the arts: visual, music, theater, everything. Q: It seems the seed had been planted. When did you get serious about magic? A: I saw David Copperfield on TV several times and was so amazed at what he could do. So, I started practicing, figuring things out as I went along. I started performing for family, friends when I was 14. Q: Did you have a friend or mentor who helped you? A: No. And there was no internet or YouTube. I did it by trial and error. It’s a long way to learn. I invented my own method. It opened my creativity. I never did or do anything by the book. For me, magic is an artform and it brings art to life. Q: How do you come up with a con-

stant stream of material? A: The trick is to never stop thinking. I think about new illusions all the time: at a movie, in the shower, walking – anytime and anywhere. I think about it, too, while I am performing. Q: You always involve your audience members, often oneon-one. Why do you make that part of your performances? A: I love the audiences. On stage, I feel that I bring art to life in that moment with the audience. I want to encourage and rebuild their childhood sense of wonder and bridge the gap between dreams and reality. In a way, I want to show them that there are no limitations to their dreams or imaginations. I love that magic brings joy to people. Q: Did your education as a mechanical engineer help you devise your illusions? A: In one sense it did. The most important thing it taught me was how to think well. Q: There is a code of honor among magicians that they do not reveal to non-magicians how the magic is done. Do you follow that code? A: I do. The real reason for it is that it preserves the enjoyment and sense of won-


Art & Entertainment | 11


der for audiences. Magic of various kinds has been around since ancient days. Q: Your journey took you to the superstar magicians’ Penn & Teller show “Fool Us” in the summer of 2016. You succeeded in fooling them. Were you surprised? A: I thought I had a chance, but, yes, I was surprised. I won the “Fool Us” trophy and a spot in their Las Vegas show in the fall of 2016. It’s been great exposure for my career. Q: You said you dreamed of taking your illusions to Broadway, and you made it. Tell us about that experience. A: In 2018, I performed in the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre, the same one where Penn & Teller launched their career in the 1980s. The show ran from

mid-June to the end of September. It was a dream come true. It was an honor and a privilege. I had heard that it takes a lot to astonish New Yorkers, but the audiences were amazing. Q: Do you have favorite illusions that you perform? A: I have several, but making people’s photo disappear from their driver’s license and reappear on someone else’s is fun and I enjoy how it amazes them.

Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta Feb. 9, 8 p.m. (Sold out) and Feb. 10, 5 p.m. Info: eveningofwonders.com or mjcca.org

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Jewish Film Festival panel to discuss the alt-right’s ‘Age of Rage’ BY DOUG CARROLL Radical involvement in the alt-right was all wrong for Shannon Martinez, who now works to help others leave the deadend road she was on 30 years ago. Sexually assaulted by two men at age 14, Martinez says she “took all the unprocessed trauma and shoved it down,” looking for acceptance in the neo-Nazi, skinhead subculture — and looking to inflict her pain on others. “They’re Nazis, they have to take me in,” she says she reasoned at the time. The price of admission was to overtly espouse an ideology of hatred, and she willingly paid it for nearly five years. “I was consumed with rage and self-hatred,” said Martinez, now program manager for the Free Radicals Project and using the hard lessons she learned to redirect those who have turned to violencebased extremism. “Because I’ve been there, I can listen to the stories behind the stories without judgment,” she says. Martinez, 44, a mother of seven who lives in Athens, is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion following screenings of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage,” a documentary film that is part of this year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. A local showing of “AltRight” is scheduled for Feb. 18 at Regal Perimeter Pointe in Sandy Springs; it also screens Feb. 7 at the Regal Atlantic Station. The 106-minute film tells the story of the alt-right through two of its most prominent provocateurs, Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor. It also includes the perspectives of anti-fascist militant Daryle Lamont Jenkins and scholar Mark Potok. Potok, who is scheduled to be part of the panel discussion, says the term “altright” represents “a rebranding of white supremacy for public relations purposes.” He says social media have revolutionized how such groups come to light and are covered. When traditional print and TV media ignored such groups 50 years ago, Potok says, the strategy was largely effective. But that doesn’t work in the Facebook and Twitter age, he says. “There are thousands of outlets that will pay attention,” said Potok, 63, who lives in Montgomery, Ala., and is a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. He was with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights advocacy organization, for 20 years. “Educating people about these groups is the real inoculation,” Potok said. “The idea is to expose the truth and tell facts about their leaders that they don’t want known. You give them some coverage, but you point out what these groups really are.” Martinez, who has spoken at the United Nations on extremism, says that individuals who become intensely involved

want more than this?’ For me, there was only the present, and she connected me to the resources to put other things in play.” The process of disconnecting from the subculture, Martinez said, was a “slow undoing” that included college studies in New Mexico and still involves making amends to those she hurt. “This lifestyle is like an abusive relationship and the feeling that you can’t leave,” Martinez said. “There’s a doubling down, because you have the feeling that no one will want you after this.” Potok says he sees similarities between the current rise of the alt-right with the social and cultural environment of the 1920s. “That was a time of huge change,” he says, “and it was challenging to those who weren’t comfortable with things changing so fast. It was a battle between a new and old America, and it was a time when the country flirted with fascism. The Ku Klux Klan had its largest membership in 1925 with 4 million members. “We’re living in a similar time now, with big changes related to globalization. There are lots of changes, and lots of people who resent them.” David Lewis, a former CNN reporter who has covered stories pertaining to the alt-right, is scheduled to moderate the panel discussion. He agrees with Potok that changes in the media landscape have contributed to the rise of such movements. “With the bullhorn of the internet, ideas can build a following through the digital world,” Lewis says. “This used to be very covert and hidden, and that’s different now. There was no Richard Spencer figure 20 years ago.” Potok notes that Dylann Roof, who carried out the church massacre in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 that claimed the lives of nine African American attendees at a Bible study, never had any contact with white-supremacy groups — even though he claimed the ideology as his own. “He took it all from the internet,” Potok says. Mark Potok, an expert in far-right extremism.

in the subculture usually have things in common. “These are people who really struggle with belonging and identity,” she said. “They want to feel that their life has meaning. About 90 percent have some sort of trauma piece to it, whether that is parental conflict, drug abuse or physical abuse. We need to do a better job of looking at undesirable behavior and approaching it from a trauma-informed perspective.”


Shannon Martizen, a former radical white supremacist who will speak at Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings of “Alt-Right: Age of Rage.”

She says her turnaround began when, while on the outs with her parents, she was taken in by the mother of an Army serviceman she was dating. The woman encouraged her to see beyond self-destruction. “She extended sympathy and compassion and took a chance on me when I did not feel deserving,” Martinez said. “She dreamed dreams for me. She never argued with me, but she would ask, ‘Don’t you just

“Alt-Right: Age of Rage” Feb. 18, 7 p.m. Regal Perimeter Pointe 1155 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs Part of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Feb. 6-26 Tickets and info: ajff.org


Community | 13


DHA president seeks balance between city’s tradition and change BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association held its annual meeting last month where awards were handed out and local politicians gave familiar stump speeches. The meeting was also time for the DHA President Adrienne Duncan to reflect on 2018 and set the tone for 2019; that tone included a quote from Queen Elizabeth II on the importance of honoring the past while embracing the future. “Change has become a new constant. Managing it is an expanding discipline. How we embrace it will define the future,” DHA President Adrienne Duncan said during the Jan. 13 meeting held at the North Woods Pavilion at the Dunwoody Nature Center. The queen of the United Kingdom made the comment in 2002 to Parliament as part of a speech marking her 50th anniversary on the throne. The reason Duncan started with that quote, she explained in her speech, is because the queen “understands the balance between tradition and change in the world better than anyone.” DYANA BAGBY “And it is a delicate balance,” DunDHA President Adrienne Duncan presents Jimmy Economos of EEP Events can said. the Business of the Year award at the In an interview, Duncan said a “genorganization’s annual meeting last month. erational divide” exists in the city between younger and older residents. And that divide will play a role in what kind of city and community Dunwoody will be, she said. “You have one camp that wants to have [the city] stay the same as it was in the 1970s and newer families who have a very different idea in mind,” she said. Finding a level of equilibrium among DHA members, elected officials and other residents is essential to the city’s success, she said. In the speech, Duncan said: “When a community tries to avoid change at all costs and keep itself completely static over time, stagnation sets in – not preservation ... But if you abandon and forget the foundations of your community and ignore the reasons past decisions were made, then all change becomes chaos,” she said. “Either option taken to extremes means the death of a community,” she stated. “Tradition and change need each other ...” Duncan, who owns a web design and development business, also hinted at the polarization in today’s political climate. She praised DHA in her speech for its ongoing successes in organizing and sponsoring the annual 4th of July Parade and Light Up Dunwoody holiday events that attract hundreds of people each year. “DHA continues to provide common ground in times when people are divided over anything,” she said. Political changes are coming to Dunwoody as younger people move to the city and the “political divide seems to be intensifying,” Duncan said. “There has to be a way for coexistence,” she said. “Dunwoody is much more diverse than it is given credit for.” The city’s stereotype that it is “old, white and Republican” is true in one sense, she said, but there are elements of other political ideologies as well. When asked to expound on what she meant by political differences and the intensifying divide she sees in the city, Duncan responded, “Hello, look out the window.” In November, for example, former state Sen. Fran Millar, a Republican who lives in Dunwoody and served in the General Assembly for 20 years, was defeated by Democrat Sally Harrell, who lives near Chamblee. Democrat Mike Wilensky, a political newcomer and Dunwoody attorney, beat Republican Ken Wright, the city’s founding mayor, to replace Republican and Dunwoody resident Tom Taylor in the state House. There are people on the far left and the far right in Dunwoody, Duncan said in the interview. DHA is not a political organization and remains nonpartisan, but its individuals have different political leanings, she said. The DHA dates to 1969-70 and its mission has always been to ensure the “character and charm of Dunwoody remains intact” by representing homeowners against unwanted development. “We have to coexist if we are going to have some semblance of peace for advocating for homeowners in general,” she said. What homeowners want in Dunwoody is also changing from large single-family homes to more people wanting condominiums, Duncan noted in her speech. “Like it or not, high-quality residential use – the goal of neighborhood preservation in our bylaws – is evolving. We have to recognize that to ensure that we can advocate for the evolving needs of homeowners,” she said in her speech. DUN

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14 | Commentary

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Community Survey: LGBTQ laws and religious freedom bills A new LGBTQ antidiscrimination law coming out of Doraville should be copied by other cities, while new religious freedom laws should not emerge from the Gold Dome. Those were takeaways from a majority of the 200 local residents in a Reporter/1Q. com survey about the ongoing debate of LGBTQ rights and religious liberty. The survey was conducted by 1Q.com via cellphones used by residents of Reporter Newspapers communities. The results are not scientific. Of the 200 survey respondents, 69 percent said other cities should have an antidiscrimination law like Doraville’s, with 18 percent saying no; another 13 percent were unsure. “It is ridiculous that in 2019 in the U.S. we need to pass laws such as this, but racism, sexism, homophobia and other diseases of the radical right wing are stronger than ever,” said a 53-yearold Brookhaven man in one response. As for religious freedom laws, which come in a wide variety of proposed forms, 52.5 percent opposed the idea, 20 percent were in favor, and a significant amount – 27.5 percent – said they were uncertain or did not express a direct preference. “We have a country with separation of church and state. Religion is already protected under the Constitution,” said a 47-year-old Atlanta man who opposes such laws. The General Assembly is expected this session to once again take up some form of religious freedom legislation, which has roiled the legislature for several years. Such laws broadly seek to impose stronger limits on the state’s ability to regulate private religious practices, and have drawn controversy for possibly enabling discrimination, particularly against LGBTQ people In 2016, amid strong opposition from Atlanta’s corporate community, then Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed one bill that would have permitted religious organizations to

discriminate in employment and the providing of charitable services. New Gov. Brian Kemp has pledged to pass a religious freedom law that he says would mirror an existing federal version that is presented as less controversial. Meanwhile, Doraville recently became the second city in Georgia – after Atlanta – to prohibit discrimination in private businesses, including against LGBTQ people. City Councilmember Stephe Koontz, who spearheaded the ordinance, has said its intent is to get other cities to adopt similar protections. Chamblee and Clarkston already are following suit. Brookhaven and Dunwoody say they have no plans for such an anti-discrimination ordinance, and

to prioritize making our state as welcoming and as inclusive as possible to ensure our continued economic growth.” As for religious freedom laws, a 40-yearold Brookhaven woman said “they are an avenue for entities or individuals to discriminate.” Respondents who opposed Doraville’s ordinance largely said they do not believe in discrimination, but that the marketplace should weed out private businesses that do so. Some also questioned whether the law is enforceable or will make any difference in practice. “I think nondiscrimination is something that all people should abide by. However, I don’t think spending time and resources creating a law against discrimination against customers can be justly enforced,” said a 24-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs woman. Many backers of religious freedom laws said that ensuring religious diversity and nondiscrimination is important, of respondents of respondents said and several also cited the private maropposed religious cities should have an ket’s forces. freedom laws anti-discrimination “The government has no business law like Doraville’s choosing one party’s freedom over the freedom of another party,” said a Sandy Springs says it believes it is legally 52-year-old Buckhead man. “Making a prohibited from doing so. business owner contradict his or her reliA common view among the majority of gious beliefs is wrong, particularly when respondents was that antidiscrimination the service is available elsewhere for the laws are needed, while religion is already complaining party.” legally protected, and that religious freeA few respondents opposed both laws dom laws are intended to enable discrimon libertarian grounds. A couple of responination. Several also cited the publicity and dents suggested passing both as a way to economic impacts of the state appearing to ensure everyone’s rights. be backwards on civil rights. “We should allow religious freedom, but “Good for Doraville! Since Georgia’s we cannot sacrifice our duty we have to new governor Brian Kemp has vowed to our fellow citizens to protect their rights,” sign a ‘religious freedom’ bill into law, it’s said a 22-year-old Sandy Springs man. apparently now up to our local commu“If that means we’re discriminating nities to offer protections to minority citiagainst LGBT members [of society], there zens,” a 53-year-old Atlanta man said. “With must be additional laws implementing that a multibillion-dollar film and television insuch discrimination will not occur. Both isdustry and homegrown businesses like sues at hand are addressed in the Bill of Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Home Depot Rights and it seems like both religious freeall employing a diverse workforce, we need dom and equality can and should coexist.”

69 53 %

Should other cities adopt a nondiscrimination law like Doraville’s?


Should the state pass a religious freedom law?

Yes, absolutely. This shouldn’t even be a question. Discrimination is never OK, not only in the workplace, but anywhere in society. --22-year-old Sandy Springs man

No, freedoms need to be protected for every U.S. citizen! --46-year-old Sandy Springs woman

Yes!!! Besides it being the right thing to do in a country that prides itself on the freedom it offers, making these sorts of moves will help businesses outside the South look at the Atlanta area as more forward-thinking than the rest of the state. --38-year-old Atlanta woman

I don’t think any group should be able to [discriminate], but I don’t believe religious institutions should be forced to make change. --51-year-old Sandy Springs man

While I don’t agree with discrimination and personally don’t understand why businesses would turn away customers, I do not believe that additional laws are necessary. If someone does not want my business I am not going to force them to take my money! --55-year-old Atlanta woman

No, there should not be any discrimination and I am 100 percent against this law because I am an atheist. --19-year-old Dunwoody man These laws reflect poorly on Georgia, drive away economic investments, and reflect a discriminatory animus. --34-year-old Atlanta man

Yes, because I’m not a bigot. --21-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs man



Commentary | 15


• • • •

Dad jokes do not leave us all laughing Last month was a joyful one in my household as kids trickled in and out for visits during their winter breaks. It was only marred by one thing. Not laundry. Not empty gas tanks. Not crushed cans and crumpled napkins strewn around the den. No, it was marred by dad jokes. Since my husband’s audience has moved out of the house in pursuit of higher education and left him alone with his corny jokes and unappreciative wife, the constant volleying of dad jokes has practically ceased. This has turned out to be (for me) an unexpected perk of the Empty Nest. But as soon as my youngest entered the door in late December, it began again. My son stood in the kitchen with his backpack still strapped on, dropped his laundry bag and announced, “Hey! I’m home!” And my husband immediately replied, “No you’re not, you’re Michael!” Do you get it? Then welcome to my world. For the rest of the break, each time we got in the car and someone asked where we were going, my husband would respond with, “Crazy!” Road trips digressed from there. We might pass a sign that said “Roadwork Ahead,” giving my spouse the golden opportunity to announce, “I sure hope it does!” These are the sort of jokes that only half of the car appreRobin Conte lives with ciates. These are not just bad jokes, these are groan-inducher husband in an emping jokes. ty nest in Dunwoody. Since the household’s humor scale had once again tipped in my husband’s favor while I was left standing in the kitchen rolling my eyes, I decided to investigate a bit to find out what exactly makes a joke a “dad joke.” I consulted the internet, naturally, and found that on the World Wide Web, dogs are the one delivering the lame jokes. So, the competition is fierce. But when I consulted my kids –who, after all, were the ones tipping our humor scale — they insisted that a dog telling puns does not a dad joke make. You can’t simply tell a dad joke, they informed me, for this type of humor is very contextual. You must be a master of cleverness and creativity in order to deliver a proper dad joke; you must be alert and agile enough to pounce when someone says, “I really like this cake,” and immediately respond with, “I was talking to this cake the other day, and it really likes you, too!” Or, if someone suggests that you should have a standing reservation at a certain restaurant, you can nimbly observe, “Hey! I’m standing right now!” Moms are certainly capable of delivering dad jokes, which I know first-hand, because my most nagging childhood memory is that every time anyone in my household asked, “Can you make me a sandwich?” my mother replied, “Poof! You’re a sandwich!” These quips are somewhat punny and somewhat silly -- they are the type of retort that a “Feel like some eggs?” straight-line begs in reply. They are perfectly suited for 5-year-olds and prepubescent boys (who are, let’s face it, future daddies-in-training). I used to think I was alone in my misery until one of my kids told a story of a friend who was having dinner with his family. The boy’s mother observed that he was sounding a little hoarse, at which point his father stood up and neighed. My favorite part of this story is that they were all in a restaurant at the time. I’ve droned on long enough with this missive and I’m going to wrap this up. Besides, right now I feel like some lunch.

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16 | Commentary

Local player goes from Brookhaven’s soccer fields to the Women’s World Cup

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Around Town

BY JOE EARLE Joeearle@reporternewspaper.com

Giselle Washington can’t remember a time in her life without soccer. The soft-spoken 17-year-old said she’s been playing the game since she “was about 3.” She’s tried other sports, but always came back to soccer. She felt a special connection to the game. “I love it,” Giselle said as she sat in her Brookhaven home one recent afternoon. “I just like everything about it. Honestly. I love team sports, just competing …” She paused for beat. “… and winning.” She learned her sport playing on Y teams and while working her way up through the ranks of Concorde Fire soccer teams. Her work paid off. Come summer, the long-limbed midfielder is scheduled to head to France to compete on a team battling for the Women’s World Cup. She’ll be playing on the Reggae Girlz, the women’s team from Jamaica, the country where her mother was born. Giselle, whose teammates call her “Gi,” was born and grew up in DeKalb County and has passports from both the U.S. and Jamaica. She’s one of the youngest players on the Jamaican team, which is set next summer to make its first appearance in the World Cup. “I’m so excited,” she said after returning in January from a week-long practice camp in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. It is crazy. I’m going to be in [the World Cup tournament] playing along with my idols.” Her coach on the elite team at Concorde Fire voices little surprise that his midfielder will be competing for a national team at the highest levels of her sport. James Harris said he’s coached Giselle for years. “She’s very good. She’s special,” he said. “She’s very calm… makes the right decisions. She reads the game very well.” Off the field, “she is wise and mature beyond her age,” he said. “Her leadership qualities on and off the field – you couldn’t anyone who ever would say a negative thing about her… She’s pretty remarkable – very quiet, calm. She just shows up and does her job.” While she’s competed for a slot on the Jamaican team, her Concorde Fire teammates

Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

have been cheering her on, Harris said. They followed her progress on social media, he said, and, at one point, streamed her game to watch it on the sidelines during their practice. Giselle is among about a dozen U.S. players listed on a recent 31-member Jamaican team roster. She said she was introduced to Jamaican soccer at age 14. A coach saw her playing in a U.S. tournament and, after discovering her family background, invited her to try out for the Jamaican program. She’s been taking part in soccer camps and competitions in the Caribbean since, she said. Playing there while keeping up with her Concorde Fire games and practices and her schoolwork proved difficult at times. “At one point, it was crazy,” said her mom, Sherrene Washington. “I told her I JOE EARLE should be her agent, the schedule was so crazy.” Gisselle Washington. Now it’s all good. “It’s exciting, unbelievable,” Sherrene Washington said. “We just so appreciative. We just never thought it would escalate to this level.” As a Reggae Girl, Giselle is getting to know her mother’s home country better. “It’s completely different from here,” she said. “The people are super sweet. The culture, the food is terrific. The general vibe…” The team “is just being energized by the whole culture,” she said. “It’s like a family.” In her own family in Brookhaven, she’s the oldest of four children. All take part in athletics. Her three younger siblings wear number 28, Giselle’s number. After the World Cup, Giselle plans to keep playing. She’s headed to the University of Tennessee next year, she said, and hopes to keep raising her game. After all, she feels that special connection to soccer. “I just find it fun,” she said. “I like watching it, playing it…” And, of course, winning.

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Community | 17


Retail recommended for selfstorage project; developer says no thanks Continued from page 1

they’re the ones that described what they wanted.” Jan. 15 meeting of the Planning CommisDevelopments currently surroundsion. At that meeting, commissioners voted ing the Adevco property include a Geor5-1 to recommended approval of a special gia Power business office and a large parkland use permit for Adevco Corporation for ing lot and storage area for utility trucks. an up to five-story self-storage building on There are also some Emory medical officnearly three acres at 4444 North Shallowes, a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall and ford Road. The recommendation for apsuch businesses as a daycare center and inproval also requires retail on the ground surance office. Numerous apartment comfloor. plexes are also in the area. However, Adevco only wants to build The city owns a building at 4470 North three stories and does not want to incorShallowford adjacent to the proposed selfporate retail beyond selling cardboard boxstorage site. The city’s two-story annex es and tape needed for moving. The propbuilding includes training rooms and evidence storage for the police department and community rooms for the Parks and Recreation Department. Due to limited parking at the annex building, Adevco has agreed to share its parking lot with the city as part of the SLUP request. There are three SPECIAL other self-storA developer wants to build a three-story self-storage building age buildings withat 4444 N. Shallowford Road that would like this illustration, in a mile radius of but the Planning Commission has recommended it be built the site, Dallas said. up to five stories and include retail on the ground floor. A new, three-story CubeSmart Self Storage building on Savoy erty’s current zoning of office distribution Drive near Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and only allows for two stories, so the developer I-285 in nearby Chamblee includes space is seeking a special land use permit for an for a restaurant on the ground floor, Dallas extra story. A five-story building on the site added. Chamblee’s zoning ordinance for would require a complete rezoning of the the area requires ground-floor retail. property, according to Community DevelNew toll lanes along I-285 could include opment Director Richard McLeod. bus rapid transit, said Dallas, who is also “We aren’t going to do that. We just a member of MARTA’s board of directors. want to build three stories,” Dave KraxNorth Shallowford Road could be a likeberger, president of Adevco, said in a phone ly spot for a stop, he said, and passengers interview of the commission’s recommenwould need a place to eat or buy coffee. dations. By right, Adevco can build two stoMike Bell of Adevco told Planning Comries without any kind of city approval, he mission members at the Jan. 15 meeting it said. He declined further comment. The was not financially feasible to build retail City Council is slated to take up the SLUP on the storage building’s ground floor berequest and Planning Commission recomcause the suburban market does not supmendations on Feb. 11. port it. “The market will determine if there Planning Commission Chair Bob Dalis a demand for retail,” Bell said. “You can’t las, who pushed for the five stories with just force it.” ground-floor retail, was unfazed by the “This is dead space,” Bell added. “Retail city’s and developer’s disapproval. The parneeds synergy from other retail. Storage cel is located in the Georgetown Square has very little traffic. It will be a number of Character Area which calls for a “dynamic years before this community can support mix of uses” including pedestrian-oriented [retail]. Today it is not a viable alternative. developments that encourage a live, work The community is not going to like a dark and play district. That includes storefront space of retail.” businesses to activate the area and engage Recommending the self-storage buildwalkers and cyclists, Dallas said. ing be built up to five stories is intended “When you look at proposed uses in to provide more units to rent and bring in the whole Georgetown area ... where does more revenue to help get a return on the a personal storage facility fit in? Not anycost of building out and leasing a retail where as it is currently planned,” he said space, Dallas told him at the meeting. “Nevin an interview. “The comprehensive land er would I suggest you do something that is use plan was produced with citizen input; financially unfeasible,” he said.


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Bus transit would work on I-285, consultants say BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

A new bus system running along the planned I-285 toll lanes is the most feasible solution to provide east and west connectivity in the area, transportation consultants working with several cities along the interstate said in a report at the Sandy Springs City Council Jan. 22 retreat. The study was the result of meetings initiated in 2017 by Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst with other top end mayors from Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Doraville, Smyrna and Tucker as well as Perimeter Community Improvement Districts and the Cumberland Community Improvement Districts, which all helped fund it. The effort looks at how to incorporate transit in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s toll lanes project and provide transit running east and west. A bus rapid transit system is already in the works on the Ga. 400 piece of the toll lanes project after receiving $100 million in funding from former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018. In a separate presentation by MARTA at the retreat, the transit agency said it expects to modify the North Springs MARTA Station to add a bus rapid transit plat-

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form either at-grade or elevated. At-grade would be estimated to cost $90 million and elevated $125 million. The consultants on the I-285 transit study haven’t fully finished their work, but the presentation showed a preview of some recommendations the consultants plan to make, which include a “high-end” bus system running within the toll lanes. “We know in a lot of people’s hearts they feel rail is absolutely necessary,” said Eric Bosman, a consultant with KimleyHorn. “But a rubber-wheel system is the most efficient and would work.” The study assumes the bus system would be unable to use the toll lane access points and would need to have its own. Building those would cost $300 million to $480 million depending on how far the project goes, the consultants said. The vehicle would cost another $10 million. Maintenance and operations would cost $5 million to $8 million, they said. “It’s much more affordable than I think any of us dreamed, not to say it’s cheap,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “In my mind, it is doable project that is not beyond the realm of financial capabilities.” Two access points could be built in Sandy Springs at Powers Ferry and Roswell roads, Bosman said. Another could be built between the Medical Center and Dunwoody MARTA Stations, he said. Although Raider Drive is shown on the map, it is not being currently considered for an access point. The consultants expect to present details on funding options, including a special type of tax district called a special services district, to the mayors at their next meeting later this month. But none of the options would completely cover the cost, Bosman said. Councilmember John Paulson said he is not convinced the service would provide what people need and be widelyused. “I’m skeptical that these trains are going to run anywhere near full,” he said. The consultants are basing the estimates off a Nevada bus service that offers a “higher-end, premium service that would feel more like light rail vehicle or tram-based car,” Bosman said. GDOT’s toll lanes project is not being built to accommodate rail and would cost ten times the amount the bus service would, Bosman said. Being able to use the infrastructure already being built by GDOT would save millions in cost, he said. “They’re building their managed lanes with or without this input, but we’re trying to piggyback on this as much as we can,” said Todd Long, a consultant with Moreland Altobeli. The project could either be built all the way from Cumberland Parkway on the west over to Tucker on the east, or on the most in-demand section from I-75 to Doraville, the consultants said. DUN


Community | 19


Fear rises as GDOT eyes back yards, houses for toll lanes


vironmental impact study that is expected to also determine where access points to the toll lanes will be as well as what right of way is needed to construct the toll lanes. “The truth is, we’re already impacted,” Wolford said. “Once they’re done, we are still living here. The work they are doing is impacting us now, our standard of living, the values of our property.”

‘Frustration and anxiety’ in Sandy Springs

Last year, GDOT privately showed Fulton County Schools administrators drawing of possible property impacts at Sandy Springs schools, including Dunwoody Springs Elementary. When the Reporter requested the same details for properties adjacent to the school, GDOT said the information did not exist, and its officials later refused to take audience questions at a community meeting about the toll lanes held at Dunwoody Springs. Meanwhile, less than 600 feet to the south of the school, GDOT had already planted markers in John Mason’s back yard on Spindle Court. They indicated, he says, that the new toll lanes’ property-line fence could come within 30 feet of his house. Mason said he first heard from GDOT contractors about possible toll-lane property impacts in April 2017. In June 2018, he said, they requested sketches of his back

yard, then surveyed it a few weeks later. Since then, he says, GDOT has repeatedly delayed a decision on property-taking and says it is “reevaluating” the options. The final decision, he’s been told, in the hands of a GDOT appraiser. “I don’t think I want an appraiser making such a life-altering decision for me,” Mason said. Rob Harvey of Sandy Springs’ Montrose Lane is another homeowner surprised by GDOT’s claims that no decisions of property-taking have been made. That’s because GDOT already showed him detailed plans to put the new I-285 lanes 50 feet closer to his house than the current highway, and made an offer in January to buy part of his back yard in 30 to 40 days. “… The appraiser said this won’t really impact the value of your property,” Harvey recalled. “I said, ‘How could putting a gigantic interstate 50 feet closer and taking away my green space buffer not impact the future value of my property?’” Harvey said the GDOT contracts told him they would entertain a counter-offer, but also made it clear that eminent domain is on the table. He says if he’s forced to sell, he would consider moving out, but he’s worried the plan is already lowering his property value. “I would probably try to sell,” he said. “The problem is, [the toll lanes plan is] already out there. I think it’s already too late to sell, to be honest with you.”

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or there is an accident,” he said. In December, GDOT contractors Foundation has called unlawful. showed up in Wolford’s driveway and said GDOT officials say that full proposed they were conducting an environmenproperty-taking impacts will be revealed tal study for the new I-285 toll lanes. They for the Ga. 400 toll lanes at a series of meetshowed Wolford illustrations on their ings in February and March, with a local touchscreen tablets, where a red line went stop March 12 at Sandy Springs City Hall. directly through his house. His home was The I-285 toll lane details will not be rein the “area of potential effects,” or APE, of vealed until later this year. In addition, the the new toll lanes, they explained, as they walked around and took pictures of his house and yard, shooting in the direction of I-285. The environmental study is expected to determine where sound barriers are needed in residential and commercial areas along I-285. Looking across I-285 to the eastDYANA BAGBY bound lanes, or the Only dozens of feet separate the 50-year-old Georgetown Recreation Brookhaven side Club and its swimming pool, now protected by a blue cover as of the interstate, seen at right, from I-285 in Dunwoody. Bob Wolford, a Georgetown noise barriers alresident who played at the club as a child, said he and others worry right of way acquisition for the new toll lanes could eat up ready exist, prothe club’s property and destroy the historic community center. tecting single-family neighborhoods toll lanes that will run on Ga. 400 south from the traffic noise. But what happens to of North Springs MARTA Station are now the current barriers or if more barriers will considered part of the I-285 project. All be needed won’t be known until the enviplans and related property-taking could ronmental study is finished in 2021. still change, GDOT says. The Georgetown Recreation Club, GDOT is now conducting an environwhere the Georgetown Dolphins children’s mental study for the I-285 toll lanes that swim team competes against other local will determine where sound barriers and swim clubs and parents and families from right of way will be needed. The study is exnearby neighborhoods have socialized for pected to be finished in two years. 50 years, is located just dozens of feet from City and community leaders in DunI-285 wall. The club’s swimming pool and woody and Sandy Springs have been actennis courts are in the crosshairs of any tive in meeting with GDOT and raising construction of toll lanes. Kent Nichols, concerns about the toll lanes’ possible impresident of the club, pleaded with GDOT pacts on property and traffic. In Brookhavrepresentatives at a Jan. 22 community en, City Councilmember Linley Jones said meeting to not harm the club as it acquired she has heard from a few residents seeking right of way for the project. information about the I-285 toll lanes, but “We are interested in preserving that as not many. Information from GDOT is also part of our community in any way possiscarce, she said. “We’re not getting as much ble,” he said. information from GDOT as we would like Sheila Garvin has lived in the Chateau at this point,” she said. Club townhomes for 15 years. Located in Meanwhile, several local homeownthree separate buildings, the townhomes ers say they’re already facing land-taking are also only dozens of feet from I-285. and figuring out what it means for their fuTwo years ago, GDOT representatives vistures. ited their homeowners’ association, Garvin said, and they were told GDOT could take just a part of one building if needed as part Preserving a Dunwoody of right of way acquisition to build the new community toll lanes. “I stopped listening at that point. Bob Wolford’s home in the Georgetown You can’t take half a building. You should community in Dunwoody is located about take the whole building,” she said. two football-field lengths from the edge of At the Jan. 22 meeting, GDOT reprethe westbound lanes of I-285. The steady sentatives said it is still too early to deterroar of 18-wheelers and cars zooming by on mine how right of way acquisition could the interstate easily drown out the sounds affect the Chateau Club townhomes or any of songbirds. And the scarce trees between Georgetown property. GDOT spokesperson his home and the interstate give him and Natalie Dale said later in an email that takhis neighbors a clear view of the traffic as ing part of a building is “unique and not a it speeds by. common practice,” but it can be an option. “My wife and I have kind of gotten used Wolford said he expects the GDOT conto [the noise] over the years. What’s really sultants to revisit him as part of their endisturbing is when trucks hit their brakes,

Sandy Plains

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Activist Bob Lundsten dies at 65 BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Robert “Bob” Gordon Lundsten, a former president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, neighborhood activist and avid gardener, died on Jan. 16. He was 65. Lundsten had been treated for prostate cancer and suffered from complications from surgery. City Councilmember Terry Nall, who noted Lundsten also was known as “Farmer Bob” and at one time wrote a blog under that name, praised Lundsten’s work on behalf of the residents of Dunwoody, especially his work in helpSPECIAL ing raise more than $70,000 to buy automated Bob Lundsten external defibrillators for every city police car after the city was incorporated a decade ago. “Over the last 10 years, many ‘saves’ from these AED units have been reported.,” Nall said. Lundsten’s parents worked for the Salvation Army, Nall said, and Nall said he recalled him sharing fond memories of his childhood. “Dunwoody is a better place because he came by our way,” Nall said. “He will be missed, but not forgotten.” Lundsten served on the DeKalb County Planning Commission before Dunwoody was incorporated and then served on the Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals. He served as DHA president in 1985 and 1987. In 2009, he received the DHA’s Community Service Award. In 2010, Lundsten was appointed chief of staff to DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer. Boyer pleaded guilty in 2014 to using her county credit card to pay for personal items and defrauding taxpayers. She served a year in federal prison. In 2016, Lundsten was reprimanded by the DeKalb Ethics Board for using his county credit card for personal expenses. Ken Wright, Dunwoody’s first mayor, met Lundsten about 20 years ago as a member of the DHA. “Bob was a man truly larger than life. He had a voice, opinions and stature of a pro wrestler, but the soul of a southern gentleman,” Wright said. “He fought very hard for the health and well-being of this community and spent many years fighting the fight, walking the walk, long before we became a city.”


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Community | 21


New Oglethorpe business school dean aims to make ‘robot-proof’ leaders BY DOUG CARROLL The dean of the new business school at Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe University says the time is right for a set of new academic programs to equip students for a future that will be increasingly technological and global. Dennis W. Kelly came on board last October as dean of the Q. William Hammack School of Business, returning to metro Atlanta after an eight-year stint in Washington, D.C., with the Smithsonian Institution. A $50 million gift — the largest in Oglethorpe’s history — from Hammack, an alumnus and former CEO of C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., has made it possible for the 183-year-old liberal-arts university at 4484 Peachtree Road to elevate its business department to school status. “A lot of small, liberal-arts colleges in the Northeast and Midwest won’t make it,” Kelly told a breakfast meeting of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 17. “But Oglethorpe is strong, and it’s willing to change and adapt.” The business school, scheduled to open in the fall, will roll out a strategic plan in the late spring or early summer, Kelly said. It will be part of the undergraduate program and may offer certificate programs, but has no plans to offer master’s degrees. Kelly said Oglethorpe expects to grow its business-program numbers from slightly more than 300 students currently to as many as 600, creating courses in marketing and finance to go with established strengths in accounting and economics. An emphasis on experiential learning, through student internships, also will be a priority, Kelly said, adding that Oglethorpe’s move nearly 65 years ago to a core curriculum for all students already provides an edge in the workplace. “We think that makes our students different, better and special,” he said. “Bill Hammack thinks the combination of the core curriculum [and new programs] will make our next generation of leaders robot-proof. “A liberal arts education will be the key to doing things that robots can’t do.” According to Kelly, about 60 percent of current jobs will be either eliminated or impacted by machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, 4 million jobs for checkout clerks will dwindle to 500,000 over the next 10 years, he said. In some fields, the U.S. has serious catching-up to do: China graduates 1 million engineers a year, he said, compared to 75,000 in the U.S. With this brave new world as a backdrop, students will need at least some familiarity with coding and business analytics, Kelly said, even if they don’t end up working in those areas specifically. Forty percent of Oglethorpe’s 1,250 students are first-generation college students, Kelly said, which presents challenges in getting some of them up to speed. Asked about trends that the university is seeing, he identified three. “We’re seeing that writing skills have declined across the board,” he said. “We’re also seeing that the demand for analytics has gone up — big data is a new skill that’s in demand. And there is a big disparity between those who are well-prepared [for college work] and those who are not.” Oglethorpe’s Compass academic advising program, begun in 2017, has helped the

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Dennis Kelly, dean of Oglethorpe University’s Hammack School of Business, speaks to the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce Jan. 17.

university achieve its highest retention rate in 10 years, according to assistant provost Beth Concepcion. Its March to May mentoring program also has been beneficial, she said, and she encouraged chamber members to become part of it. Kelly served for seven years as president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta before moving on to the Smithsonian, where he was director of the National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute. Previously, he was president and CEO of Green Mountain Energy Co. and held administrative positions with Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Harvard. Kelly said he and his wife, Debbie, barely recognize Brookhaven this time around. “We’re stunned by the enormous changes we’ve seen,” he said. “When we drive around, it’s amazing. You see all the residential developments, and it’s hard to find contractors because there’s so much going on.” Alan Goodman, president of the Brookhaven chamber, said the new business school at Oglethorpe can only be a plus. “It’s a super step for the city to have a business school right here,” Goodman said.

22 | Art & Entertainment

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Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb 24 Act3 Productions presents Tony Award-winning “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan becomes “The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up” (a.k.a. Peter Pan). With a dozen actors portraying more than 100 characters, it playfully explores the depths of greed and despair and the bonds of friendship, duty and love. 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. $15-$30. Info: act3productions.org or 770-241-1905



The world of Dr. Seuss springs to life in this production from Galloway Junior Theatre Company. Transporting audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus, the Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos that he must protect. Chaddick Center for the Arts at The Galloway School 215 W. Wieuca Road, Buckhead. $10 general, $5 student. Info: gallowayschool.org


March 7-17 Now in its 10th season, the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF) takes on the theme of “Jewish Contributions to Music” and will specifically nod to Jewish contributions to American music with a specially curated lineup featuring Grammy winning artists, up and coming bands, historian presentations and a salute to both Leonard Bernstein and the Academy Awards. Various venues around metro Atlanta. Info and line up: atlantajmf.org


Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday Feb. 23

Wednesday Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Two author talk and book signing events feature bestselling author Elinor Lipman of “Good Riddance” on Feb. 13 in conversation with Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author. The second event on Feb. 24 includes New York Times bestselling authors Alyson Richman of “The Secret Clouds” & Pam Jenoff, author of “Lost Girls in Paris” and will be in conversation with Zoe Fishman, New York Times bestselling author. MJCCA, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Tickets to each event: Community $15/Member $10. Info: atlantajcc. org/bookfestival or 678-812-4002.


Wednesday, March 6, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Titles @ Twilight promotes local authors

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Sunday, Feb. 17, 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. Through dance, movement, music and bilingual storytelling, young children will engage in this classic folk tale in wholly imaginative and new ways. A family production presented by the Alliance Theatre’s Kathy & Ken Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young. Tickets: $12-$16. MJCCA’s Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or 678-812-4002.


Monday, Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Kids ages 4-14 can practice their favorite strokes with Up4Tennis while classes are cancelled for President’s Day. Outshine Sports also offers a day of sports camp that will emphasize team building and exercise. $25-$72 for half and full days. Ashford Park, 2980 Redding Road, Brookhaven. Tennis Info: up4tennis.com or 404-617-1305; Sports Info: outshinesports.com or 470-601-1415.


Student and Instructor Jewelry Market Sunday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m- 5 p.m. This fundraising event benefits the Spruill Center for the Arts and the Spruill Metals Jewelry Program and will showcase beginning to professional jewelry artists who will sell their unique handcrafted jewelry to the public. Free. Spruill Center for the Arts. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org


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whose stories of history and the South represent a variety of perspectives. This month, author Deborah Mantella visits to discuss “My Sweet Vidalia,” a tale of 1955 rural Georgia and the spirit of an unborn child who stays with her mother through the darkest of circumstances. Free. Heritage Sandy Springs Community Room, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.

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Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m-12 p.m. Find the best deals and sell your unwanted items at the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Community Yard Sale. The event is free to attend. Tables to sell items will be available for $20 for an 8-foot table and $30 for two tables. Briarwood Park Recreation Center, 2235 Briarwood Way, Brookhaven. To reserve a table: Call 404-6370512 or email Philip Mitchell at Philip.Mitchell@BrookhavenGA.gov.


Saturday, Feb. 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Learn about the white-tailed deer in Georgia, with tips on how to keep them from destroying expensive landscaping? Free. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill


Art & Entertainment | 23


Road, Sandy Springs. Register: registration. sandyspringsga.gov


Monday, Feb. 18, 7-8:30 pm The Recreation and Parks Department and Friends of the Lost Corner host the North Fulton Master Gardeners series of classes for homeowners on selected weekday evenings. This first class will cover: how cool and warmseason grasses differ and what they require: soil testing, fertilizing, weed control and aerating. Lost Corner Preserve Cottage, 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. $10 each or $60 for the 8 week entire series. Register: http://www.friendsoflostcorner.org.

BSA Troop 370 hosts a special recycling event for the community. No charges for most electronics but recycling for paint cans range from $1 for a pint to $20 for latex-based fivegallon bucket. To see what is accepted, visit novussolutionsllc.com/recycling. St. James United Methodist Church, 4400 PeachtreeDunwoody Road, Buckhead. Info: Leslee at evansclans@bellsouth.net.



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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 9:30 a.m. Dunwoody Garden Club hosts guest speaker Gloria Ward, past president of the American Hydrangea Society. Come hear all about these ever popular flowering shrubs and be prepared to learn about some exciting new varieties that are available today. North DeKalb Cultural Center (Room 4) at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodygardenclub.com.

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Sunday, Feb 24, 1-4 p.m. Come help the Chattahoochee Nature Center restore the wetlands. Work to remove invasive Chinese privet and other non-natives in and around the wetlands in order to encourage native plant restoration. Registration required. Ages 5-adult. $6 for Children; $10 Adult; $7 Seniors 65+; $7 students 13-18; free CNC Members. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Info: volunteer@chattnaturecenter.org or 770-992-2055 x237.

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Register your artists for a weeklong art camp at the High. We offer camp options for grades 1 through 8. Campers will explore the collection, sketch in the galleries, and create artwork.

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Education | 27

FEBRUARY 2019 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


Student author Ruby Mundell, Davis Academy


Editor’s Note: Through our “Standout Student” series, Reporter Newspapers showcases some of the outstanding students at our local schools. To recommend a “Standout Student” for our series, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net with information about the student and why you think he or she should be featured.

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Ruby Mundell started off her fifth-grade school year by publishing her own book. Mundell, a student at The Davis Academy in Sandy Springs, had spent a year writing and editing the book, titled “Kindness Come In.” Ruby wrote the book to help cope with the loss of her father at a young age, a diagnosis of dyslexia and social challenges. The book includes tips for both adults and children facing difficult times, illustrations and personal stories. Ruby said writing has become an avenue for her to express her feelings and find relief from some of her own hardships. Ruby said that she wrote it with the intention of “helping others through their hard times, by telling them my experiences and how I went through them.” Ruby had help from her mother, who also had been writing a book, and Davis Academy Vice Principal Jeff Rothstein. Rothstein said Ruby is “an excellent student and diligent writer, with a humble air about her.” Just like most kids her age, she enjoys art and playing with her friends at school, but she also developed a particular passion for writing. “It helped me to calm myself when I was going through challenging times,” she said. The book provides advice on practicing compassion, consideration, thoughtfulness, selfexpression and forgiveness. Her goal for her readers “is that they can become a better person, feel better about themselves, and understand people better” after reading her book, Ruby wrote in an author’s note. The book is composed of a series of narratives from Ruby and her friends and families own personal experiences with bullying and how on ought to approach those scenarios. She said she used her experiences with grief and loss to help readers with their own traumas. Just as the book became a source of comfort and enjoyment for her, she hopes that it can provide some direct healing and aid to those going through similar circumstances. She said enjoyed the writing process, despite the year-long timeframe, as it gave her a way to make peace with the difficulties she had gone through. Ruby hosted a launch party for “Kindness Come In” last year, where Davis Academy members and other members of the local Atlanta community came to celebrate her accomplishment. The book was also featured in the Marcus Jewish Community Center Book Fair.

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28 | Education

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Julia Bernath, who represents Sandy Springs, was elected the vice president of the Fulton School Board at its Jan. 8 meeting. “I am happy to serve and delighted to continue in public service as our board’s vice president,” Bernath said in a press release. “Thank you for your confidence in me.” Linda Bryant, who represents south Fulton, was elected president, the release said. Bernath, who represents District 7 and just began her fifth term, represents portions of Sandy Springs, as well as Roswell, Johns Creek and Alpharetta. The vice president serves a one-year term, according to the release. She previously served as school board president from 2007 to 2009 and as vice president from 2009 to 2010, according to the release.


Julia Bernath represents District 7 on the Fulton School Board.


TAP into Davis Choosing the right school for your child is among the most important decisions you will ever make. Many times, it can seem overwhelming and financially out of reach. Let us help simplify the process. We can make The Davis Academy accessible for your family through our TUITION AND TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS.

School safety legislation has already been filed based on recommendations from a study committee several local lawmakers served on last year. “The School Safety Study Committee was one of – if not the most – impactful and important study committees that I have been a part of,” state Sen. John Albers, a Republican who represents part of Sandy Springs and who chaired the study committee, said in a press release. “The issues discussed and testimonies heard were not just a way of procedure, rather, words that were turned into action through the pieces of legislation filed.” One piece of legislation proposes a state constitutional amendment to allow ESPLOST funds to be allocated towards the security of schools, including additional staffing, such as specialized mental health counselors. Another is titled the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” which would address offenses for minors in possession of a firearm; require school safety plans, including performing threat assessments, drills and education prevention and reporting; and establish a task force to prevent, discover and respond to any threats to public or private schools.



A $3,500 Little Learners Grant is now available for ALL Mechina: Kindergarten Prep AND Kindergarten students admitted for the 2019-2020 school year.


Tuition reduction grants and flexible payment options are available to help families manage tuition expenses.


Carpool facilitation and a free pilot bus transportation program are available. Exploring central routes to service families in Alpharetta/ Johns Creek, Brookhaven, Buckhead/Chastain, East Roswell, and Dunwoody.

Call Lisa Mirsky, Director of Admissions, at 678-527-3300 to learn more!


Living Our Values. Every Day. 8105 Roberts Drive, Atlanta, GA 30350 770-671-0085 | davisacademy.org


The Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s swim team, from left to right, Luke Oliver, Adam Marshall, Jacob Wilhelm, Conner McKittrick, Jackson Lehmann, Hector Padilla, Gavin Marshall, Will Stinnett and Luke Farris. Standing in the front, from left to right, are Coach Star Brackin holding the trophy and William Arnold.

Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s varsity boys swim team took first place at the Jan. 26 Georgia Independent School Association’s competition, defending their 2018 state championship title. “We couldn’t have done it without the whole team,” senior Conner McKittrick said in the press release. The team, coached by Star Brackin, included William Arnold, Luke Farris, Jackson Lehmann, Adam Marshall, Gavin Marshall, Conner McKittrick, Luke Oliver, Hector Padilla, Will Stinnett and Jacob Wilhelm, according to the release.


Sandy Springs’ Temple Sinai Preschool announced registration is open for next year and the school will reopen with renovated classrooms and outdoor spaces in August. The school will have a brand new playground and modular, flexible furniture and equipment to allow for different learning styles, the school said. Programs are available for children 12 months old through Pre-K. For more information or to register a child for Temple Sinai Preschool, visit www.templesinaipreschool. org or contact Maman at 404-255-6200.


Classifieds | 29


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Reporter Classifieds HELP WANTED Controller (MD18) - Master in Accounting, 2 yrs’ experience in accounting/auditing, profic. in US GAAP, GAAS and a CPA license. Mail CV: HR, Express Food & Pharmacy LLC, 50 Upper Alabama St., #92, Atlanta, GA 30303 Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber Hiring Event Coordinator/ Administrative Assistant. Oversight of all Chamber Events. Plans and executes all aspects of events. Weekly/ Monthly Newsletters/ Graphics. Administrative Duties include: Welcome Receptionist/ Phones, Onboarding of new members, Manage Database (ChamberMaster) and various Admin responsibilities. Send resume to: jenny@sandysprings.org.

SERVICES AVAILABLE Property Home Tending – Regular inspections of your For Sale or unoccupied home. Call Charles 404-229-0490. Driveways & Walkways – Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repair, waterproofing and retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576.

Graphic Designer (part-time)—Springs Publishing seeks an experienced graphic designer for a part-time position (approx. 15 hours per week) to work on print and digital products, especially ad design and page layout. You should be proficient with Adobe Creative Suite, specifically InDesign and Photoshop. Knowledge of web design (using WordPress), videography and social media is a plus. You must be available to work in our office on specific weekdays; with some flexible hours and remote work possible. Please provide your resume and samples of your work (via links, etc.) to publisher@reporternewspapers.net.

CEMETERY PLOTS Arlington Memorial Park – Available in Lakeside Section, two side by side plots near lake. Offered at $4,950 for each plot (50% below cemetery price). Lot 118C – Spaces 1 & 2. Contact owner: 770-490-1857.

CARE GIVER ‘CNA Available – Flexible & dependable with references. Minimal four hours per client. Personal care for loved ones. 404-397-9429

To Advertise, call 404-917-2200 ext 110

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30 | Community

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Major Perimeter Center project could sink after old document bans filling in pond BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Plans to pave over a pond to build a parking lot as part of a major Perimeter Center retail redevelopment hit a huge wall after it was discovered zoning conditions dating back more than two decades say the pond must remain. Developer Branch Properties has to decide whether it wants to invest in a complete rezoning of the site that fits in with a strict Perimeter Center Overlay to allow the pond to be paved over. Laurel David, attorney for Branch, said Branch is considering its options. “The property is zoned C-1 [commercial], but zoning conditions from a 1996 zoning were put in the wrong file and have recently come to light,” David said in an email. “The 1996 zoning is conditioned on a site plan and shows four restaurants and detention pond. A zoning modification approval by mayor and City Council would be needed in order to redevelop the site as Branch envisions.” Branch Ashwood Associates, a division of Branch Properties, was set to go before the Dunwoody Zoning Board of Appeals on Feb. 7 with its project to build a new “prototype” grocery store, retail buildings, a gas station and a bank on about 10 acres at Ashford-Dunwoody and Meadow Lane roads. The property is where P.F. Chang’s is currently located and where the now closed McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant and Brio Tuscan Grille restaurant were located. Branch was seeking variances from the ZBA to reduce setbacks to allow the new retail buildings to be built close to

the right-of-way along Ashford-Dunwoody and Meadow Lane roads to engage pedestrians and cyclists on sidewalks and to allow a future commuter trail. Branch officials said they did not require a complete rezoning of the property because it is zoned commercial, allowing for the redevelopment it envisions for the site. The Branch plans also called for filling the detention pond on the site, which serves as a green space in an otherwise dense area and is a favorite place for Canada geese. By paving over the pond, the property owners would be able to build a parking lot behind the retail buildings. Those proposals were allowed under the commercial zoning. But those plans are expected to be withdrawn after the city informed Branch in early January that the 10-

acre site was zoned with conditions by DeKalb County in 1996 as part of a larger, nearly 40-acre property between Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Ridgeview Drive. The 1996 site plan for the 10-acre property shows places for four restaurants and the detention pond. The larger property was zoned with 10 site-specific conditions, including the types of signage, architectural de-

sign and the size of the parking lot. The fifth condition states, “The present detention pond on the subject property will be preserved as a water feature incorporated into the retail component of this project.” Changing the site-specific plan to allow for the paving over of the pond means Branch would have to go through a complete rezoning process, which in-


Above, an illustration of the proposed redevelopment at Ashford-Dunwoody and Meadow Lane roads and Ashwood Parkway that includes a grocery store, restaurants and retail. A new hotel could also be part of the future development. Plans for this project are now threatened after zoning conditions from 1996 say the pond cannot be filled to make way for a parking lot. Below, the 1996 site plan for nearly 40 acres in Perimeter Center between Ashford-Dunwoody Road, at right, and Ridgeview Drive to the left, shows four restaurants and the detention pond adjacent to Ashford-Dunwoody Road. A proposal by Branch properties to redevelop the site with an anchor grocery store, new retail and a potential new hotel hit a wall when 22-year-old zoning conditions for the site state the detention pond cannot be paved over.

LEGAL NOTICES FOR THE CITY OF SANDY SPRINGS Effective immediately, legal notices for the City of Sandy Springs are published: • In our monthly e-newsletter distributed by the City. You can sign up at spr.gs/enewsletter • Inside the Sandy Springs Neighbor newspaper Information related to upcoming meetings can always be found online at sandyspringsga.gov. DUN


Community | 31


cludes a public community meeting, the Planning Commission and the City Council. Rezoning applications can take about four months to complete. The area is part of the Perimeter Center Overlay approved by the City Council in 2017, which includes mandates on street design, sidewalks, multi-use paths, open space and building heights and designs. Community Development Director Richard McLeod said the site-specific zoning conditions for the Branch property were only recently located. In a Jan. 10 email obtained via an open records request, McLeod informed the mayor, the City Council and other city officials that it took his department some time to find the earlier zoning conditions because the property is tied to the larger parcel and not listed under the addresses submitted by Branch to the city for review by the ZBA. “The owner and their attorney were under the impression that the property was zoned C-1 with no conditions. However, we searched the files that DeKalb County gave us and there was no address that matched the site,” McLeod wrote in the email. “We called DeKalb County twice and they did not have any records that they could give to us. After a thorough search, we found the case under a different address that was attached to the zoning for a larger parcel that includ-

ed the building to the west of the site zoned [office industrial],” the email states. In an interview, McLeod said he was “surprised” that Branch did not know the zoning conditions for its property. “I was a little taken aback they didn’t know,” he said. McLeod and city planners met Jan. 11 with Branch representatives to give them the news. He said Branch could decide to build restaurants on the site like what is there now and what is allowed under the 1996 zoning conditions, or seek to rezone the property to Perimeter Center-2 within the Perimeter Center Overlay. “They have to decide if they want to rezone … or put restaurants in those spaces again,” he said. Branch’s original plans included tearing down restaurant buildings there now, including P.F. Chang’s. The proposed project included a 25,440 square foot anchor grocery store on the site. Besides the grocery store, the site plan includes a 2,800-square-foot bank building; a 5,411-square-foot convenience store and gas station with a total of eight gas pumps; and five new retail buildings ranging in size from 8,400 square feet to 6,000 square feet. For comparison, the P.F. Chang’s building is 7,666 square feet, according to DeKalb County property tax records.

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