FEBRUARY 2020 • VOL. 11 — NO. 2
Dunwoody Reporter WORTH KNOWING
These ‘angels’ save pets
City authorities grant tax breaks, school districts eye budget impacts PAGE 5
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I-285 toll lanes could take buildings, backyards; residents and officials express concern
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A portion of a Georgia Department of Transportation map showing a conceptual layout of the toll lanes system and its effects on properties in Dunwoody to the north and Brookhaven to the south. The area shown is to the west of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road.
DHA honors residents while president cites new ‘tension’ BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dunwoody Homeowners Association began its 50th year Jan. 6 by giving awards to residents who it says improve the quality of life, while the group’s president said that local lifestyle is under ‘tension’ due to politics. DHA President Adrienne Duncan took
the occasion to issue a warning that the city’s quality of life appears to be worsening in a climate where neighbors are no longer as trusting of each other and the willingness to compromise on common goals is disappearing, she said. “Between the nationalization of local politics and the lack of solutions of our overcrowded schools, there has become a much
See DHA on page 22
BY DYANA BAGBY AND HANNAH GRECO Approximately 155 properties in Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs could be affected or demolished by Georgia Department of Transportation right of way acquisition for the I-285 top-end toll lanes project, according to new maps unveiled during January open houses in local cities. The draft plans show the project razing several residential and commercial structures, including some or all the Chateau Club Townhomes and possibly the swimming pool of the Georgetown Recreation Center, both in Dunwoody. Also marked for displacement are three to four buildings in the Dunwoody Village apartment complex, and two buildings in the Sierra Place apartments in Sandy Springs. Part of the backyards of numerous homeowners livSee I-285 on page 30
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Cyber attack is estimated to cost Dunwoody at least $80K BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com
The Christmas Eve cyber attack that forced the shutdown of the city of Dunwoody’s computers for several days cost at least $80,000. The City Council at its Jan. 27 meeting approved a payment of $79,853 to its IT contractor, InterDev, to cover emergency purchases and services needed to fight off the cyber attack. Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki is also asking the council to approve an extra $45,000 in case more costs associated with the cyber attack are found, for a total of $125,000. The city has a five-year contract with InterDev for nearly $3.8 million, Vinicki said. Unknown criminals penetrated the city’s computer systems with “ransomware,” according to the city. Police Chief Grogan declined to give details on Dunwoody’s ransomware attack or what it did to the city’s networks. In 2018, the city of Atlanta’s computer systems were attacked and various files were encrypted with the criminals demanding a ransom in exchange for the key to unlock them in what is known as ransomware. Mayor Lynn Deutsch said at the council meeting she recently took a Georgia Municipal Association class for government officials on cyber attacks. “What I learned unfortunately was it’s not if this happens to your government, but when,” she said. Part of the reason governments are susceptible to such attacks is because of its transparent nature, including a great deal of public information on elected officials, she said. “There are a lot of ways to get into our systems,” she said. “I feel like we’re very fortunate we didn’t lose any data.” She also said she learned that on average cyber attacks can cost businesses an average of $5,600 a minute or $300,000 an hour. Councilmember John Heneghan asked if some of the emergency expenses incurred to fight the cyber attack would also fortify the city’s systems to protect the city against potential future cyber attacks. Vinicki said yes, including regular checks for malware on city laptops and desk top computers. Councilmember Joe Seconder asked about an outside firm conducting a security audit of the city’s systems and that is underway. The cyber attackers demanded a ransom to be paid in bitcoin, a digital currency, Grogan said. He declined to give the amount demanded or more information on the ransom demands other than to say the city did not communicate with the attackers or pay the ransom. “This is obviously under investigation … and we are working with the FBI to track down the bad guys,” Grogan said shortly after the attacks were made public. InterDev employees recognized a threat to the city’s computer systems on Christmas Eve and moved to shut down servers and disconnect computers to limit the attack’s impact, Grogan said. “Once the issue was identified remotely … they shut down everything,” he said. “They did a really good job of recognizing the threat early and shutting down everything.” Ashley Smith, InterDev’s director of government services, said in a news release that as soon a problem was detected, “we took immediate steps to protect the city’s infrastructure.” Public safety was not compromised during the cyber attack, Grogan said. With the police department’s computers shut down, officers filled out paper reports, for example. “We did things the old-fashioned way,” he said. Data back-ups from an offsite server were used to fully restore systems, he said. “No information was captured … and no information was comprised in the city’s system,” Grogan said. One issue remaining following the cyber attacks is the city has not yet been able to reestablish its video feed of City Council meetings to be viewed online. The Jan. 26 council meeting was recorded on Facebook live for residents to watch. Dunwoody has experienced small cyber attacks before. On Thanksgiving Day in 2016, hackers believed to be from the county of Turkey altered the city’s website to display a photo of the Turkish president and flag. The website was restored after about two days. The Atlanta ransomware attack in 2018 shut down systems for paying water bills and handling city court cases and rendered useless the computer files of some City Council members, among other impacts. Two Iranian men have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly committing the devastating cyber attack on city of Atlanta computers, as well as similar “ransomware” crimes around the U.S. and Canada.
Community | 3
Community Briefs N EW C OMMUN ITY A SSI STA N C E CENTER BR A N C H OP EN S IN DUN WOO DY
A new branch of the Sandy Springs-based Community Assistance Center has opened in Dunwoody and expects to serve more than 400 families facing homelessness and hunger this year, according to officials. The new office opened Jan. 14 at 5 Dunwoody Park South, Building 5, Suite 113. The office is just north of I-285 off North Shallowford Road and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The location was selected to provide access to families living in the area, especially those with no cars, according to a news release. The public is invited to grand opening ceremony including a ribbon cutting and open house on Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. at the office. The CAC has existed for more than 30 years and helps families in need in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and other areas in DeKalb County that are part of the Dunwoody High School cluster. The Dunwoody branch offers a mini food pantry for prequalified Dunwoody residents; appointments for assistance for financial, food and clothing needs; and seasonal programs, such as summer lunches for children. CAC expects to serve about 400 families a year at the new Dunwoody branch office. Overall, CAC serves 6,500 individuals from 3,000 households a year, according to CAC. Assistance is provided to those with unexpected financial crises such as job loss, medical emergency and divorce. The nonprofit also helps those on fixed incomes. In Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, there are approximately 33,815 residents living with yearly incomes below $45,000 for a family of four, according to the CAC. Visit ourcac.org for more information or call 770-552-4889.
D UN WO ODY VI L L AGE MORATORI UM AM END ED TO EXEMP T C ERTA IN BUSI NESSES
A six-month moratorium of new development in Dunwoody Village has been amended to allow restaurants, health clubs and medical offices to apply for rezoning or building permits. The moratorium approved by the City Council in December stopped the review and permitting of any new development in the Dunwoody Village overlay, a special zoning district encompassing the shopping centers near the intersection of Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads. On Jan. 13, the council voted to amend the moratorium to exempt certain kinds of businesses: eating and drinking establishments; health clubs; and medical offices or clinics. Mayor Lynn Deutsch said the original moratorium was “too broad” leading to the amendment. A year-long process to rewrite the Dunwoody Village zoning regulations is nearly finished, and some council members said in December the moratorium was needed to stop new projects until after the new zoning regulations are in place. The moratorium expires in June. The city began in 2018 looking for ways to update the original 2011 Dunwoody Village Overlay master plan in response to resident demands to revive the area to create a vibrant, downtown, walkable district.
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February Calendar of Events 1
Dunwoody Preservation Trust Donaldson Bannister Farm 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Free First Saturday — Birds
Community CPR Class
Dunwoody Nature Center 1 p.m.
N. Shallowford Road Annex 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
City Hall 6 - 8 p.m.
Walk With a Doc Brook Run 9 a.m.
Comprehensive plan public input session City Hall 1 - 3 p.m.
Student-Instructor Jewelry Market Spruill Arts Center 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
City Hall 6 p.m.
Planning Commission Meeting City Hall 6 p.m.
Sustainability Committee Meeting City Hall 7:45 a.m.
Dunwoody Library 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Dunwoody Community Garden — Composting Brook Run Park Barn 11 a.m. - noon
City Council Meeting
Voting Machine Demonstration
Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting
C A N D I DATES A N N OUN C E RUN S F O R G ANNO N’S S EAT ON DEK A LB C OUN TY C OMM ISSIO N
A community activist who lives near Avondale Estates and the mayor of Clarkston have announced they are running as Democrats for the DeKalb County Commission’s Super 6 District. The district encompasses the western half of the county, including Brookhaven and Left, Emily Halevy, right, Ted terry Dunwoody. Kathie Gannon, the current Super District 6 commissioner, announced in January she would not seek another term after serving 15 years, leaving the open seat to be filled in November. Emily Halevy, an affordable housing advocate and digital media executive, announced Jan. 23 she was seeking to be the Democratic nominee in the May 19 primary. Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced Jan. 26 he was dropping out of his race to challenge U.S. Senator David Perdue to pursue the local office instead.
History Alive — Children of the Holocaust
17 20 24
FREE! CPR with DPD
Great Bird Backyard Count Dunwoody Nature Center
Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild — Natural Dyes North DeKalb Cultural Center 10 a.m.
President’s Day City Hall closed
Community CPR Class
with Dunwoody Police Department N. Shallowford Road Annex 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
City Council Meeting City Hall 6 p.m.
Community CPR Class with Dunwoody Police Department February 6 or February 20 Registration is limited. Visit http://bit.ly/dunreccatalog
4 | Community
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Open-container ‘entertainment district’ considered for Dunwoody Village BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrons of restaurants and bars in Dunwoody Village may soon be able to stroll the shopping centers with beer, wine or other adult beverage in hand. The Planning Commission voted Jan. 14 to recommend approval of an ordinance designating the central commercial area of Dunwoody Village an open-container “entertainment district.” The ordinance now goes to the City Council for a final vote. The district would roughly run along Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody Village Parkway and Mount Vernon Road. Restaurants in that core area include Marlow’s Tavern, Mellow Mushroom, Carbonara Trattoria and the new NFA Burger. The district is being requested by several City Council members who say they want something like the open-container ordinances and entertainment districts in Roswell, Alpharetta and Woodstock. Planning Commission Chair Bob Dallas said much of the land in the commercial center of Dunwoody Village is owned by private real estate companies and it would be up to them to implement the entertainment district on their properties if approved by the city. But by having the city’s stamp of approval on an entertainment district, the property owners can determine if this is a way to improve profits while also doing something the city wants, he said. The ordinance would limit open containers to one beverage per person, no more than 16 ounces. The drink would have to be served in a clear plastic cup before taking it out of the restaurant or bar. Businesses serving open containers would place a sign by their door stating that the patron “takes full responsibility for their actions once they leave the establishment,” according to city staff. No open container would be allowed after midnight. “I think over the years we’ve seen these entertainment districts in other cities and have not seen any negative impact and people have behaved,” Dallas said. “When you consider a patron is allowed only one glass … the likelihood of this [ordinance] being abused is minimal.”
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CITY OF DUNWOODY
A map of where an open-container entertainment district in Dunwoody Village would go if approved by the City Council.
The entertainment district would also include: Dunwoody Plaza, where Village Burger and El Azteca are located; The Shops of Dunwoody where Dunwoody Tavern, Vintage Pizzeria and Wasabi House are located, and a Breadwinner Café is slated to soon open; Moondog Growlers on Nandina Lane; Dunwoody Hall shopping center, where eateries Novo Cocina and Singha 99 Thai Street Foods operate. The district would be in the central area of the Dunwoody Village Overlay, a special zoning district that includes provisions beyond what is required from the underlying zoning code. The overlay covers 165 acres surrounding the intersection of Mount Vernon and Chamblee-Dunwoody roads and includes shopping centers surrounded by residential neighborhoods in what many consider the heart of the city. The city has been searching for ways to revitalize the central commercial area and a zoning rewrite is expected to be completed early this year before going to the City Council for approval.
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Perimeter Business | 5
Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities
Winter 2020 | Piloting a business jet company P6
As city authorities grant tax breaks, school districts eye budget impacts BY DYANA BAGBY, HANNAH GRECO AND JOHN RUCH Property tax abatements granted by government authorities for luxurious developments are the center of a political firestorm in Atlanta, blasted by officials and scrutinized by community groups for diverting money from the public schools and shifting tax burdens to homeowners. Meanwhile, the development authorities of the smaller suburban cities of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs are quietly granting millions of dollars in the same kinds of tax abatements for projects ranging from Roswell Road luxury apartments to State Farm’s massive new campus to an Atlanta Hawks basketball team practice facility. City officials say the tax breaks are worth it to compete with other cities, fund other local improvements, and boost the tax base in the long run, once the abatements expire. But the DeKalb and Fulton county school districts say the breaks contribute to losses of millions in revenue right now on projects that may have happened without a break, essentially giving away money in a time of tight budgets. They come on top of tax breaks offered by county development authorities, sometimes within city limits. “People may have a philosophical disagreement with providing tax abatements, but the long-term benefit in investments we get from these deals far outweighs the amount of the abatement,” said Michael Starling, Dunwoody’s economic development director. “We’re banking on these deals now to bring in higher property taxes in the future.” “This is an area of great concern for us,” said Marshall Orson, chair of the DeKalb County Board of Education. “We have no say in whether an abatement is granted or what proceeds are diverted or how they are used.” In 2019, the DeKalb County School District lost $3.9 million to tax abatements, according to interim Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales. He said that, as one example, around 43 teach-
ers could have been hired with that money. The district is in the midst of a budget crunch that recently led the administration to postpone construction of a new Cross Keys High School and an expansion of Dunwoody High. In fiscal year 2019, the Fulton County School System lost $6.2 million in “potential revenue” from various abatements and incentives, and $4.8 million in fiscal 2018, according to Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef. Dereef said there are certain types of tax breaks the school district can review. “Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine whether proposed developments require tax abatements to be economically viable, or whether they would continue without the incentives and thus, retain potential revenues,” he said. For local cities, the deals are sometimes a way to leverage other benefits. The city-created but self-funded development authorities collect a small percentage of their deals as fees that can be used to fund other “economic development” projects. And the deals can involve negotiated terms where the developer helps to build streets or create affordable housing. “These benefits are in addition to the jobs these companies bring to our city and the enhancement of the city’s tax base,” said Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun.
Development authorities are created by county or city governments, but operate independently. They receive no funds from their parent governments and don’t place any debt on them, either. Development authorities have a number of ways to offer tax breaks to developers. One is to issue bonds for construction funding on behalf of the developer, which cuts a federal tax on bond interest due to the authority’s tax-exempt status as a government body. The Sandy Springs Development Authority did that in 2014 for the Weber School, a private school. But the most common practice local-
This is an area of great concern for us. We have no say in whether an abatement is granted or what proceeds are diverted or how they are used. MARSHALL ORSON CHAIR OF THE DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION ly is a largely fictional real estate transaction that essentially gets around a state law that bars tax abatements without the property changing hands. In such deals, the authority technically becomes the owner of the property and issues bonds for the project that are purchased by the developer itself. The developer then pays the principal and interest on the bonds back to the authority as “rent” on a “lease” that typically lasts 10 years. During that period, the authority uses its taxexempt status to grant a partial property tax discount. After the “lease” expires, the technical ownership reverts to the developer and the normal property tax rates apply. All of that happens only on paper in what Kraun described as a “phantom lease.” The developer remains fully in control of the property and gets its tax break. The terms of the “lease” deal may also require other benefits or a payment in lieu of taxes, which is made to the authority itself.
In the deals, a certain percentage of property tax is abatement. The dollar values are estimated at the beginning because they will vary in reality with the market.
The Atlanta debate
In Atlanta, concerns about tax abatements and other incentive mechanisms have stirred for years. Critics like Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris, a Buckhead resident, expressed concerns that abatements were being used routinely in hot markets like Buckhead and Midtown rather than on projects that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Another longstanding concern is that developers get two shots at abatement requests – one from the county development authority and one from Invest Atlanta, the city’s version. Concerns exploded into major controversy in the past two years, particularly with criticisms from Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who says abatements and other tax breaks are costing her district tens of millions of dollars a year. She briefly served on the board of the Development Authority of Fulton County, pushing for it to be more transparent. She has criticized tax abatements on Buckhead luxury projects as giveaways to developers and says that graduating public-school students is an economic development and equity issue. Late last year, the Fulton development authority rejected a $2.2 million tax abatement for a Buckhead tower, the first such rejection in recent memory. The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, a coalition of homeowners associations, formed a “task force” to study reform of abatements and other tax discounts. And county and state officials have discussed legislation to prevent county development authorities from granting abatements in cities that have their own authorities.
Development authorities in Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs have Continued on page 8
6 | Perimeter Business
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of “planes, trains, and automobiles.” Private aviation also addresses security and privacy, critical to many corporations and UHNWI [ultra-high-net-worth individuals] alike. Imagine the value of departing Atlanta and flying direct to a meeting at facilities in, say Houma, Louisiana, and then to meet a client for lunch in Mena, Arkansas, and then an afternoon meeting at a facility in Knoxville, and still be home for their daughter’s dance recital and dinner with the family -- priceless. This is what private aviation looks like every day, all over the world -- something commercial travel simply cannot accommodate, except maybe over two to three days. Q: If we wanted to buy a new or used jet, what sort of budget should we have in mind? What is the financing like? That’s a hard question to answer, akin to asking what sort of budget should one have when buying a house. There are so many variables at play; however, in a broad scope, “business jets” can range from $500,000 to $75,000,000. Relative to other pieces of capital equipment, aviation residual values are fairly predictable and buyers are typically very strong credits, all affording strong finance opportunities. Q: Do buyers typically fly the plane themselves or do they have to find pilots? How does finding a pilot work? It depends. While we do serve some owner-pilots, most operations engage two or more pilots. Corporations and large private enterprises often run flight departments with a team of pilots, dispatchers, maintenance and management. Other clients opt for a management company to outsource the day-to-day operations of their aircraft. Q: How significant is DeKalb-Peachtree Airport to your business? Is any of your inventory kept there? PDK is generally considered the heartbeat of Atlanta with respect to general aviation and local as well as transient business aviation. That said, Atlanta businesses are blessed to be served by five significant airports in addition to Hartsfield. Over the last 40 years, OGARAJETS has developed a significant number of local client relationships, many have completed several transactions with our team as their needs developed over the years. We cherish our local clientele and their Southern values, where we often still do business on a handshake and appreciate agreeing to deal terms over a meal at Waffle House. As an inventorying dealer, we do purchase aircraft on speculation. Most of these purchases require investments in refurbishment of the exterior paint and interior cabin,
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modernization of avionics and systems, and maintenance. We enjoy many trusted local partners in each of these fields. Most of our inventory is stored in private facilities located at Falcon Field in Peachtree City. Q: Do you own a plane yourself? Do you get to fly in the planes as part of the business? As an inventorying dealer, we do own aircraft for resale and often fly to prospective clients to personally demonstrate the features and benefits. Most of our team are pilots, but while we all hold a passion for flying, we typically engage professional crew members for these demonstration flights. I spend approximately 200 nights per year on the road and most of my movements are via commercial service, usually making Diamond status with Delta by the end of each summer. Q: Tell us about how the business came to be in Sandy Springs. We moved to our current location in Sandy Springs in 2012. We love the community and its convenient location in relation to the private airports throughout the Atlanta area. I am an Atlanta-native and my wife Laura and I are lifelong parishioner of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church with all three of the foster children “Alpha Omegas” of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.
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8 | Perimeter Business
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As city authorities grant tax breaks, school districts eye budget impacts Continued from page 5 executed abatement deals sparingly in the years since the cities incorporated – all within the past 14 years. But the deals add up to millions of dollars in tax abatements on major and sometimes controversial projects. Brookhaven’s authority has granted an $11 million abatement on its single deal. Sandy Springs’ five “phantom lease” deals total millions in abatements. And Dunwoody’s half-dozen deals total about $46.3 million in abatements. In Brookhaven and Sandy Springs, the authorities have negotiated payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, to pay for additional improvements as a kind of bonus. Brookhaven’s $11 abatement for the Hawks facility in Executive Park – touted by officials as making the area an “NBA city” – includes $302,900 annual PILOT over the 15-year “lease,” which started in 2018. The city and the authority are using the money to buy a former gas station on Buford Highway, which is intended to be an ambulance station and a future redevelopment site. The Sandy Springs Development Authority has granted abatements to projects that, in City Council meetings, were
praised as modernizations by some and criticized by others for boosting density and traffic. They include the massive Gateway mixed-use project on the Buckhead border, which replaced an apartment complex targeted by the city; the Modera apartments on Roswell Road; and the Aston apartments within the city’s own City Springs civic center. Kraun said that the deals for all of those projects involve PILOT agreements that return a significant portion of the tax savings to the city in the form of infrastructure improvements. For Gateway, about 72% of the savings, or $770,000, went to a Windsor Parkway/Roswell Road realignment at its driveway. Modera put 25% of its savings, about $675,000, to building an adjacent public street called Denmark Drive. And about 33% of Aston’s savings, or $770,000, is earmarked for “public infrastructure” in City Springs. “These benefits are in addition to the jobs these companies bring to our city and the enhancement of the City’s tax base,” Kraun said. Opinions still vary on whether such projects are worth the subsidies. Former City Councilmember Karen Meinzen McEnerny opposed the Gateway project at the time and still does. “I don’t think
it delivered what the community expected. Its design is not pedestrian-friendly with frontages being covered in advertising,” she said. “It’s a wonderful project and has been very successful for the city,” said Councilmember Tibby DeJulio. The Dunwoody Development Authority doesn’t use PILOT deals, but does include certain requirements, such as job numbers, that owners must meet to retain the tax break, according to Starling, the economic development director. The fee the authority collects on deals – one-eighth of 1% -- has left it with about $889,000 in the bank, which it is considering spending on promotion or infrastructure improvements in Dunwoody Village or Georgetown. The authority’s deals include a $33.8 million abatement, over 14 years, for the first two skyscrapers in State Farm’s massive new campus at Hammond Drive and Perimeter Center Parkway. A longtime argument for abatements is that everyone does them, a point Starling echoed in explaining how Dunwoody aims to remain competitive for office towers. “My belief is every Class A office building, certainly within DeKalb and Fulton, had a tax abatement structure
on them … I have not heard of a new office building that didn’t have abatements,” he said. Dunwoody’s first abatements, granted in 2012, were an estimated total of $8.2 million over 10 years for the renovation of office buildings at 64 and 66 Perimeter Center East. The idea was to help the landlord offer lower rents, Starling said. State Farm has since leased both entire buildings. However, Starling said, it is “hard to say if State Farm came because of the abatement.” The building was already leasing well at that time, around 2018. The Dunwoody authority is now negotiating two more major abatement deals: a possible $2.3 million break for the Perimeter Market project on Ashford-Dunwoody Road and a possible $19 million abatement for the gigantic, longstalled High Street project across Hammond from the State Farm campus. It remains to be seen how the public will respond to those mega-deals. “I certainly understand the critics and there should be conversations and debate on how we provide incentives to any private businesses,” said Starling. “Every project is different. Transparency is important.”
WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS SIMPLIFYING AND ORGANIZING IN THE NEW YEAR HOW DO YOU HELP PEOPLE FULFILL THOSE PREDICTABLE RESOLUTIONS ABOUT BETTER ORGANIZED FINANCES? “Predictable” is correct. In our 49-year history, we consistently hear this goal from clients. It is logical because complicated and disorganized financial planning leads to stress and procrastination over important decisions. The good news: just a few simple steps can result in significant improvement in your planning. For most people, it starts with preparing an up-to-date Balance Sheet that lists all of your financial accounts and assets, along with all debts owed. Update this yearly as a financial discipline. AN UPDATED BALANCE SHEET MAKES SENSE. WHERE’S THE SIMPLIFYING? Find opportunities to simplify to consolidate assets and liabilities into fewer accounts that are easier to track and manage. Over time, many families “proliferate” financial accounts which no longer make sense as a whole. Consolidating accounts makes it easier to properly manage personal finances, reducing costs and account fees. Do the same with credit cards and liability accounts. Imagine the feeling of efficiency as it becomes easier and quicker to manage accounts (auto-payments, paperless files). Also, don’t forget to protect these accounts from cyber-fraud. Use a Password Manager to organize and easily recall secure passwords. YOU HAVEN’T USED THE “B” WORD YET… WHAT ABOUT A BUDGET? Our Wealth Planning Committee, a multi-disciplinary group of professionals (CPAs, JDs, and other credentialed firm members), meets to brainstorm
(Left to Right: Sam Tortorici; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)
such topics and has developed a client-centered approach. Committee Chair, Phillip Hamman, CFP®, CFA, commented about budgets: “We should re-invent budgeting since ‘Budgeting in Reverse’ is sufficient for most – simply identify the required savings and accumulation targets, and make sure you hit those numbers.” WHERE CAN YOU GET HELP? Slaying the “Organization Dragon” is more than a weekend exercise. If you need help getting things in order, talk with your financial advisor since they may have expertise. We advise people to be careful in seeking help. Choose an advisor 100% committed to the Fiduciary business model, with a legal duty to put their clients’ best interests first. This is the model we follow at Linscomb & Williams. Contact us if you would like to sit down and create an organized financial plan at our office in Atlanta. 2727 Paces Ferry Road SE Building Two, Suite 1475 Atlanta, Georgia 30339 770 333 0113 www.linscomb-williams.com
Perimeter Business | 9
Ribbon-Cuttings The following businesses recently opened in Reporter Newspapers communities
Cutting the ribbon on the Endeavor Montessori school at 48 Perimeter Center East in Dunwoody in November are, from left, Ricardo Campo, CEO of Endeavor Schools; City Councilmember Jim Riticher; Mayor Lynn Deutsch; Patricia Gaya and son Max Vidal, who attends the school; Endeavor Chief Operating Officer Danielle Millman; and Sue Hansen, head of the Dunwoody school. Info: endeavormontessori.com.
285 Colonial Kitchen, restaurant, 5610 Roswell Road, Suite 110, Sandy Springs. Info: 285colonialkitchen.com. Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, 1402 Dunwoody Village Parkway, Dunwoody. Info: bigfrog.com/Dunwoody. Boutique for Cosmetic Dentistry, 5975 Roswell Road, Suite D-229, Sandy Springs. Info: boutiqueforcosmeticdentistry.com. Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter hotel, renovation reopening, 4355 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: cpravinia.com. The Duke Pub, 4685 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: thedukepub.com.
Celebrating the opening of the City Barbecue restaurant at 6649 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs in November are, from left, Steve Hayes of City Barbecue; City Councilmembers John Paulson and Jody Reichel; Tom Mahaffey, president and CEO of the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce; Mike Muldoon, president and chief operating officer of City Barbecue; Mayor Rusty Paul; Karen Trylovich of the chamber; and City Councilmember Chris Burnett. Info: citybbq.com.
EarthLink, internet provider, new headquarters, 980 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: earthlink.net. Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta, real estate brokerage, new office, 3221 Peachtree Road, Suite 105, Buckhead. Info: buckheadatlanta.evrealestate.com. etúHOME, kitchen accessories, Shops Around Lenox, 3400 Around Lenox Road, #205B, Buckhead. Info: etuhome.com. Max Stanco, leather accessories and footwear, Phipps Plaza mall, 3500 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Info: maxstanco.com. Navy Federal Credit Union, 5898 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: navyfederal.org. Scotch & Soda, men’s and women’s apparel and accessories, Lenox Square mall, 3393 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Info: scotch-soda.com. Strong Spine and Body, chiropractic, 6425 Powers Ferry Road, Suite 175, Sandy Springs. Info: strongspineandbody.com.
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10 | Commentary
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Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at email@example.com.
An urgent pet post on a local social netThe photographer and author of the reworking site stood out from the constant cent post was Sandy Springs resident Lisa stream of other urgent pet postings. It was Zambacca, a founder and board member of a photo of a little brown terrier and her Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, which focuseight newborn puppies huddled in a cores on high-kill shelters throughout Georgia. Carol a marketing lives onAmong the Dunwoodyner at a high-kill shelter --Niemi soonis to be “red-consultant who Angels Us saves the most vulnerSandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire lined” if no one adopted them. able and least adoptable -- often the elderly others. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. What caught my attention were her or injured. Lacking a shelter of its own, the soulful eyes. But with her puppies too group relies on its approved fosters who young to be separated, all nine of them take rescues into their own homes. Angels would have to be adopted together or face can’t remove a pet from a shelter without a certain death. ready foster. Since its founding in 2009, the group has saved more than 16,000 lives and keeps them in private homes until they are adopted. “For every foster who steps up, we save a life,” said Zambacca, who acknowledges that many high-kill shelters are overcrowded, understaffed and underfunded, but run by decent people who notify Angels when an animal’s time is up. With adoption unlikely for the little mom and her pups, Zambacca also posted the photo on the Angels Among Us website and Facebook page, hoping to find a foster. Several days later, she posted that an Angels foster had come forward to save them. Who would take a stray with eight un-housebroken puppies into their home? And how do you take a dog into your home, care SPECIAL for it, train it, love it, bond A terrier now known as Little Missy with her with it and then let it go? puppies at a shelter where they faced euthanasia before Angels Among Us took them in. I called Zambacca and
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The ‘Angels’ who save pets from high-kill shelters learned that quite a few other kind souls are willing to do it. I ended up connecting with several of them, including Karen Marques, the foster who had rescued the little brown dog and her pups. She too had noticed the soulful eyes. “Angels couldn’t take her till a foster stepped forward. That’s when I volunteered,” she said. “There was something about her eyes. They were very soulful and spoke to me.” No one knows how Little Missy, as she’s now called, ended up in a high-kill shelter. But SPECIAL she was probably someLittle Missy in her new home. one’s pet. “She’s very sweet and told me I’m the bridge from their past to smart,” said Marques. “She knows comtheir future.” mands, opens doors and gates and moves Jill Feibus is an Angels foster who prechairs.” fers puppies, especially since she and her Every foster I spoke with, including husband work from home and have the Marques, had other pets in the home. Most time and patience. She’s fostering one of had become fosters after adopting a resLittle Missy’s remaining puppies. cue of their own. All were committed to the Like Angevine, cause. All had stories she’s also had memothat could break the rable rescues, includhardest heart. ing a little chihuahua Retired teacher mix with severe anxSally Angevine says iety. her favorite rescue “She barked evwas Emersen, a “little ery time my husband poodle-y mix” who or boys entered the was deaf, old and room, but eventualpartially paralyzed. ly got used to us,” she She fostered him for said. After 14 months, nine months until his the right family came death from cancer. along. “He was such a “Now she’s weargood boy,” she said. ing sweaters and goAnother elderly ing on outings to SPECIAL dog she fostered was Home Depot,” she Lisa Zambacca, founder of Angels adopted by an elderly said. Among Us Pet Rescue. couple, who “traveled But fairytale endthe world” with him. ings don’t happen “He only lived anovernight. At press other year,” she said, “but I bet it was the time, five of Little Missy’s puppies have best year of his life.” been adopted. Three are still with fosters Angevine has fostered 62 rescues for awaiting their forever homes, as is Little Angels Among Us, mostly elderly or disMissy, who has been spayed and is also abled. All but two who passed away from awaiting surgery on a torn ligament, for illness were adopted -- including the one which Angels is covering the cost. she adopted. But saying goodbye is bitterFor information on Little Missy or her sweet. remaining puppies, please email info@an“They take a little piece of your heart gelsresue.org or go to angelsrescue.org/ with them,” she said, “but a wise person adopt.
Community | 11
City, contractor settle lawsuit over Mount Vernon Road paving
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Serving Sandy Springs for over 25 years In April 2018, the city installed metal plates over a section of Mount Vernon Road as a temporary fix to the cracking and sinking of the pavement following a water line replacement.
BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com
A years-long dispute between the city and a contractor over who should repair a cracked and sinking section of Mount Vernon Road is over after both sides decided to walk away from dueling lawsuits. The City Council voted Jan. 13 to drop its 2018 lawsuit against GS Construction after the company agreed to drop its countersuit as part of the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement, however, was contingent on Lowe Engineering, the firm the city pays for public works services, shelling out $34,000 to GS Construction. All parties involved denied liability as part of the agreement. “I’m not happy with it … but this is the best way to end this silliness,” said Councilmember Jim Riticher. Lowe Engineering did not respond to a request for comment. When Mount Vernon Road might be repaved by the city is unclear. The city has temporarily patched the section of damaged road near the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road intersection and it is safe for motorists, according to the city. “It is not tremendously urgent to pave, and we will [let] Public Works make that decision,” said Mayor Lynn Deutsch. Public Works Director Michael Smith said the temporary repairs have consisted of cutting out the areas of sinking pavement, compacting the stone in the water line trench and then patching the area with asphalt. Repairs have been completed in three different areas over the last 2 years, he said. No timeline for a complete repair has been established, he said. The lawsuit and countersuit stem from a 2015 contract the city awarded to GS Construction for nearly $2.4 million. The contract included GS Construction replacing a DeKalb County water main along Mount Vernon and then paving the road. As part of the project, Lowe Engineering provided some project management and oversight services to the city. The city alleged GS Construction failed to fulfill the contract because its work was “defective” and resulted in an approximately 150-foot-long section of the road to crack and sink within the one-year warranty. The city demanded the construction company pay to cover costs to repair the road and other legal fees. GS Construction CEO Alessandro Salvo said the city was at fault for requiring the wrong kind of dirt to fill the trenches around the new water main. That dirt, Salvo said, is what led to the sinking and cracking and it is the city’s responsibility to repair. His company countersued and alleged in the lawsuit the city breached the contract “by its complete failure to acknowledge and be responsible for its own error.” GS Construction demanded the city pay its legal fees. As part of the settlement, both sides agreed to pay their own legal fees. BH
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12 | Education
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DeKalb Schools opts for limited, temporary redistricting for Austin Elementary BY HANNAH GRECO with the purchase of 3 Bundtlets
Sandy Springs 5975 Roswell Rd, Suite A-103 (404) 236-2114 NothingBundtCakes.com Expires 2/29/20. Limit one (1) coupon per guest. Coupon must be presented at time of purchase. Valid only at the bakery(ies) listed. No cash value. Coupon may not be reproduced, transferred or sold. Internet distribution strictly prohibited. Must be claimed in bakery during normal business hours. Not valid for online orders. Not valid with any other offer.
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In the wake of controversy over a redistricting plan for the new Austin Elementary School, the DeKalb County School District has announced a significantly different, temporary version that will take effect in July. The “interim” redistricting will move 102 students from Dunwoody Elementary to Austin. The interim plan was released at a Jan. 13 DeKalb County Board of Education meeting. Ramona Tyson, the district’s interim superintendent, recommended an “Interim Redistricting Plan” intended to prepare the way for a Comprehensive Master Plan, which will be completed in the 2020-2021 school year. The Master Plan process will include a permanent redistricting plan, but it is unclear when it will be put into effect or what the process will look like. “This minimal redistricting recommendation is phase 1 for redistricting so as to not impact the comprehensive redistricting recommendations that are expected from the CMP,” a school district memo said. “It provides breathing space to develop a strategic vision for the CMP.” The interim plan will affect a total of 800 students in the district and remove 50 portable classrooms, or trailers at schools. It also will locate land for a new elementary school for the Dunwoody/Chamblee clusters. The district began a redistricting process in 2019 ahead of this month’s opening of the new, 950-seat Austin Elementary School. The surrounding elementary schools currently over capacity are Chesnut, Dunwoody, Hightower and Vanderlyn. During the redistricting process, the district held three public meetings with a large group presentation and small group discussions held in individual classrooms at Dunwoody High School. At the final meeting in November, the staff-recommended plan suggested moving 106 students from Dunwoody to Austin and 78 students from Vanderlyn to Austin. The plan also would move 90 Dunwoody students to Vanderlyn; 40 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; 21 Vanderlyn students to Kingsley; 65 Hightower students to Kingsley; 2 Kingsley students to Vanderlyn; 6 Dunwoody students to Chesnut; and 17 Chesnut students to Hightower. The staff-recommended plan was controversial amongst Dunwoody parents, with many saying it would unnecessarily move students and does not equally share highdensity housing areas. The interim recommendation comes from Tyson, who is serving through June 30, by which time the Board of Education expects to have hired a permanent superintendent.
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Community | 13
Community Briefs Y EA R - LON G C ELEBRATI ON OF DON A L D SO N-BANNISTER FA R M ’ S 150TH A N N I VERSA RY U ND ERWAY
A year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Donaldson-Bannister Farm is underway with an “Afternoon Tea” event at the historical farmhouse scheduled for March 1. The tea is from 2-5 p.m. and tickets must be purchased in advance. Cost is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at dunwoodypreservationtrust.org. The farmhouse is located at 4831 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. The farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built around 1870 on a farm that is now the corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody and Vermack roads.
NEW M AY OR AN D C OUN C I L MEMBERS TAKE O FFICE
Dunwoody City Hall was packed Jan. 2 for the swearing in ceremony of the city’s new mayor and council members. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Stacey Hydrick swore in Lynn Deutsch as the city’s new mayor and new City Council members Stacey Harris and Joe Seconder. John
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Heneghan, who has served on the council since the city was incorporated in 2008, was also sworn in after being reelected with no opposition. Heneghan was also elected Mayor Pro PAUL WARD Tem. DeKalb County Superior Judge Stacey Hydrick swears in Lynn A new tradition Deutsch as the new mayor of Dunwoody before a packed crowd at City Hall during the Jan. 2 special council meeting. was started at the first meeting of the new council with members of the all-girl Jewish Cub Scout Troop 1818 of the Dunwoodybased Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta leading the pledge of allegiance. Deutsch said the planned to invite youth groups to lead each City Council meeting with the pledge of allegiance. In the past, council members would do so.
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14 | Commentary
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Commentary: When should local governments provide tax breaks? Elected officials and Goals that tax breaks board members are belatpotentially serve include: edly re-thinking Atlanta’s growing the tax base, atgo-along approach to tax tracting jobs, housing afbreaks after public outcry fordability and sustainover recent mega-deals. ability. Breaks reduce Giving Arthur Blank resources for schools and $900 million of our hotelpublic services or increase motel taxes to replace his residents’ taxes, so should stadium, according to my be treated like real money analysis of the city’s 2019 ($27 million in 2018, and financial report, was ridicrising). ulous -- which is why forProjects should only mer Mayor Kasim Reed inget breaks if they would sisted it ‘only’ cost $200 not happen without one. Julian Bene is a former Developers and employmillion. Giving real-estate bil- member of the board of di- ers pitch breaks smoothly rectors of Invest Atlan- -- it’s free money for them. lionaires $1.9 billion in tax ta, the economic develop- So responsible boards have exemptions for a private ment authority of the city to assess what the compadevelopment in the downof Atlanta. A retired man- ny would do without an intown area known as “The agement consultant, he centive. Gulch” was crazier – and has a degree in economsome of us challenged the Recent luxury apartics and politics from Ox- ment and trophy office deal’s legal flaws, still in ford and an MBA from towers in Midtown Atlancourt. Harvard. He comments on ta? They were coming reSo, when should Invest local incentive topics on gardless of the millions in Atlanta or the Development Twitter at @julian_bene Authority of Fulton Countax breaks they received, ty give tax breaks? Based to meet hot demand. Emon eight years on Invest ployers seeking tech talent Atlanta’s board, discussing this with and access to a hyper-convenient airgood people, I recommend the followport are also coming regardless, though ing principles. some prizes warrant modest incentives
Your Views on Tax Abatements
as insurance – think NCR’s 5,000 jobs. For deals that likely won’t happen without incentives, what price is worth paying? Property tax breaks are 25% for 10 years. It’s better to grow the tax base by 75% than by zero on developments that have location choices, like UPS’s Fulton Industrial hub. For jobs wins: How much per job, and what quality of jobs? Sadly, few employers attracted to the city offer mid-skill jobs for non-degreed folks, our highest need. We’d be better off funding skills training than over-paying Norfolk Southern to relocate HQ jobs here. Georgia’s film tax credit has us paying some $50,000 each year for every job. We should instead pay that to teachers to educate our kids. For apartment projects that offer discounted units in exchange for a break: Is the subsidy reasonable? Recent deals costing $10,000-$20,000 per unit per year were developer welfare. Better to give breaks or grants to preserve older multi-family properties. Apartments at MARTA stations might merit breaks for sustainability, if they walk the talk and forego parking. Tell your elected officials you expect them and the boards they control to agree incentives only in return for good value for residents. Your voice helps! How often should the government offer tax abatements -- a break on property taxes -- to large real estate projects as an incentive?
Local governments’ use of property tax abatements to spur development of large real estate projects found little support from 51 readers who responded to an informal Reporter online survey. About half the 51 respondents to the survey opposed the use of such abatements, agreeing that the private market should decide the viability of projects. Another quarter said abatements should be used rarely, only when a project wouldn’t happen otherwise. Ten respondents agreed that tax abatements should be used frequently or always to boost long-term tax revenue or stay competitive with other areas. The survey was posted on the Reporter’s social media and distributed through our weekly email newsletter of top stories in our communities.
Frequently. Redevelopment creates new tax revenue. Always. They are a tactic for staying competitive. No opinion/ Not enough information.
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Rarely. Only when the project would not happen otherwise Never. Let the private market decide. BH
Commentary | 15
In Instagram era, food dresses up for ‘flamour shots’
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Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, someone took a potato and turned it
into soup. We’ve been repurposing food ever since. But somewhere along the line, probably around the time we emerged from caves, there was a subtle shift in focus from repurposing food to gussying it up. We get a serious kick out of playing with our food. Like a teenager in the ’90s
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playing dress-up with feather boas and blue eyeshadow in preparation for a Glamour Shot, we play dress-up with raspberry drizzle and chopped nuts. We figure out how much we can do to a latte, then we snap a photo of it and post it. Food has become the Glamor Shots subject of our society. We’re Flamour Shotting. Consider the Oreo. The perfectly good Oreo, since 1912, has been a cookie considered by the average person to be in its final form. Yet it, too, can get the foodie version of a sequined top and red lipstick, or, shall we say, the Flamour Shot
Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.
treatment. Simply skewer the cookie on a stick with two other Oreos, then dip that skewered trio in chocolate. Next, mix an entire cake’s worth of Funfetti cake mix,
FEB 9 • MAR 8
dip your chocolate-covered Oreo skewer in it, and deep fry it. You’re not done yet -- keep gilding that lily! Drizzle the whole thing with icing, then for one final touch, add some confetti sprinkles. I must admit, they made me look. So did the chef who
turned a piece of toast into a five-layered entree…and then lit it on fire.
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So did the fellow who, while uncomfortably focused on the camera, grabbed pieces of raw meat dangling from hooks around his head and fried them a on a grill the size of a driveway, stuffed them in the world’s largest hotdog bun, and then added a garbage can’s worth of condiments. Let’s face it, we do a lot in the name of presentation. Presentation has been important since there were kings and queens and four and 20 blackbirds baked into a pie. Then Wilton went and invented about 156 piping tips so that there was really no excuse any more for the common baker to not cover a cake with Russian tulips.
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However, I am not compelled. My idea of presentation is taking the food out of its wrapper. If company is coming, I’ll put it on the good platter. I cannot relate to someone who does not merely think, “Today I’ll make choc-
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olate cupcakes,” but who thinks instead, “Today I’ll make chocolate cupcakes and
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turn them into lava-oozing volcanoes.” Nor can I relate to the mindset of some-
but experience OFF periods, local
one who looks at an orange and instead of seeing a bright delicious fruit, sees a vessel for a mini-cake. I will, however, watch the whole process on Instagram, where it’s set on fast speed using pre-measured ingredients and a peppy soundtrack.
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I will click on that video of someone building a Ferris wheel out of chocolate and sit with it while he fashions little macaroon-filled baskets and garnishes them with sugared snowflakes. I’ll watch the account where I can’t tell if they’re throwing a bowl on a pottery
medication Rytary and must be
wheel or frosting a cake. I’ll watch someone frying eggs in happy-face pastry ring.
experiencing OFF periods most
I’ll watch the forkful of cheesy corn pudding coming at me in slow motion. And I
mornings and for at least 2 and a half
will be mesmerized.
total hours during the day.
I will watch a pair of disembodied hands add yet another layer, another topping, another garnish, wondering all the while if it’s done, yet. And instead of sending us home with a poufy-haired photo to hang on the wall, the Glamour Teams post fabulously dressed-up food on Social Media for all the world to see. Everything looks better in Flamour Shots…even the potato.
Learn more about this research study.
16 | Commentary
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From her early days as a lawyer, Elizabeth Green Lindsey wanted to be in a courtroom. There might be more money to be made working for big law firms negotiating big deals for big corporations or handling big property transactions, but she wanted to be involved directly in the smaller kinds of cases that could change people’s lives for the better. JOE EARLE “I did not want to be Elizabeth Lindsey in her Buckhead office. in a cubicle somewhere doing research and drafting documents all day,” she said during an interview in a conference room in the 50-year-old Buckhead law firm where she’s now a shareholder. “I wanted to be in the courtroom working with people.” She considered criminal defense law, but settled on family law, the kind of legal practice centered on the divorce courts and the kind some other lawyers say they avoid if they can. She wanted to be where the action was, and she didn’t want to have to wait years for her chance to get involved. After graduating law school in her home state of North Carolina in 1985, she found a job with a “very small law firm” there. “Two days after I was sworn in [as a lawyer],” she said, “I was in a courtroom.” She moved to Atlanta a few years later when she married another lawyer, Ed Lindsey, who represented Buckhead in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2004 to 2014. They met during a ski trip to Wyoming, she said. There was a time, she admits, when a career built on divorces and custody cases seemed a little less posh, perhaps, than following some other legal paths. “Back in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, it was kind of a red-headed stepchild of the law,” she said, “because nobody wanted to do it.” Yet times do change. The standing of lawyers practicing family law has risen over the past generation, and Lindsey has played her part in that rise. She’s been active in both national and state organizations working to improve the practice of family law. Later this year, the 59-year-old Buckhead lawyer takes over as president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, an organization that promotes professionalism in the practice of family law and that’s, coincidentally, about a year younger than she is. She’s now serving as president-elect of the organization, which claims more than 1,650 fellows in the 50 states. She received that academy’s Fellow of the Year Award last year. She also is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and has chaired the family law section of the Georgia Bar. The academy organizes training sessions for lawyers involved with domestic relations cases and works to promote professionalism among specialists in that area of legal practice. “The Academy Fellows are highly skilled negotiators and litigators who represent individuals in all facets of family law,” the organization says on its website. Practicing family law requires a lawyer to be mentally nimble, Lindsey said. “You have to have a lot of knowledge about a lot of things,” she said. “It’s intellectually stimulating, and, on the personal side, you’re dealing with people in crisis.” One reason divorce courts can seem unlike other courts is because they can involve the dissolution of families. Stress and anger run high. “It’s different because it’s so emotional and so personal,” she said. As with other types of legal disputes, the great majority of divorce cases settle out of court. Lindsey thinks that’s appropriate. “Good lawyers will help clients reach a reasonable solution,” she said. But many divorces still end up going to trial before a judge or a jury. “I find that juries are very fair-minded,” she said. “I think they take these cases very seriously. I think they do a good job.” And getting the change to try cases was a big part of what drew her to family law in the first place. “It was about doing something where I thought I could make a difference,” she said.
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18 | Food & Drink
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Dining Q&A An acclaimed burger pop-up finds a home in Dunwoody Village BY HANNAH GRECO email@example.com
After a few years of hosting pop-ups and working to perfect his burger recipe, 20year Dunwoody resident Billy Kramer has opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Dunwoody Village. NFA Burger opened in December in the Chevron gas station at 5465 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. “NFA” stands for “not fooling around.” “The community support has been overwhelming and extremely humbling,” Kramer said. “I know that every burger I sell could be my last and if that’s the case, I want the last burger to be the best burger anyone’s ever had.” Kramer describes an NFA burger as a classic, smashed, double-stack cheeseburger with house-made seasoning, sauce, pickles and mustard on a potato roll. “All of the ingredients are available at the store,” Kramer said. “Except for my seasoning.” Before running NFA full-time, Kramer worked in advertising sales for 20 years. Kramer has conducted many pop-ups; was ranked the 13th best burger at the 2019 World Food Championships held in Dallas, Tex.; and participated in Atlanta Magazine’s 2018 Best Burger Battle. He was also a vendor at the 2019 PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta, where he was nearly struck by lightning on the golf course. Although he is looking into expansion opportunities, Kramer said he is happy to call Dunwoody Village home. “While I’m still exploring opportunities in the Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, West Midtown and other metro Atlanta areas, I’d be completely content to just have this one location until I’m ready to retire,” Kramer said. For more information, visit nfaburger.com Q: What made you choose Dunwoody Village as your first brick-and-mortar restaurant? A: Two weeks before I decided to accept Salim Thobani’s proposal, who owns the Chevron, I was involved in the lightning strike at the 2019 PGA Tour Championship. Something my wife said to me the following week really hit home and made it clear that
Mar 20—Apr 12
Jan 24-Feb 16
if I was going to move forward with a permanent location, that I wanted to do it surrounded by friends and family. Q: How long have you been in the burger business? A: I’ve been blogging and judging burger contests for almost a decade. About three years ago, followers started asking me how to make a great burger. So I did some research and came up with my favorite burger. Each iteration revolved around the idea of, what if I owned my own place? What if I sold franchises? Would the process be repeatable? Could I make a burger that was consistently great every time? It became a game. Q: When did you decide to start hosting pop-ups? A: About two years ago, a friend of mine told me she stopped eating other burgers and just waits until I say I’m testing [and] cooking. It was then that I decided to try my first pop-up. FortunatePHOTOS BY HANNAH GRECO ly, my sales expertise came in NFA Burger owner Billy Kramer posing with a classic combo burger. handy as I was able to convince the folks at Battle and Brew [a gaming bar located in Sandy Springs] to let me do a pop-up. Since April of 2018, I’ve conducted a few dozen pop-ups. This past summer, the PGA Tour asked me to be a vendor at the Tour Championship. Shortly after the tournament, I signed a lease to open in Dunwoody. Q: Do you see any potential changes to your restaurant with the proposal to create a special open-container entertainment district in Dunwoody Village? A: Salim and I have discussed some ideas, but if we do anything, it won’t happen for a while. I will say, having a burger counter inside a place that sells beer and wine can’t be a bad thing should some of the more progressive changes come to fruition. Q: What has been the best or most rewarding part about opening a brick-and-mortar spot? A: To date, I think five to six babies have had their first burger at NFA. I’ve had people order burgers for lunch and then stop back on the way home from work for seconds. That being said, the most rewarding part has been the overwhelming support from the community.
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Q: When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing? A: Hanging with family, watching sports and game-planning NFA’s future.
NFA Burger cook Sean Hunter plating a classic combo burger.
Q: What is your secret to the “perfect” burger? A: The secret is caring. You find someone who cares about the process and you’ll probably find an excellent burger. BH
Food & Drink | 19
Restaurant Report: Dining news Crepe Delicious opened in Perimeter Mall at 4400 AshfordDunwoody Road, Dunwoody, in January. The cafe offers crepes, thin pancakes originating in France, along with gelato and other treats. Info: crepedelicious.com. Empire State Pizza and Growlers in the Dunwoody Point shopping center at 5000 Winters Chapel Road closed at the end of December, according to its Facebook page. The restaurant was one of two in Dunwoody that were ordered not to sell alcohol on Christmas Day after they were ticketed by police for selling to a 19-year-old buyer. A Great American Cookies location opened in Perimeter Mall on Feb. 1, according to its website. The national chain sells traditional cookies and cookie cakes. Info: greatamericancookies.com.
Taqueria Los Hermanos, a Mexican restaurant, will be opening a location at 5500 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody the week of Feb. 17, according to the owner, Chris Romero. The local chain has locations in Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Suwanee and Tucker. Info: taquerialoshermanos.com. Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria closed its Perimeter Mall location on Dec. 24, according to a press release from Legacy Ventures, the restaurant’s owner. The restaurant opened in January 2018. One other location remains open at 300 Marietta Street in Atlanta. Email Hannah Greco at Hannah@ReporterNewspapers.net with any restaurant news in Reporter communities
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20 | Community
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Mayor says Brook Run opening should be delayed to avoid festival damage BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
The city’s $7.8 million renovations to Brook Run Park are on track to meet a March 21 grand opening. But the mayor says that should be delayed so the popular Lemonade Days festival, set for April 22-26, does not ruin the new great lawn or must be staged on parking lots. Lemonade Days, which organizers said attracts more the 80,000 people each year to Brook Run Park, traditionally sets up dozens of carnival rides and food vendors in the central area of the park in what has been known as the fairway. That area is now known as the great lawn. where an amphitheater with terraced seating is under construction. Open fields are also part of the newly renovated area and new Bermuda grass is set to be planted in early February to be ready for the grand opening. But Mayor Lynn Deutsch and other City Council members recently questioned whether the new grass would be rooted enough to withstand heavy foot traffic from Lemonade Day attendees. “I am concerned we are going to force an opening when we are not ready,” Deutsch told Eric Johnson, president of Comprehensive Program Services, at the City Council’s Jan. 27 meeting. CPS is the project manager for Brook Run Park’s master plan. “We spent nearly $8 million, so this has to be perfect,” she said. Suzanne Huff, executive director of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, said the organization is in constant contact with the city on how the park’s renovations could impact the festival. A walk-through with city officials was planned for early February to make a final determination of where the festival would be located, she said. “For the last couple of years, Lemonade Days has been held in the area called the great lawn,” Huff said. “But for several years we did hold it at the front of park, closer to North Peachtree Road, which gave us greater visibility. We’re not concerned and wherever the city wants us to be, we will be there.” Heavy rains have contributed to the construction being slowed, including original plans to plant the grass last summer, Johnson said. But Johnson said most of the park’s new amenities would be substantially finished by March 2, to be ready for the public unveiling. That timeline appears to be rushing the project, Deutsch said. “It’s not too late to change the grand opening,” she said. “I would rather delay the opening than find ourselves in a big mess … because we rushed for Lemonade Days. It’s important to not destroy that work.”
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Deutsch asked city staff to work with CPS to make sure “we are not rushing things.” “This is a consequence of us not being on schedule, but I don’t want to rush for a March 21 opening,” she said. “We have to be really careful. We’ve got to come up with a plan B or maybe a plan C. It worries me about that new sod a lot.” City Manager Eric Linton said he wanted CPS and the contractor, Reeves Young, to finish by the deadline as the city works to find a solution for Lemonade Days. He said there is a “comfort zone” of time that can be built in. if needed. Parks and Recreation Director Brent Walker said discussions are happening with the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, sponsor of Lemonade Days, that include possibly moving the festival to the front of the park near North Peachtree Road. The area includes several surface parking lots and some open, grassy areas. That could be a costly alternative, however, because there are not many electricity hookups at the front of the park and would require bringing in extra generators to power carnival rides and food vendors, he said. “We are also looking at staging rides and walking areas on parking lots … We are looking at all of these potential sites to keep people off the lawn,” Walker said. The great lawn’s new amphitheater would be available for music acts at Lemonade Days, he said. The city’s project to add athletic fields, a large pavilion, an amphitheater, a great lawn and other new amenities to Brook Run Park was approved last year with the ambitious goal of being completed by this spring. Johnson told the City Council a new large pavilion and concession stand would be completed by Feb. 14. The artificial turf for both athletic fields is scheduled to be installed by Feb. 28, he said. Allegations were raised that Reeves Young, contractor for the project, was failing to maintain its silt fencing around construction of the athletic fields. The fences are required to ensure silt and other debris do not run off a construction site and pollute nearby streams. Mud and silt are pollutants and can harm wildlife and cause erosion. Resident Rob Weir, who walks the park regularly to observe construction, told the council during public comment that mud and silt from the construction site regularly fills the stream in the park during heavy rains. Johnson, of CPS, denied Weir’s claims. He said that the silt fences are in compliance, according to county and state environmental inspectors, as well as third-party inspectors hired by Reeves Young. “There is no silt in the water,” Johnson said.
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Crime Reports / Dunwoody From Dunwoody Police reports Jan. 12 through Jan. 26. The following information was pulled from Dunwoody’s Police-2-Citizen website.
LARCENY/SHOPLIFTING/ THEFT 4700
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, in the evening, a man was arrested and charged with shoplifting. 4700
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, at night, two people were arrested and charged with shoplifting. 4400
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 12, at night, items from a car were reported stolen. 4100 block of Dunwoody Club Drive —
On Jan. 13, in the early morning, items from a car were reported stolen. 1700 block of Chateau Drive — On Jan.
13, in the early morning, items from a car were reported stolen. 4500 block of Olde Perimeter Way —
On Jan. 13, in the morning, a larceny was reported. 4400 block of Chamblee-Dunwoody
Road — On Jan. 13, at noon, a shoplifting incident was reported. 4300
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 13, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting. 4700
Public Safety | 21
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 13, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and charged with
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 13, at night, a shoplifting incident was reported.
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block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, in the early morning, a larceny from a building was reported and a woman was arrested later in the afternoon. 4500
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, in the morning, a woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting. 4700
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, in the afternoon, a shoplifting incident was reported. 100 block of Perimeter Center East —
On Jan. 14, in the afternoon, items from a car were reported missing. 4400
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting. 4700
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting. 4700
block of Ashford-Dunwoody Road — On Jan. 14, in the evening, a man was arrested and charged with shoplifting.
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22 | Community
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DHA honors residents for improving city as its president warns of ‘tension’ Continued from page 1 more pervasive tension and hostility in our community,” Duncan told the audience of about 50 people at the meeting held at Dunwoody United Methodist Church. “The whole community fabric is being strained,” she said. “When you have trust, you can dislike a neighbor but still trust they won’t hurt you. I submit the quality of life [in Dunwoody] is nowhere near where it should be.” Duncan said she regularly hears conversations between residents who say they are afraid to voice their opinions on political candidates or school redistricting because they fear retaliation from neighbors or even at City Hall. “That breakdown in trust has come from institutions into your neighborhoods,” she said. “If you can trust the people you work and live with, it is easier to compromise … and we can become a close-knit community again.” Duncan then presented awards to residents the DHA believes is working to build bridges and seek compromise to make the city a better place to live and improve the quality of life of residents. Bill Robinson, a DHA member since its founding and a board member for 30 years, received the DHA’s first annual Dick Williams Citizenship Award, named for the former owner and editor of the Dunwoody Crier. Receiving the Community Service Awards were Michelle Fincher, Despina Lamas and Leah Marques, who founded the Facebook group, Educate Dunwoody, to organize residents to speak out for better DeKalb County schools. Duncan said Williams selected the first winner of the award named for him and chose Robinson for his years of dedicated service to DHA and to the city. Robinson’s achievements include establishing some of the city’s most honored annual traditions, Duncan said. Robinson revitalized the city’s annual Fourth of July Parade in 1991 and it is now one of the city’s
largest events, attracting tens of thousands to the city every year for the Independence Day holiday. Robinson, an Army veteran, also organized the first Veterans Day Ceremony that is now held every year at Brook Run Park, Duncan said. He also supports the Dunwoody Woman’s Club and its annual home tour and was instrumental in developing the original Dunwoody Village Overlay district. “Bill, we want you to see your efforts that led to this day will not be forgotten,” Duncan said. Robinson received the DHA’s Citizen of the Year Award in 2015. The Community Service Awards went to the Fincher, Lamas and Marques, who founded the Educate Dunwoody Facebook page in 2019. The public resource is intended to inspire dialogue about issues facing the DeKalb County School District and encourage community engagement with school administrators, Duncan said. “The efforts you have made are the ideal combination of learning from our past history with a very fresh outlook on the future,” Duncan said. “You have continued to build bridges with other communities who are also affected by DeKalb Schools and organized more action and input than anyone else in recent years,” she said. Other speakers at the event includes state Sen. Sally Harrell, DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox, Perimeter Center Improvement Districts Executive Director Ann Hanlon. City Councilmember Pam Tallmadge and an organizer of the Fourth of July Parade announced this year’s theme is “Honoring the Greatest Generation.” Grand marshals will be World War II veterans. The executive board was also named for this year: Duncan is serving her third and last year as president; Su Ellis is vice president; Debbie Montgomery is secretary; John Sparks is treasurer; and Bill Grossman and Gerri Penn are at-large members.
PHOTOS BY DYANA BAGBY
Top. DHA President Adrienne Duncan, right, presents the first Dick Williams Citizenship Award to Bill Robinson, a longtime DHA member. Bottom, DHA President Adrienne Duncan, far right, presented the founders of the Educate Dunwoody Facebook group with this year’s Community Service Awards. From left are Despina Lamas, Michelle Fincher and Leah Marques.
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Art & Entertainment | 23
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
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Through Sunday, Feb. 16 The Stage Door Players perform the Tennessee Williams classic about a young man, Tom, living with his controlling mother and introverted sister Laura, who lives in her own world of make-believe. Tickets: $34 ($31 seniors, $24 students). Stage Door Playhouse, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: stagedoorplayers.net.
Saturday, Feb. 8, 8-10 p.m. Valentine’s-themed concert of Cajun/ Creole fais-do-do and dance with Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp, sponsored by the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association. No partner required, all ages welcome. With Cajun/Creole food for sale. Tickets: $20, $14 active military service members, $5 students. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: 877-338-2420 or email@example.com.
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Sunday, Feb. 23, 4-5:15 p.m. Chamber musicians perform a work by the French composer Olivier Messiaen, partly written while he was in a German concentration camp. Admission $10. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4464 Peachtree Road, Atlanta.
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ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL
Friday, Feb. 7-Sunday, Feb. 23 Tim Firth’s comedy based on the true story of 11 women who posed nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukemia Research Fund. Tickets: $18-$23. Act3 Productions, 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: act3productions.org or 770-241-1905
Monday, Feb. 10-Thursday, Feb. 27 The 20th Annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival explores Jewish culture and history, life in Israel, and the work of Jewish artists in this two-week celebration of the Jewish experience featuring more than
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24 | Art & Entertainment
Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 23 50 films and documentaries taking place at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs, Regal Perimeter Pointe, UA Tara Cinemas, The Plaza and Landmark Midtown Arts Cinema. Tickets: $16 adults/ $14 seniors/students/children. Info: ajff.org
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Sunday, Feb. 23, 1-3 p.m. The Classics Film Club watches and discusses the 1945 thriller starring Joan Crawford. Admission $5 for non-members, free for members. MJCCA-Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/ama
BOOKS & AUTHORS ►THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF HUGH MAGNUM
Monday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. In the later part of the 19th century, Hugh Mangum was an itinerant portraitist working in North Carolina and Virginia during the rise of Jim Crow. His clientele was both racially and economically diverse. His forgotten glass plate negatives were discovered in the 1970s in a barn slated for demolition. Margaret Sartor and Alex Harris discuss their book “Where We Find Ourselves,” about the discovery of photos by Mangum. Admission $10 non-members, $5 members. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: atlantahistorycenter.com
AMERICAN CULINARY HISTORY
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m, Culinary historian and author Adrian Miller discusses his books “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time” and “The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas.” Admission $10 non-members, $5 members. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: atlantahistorycenter.com
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Through Sunday, March 1 30 travel photographs by Jane Robbins
Kerr, a Mississippi native and Atlanta resident who has traveled the world photographing people and places. Admission $5. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. Lowry Hall, 3rd Floor, 4484 Peachtree Rd NE, Brookhaven. Info: museum.oglethorpe.edu.
SIGHTS & INSIGHTS
Through Friday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. The Fulton County Arts & Culture and Dunwoody Fine Art Association present a Southeastern regional art show juried by Susannah Darrow at the Abernathy Arts Center. Free to view; artwork available for purchase. Abernathy Arts Center, 254 Johnson Ferry Road NW, Sandy Springs. Info: 404-613-6172.
Through Saturday, March 14 Sculpture by Eileen Braun. Spruill Center for the Arts, 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org
DRAWING WINTER TREASURES: LEAF LACE AND LICHEN
Sunday, Feb. 9, 1-4 p.m. A natural science illustration class with a walk in the field and tea in the studio while practicing the elements of drawing. Fee $50. Blue Heron Nature Preserve, 4055 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info: bhnp.org.
VALENTINE’S DAY CARDMAKING
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1-3 p.m. Create special cards for the loved ones in your life during this card workshop. All supplies will be provided. Free. Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Register through events.dekalblibrary.org.
Friday, Feb. 14, 2-3 p.m. Learn to weave a heart-shaped basket that can hold a special note, gift or candies for your valentine. No experience is necessary; all supplies will be provided. Free. Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Register through events.dekalblibrary.org.
WINTER HIKE AND PINECONE CRITTER CRAFT
Friday Feb. 14, 9-10:30 a.m. Enjoy a naturalist-guided winter nature walk down to Falling Branch Creek, then warm up in the cozy Lost Corner Preserve cottage with a “pinecone critter” craft. Free. Lost Corner Preserve, 7300 Brandon Mill Road, Sandy Springs. Info: registration.sandyspringsga.gov.
Art & Entertainment | 25
Jewish Film Festival marks 20 years with big slate of screenings BY JUDITH SCHONBAK
early days as one of the original members of the board of the Atlanta Jewish Film Society. He painted a vivid picture of what it takes to Celebrating its 20th anniversary year, the Atlanta Jewish Film make the event happen every year. Festival brings an extraordinary lineup of diverse films to venues “Committed, passionate people” is his first stroke on the canvas. across Atlanta and to its anchor venue, the Sandy Springs Perform“The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has a small but mighty staff of 11 ing Arts Center. people year-round. Most of the others are volunteers – more than What began two decades ago with a handful of films and a mod400. est number of a little more than 1,900 filmgoers is expected to welWhat makes a Jewish film? It’s a frequently asked question by aucome more than 40,000 attendees for this year’s run, Feb. 10 through diences and the public in general. On Feb. 23, for the first time on 27. the festival roster, there is an evening conversation between audiThe anniversary program counts a total of 64 films: 48 features ence members and a five-person panel on just that topic at the Sanand 16 shorts. Among them are award-winning films and awarddy Springs Performing Arts Center. The panel includes local and nanominees, three world premieres, five North American premieres, tional film experts, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and Rabbi Brad two US premieres and a number of Atlanta premieres, from 17 counLevenberg of Temple Sinai. tries around the globe. For many, it’s a film lovers’ wonderland. It is The AJFF description is “a cinematic exploration of Jewish experithe largest Jewish Film Festival in Atlanta and one of the largest in ence — Jewish culture and history, life in Israel, and the work of Jewthe world. ish artists — entertaining and engaging diverse audiences with film The screenings are held at seven metro Atlanta venues. There are through a Jewish lens.” two venues in Sandy Springs: Regal Perimeter Pointe, which is host“Essentially it encompasses obvious Jewish topics, such as life in ing 38 screenings, and Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center’s Byers ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL/VAUGHN GITIsrael, the Holocaust, Jewish creative people, foreign films with JewTENS Theatre, which is hosting 19 screenings, including two screenings of ish characters and more. We try to be relatively broad,” said LevenMax Leventhal, president of the the closing night film on Feb. 27, “Saul & Ruby, To Life” and an eveAtlanta Jewish Film Festival. thal. The question is an important part in the orientation of the Film ning reception celebration. Evaluation Committee of more than 200 members. The word is out that Saul Drier and Ruby Sosnovicz, two Holocaust survivors and “Importantly, the committee is a widely diverse group that looks like metro Atlanta,” musicians, in their nineties, who are the subjects of that closing night film, will be said Leventhal. “There are many loyalists and newcomers, too,” he added. there. It’s an uplifting story of the duo seeking to bring peace and hope through mu“For the 2020 festival, we started with 700 films to consider. Think of it as a big funsic in the U.S. and their home country of Poland, even as anti-Semitism is on the rise. nel,” said Leventhal. “The committee’s job is to get it down to a workable number. Mounting the film festival is a major undertaking that involves hundreds of people This year, there were 21,561 evaluations, to be exact, according to the AJFF. The evaland a complex set of considerations, from the films themselves, venues, guest speakuations go on through October, then the screening and streaming process begins. ers, finances and more. Streamings are private for committee members via their computers, TVs and phones. Film festival president Max Leventhal has been involved with the event since its For detailed information on show schedules and tickets, go to ajff.org.
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I-285 toll lanes could take buildings, backyards; residents and officials express concern ing along I-285 could be eaten up for the toll lanes GDOT also released a 10-minute video showing a concept of what the toll lanes would look like, with sweeping views of the largely elevated lanes. “We’re trying to understand the impact that its going to have on us from our second story because we’re up on a hill and it’s very likely that when we look out the window we are going to see car lights” from vehicles driving on the elevated toll lanes, said Mari Geier, who lives off Brawley Circle in Brookhaven at a Jan. 21 open house. “What are we going to do?” she said. “We were told months ago [at a town hall hosted by Mayor John Ernst and Councilmember Linley Jones] to not have any hope. All we’re trying to do is mitigate, find out about walls, and set expectations. We’re not stopping this project.” “We’re not stopping this project,” she said. At a Jan. 23 open house in Sandy Springs, residents Karen and Ron Lanning said they are concern with noise and property value impacts from the lanes running behind their house off Riverside Drive near Mount Vernon Highway, where they have lived for 23 years. “Our property values have been ru-
ined forever,” Karen Lanning said. “We’re stuck. We can’t sell our house and it’s been going on for so long that it impacts our decision of what we’re going to do down the road.” “We’re not really losing land, but we’re losing air space,” Ron Lanning said. “Were accommodating all these people who come through our area, but there’s no consideration of people who live in the area,” Karen Lanning added. State Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), who has regularly expressed concerns with the plan, attended the open house. “Seeing those visuals is nice, but it will be different than the conceptual design,” Silcox said later. “I still have my suspicions, but I hope we get as many public comment cards as we can to push back against the project to get as many sound barriers and as much green space replaced as possible. Mitigation is kind of the key here.” Sandy Springs City Council members expressed their concern with the plan displacing residents at their Jan. 24 retreat, where GDOT officials gave updates on highway projects. Councilmember Chris Burnett asked about meetings with residents who are marked for displacement, but GDOT project manager Tim Matthews said that is only done for a “concentrated
area” of displacements. Councilmember Andy Bauman later said in an email he understands the purpose of the toll lanes, but added “the impact to all who live in close proximity to the construction is substantial. “We (Sandy Springs) ultimately have little say over the final design, [but] we will continue to do all we can to advocate for mitigating impacts, especially noise pollution and road closures and detours during the work,” Bauman said. “Further, I am particularly concerned about impacts to our schools that are located directly adjacent to the construction.” The section of I-285 in Doraville has a number of commercial buildings targeted for demolition, ranging from a daycare to a printing company. Mayor Joseph Geierman, who once signed a petition against the toll lanes, said the plan is not as bad he feared and likely will be “refined” with community input. “I was glad to see that fewer properties than I had expected are scheduled to be condemned,” Geierman said in an email. “My focus continues to be how we can work with GDOT to mitigate any other ways Doraville residents will be impacted (specifically related to noise) as well as making sure that these plans take our future mobility plans for increasing walk-
ability and bikeability in the city into account.” In October, GDOT said it is delaying the construction timeline for the controversial toll lanes by years, with the earliest start date sometime in 2023, to get more competitive bids from contractors. Some free lanes are set to be built sooner. A series of open houses is being held this month to give the public a look at where the lanes would be built and get questions answered. Public comment on the project is being accepted through Feb. 25. Matthews said the department was able to remove more than 100 of the original 300 parcels expected to be affected by the toll lanes. He also said GDOT continues to work with the “top end” mayors whose cities are along the route of the new toll lanes who want to include bus rapid transit within the project. In Sandy Springs, properties facing significant displacement include a building at 374 Mount Vernon Highway; two properties on Lake Forrest Drive at I-285; and two buildings in the Sierra Place apartments on Northwood Drive, according to the new maps. Three to four buildings in the Dunwoody Village apartment complex off North Peachtree Road are marked for demolition, as well as all or some of Cha-
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Community | 31
teau Club Townhomes along I-285 in Dunwoody. Also possibly displaced, depending on alternative plans, are a gas station, the Wild Ginger Thai restaurant, a laundromat, and the Tip Top Kosher Market on Savoy Drive in Chamblee on the Dunwoody border. A portion of a GDOT map showing in red the properties in the Georgetown community in Dunwoody likely to be impacted by the I-285 toll lanes. Click to enlarge. GDOT has two alternatives for a stretch of I-285 along the Georgetown community in Dunwoody. One alternative takes out the swimming pool of the 50-year-old
Georgetown Recreation Club, the other alternative does not. The toll lanes projects are separate from the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction project that is currently under construction. That project, known as “Transform 285/400,” began in 2017 and is expected to wrap up in late 2020. However, the toll lanes would run through the interchange area and connect with it. While the overall toll lanes projects are delayed, GDOT said it will build certain parts of their proposed systems sooner to get ahead of the game and offer some traffic improvements. Those projects include:
I-285 westbound collector-distributor lanes: The dedicated lanes for interchange-users would run from ChambleeDunwoody Road to Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody. They would be extensions of similar lanes being built now for the Transform 285/400 project. Construction would start in 2022 and open to traffic in 2024. I-285/Peachtree Industrial Boulevard interchange: Improvements to the interchange near eastern Dunwoody include adding collector-distributor lanes. Construction would start in late 2021 and finish in late 2023 or early 2024.
I-285 westbound extra lane: The new lane would come from widening I-285 in Sandy Springs between Roswell Road and Riverside Drive. It is intended to serve drivers going between interchanges so they don’t have to weave through traffic, but anyone will be able to use it. The project also includes replacing the Mount Vernon Highway bridge over I-285. Construction would start in mid-2022 and finish in late 2024. — -John Ruch contributed
Residents, mayor surprised by GDOT toll lane demolition concepts BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com
Dunwoody residents Edward and Areum Chung were shocked to learn GDOT wants to tear down their home as part of its controversial I-285 top end toll lanes, according to a draft plan that was revealed Jan. 21. “So now we need to find a new house … and we have a 7-month-old baby,” said Areum Chung. “We upgraded our living room and our bathroom.” The Chungs live in the Chateau Club Townhomes located just yards from I-285 and are among many along the corridor including property owners in Brookhaven and Sandy Springs who could lose their homes or portions of their property in the concept designs from GDOT. Dunwoody’s Georgetown community, where the townhomes are, is expected to be heavily impacted. Also included for possible land taking is the Georgetown Recreation Center swimming pool and several buildings in the Dunwoody Village apartment community. Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch, who is no fan of the project, said she was surprised by some of the proposed land takings. “I’ve always been realistic, but I still think it’s a big deal and I don’t see how my community benefits,” she said. “Dunwoody in particular, and I think some Brookhaven and Chamblee residents, don’t benefit at all but are taking the full brunt of the project.” GDOT unveiled conceptual maps of where the toll lanes would be built during a Jan. 21 open house at Chamblee First United Methodist Church attended by roughly 200 people. GDOT officials said the maps are not final and some properties marked for right of way acquisition in the current maps may be removed in future designs following public input. In October, GDOT said it is delaying the construction timeline for the toll lanes by years, with the earliest start date sometime in 2023, to get more competitive bids from contractors. Some free lanes are set to be built sooner. “Our main concerns are the timeline … and how does [GDOT] purchase property and how they evaluate market value,” Edward Chung said while looking over a large, glossy map. The couple moved into their townhome last May unaware of any construction BH
planned for I-285, they said. In December, they said they received a letter from GDOT about the public information meetings being held in January, the first they were aware of the planned project. The three buildings of their townhome complex are standing in the path where GDOT plans to build an elevated roadway. The maps were the first real look at the massive project and its impact on property owners. GDOT says the new toll lanes are needed to alleviate I-285’s notorious commuter traffic. GDOT spokesperson Scott Higley said GDOT follows federal law when it comes to property acquisition to ensure the rights of property owners. For the I-285 top end toll lanes project, GDOT has held individual meetings with property owners who live or own property in an area with a high concentration of potential impacts, such as the Chateau Club Townhomes. One such meeting was held before the Jan. 21 public town hall, he said. “Letters were sent to property owners inviting them to a smaller open house where right of way agents were available to answer questions in a more intimate environment. The Chungs … were among the property owners invited by letter; however, they did not attend,” Higley said. “This early outreach is not mandated by law, but we at GDOT understand this can be a difficult and complex process for property owners and want to give them every possible consideration,” he said. Following outreach, independent appraisers contact property owners to schedule inspections, Higley said. An offer package is developed based on the appraisers’ report. Following negotiations with property owners, a settlement is reached and the Special Assistant Attorney General handles the closing at no cost to the property owner, he said. The property owner has a minimum of 60 days to vacate and any displaced property owner is offered relocation assistance services. The 50-year-old Georgetown Recreation Center in Dunwoody just west of the Chateau Club Townhomes is also marked for right of way acquisition – in one map, the swimming pool appears to be taken, in another version the swimming pool is safe. Matt Brown, the new president of the GRC, said he and the nearly 200 families that are members of the recreation center, have not heard anything from GDOT. The residents do not own the land; it is owned
Dunwoody residents Edward and Aerum Chung search for their home on a Georgia Department of Transportation map at a Jan. 21 open house. The couple live in Chateau Club Townhomes near I-285 and expect to lose their home as part of construction of the I-285 top end toll lanes.
by the family of Jim Cowart, a renowned developer who built the neighborhood surrounding the swimming pool and tennis courts. “We’re going to continue swimming and playing tennis until they tell us we can’t,” he said. “GDOT has not filled us on anything going on. It’s all hearsay at this point, but I’d love GRC to be a community pool for many years to come and hope they do not impede on us.” Deutsch was not surprised the Chateau Club Townhomes were marked by GDOT for land-taking. She said she was surprised to see three or four buildings in the Dunwoody Village apartments on North Peachtree Road marked for possible teardown. “This is the most specific map we’ve seen … GDOT has [taken] more residential than I thought,” she said. “It surprises me they are intruding that much.” Deutsch blasted the project last year as a City Council member and said she still does not like the project. But realistically, the project is expected to move forward and the city’s goal now is to lessen the impact on local property owners, she said. “It still comes down to, what are we going to do to mitigate the impact on Dun-
woody?” she said. Mitigation could include requesting construction of sound barrier walls along the interstate near residential areas to muffle the noise of speeding cars, for instance. The City Council included $50,000 in its 2020 budget to pay for professional services it may need to mitigate the impact on property owners along the path of the planned I-285 top end toll lanes. GDOT is recommending that Cotillion Drive be converted into a one-way road going westbound and Savoy Drive become a one-way road going eastbound. Both roads run along I-285. That could seriously impact businesses in the area, Deutsch said, as well as add another nuisance to the people who live near I-285. Deutsch said the animated video GDOT also released on Jan. 21 showing what the expansive project would look like, with elevated lanes being built over existing ramps and the crisscross of some sections, was eye-opening. “It was pretty profound and shows you the scale of the project,” she said. “But I still think we are at the beginning in a lot of ways and we’re all trying to figure out what it all means. Now we have the ability to have conversations about specific concerns with GDOT.”
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