FEBRUARY 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 2
Sandy Springs 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 in the area of Lake Forrest Drive and its effects on nearby properties. Marked properties could lose slices of land, while those with red dots would be demolished.
says will be created to pursue incentives in the area. It is unclear what the exact format and duration of the Sandy Springs North End Revitalization Advisory Committee will be, but the meetings will be public, according to city spokesperson Sharon Kraun. The committee is a 13-member board ap-
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 back-
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Advisory group forms to review North End plans BY HANNAH GRECO email@example.com
Two years after setting North End redevelopment as a priority, the city has created a new committee to advise and review the forthcoming conceptual plans. The committee and the consultant will also be exploring possibilities of a “North End Revitalization Zone,” which Mayor Rusty Paul
BY DYANA BAGBY, HANNAH GRECO AND JOHN RUCH
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2 | Public Safety
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Consultant says city needs bigger and more secure public safety HQ
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The city’s current police department and municipal court buildings are outdat-
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ed, full and in a low-security location, according to a consultant with a public safety
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term priority, but there is currently no location or plan in the works.
headquarters research firm. The city has said building a new headquarters is a longStockton Reeves, executive director of the Center for Public Safety, presented his
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findings of a study at a Jan. 24 City Council retreat.
“You all did an admirable job of finding space for the officers and the courts and
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what they had to do for the first few years,” Reeves said at the retreat. “You all are at that point where it’s maximized its capacity and it’s time to address this.”
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DeSimone said. “We have pushed it as far out as we can.”
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CPS is a Florida-based organization dedicated to research, planning and assisting public safety employees in the process of obtaining new or expanded facilities, according to its website. Creating a new public safety headquarters is in the city’s long-range plan. Currently, the police department headquarters remains at Morgan Falls Office Park at 7840 Roswell Road, renting space in three separate buildings. The municipal court is also renting space in the office park in a separate building that housed City Hall
prior to the opening of City Springs in 2018.
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The police department also operates out of training facilities they rent in Cherokee, Gwinnett, Paulding and Pickens counties, according to spokesperson Sam Worsham. Reeves said that one of the main problems with the current headquarters is its location. “I couldn’t find the dadgum place,” Reeves said. “I drove by the place twice...
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there’s no real signage and once I got in the office complex, it’s very confusing to find anything.” Reeves had five areas of critical concern: the public access areas such as the lobby; the lack of a sally port to be able to move suspects safely in and out of the facility; the lack of secure interview and holding spaces; the evidence processing and storage room; a vulnerability to human-caused and natural disasters; and the lack of security. “I can’t tell you how many times I go somewhere and the mayor or the city manager will say, ‘Well, that can’t happen here,’” Reeves said, referencing the possibility of human-caused and natural disasters. CPS conducted a space-needs study, determining that the police department and municipal courts will need a total of 158,000 square feet by the year 2040. According to property records, the current facilities are around 79,000 square feet. “I did this under the assumption that if you all did this in the future, it would be one joint-use facility,” Reeves said. Reeves suggested the city’s next steps are to conduct a detailed space-needs study that includes master planning and to conduct a cost analysis for building a new
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headquarters. City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio asked what the cost would likely be to build that type of facility. Reeves said there is no way to give an estimation until a design is made. In 2018, the city was considering adding building new “emergency operations” and 911 backup centers at City Springs to the 2019 budget, but the plan has not come to fruition yet.
Community | 3
City seeks court order to remove billboards for fire station driveway BY HANNAH GRECO
cut through the triangle of land where the billboards stand. The city says the bill-
boards must be removed for that plan.
The city is attempting to speed up its court battle over three Roswell Road billboards, seeking an “emergency” court order to remove them for a temporary fire station driveway.
In the press release, the city said it filed the emergency order because the current legal appeal could take “two or more years to resolve,” while the city “hopes” to relocate the fire station within the next 90 days
The city said it filed the Fulton County Superior Court on Jan. 17, but first revealed the move in a Jan. 24 press release. An attorney and a spokesperson representing OutFront Media, the company that owns the billboards, did not immediately respond to comment requests. The billboards stand on a triangle of land bordered by Mount Vernon Highway
and Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads, across from City Springs. The city bought the land several years ago for a small park and for a reconstruction of the Mount Vernon/Johnson Ferry intersection. The city demolished several buildings on the site, but the billboards have remained in a legal dispute about OutFront’s lease agreement and ability to be reimbursed. A legal case between the city and OutFront has continued for over a year. In November, a judge issued an order that allowed the city to take down the billboards. But OutFront filed an appeal. Since then, the city announced a plan to open a temporary fire station on an adjacent lot at 6189 Roswell Road, a former car rental business, which the City Council
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approved purchasing in December for $1.2 million. The site would be a temporary location for the aging Fire Station Two at 135 Johnson Ferry Road while a replace-
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4 | Community
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A Q&A with new City Manager Andrea Surratt BY HANNAH GRECO
on the ability to house the workforce in our community. There is a lot of study about that across the country. There is no easy answer and it’s all local, so I will be looking to the council’s guidance on housing initiatives.
A few weeks into her job as city manager, Andrea Surratt says she is excited to get to work on many of the city’s priorities. A native of North Carolina, she said she’s looking forward to settling back into her Southern roots. Surratt took over the position on Jan. 6 and is the second manager of the city, following John McDonough, who held the position since the city’s incorporation up until July 2019. Surratt has more than 28 years of city management under her belt, coming to Sandy Springs after a two-year stint in Bozeman, Montana. in a similar role. Surratt served in North Carolina as the planning and development manager for the city of Wilmington and as the town manager for Wrightsville Beach. Surratt was also the assistant city manager for the city of Hickory, North Carolina, for 10 years. Surratt earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Clemson University in 1991 and a bachelor of arts in political science from Guilford College in 1989. The Reporter recently met with Surratt for a Q&A on what she hopes to achieve in her new role.
Q: What do you think should be done in the city’s North End to help bring in new retail business? A: I don’t have those answers. I am just part of the process to advise the steps we go through. If there is a public role for the city to play in that, then I will advise them to participate. Q: How do you build positive relationships with City Council members and the mayor and foster a stronger relationship among citizens? A: Identifying a little bit of time in our calendars for one-on-one communication can be very beneficial. Following up on concerns that [officials] hear from citizens is important and just having a comfortable back-andforth and checking in regularly. At the end of the day, it starts with trust.
City Manager Andrea Surratt.
Q: In your time in other cities as city manager, what did you learn that you think you can apply to Sandy Springs? A: I have enjoyed successes with redevelopment, so I think the North End area is one I am particularly interested in. In general, I think cities get areas that start to get tired and the retail needs change. Being able to identify the next projects for those areas is something I am interested in. Public safety is another key area that I had success with. Just making sure that we have the right facilities for police and fire, courts and other services. Making sure we have what we need will be a part of what I do, too, whether that means relocation or other ideas. I think the council will give me direction on that. Q: What are the top needs of Sandy Springs? A: As I mentioned, the North End and public safety. Also, we always need to keep our pulse
Q: What are some obstacles you have faced in other cities and how did you overcome them? A: In Hickory, North Carolina, our biggest obstacle was reinventing ourselves. We were trying to decide who we were and what we wanted to become while also embracing our roots as a manufacturing town. Helping the city find pride by investing in the public space was important for the city to reinvent itself.
Q: What prompted you to pursue a career in urban planning? A: I have always loved thinking about how cities form and why we need them. My family is public service-oriented -- my parents are both teachers -- so I think I have a service attitude. I have never been interested in doing any other work. It’s just what I do. Q: What are your interests outside of City Hall? A: Walking my dog, hiking and spending time with my family whenever possible. Q: What excites you most about Sandy Springs? A: I love the vibrancy of this community and the cultural arts aspect. Also, the ability to live in a metropolitan area and still enjoy getting outside and finding nature. It’s a well laid-out city, but the reinvestment piece is what excites me the most.
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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Business Q&A Johnny Foster of OGARAJETS on piloting a business jet trader The private jet is an ultimate staQ: Who is the customer base for private tus symbol – and transportation planes? Mostly corporations? Individuals? convenience – for wealthy famiCan you name any prominent customers? lies and major corporation, and big Our client base spans more than 60 counbusiness at airfields like DeKalbtries and is blend of corporate and private Peachtree Airport. But where do enterprises as well as high-net-worth indithose planes come from? viduals. Of course we cannot name our cliJohnny Foster is president and ents, but the one thing they all have in comCEO of OGARAJETS, an internationmon is a desire to make more use of their al broker of private jet and turbotime. Private aviation gives them back that prop planes based in Sandy Springs. one commodity we all desire, more time -The company buys, sells and finds more time to spend with our families, more planes for clients. (For more infortime to lead our communities, more time mation, see ogarajets.com.) to grow our businesses, and of course more Johnny’s father, former Navy pitime to just relax in amazing places. Private lot John Foster III, co-founded the aviation remains the closest tool we have to company in 1980 in Marietta with a time machine. close friend Ed O’Gara as O’Gara Aviation Company. Johnny Foster (SPECIAL) Q: What are customers looking for in a priJohnny Foster, president and CEO of OGARAJETS. was named president in 2005, and vate plane that they can’t get by flying comin 2013, the company rebranded as mercial or charter? OGARAJETS, with the tag line, “Fostering confidence in business aircraft transactions” as a way to keep both family names in the company. Again, time. Private aviation is a powerful tool allowing our clients to travel one their The Reporter asked Foster about piloting the jet-trading business. own schedules and often direct to domestic cities or far away parts of the world that would otherwise we hard to access by the airlines and sometimes only by a combination
Perimeter Business | 7
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.
INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS it's what we do.
Fo r ov er t wo d ecad es, the Perim eter Co mm unity Improvement Distric ts has invested in acc es s, mobility , and qu alit y o f life to c reate a s ignatu re d est inat ion for co rpo rate head qu art ers, hos pit ality, and ret ail.
To learn more about how we improve quality of life in Central Perimeter visit perimetercid.org
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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 seeks contractor to build ‘boutique’ hotel near City Springs BY HANNAH GRECO firstname.lastname@example.org
The city has issued a request for a contractor to build a “boutique” hotel near City Springs. The proposal has two suggested sites along Mount Vernon Highway: a parking lot for City Springs and a block where the city has purchased businesses in recent years. The city wants a full-service, 125-room hotel, with a bar and restaurant, according to a request for proposals document. The hotel should include approximately 2,000 square feet of meeting space to handle small in-house groups, the RFQ said. The RFQ also mentions potentially shared parking between the Performing Arts Center and Heritage Sandy Springs to limit the number of parking spaces required by the hotel. At the City Council’s 2019 retreat, a consultant recommended funding the hotel through a public-private partnership and relocating the Georgia Power substation to draw a hotel to the area. The idea to have a hotel was discussed in the 2012 City Center Master Plan, which said it expected the civic center to spur a hotel within 10 years and suggested a “boutique” hotel that is distinct from current ones already in the market. Both of the proposed sites in the RFQ are 1.5 acres. One option falls on almost all cityowned property bordered by Bluestone Road, Hilderbrand Drive, Mount Vernon Highway and Sandy Springs Circle. In 2017, the city purchased the property at 140 Hilderbrand and a lot of about fourtenths of an acre for $685,934.10. That purchase was to bank land for a possible, undetermined redevelopment between City Springs and Heritage Sandy Springs. The property was purchased as Antiques & Clocks of Sandy Springs but has since been used as an office for the PAC and, now, after being demolished, a parking lot for city vehicles. The only property in private ownership left on the block is a business called Professional Cleaners and Gown Preservation. The other proposed site sits next to the Georgia Power substation south of City Springs on Mount Vernon and is bordered by Bluestone, Hilderbrand and Mount Vernon. The site currently hosts a city-owned parking lot for City Springs and a gym for the police department at 182 Hilderbrand Drive. Currently, city vehicles do not have a central hub and are parking in various locations around town, including Morgan Falls Overlook Office Park, formerly City Hall, about four miles from City Springs for overnight parking at 7840 Roswell Road. The city also has a parking agreement with the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church across the street from City Springs at 86 Mount Vernon Highway for $12,000 a year. The city has been exploring ways to attract a luxury hotel next to City Springs, the civic and art complex, for the last year.
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12 | Community
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More Cake. More Love.
Strip club sites remain vacant more than a year after city shutdown 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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Flashers was located at 6420 Roswell Road.
BY HANNAH GRECO email@example.com
Three strip clubs closed in September 2018 after losing a court battle that allowed the city to shut them down. Since then, despite proposals, the three buildings remain vacant with no redevelopment plans in sight. The city’s 12-year fight against sex shops and strip clubs left only one store selling adult entertainment items open within city limits, Love Shack located at 5674 Roswell Road. All strip clubs have closed. The legal battle was controversial among residents, some favoring crackdown and some saying that businesses should be left alone. The city claimed the businesses generated crime as the main reason to shut them down. Twenty months after their closure, the city and the police department could not immediately say whether there was any measurable decrease in crime in the area, saying open records requests would be needed to find such information. Meanwhile, the strip clubs have yet to be replaced by new businesses and employers. Although the properties are privately owned, Mayor Rusty Paul said redevelopment in the city can be difficult due to rising construction costs. “What’s delaying a lot of the redevelopment is simply the cost of construction,” Paul said. “It’s as high as it’s ever been and that’s discouraging a lot of redevelopment right now.”
Doll House and Coronet Club
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The Doll House and Coronet Club was a single business located at 5275 Roswell Road. The building is currently zoned as “Office Neighborhood” in the development code, which is intended for office and related commercial uses. In December 2018, developer Stephen Pistorius shared a plan to build an assisted living facility in the vacant building. Nearby residents shared concerns about
the use and potential increased traffic the development could bring. Pistorius needed a zoning change to a character area that allows that use. The property’s character area was changed from commercial to “Neighborhood Village,” which allows for office uses, during the city’s development code update in 2018. The proposal was set to be heard by the Planning Commission in March 2019, but Pistorius withdrew the rezoning request before the meeting. Pistorius did not respond to a comment request about any updates on the property.
Flashers was located at 6420 Roswell Road. The building is currently zoned as commercial mixed-use in the development code, which is allows a variety of retail, service and commercial uses, as well as multiunit residences. The property is owned by Evans Roswell Properties, LLC, according to Fulton County records. The company could not be reached for comment. On Jan. 1, the former strip club caught fire. No one was in the building and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire still is under investigation. Redevelopment plans have not been announced. The owners of the business Flashers are in the midst of a lawsuit against the city for a 2016 raid. According to Cary Wiggins, Flasher’s attorney, the city filed a motion to dismiss the case and on Dec. 18, the judge denied the city’s request. “So the case moves on,” Wiggins said. Next to Flashers is another property that has remained vacant for years at 6410 Roswell Road. The building used to hold a Mexican restaurant called La Paz that opened in 1979. In 2015, a developer, Nick Tehrani, applied to make exterior elevation changes to the building and wanted to open a hookah lounge called Kai Bar and Lounge, but the plan fell through. The owner of the property, David BenMoshe, said it can be hard to lease because of the costs involved. “Everybody has a dream but someSS
Community | 13
times the dream doesn’t come true,” BenMoshe said. “Some people don’t have the money.” Ben-Moshe also owns the vacant lot of 6400 Roswell Road next door. More than a decade ago, in March 2009, a sex shop called Inserection burned to the ground there. Before Inserection, the building was a Buckhead Diamond jewelry store and later became a restaurant, according to BenMoshe. After the fire, the city condemned the property. In 2010, Ben-Moshe wanted to rebuild the jewelry store, but the plan never came to fruition and the lot remains vacant except for a billboard. Ben-Moshe said he is in talks with some potential renters, including a company in the food business. He would not disclose the company. “We have a few people we are talking to, but we haven’t locked anything
down,” Ben-Moshe said. “But it’s going to take some time to rebuild the whole area there.”
After the fire in 2009, Inserection opened a new location at 7855 Roswell Road, which was one of three businesses that in 2018 lost a federal court appeal of their lawsuit claiming the city’s restrictions on sexually oriented businesses were unconstitutional. The case was appealed the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to review it. The business closed in October 2018. As of March, the storefront was empty and the owner was actively seeking a new tenant, according to a broker representing the family that owns the shopping center. The small shopping center is located on the city’s North End across from the former City Hall location, which moved to
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City Springs in 2018 The broker did not respond to a comment request about the current status of the property.
As of this year, the space is listed as available and Mickey G’s is no longer named by the center as its occupant. Leslie Mintz, the leasing agent for the center, said in an email that there is nothing to share at this time, but the company is marketing the property and “working with a few prospects.”
Mardi Gras was tucked behind Powers Ferry Village, a shopping center at 6300 Powers Ferry Road owned by Regency Centers. The club was located in a separate building to the side. That building is currently zoned as shopfront mixed-use, which is described in the development code as intended to provide for a variety of retail, service and commercial uses, as well as upper-story multiunit residences. In January 2019, Regency listed a new tenant, “Mickey G’s,” as occuFILE pying the strip club’s former build- Mardi Gras was located in the Powers Ferry Village shopping center at 6300 Powers Ferry Road. ing.
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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. SS
Commentary | 15
In Instagram era, food dresses up for ‘flamour shots’
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
Mar 20—Apr 12
Jan 24-Feb 16
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, dip your chocolate-covered Oreo skewer in it, and deep
fry it. You’re not done yet -- keep gilding that lily! Driz-
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zle 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. 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.
Do you take daily medication for
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-
If you treat your Parkinson's Disease daily
olate cupcakes,” but who thinks instead, “Today I’ll make chocolate cupcakes and
with a carbidopa-levodopa medication
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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Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@ reporternewspapers.net
A taste for trials carries Buckhead lawyer to top of national legal group 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.
Community Briefs SANDY S PR I N GS TO H OST P UBL IC I N F OR M ATIO N M EETING S F O R H A MMON D DRI VE WI DENING
Sandy Springs will host two public information open house meetings regarding the long-anticipated Hammond Drive widening project on Feb. 26. The sessions will provide the community with an opportunity to provide input on proposed alternatives. The first of the two meetings will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A second meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Both meetings will provide the same information and displays and will take place at City Hall, 1 Galambos Way. There will be a short presentation, followed by the open house, according to a press release. Most of Hammond has been widened over the years, but the section between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive in the Glenridge Hammond neighborhood remains two lanes. Government officials frequently call it a traffic bottleneck and the city has been studying a widening project as a possible solution. The decision on whether to perform the widening has not been made, officials have said, and would follow public reaction to the presentation. The city has been purchasing properties along Hammond in anticipation of the project for years. The current and growing traffic demand along Hammond has led to an increase in neighborhood cut-through traffic, and adversely impacts adjacent roadways, the city
Commentary | 17 press release said. The city said the conceptual design proposes to improve safety and operational efficiencies and will include multiuse paths, sidewalks, landscaping, pedestrian lighting and intersection enhancements. In August, the City Council authorized a contract with Gresham Smith and Partners to wrap up a design presentation for a public meeting for $47,500. The project was included within the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program as part of the T-SPLOST referendum passed in 2016.
SANDY S P R I NG S C O NS ERVA NC Y EXECUT IV E DIR EC TO R EX I TS
Melody Harclerode, the executive director of The Sandy Springs Conservancy, has resigned from her position to join the Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Buckhead. “We wish her the best with her next position.” the Conservancy said in a press release The conservancy is now searching for a new executive director, the relese said. The conservancy’s new director will provide leadership on local projects such as the Marsh Creek Trail, a pilot project that would connect Marsh Creek and the Sandy Springs Tennis Center for the city’s master plan of trails; Chattahoochee River access through the master trail plan and the regional Chattahoochee RiverLands project; and Sandy Springs park updates. “Looking ahead, the Sandy Springs Conservancy seeks a new executive director with the vision, skills and leadership to build upon our successes,” the release said.
18 | Faith
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Shuttered church could see other religious uses BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
The Highpoint Episcopal Community Church held its final service Jan. 12. Its former vicar says the building could return to religious use – possibly as another church — and that the property would be sold only as a “worst-case scenario.” “I know there’s a lot of interest internally in this property,” said Rev. Lang Lowrey, the former vicar of the congregation and a top advisor to the Atlanta bishop and the national Episcopal Church on real estate developments. “…Probably by summer we’ll have decided the direction we want to go, but we’re hopeful we have a use ourselves… [In the] worst-case scenario, we decide to sell.” The church operated for more than 50 years at a 7.5-acre property at 4945 High Point Road. The congregation dissolved in the wake of a four-year effort to rebrand and resurrect the former Church of the Atonement amid dwindling attendance. Lowrey praised the congregation and former parson Rev. Ruth Pattison for doubling active membership to about 40. But that was not enough in the Episcopal system, where congregations are expected to raise their own operating funds. “I wish all churches or synagogues had a community like that,” Lowrey said. “They really did succeed… but sometimes people succeed in their mission and
Above, The Highpoint church property as it appears in Fulton County property records. Opposite page, Rev. Lang Lowrey.
don’t succeed financially.” Lowrey said he could not reveal exactly how much it costs to operate the High-
congregation the option to stay together as a kind of “little church within a church”
point complex, “I would tell you it’s six digits or more. Forty people just couldn’t
at one of the area’s larger churches: Holy Innocents’ in Sandy Springs, St. Dunstan’s
shoulder the financial cost of a building that’s 50 years old… Literally as we were clos-
in Buckhead or St. Martin in the Fields in Brookhaven. Highpoint declined, he said,
ing, the HVAC went out and it’s another $10,000.”
while a Hispanic congregation that used the same building, Our Lady of Guadalupe,
The Buckhead-based Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Lowrey said, gave Highpoint’s
did choose to move to Holy Innocents’.
KENYA JOHNSON FOR PROBATE COURT JUDGE EDUCATION/ MEMBERSHIPS/ PROFESSIONAL AWARDS/ APPOINTMENTS Clark Atlanta University, Bachelor of Arts, 1995 South Texas College of Law,1998 Distinguished Leader Award, Fulton County Daily Report Chief Assistant District Attorney, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Community Prosecutor of the Year, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, 2016 Community Service Award, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District, 2017 Chief Deputy Solicitor, Fulton County Solicitor General’s Office (2017-Current) State Bar of Georgia Judicial Nominating Committee, (2018-2020)
Member, Georgia Bar Association Member, Atlanta Bar Association, Probate Section Executive Board, Georgia Association Women Lawyers Foundation (2019-2020) Executive Board, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (2012-2017) Regional Director, National Black Prosecutors Association (2015-2019) Executive Committee, Gate City Bar Community Law Clinic (2012-2019)
“The Probate Court of Fulton County is a true ‘family court.’ From marriage licenses to guardianships for loved ones with mental health needs, Probate Court can help families grow and prosper. For 20 years, I have represented victims of crime, achieved justice for families after devastating crime events and protected public safety as a Community Prosecutor. When my dear mother passed, I was left to handle her business affairs through grief and bureaucracy. When loss and challenges arise, families need an effective, competent and compassionate court to guide them through difficult times. As a proven leader, I have the experience, knowledge and vision to take Probate Court into the future, increase efficiency and make probate services more accessible and convenient. In 2020, I ask for the privilege of your vote to serve as your next Probate Court Judge in Fulton County because family, either by blood or choice, means everything.
Kenya Johnson Judicial Candidate Fulton County Probate Court
ANDREW YOUNG Former U.S. Ambassor
MICHAEL LASCALA Partner LaScala & Aurora, LLP
KEITH E. GAMMAGE Fulton County Solicitor-General
RENEE ROCKWELL Legal Analyst
Faith | 19
www.ReporterNewspapers.net The future
ested in it.”
in the church property beyond saying
of the High-
“We value the property. We have a
memorial garden there we’re dedicat-
Only if the internal and external reli-
ed to,” Lowrey said. According to church
gious-use options fail would the diocese
member Duffy Hickey, that garden is
put the property on the market, Lowrey
where a number of parishioners’ ashes
– maybe even
there have been no discussions.
In the meantime, the church complex
Lowrey said the diocese will take
remains open for use by community or-
of those larg-
about 90 days to review possible Episco-
ganizations. Some of them, such as the
pal reuses of the church property, with
High Point Civic Association, are already
deeper reviews extending into June if
seeking new locations due to the uncer-
In early dis-
necessary. If internal uses don’t work
tainty of the property’s future. But Low-
out, he said, the diocese would consid-
rey emphasized that none are required
said, “we have
er uses by other religious organizations.
to leave at this point and may be able to
The Congregation Beth Tefillah syna-
stay, depending on the future use. One
gogue is a close neighbor on High Point
change is that the church will no longer
Road. Adon Solomon, co-president of
be a Fulton County polling place for the
the synagogue’s board of directors, de-
immediate future, because that required
are very inter-
clined comment on possible interest
a two-year commitment, Lowrey said.
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20 | Public Safety
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No rulings, few details on police shootings months later BY HANNAH GRECO firstname.lastname@example.org
Months after incidents where police officers shot suspects in Sandy Springs -- including wounding a teenager and killing a possibly suicidal man -- there are still no official rulings on whether the shootings were legally justified. In fact, there is little official public information about the cases at all. The three shootings still are under investigation, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office says. It is unclear how far the investigations have gone and how much further they have to go. Meanwhile, the Sandy Springs Police Department’s decision to withhold details in the initial report on one of the shootings apparently contradicts its own policy and, according to David Hudson, an attorney and board member of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, the city may not be meeting requirements of the state Open Records Act when it has withheld initial reports on other cases. The city declined to give the Reporter initial incident reports from two of the three shootings, which Hudson said may be illegal, and the initial incident report on the other shooting, obtained in 2019, lacked significant detail about the incident itself. Two people were shot by Sandy Springs police officers in separate incidents on May 11 and May 31 of 2018 and an apparently suicidal man was shot and pronounced dead at the hospital on March 21, 2019. The three cases were investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as is routinely done. The two May 2018 cases were handed over to the district attorney office in the fall of 2018 and the March 2019 case was handed over in June 2019. As of Jan. 13, all three of the cases remain under investigation by the district attorney office, spokesperson Chris Hopper said. The GBI acts as an independent investigator on city police shootings. The agency investigates and turns over its evidence to county district attorneys for legal review. The district attorney has the final authority to decide whether the shooting was legally justified or to seek charges against the officer. According to Hopper, the GBI conducts the initial investigation, but it does not reach
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any conclusions. Therefore, if there is any additional testing or evidence gathering involving experts that are outside the scope of the GBI investigation, it is the responsibility of the district attorney’s office to do so. “The GBI investigation is the starting point in the district attorney’s investigation which is thorough and independent of any other examination,” Hopper said. Hopper said it is up to each individual police department to determine whether officers involved in shootings will still be employed during investigations. SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Sam Worsham said the officers involved in the three shootings are still employed with the department and are on active duty.
In the May 11, 2018, shooting, officers were attempting to detain Jaquan Barnes, 22. But police said Barnes began moving his car as they approached, and that the car struck two officers. They fired their weapons and one round struck Barnes, who was taken to the hospital in stable condition, according to a GBI press release. Barnes is serving a sentence in South Carolina Department of Corrections for burglary and attempted armed robbery. His case here is pending until his time is served there, Hopper said. The May 31, 2018, shooting involved a 15-year-old burglary suspect who threatened suicide during a three-hour standoff that ended with the suspect sustaining multiple gunshot wounds after attempting to flee. The suspect allegedly fired at officers. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition, police said. The district attorney’s office did not have an update on the case before publication. An apparent suicidal man, Erick Cruz Ramirez, 32, was shot to death by an officer March 21, 2019, on Northwood Drive. 911 call logs obtained by the Reporter say Ramirez had a knife, was “violent” and “not completely alert,” and apparently had already stabbed himself in the abdomen. He was initially reported to be holding a knife to his throat, the call log said. The log later reports that a man was running around the location and asking the officer “not to shoot him.” The log does not identify the man and it is unclear whether it was Ramirez. Police Chief Ken DeSimone defended the killing in comments at a May 7 City Council
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meeting. The shooting was captured on 10 different police car and body cameras, DeSimone said while discussing the department’s use of body cameras. DeSimone said the killing was a case of self-defense proven by video. The police department previously declined to release that video.
District attorney’s investigation
Hopper said no timeline for the investigations can be estimated. “These are all unique and individual investigations,” Hopper said in an email. Hopper said because the cases are open, no specific details can be given on their progress in the investigation. “These are open investigations, I can’t divulge the details of these cases and where they are in the process of investigation,” Hopper said. Atlanta City Councilmember Dustin Hillis has been advocating for answers on Atlanta Police officer-involved shootings from the district attorney’s office. In 2019, the Public Safety Committee, which he chaired, sent a letter to the district attorney’s office requesting a meeting. “All we received was emails and a meeting was never set up,” Hillis said. Hillis said he is still advocating for investigations to be completed in a timely manner because the people involved deserve closure. “It is important for cases to be investigated thoroughly and charges brought in a timely manner so that...charges can be filed and justice sought in a court of law and the victim and/or the victim’s family can have some type of closure,” Hillis said in an email. “If the evidence is not there to sustain the claims of criminal wrongdoing, it is then equally important for the officer to be cleared so he or she can move on with his or her career and life.”
The Reporter last year obtained the March 2019 initial incident report through an open records request. In December, the Reporter submitted an open records request to the city for the incident reports for the two 2018 cases. On Dec. 19, the City Clerk’s office did not provide the incident reports, citing an exemption for cases being under investigation by an outside agency. “When a law enforcement agency receives an Open Records Act request for records in a case that has been referred to the District Attorney or Solicitor-General for prosecution but the case has not become final or otherwise terminated, the prosecutor should be immediately notified and, no records should be released without the approval of the prosecutor,” the city cited. The city referred questions to the district attorney’s office. Hopper said he does not believe any reports would be available for distribution, as they are a part of open investigations, but suggested filling out an open records request with the district attorney’s office for an official answer. While that may be true for ongoing incident reports, Hudson, the attorney for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said under Georgia’s Open Records Act, the exception does not apply to initial incident reports. “Accordingly, the city of Sandy Springs should honor your open records request for those documents,” Hudson said. In response to The Reporter’s second request for the initial incident reports citing Hudson’s explanation, the city said they would discuss with a staff attorney and follow up with a resolution. On Jan. 28, the City Clerk’s office declined a second time to provide initial incident reports, citing an exemption that said records of law enforcement in any pending investigation, other than initial incident reports, cannot be provided. In response, Hudson said that the city must provide a copy of an initial incident report regardless of whether it forwards the information to the district attorney. “Initial incident and arrest reports are public records -- no ifs nor buts about it,” Hudson said in an email. “Other records that may be in the possession of the DA or solicitor can be withheld while an investigation or prosecution is ongoing, but not the initial incident or arrest report.”
The police report from the March 21 incident, which includes a section where the responding officers usually write out what happened, only said the officer was “dispatched to a person armed with a knife at the intersection of Kingsport Drive and Lake Placid Drive.” The police report listed the event as a suicide attempt. Police reports for incidents like burglaries and arrests often provide much more detail and a description of the event. When asked about the lack of detail in the report in May 2019, Worsham said that the department has “an internal policy on report writing guidelines.” The Reporter recently obtained the internal policy. It says in part that “the narrative should be concise but complete, providing all the information necessary for the investigation, prosecution or other follow-up activity.” When asked how the policy can be cited as to why some reports are brief, Worsham said because patrol officers take initial reports and they are then forwarded to detectives for investigation. “After completing the investigation, the detectives determine the proper course of action to be taken,” Worsham said. SS
Public Safety | 21
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22 | Community
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North End advisory group forms as city considers incentives Continued from page 1 pointed by Paul and approved by the council. The members of the committee range from apartment dwellers to business owners and will represent the stakeholders in the North End of the city, Mayor Rusty Paul said at the Jan. 7 City Council meeting where the new group was approved for appointment. According to Sandy Springs City Council member representing part of the North End and committee member Steve Soteres, the committee will be working with city staff members to address obstacles and recommend policies to encourage mixed-use development projects in the North End; assist staffers with outreach and engagement to developers to raise awareness of opportunities in the North End; and work with staff members and consultants to provide comments on drafts and to advocate for the community’s wants and needs. At a Dec. 3 meeting, the council awarded a $307,260 contract to architect firm TSW for redevelopment designs of four shopping centers in the North End. According to city spokesperson Sharon Kraun, the design process will take place this year. “They’re there to provide oversight [and] advice, and they represent stakeholders,” Paul said. “They bring a wide variety of viewpoints and people who have a real stake in that community and in the future of that area.” At a Jan. 9 Leadership Sandy Springs event, Paul said he appointed his daughter’s former college roommate, Brie Harrison, because she is the prototype of the kind of person the effort is designed to help. “She’s the typical person that I am concerned about and I think we should all be concerned about,” Paul said. “She…loves Sandy Springs and wants to stay here and fight to stay here. Those kinds of folks deserve our help and our focus, and by golly,
as long as I’m your mayor that’s what we’re gonna try and do. Because that’s our obligation to our future.” Paul also mentioned Harrison during the Jan. 7 council meeting when the committee was approved. “For example, Ms. Harrison is a young woman. Her mother is Puerto-Rican, her father is African-American, she’s 31 years old, she’s a teacher who lives in our community, loves Sandy Springs and wants to stay here,” Paul said at the Jan. 7 meeting. Kraun said the meetings will be public and the committee’s schedule has not been finalized yet. “As those are scheduled, they will be posted on the city’s website,” Kraun said in an email. The members of the committee are: ■ Nicholas Ardit – Business owner and resident ■ Sarah Cannon – Resident of the Elizabeth Heights neighborhood ■ Tamara Carrera – Executive director of the Community Assistance Center, a Sandy Springs-based nonprofit to help people at risk of homelessness. ■ Ken Dishman – Resident of the Princeton Square neighborhood and former City Council member who supported large-scale redevelopment in the north end during his time on the council. ■ Emile Escalera – Resident of the Lexington Crossing neighborhood ■ Jane Green – President of the Grogans Bluff homeowners association ■ Nakisha Harris – Huntcliff neighborhood homeowners association member ■ Brie Harrison – North End apartment renter ■ Derek Lawrie – North End resident ■ Sean O’Keefe – Owner of Pontoon Brewing Company ■ Darious Moore – Resident of the Winding River neighborhood
■ Ronda Smith – President of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, a coalition of the city’s homeowners associations. ■ Steve Soteres – Sandy Springs City Council member representing part of the North End who also chaired the North End Revitalization Task Force, which sought ways to spur redevelopment as well as retain and create affordable housing.
Paul says Sandy Springs will pursue incentives for the redevelopment of the North End through a “revitalization zone.” Paul said in a recent interview that the city is not decided on the borders for the zone. “We are still trying to define the geography and what kinds of incentives we want to put in there,” he said. The city is looking into several incentive possibilities, Paul said, including both state and federal “opportunity zone” programs. “We are looking at what’s available from other zone concepts that we could put together in that area to help drive revitalization,” Paul said. Federal opportunity zones were created to spur economic development and job creation in “economically distressed” communities by providing tax benefits to investors, according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Paul said in his days with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a similar proposal was introduced and, eventually, made its way to becoming a reality under the name “empowerment zone” with President Bill Clinton’s administration in the 1990s. The program ended following Clinton’s term, but in 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration reintroduced the concept as “qualified opportunity zones” as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The IRS recognizes more than 8,700
federal opportunity zones, including 260 census tracts in Georgia, but none fall within Sandy Springs. The state has its own opportunity zone program through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the city has one located along Roswell Road in an area mostly south of I-285. The zone was created in 2010 for the redevelopment of properties and allows businesses in the area that create new jobs to qualify for a state tax credit of up to $3,500. The program falls under Georgia’s Redevelopment Powers Law and was adopted by the General Assembly in 1985. It gives local governments the authority to use the increased property tax revenue in specially defined areas to promote economic development. According to the DCA, the department will consider designations for areas that are within or adjacent to a census block group with 15% or greater poverty where an enterprise zone or urban redevelopment plan exists. A City Council work session was scheduled at a Dec. 3 meeting for city staff members to present a “North End Revitalization Zone,” but the item was removed from the agenda on the city’s website before the meeting with no discussion and no explanation of what the term meant. Paul said the item was pulled from the agenda because it was not ready to be brought to the City Council yet. “It was taken off because it wasn’t ready for the council to act on it,” Paul said. “But there is nothing mysterious about it.” Paul said the zone was removed because it will be explored with the consultant and the advisory committee. “You don’t want to make these decisions and then hire a consultant to come in afterward,” Paul said. “We kind of had the cart before the horse.”
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Art & Entertainment | 23
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
DENNIS STROUGHMATT & CREOLE STOMP
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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Continued on page 24
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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
VISUAL ARTS & EXHIBITS BANQUET SPACE AVAILABLE
JANE ROBBINS KERR PHOTOGRAPHY
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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Horse Lovers Summer Camp Chastain Horse Park - convenient Buckhead location! Boys and girls ages 4-8 – Mon-Fri 8am-1pm Many weeks to choose from during Summer 2020 Camp activities for our younger riders include horsemanship instruction (grooming, safety and more), riding lessons, crafts and games! Contact us at (404) 252-4244 ext.1001 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information regarding summer schedule dates and registration form can be found at chastainhorsepark.org, select Riding Services, then select Summer Camp!
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Classifieds | 29
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30 | Public Safety
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Crime Reports / Sandy Springs Sandy Springs crime reports for week ending Jan. 24
tail in the 4600 block of Roswell Road.
The following crime information is provided via the Sandy Springs Week in Review Report for the week ending Jan. 24.
The unit conducted 179 traffic stops
NORTH DISTRICT CRIME The unit reported two burglaries.
Clothing was taken from an apartment unit. One commercial location was entered by breaking through a wall of an adjacent vacant office; nothing was taken. The unit reported four entering-autos. Three of those vehicles were left unlocked.
SOUTH DISTRICT CRIME The unit reported 14 entering-autos.
Half of the vehicles were left unlocked.
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The unit reported four felony arrests
and nine misdemeanor arrests. The Unit conducted four traffic stops, issued one traffic citation, located six wanted persons, and made two field contacts.
and issued 145 citations. The unit located one wanted person, worked 35 hours on traffic complaints, and executed two search warrants. There were 14 cases assigned and nine cases cleared. Traffic: 6 DUI: 4
TRAFFIC RESPONSE VEHICLES The unit reported one misdemeanor
arrest, conducted 16 traffic stops, and issued 24 citations. The unit conducted two vehicle impounds, worked 10 crash calls, and provided 16 patrol assists. The unit changed two flat tires, worked three gas calls, and conducted one jump-start.
K- 9 U N I T The Unit reported two misdemeanor
arrests, conducted 15 traffic stops, and issued 18 traffic citations.
The unit conducted a vehicle theft de-
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Community | 31
I-285 toll lanes would take buildings, backyards; residents and officials express concern Continued from page 1
yards of numerous homeowners living 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 ruined 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. SS
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 walkability 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 Chateau Club Townhomes along I-285 in Dunwoody. Also possibly displaced, depending on alternative plans, are a gas station, the
Our property values have been ruined forever. 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. KAREN LANNING SANDY SPRINGS RESIDENT
Wild Ginger Thai restaurant, a laundromat, and the Tip Top Kosher Market on Savoy Drive in Chamblee on the Dunwoody border. 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 un-
der 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 Chamblee-Dunwoody 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.
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