06-23-17 Sandy Springs Reporter

Page 1

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017 • VOL. 11— NO. 13


Sandy Springs Reporter



Perimeter Business ► Joining the circus

in Buckhead


► Movie biz booms

behind the screens


After Handel’s win, parties look ahead to 2018

BY DYANA BAGBY AND JOHN RUCH The GOP can breathe a little easier after Republican Karen Handel’s victory over Democrat Jon Ossoff in the special election for the 6th Congressional District seat after a campaign that set records for spending and drew a national spotlight. But not too much easier, warn local political pundits, as Handel won narrowly, with just under 52 percent of the PHIL MOSIER

See AFTER on page 13

Karen Handel is joined onstage by husband Steve after her Election Night victory at the Hyatt Regency at Villa Christina in Brookhaven.


Library renovation coming early next year

Property tax assessments rolled back amid outrage

OUT & ABOUT Fire up your Fourth! Page 19

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Page 12

Like many others, I received a shock in late May in the form of my Annual Notice of Assessment from the Fulton County Board of Assessors. My assessment went up 65 percent. LEE MORRIS

Fulton County Commissioner

Amid outrage over a huge boost in property assessments, Fulton County is rescinding appraisals for residential properties and asking the state legislature for new laws to prevent a repeat of the pain in 2018. Hundreds of residents attended recent public meetings about the assessments See PROPERTY on page 14

See Commentary, Page 10

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2 | Community

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A conceptual design of the intersection improvement planned for Spalding Drive and Dalrymple and Trowbridge roads with a four-way signal and added left-turn lanes.

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The city of Sandy Springs has extended its moratoriums on applications for rezonings, gas stations and convenience stores through Sept. 30 as it works on a new zoning code. The City Council approved the extension at its June 20 meeting after Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert told members that “we are about finished with our [new] code, but not quite.” The new “Development Code” is expected to be complete and adopted by the City Council in August. The council can decide to lift the moratoriums earlier, including at the time of the zoning code’s adoption. An existing 150-day moratorium on rezonings and special land use permits is set to expire July 7. A similar moratorium on gas stations and convenience stores, placed in December 2016, has already expired, but the city is considering reviving it. Gas stations and convenience stores, especially combination brands like RaceTrac and QuikTrip, have been special points of concern in drafting the new zoning code.

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The intersection of Spalding Drive and Dalrymple and Trowbridge roads will be upgraded to be a four-way signal, not a roundabout, following a public input process. At a June 20 City Council work session, city traffic and transportation manager France Campbell said the traditional four-way design is about $1 million less expensive than two roundabout concepts, and was preferred by local residents in community meetings. The roundabouts would be the biggest improvement to crash prevention, Campbell said, but added that the four-way upgrade will still improve safety and reduce traffic congestion. The council approved proceeding with that design by consensus. The $1.4 million project will go into final design and could be finished as early as May 2018, Campbell said.

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The Sandy Springs municipal election will be set for Nov. 7 and will be run by Fulton County, following a controversial self-run city election last year. The mayor’s office and City Council seats will be on the Nov. 7 ballot, with a runoff, if necessary, scheduled for Dec. 5. The City Council on June 20 approved contracting with Fulton County to run the election. The cost is estimated at about $205,000 for the general election and about $174,000 for the runoff. In May and June 2016, the city ran its own general and runoff special elections for an open District 3 City Council seat. It was the city’s first experience in running its own election and drew higher than expected voter turnout, leading to some discussion among city officials of running future elections in-house. However, that city-run election also drew an investigation by the Georgia secretary of state’s office for possible polling place notification violations. That investigation is nearing a conclusion. SS

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Community | 3


A design concept of the City Springs performing arts center’s theater. The city expects to spend about $1.3 million on the arts center over the next year.


City approves $106M fiscal year 2018 budget BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs City Council approved a fiscal year 2018 budget, including a $106 million operating budget, at its June 20 meeting. The council also renewed its main city government outsourcing contracts. The budget will take effect July 1. The operating budget’s spending is an increase of about one half percent over the current year. It projects revenues of about $92 million, with money from a reserve fund balancing the expenditures. The revenue projection is about 1 percent higher than fiscal 2017. While most revenue sources are projected to increase, property taxes are expected to show a 2.2 percent decline, despite the recent controversy over increased residential assessments. The police department will get a budget boost of more than 9 percent to about $22.8 million. Part of that is a salary increase to remain competitive as a Georgia State Patrol pay boost is attracting officers away from the department, city officials said. The boost also includes hiring more officers, mostly to staff a mini-station in the City Springs project, which is set to open next year. The hiring includes one sergeant and eight full-time officers, as well as two part-time positions. The Recreation and Parks Department will get a big budget increase, of about 30.5 percent, to $4.7 million. Part of that will cover a revised parks master plan process that will be conducted this fall. The only public comment at the council meeting came from bicyclist Bill Black, who called for funding some restriping of roads to include bike lanes. SS

He noted that biking on Roswell Road is “absolutely nuts” at the moment. Black was repeating a call made at the June 6 council meeting by Joe Seconder of the advocacy group Bike Walk Dunwoody to devote 0.002 percent of the budget

to such restriping as a “quick fix” while the city builds multi-use trails and other systems. The city did not make any change to fund the bike-oriented restriping. Councilmember Gabriel Sterling told

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Black that as a “fellow cyclist,” he understands the situation and that the city has a policy of adding such amenities during restriping required by road projects. But the city will not do restriping solely to add bike lanes, to be “frugal,” Sterling said. Besides the general fund for operations, the city has a capital budget and many other funds, including revenue coming soon from the new transportation special local option sales tax. The total funds the city controls amount to about $427 million. Those funds include a budget for the performing arts center in City Springs, which is set to open about a year from now. The city expects to spend about $1.3 million on the center over the next year, with about $900,000 of that on staffing. The city’s hallmark is outsourcing its main functions to private companies. The total cost of those contracts is projected to rise by 6.45 percent to about $17.4 million, due to automatic increases dictated in the contracts as well as some new hiring. The council approved the contract renewals. The city is in the second year of a three-year agreement to renew the main administrative outsourcing contracts without rebidding them to provide consistency during development of City Springs and the rewriting of the city’s zoning code.

4 | Perimeter Business

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Joining the circus in Buckhead with the Imperial OPA troupe BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Imperial OPA circus founder Timothy Mack juggles pins.


Timothy Mack is one of those guys who really did run away and join the circus. Now he gathers performers to join his own, the Atlanta-based Imperial OPA circus. Surrounded by tumbling acrobats and twirling aerialists on a recent night at the Imperial OPA’s small training gym in Buckhead, Mack explained how the circus is a noble art and a tough business. “I think a lot of people think of circus as an oddity or a curiosity,” said the 38-year-old ringmaster and circusfounder, who sports a classic handlebar moustache, explaining the art has mood-changing and life-altering po-

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tential. “Entertainment can really heal people … You can be happy, be amazed.” Mack will help the country celebrate the art as one of two ringmasters at this year’s circus-focused Smithsonian Folklife Festival, running June 29-July 6 in Washington, D.C. Just weeks ago, he also personally experienced the business’s challenges, traveling as a stagehand on the final run of the legendary Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which shut down in May after a 146-year history. The circus business is “a lot of hustling to keep the lights on,” he said. But its unconventional charms can be their own reward, as easily seen on that training night. The Imperial OPA is based at a downtown office, but holds open practices and its “Circus School of Atlanta” classes at Buck’s Sports Barn, a small, red building hidden behind a row of storefronts at 2303 Peachtree Road. The one-room gym, overseen by a giant painting of Muhammad Ali, was topped with a multicolored cloth suggesting a circus tent. Mats and a springboard were on the floor for the acrobats, including Rocco Lapaire and Nova Hawkins, a duo who perform regularly on cruise ships. A trapeze and ropes and sheets, or “silks,” dangled from the ceiling for aerialists like Amelia Chambless. “A lot of adrenaline,” said Chambless, a 20-year-old Dunwoody resident, explaining the appeal of climbing and twirling on the silks. “It just gives me a lot of self-confidence.” She’s proud that she has performed on 40-foot-tall silks at Midtown’s Opera nightclub, where she once saw another aerialist during her prom. And she’s so enthusiastic, she bought her own training rig for about $3,000 and drives around with it in her Jeep so she can practice in local parks. That’s the kind of daring and emotion that Mack said drew him into the circus life. In 2005, the Connecticut native found himself at a personal low point after a broken relationship. So he joined the circus, signing on with the famous Canadian troupe Cirque du Soleil as a photographer. Traveling the East Coast with Cirque, he enjoyed the freewheeling, colorful Continued on page 8

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017


Perimeter Business | 5

Movie biz booms behind the screens BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Metro Atlanta has become a major hub of film and TV productions, including the home of Marvel Studios’ multibillion-dollar superhero movies. In the Perimeter area, businesses are finding opportunities in newly trained workers, the trading of the state’s lucrative filmmaking tax credits – and, yes, making movies.


Even without post-production work, the tax credits have created a workforce of more than 100,000 people that have an average annual salary of $84,000, with some making more than $150,000 a year, Stefrpakoff said. One concern about bringing the film industry to Georgia is making sure the state has the workforce to support it, he said. If there aren’t enough Georgia residents here to fill the jobs, the productions will bring in people from out of state, giving the money saved from tax credits to people who don’t live here, he said. “We want to make sure there is

Georgia needs to become a place where a movie can be produced from start to finish, not just filmed, and the Georgia Film Academy is working to fill that gap, Jeff Stepakoff, the executive director of the program, said at the Buckhead Business Association’s June 15 luncheon. Stepakoff credits Georgia’s varying environments, access to an international airport and, of course, state tax credits for making the state desirable to the film industry, he said at the luncheon, held in JW Marriott in Buckhead. Tax credits established in Georgia in 2008 have a brought a flurry of TV and movie productions to the state. “The effects of all of this producTWENTIETH CENTURY FOX “The Watch” is one movie Monarch Private Capital tion and all this worked with to sell leftover tax credits. economic activity here in our state have been nothing short of transformative,” Stepakoff enough crew to do the work and we said. won’t be sending tax dollars out of the But to be sustainable and not a fad, state,” Stepakoff said. Georgia has to become an environment The Georgia Film Academy was crewhere every step of film production ated to fill that void. The program becan happen, he said. Right now, crews gan in January 2015 with Gov. Nathan are filming many TV shows and movies Deal’s announcement of a film indusin the state, but post-production work try training program to ensure the such as editing and animation are hapstate had workers to support the induspening elsewhere. try. Since that announcement, more “Basically, we’re producing other than 75 students have successfully gotpeople’s movies,” Stepakoff said. ten jobs in the Georgia film industry, To solve the problem, Georgia needs Stepakoff said. to bring in TV and movie writers and “We need to take advantage of producers with post-production skills what’s happening now to build a legacy and the academy is “aggressively planfor our state,” Stepakoff said. ning” to implement training for writers and producers, Stepakoff said. Continued on page 6

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6 | Perimeter Business

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Movie biz booms behind the screens

A promotional banner shows the two main characters of the film “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.” FUN ACADEMY MOTION PICTURES

Continued from page 5


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Georgia provides tax credits for up to 30 percent of what a company spends in the state, and often a production company doesn’t owe enough in taxes to use them all so they are sold to businesses or individuals who can. To sell film credits, Buckhead-based Monarch Private Capital works with production companies to find buyers for a tax credit they can’t use, Robin Delmer, the managing director of acquisitions, said. The buyers are able to buy the tax credits for less than they are worth. To qualify for tax credits, the productions have to spend at least $500,000 in the state. Georgia offers a 20 percent tax credit to all productions that qualify, and an additional 10 percent is available if productions include the Georgia logo and a link to Georgia’s tourism site on the production’s website, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s website. “Usually, production companies don’t have enough Georgia tax liability, so the tax credits would basically go to waste,” Delmer said. The state encourages this, Delmer said, because the production companies have already spent money in the state. The buyers are often corporations and the tax credits from one company often are split among several buyers, Delmer said. The credits can’t be resold to another buyer, however. Delmer couldn’t release the names of specific movies or shows they have worked with, but Monarch mostly works with large productions, he said. According to the company’s website, Monarch did work with “The Watch,” a Ben Stiller comedy movie filmed in Georgia in 2012, to sell film tax credits.

MAKING THE MOVIES Former state Rep. Joe Wilkinson, who represented parts of Sandy Springs and Buckhead, is the president of a company creating an animated movie about a real-life World War I military dog named Sgt. Stubby. The film company, Fun Academy Motion Pictures, released the first trailer for the movie, “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” on June 15 and plans to release the full film in April 2018. Its voice actors include Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu. When production for the movie began, there were no animation studios in Georgia that could produce a quality animated movie, so animation is being done in Canada and France, Fun Academy spokesperson Jordan Beck said. Wilkinson is working out of his office in Sandy Springs and his home on St. Simons Island, but he hopes to bring the entire production team to Georgia eventually, mentioning the tax credits as one reason. “It’s just done wonders for the film business,” said Wilkinson, who helped pass the tax credits during his tenure as a state lawmaker. There were plans to open a Buckhead office for the Sgt. Stubby film, but the company is still determining if it’s needed, Wilkinson said. Beck said the company is opening the state’s first film distribution center in Columbus, Ga., which does everything involving getting movies to the public, including making promotional materials and getting the film shown in theaters. The center is currently working on the “Sgt. Stubby” movie release to 2,500 theaters, but will also work with other production companies to market their movies and get them into theaters. To read more about Sgt. Stubby and the movie, visit stubbymovie.com.

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Perimeter Business | 7


Business Briefs


The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual gala on June 10 at Flourish in Buckhead. Among those celebrating were, from left, new GHCC president Santiago Marquez; Wendy Corona of WSBTV; Guiomar Obregon, president of Precision 2000; and Alejandro Coss, president of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia. The GHCC has about 1,100 members and is based in Buckhead.


Work is moving rapidly on the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium downtown, as seen on a June 15 tour led by Mercedes-Benz USA, the carmaker’s North American branch, which is temporarily based in Dunwoody and is building its new headquarters in Sandy Springs. The company bought stadium naming rights in 2015 to coincide with MBUSA’s move. The tour showcased special club and suite seating areas with the Mercedes-Benz brand.

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Top: Amelia Chambless practices on the aerial silks. Above: Acrobat team Nova Hawkins and Rocco Lapaire practice a pose.

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circus life. He started picking up such skills as juggling and fire-spinning. “You hang out with Russian guys eating tons of food. They ask you to marry their Cuban girlfriend so she can stay in the country,” he recalled. But what really struck him was the effect on the audience. “You would see guests as they came in” – he pulled a frown – “and saw them leave” – he smiled broadly. Mack came to Atlanta and got an animation job at a videogame company – one of those digital challengers that can make business hard for reallife performers. But he didn’t forget the circus’s impact and set out to start his own. After an early, unsuccessful effort, he formed the Imperial OPA in 2008. “Opa!” is a Greek exclamation of celebration, so Mack says the circus’s name

loosely translates to “the Big Cheer” -“because as an entertainer, that’s what we’re going for.” The Imperial OPA joins a small, closely knit circus community in Atlanta, which also includes the downtownbased UniverSoul hip-hop circus. The Buck’s Sports Barn classes are one way performers meet, develop acts and join the circus. Particular performances are based on the setting and client and can include varying numbers and types of performers. “We’ve done all the ranges,” from street performances to stage shows, said Mack. The Imperial OPA has performed at street festivals and provided performers for the popular TV series “The Vampire Diaries.” It staged cabaret shows and productions with such titles as “Night of the Living Circus.” Its clients have included the Atlanta Bo-

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Perimeter Business | 9


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Perimeter North Family Medicine Welcoming new patients! Top: Amelia Chambless, right, strikes a pose on the aerial silks, while acrobats Nova Hawkins and Rocco Lapaire practice. Above: Amanda Richards practices on the aerial silks.

tanical Gardens and 11Alive. All that work has big up-front costs. Renting a performance space can run $3,000 to $4,000 a night. Performers have to be paid – anywhere from $100 to $1,000 each, depending on skills – and a big show can take 20 of them. Costumes have to be made. Insurance has to be bought. Last year, the Imperial OPA had revenues over $175,000, with the majority going to performers’ pay, Mack said. The troupe is far from Mack’s million-dollar dream of setting up its own permanent circus space. He says it needs a more sustainable and stable business model, and may seek official nonprofit status. Right now, it accepts donations through Fractured Atlas, an organization that acts as a fiscal agent for small arts groups. Even planning a circus show can

have a big effect, Mack said, recalling how a former hardware store clerk told him how an unusual Imperial OPA request inspired him to follow his own dreams to become an architect. “‘You came into Home Depot one day and you asked me how to build a bed of nails … You changed my life,’” Mack recalled the man saying. That kind of perspective shift is what Mack hopes audiences take away from Imperial OPA, whose performers range from teens to an 86-year-old acrobat. “I hope people get inspired that they can do anything,” said Mack. “It’s never too late to have a passion, to throw your heart and soul into the ring.” For more information, see theimperialopa.com.

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10 | Commentary

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Commentary / Answers to the property tax sticker shock Like many others, I received a shock in late May in the form of my Annual Notice of Assessment from the Fulton County Board of Assessors (BOA). My assessment went up 65 percent. On June 21, we on the Board of Commissioners voted to direct the BOA to use the 2016 residential property assessments with some modifications. We all know that home values in metro Atlanta are recovering from the recession. Unfortunately, the BOA has not been keeping up with re-appraisals as it should have. As a result, we saw in 2017 sharp increases in appraisals that should have occurred more gradually. State law requires counties to appraise properties at “fair market value.” The state notified Fulton’s BOA that, based on preliminary comparison of sales and tax appraisals on homes sold, Fulton homes were appraised at about 79 percent of fair market value in 2016. Failure of a county to appraise at fair market value can result, and has resulted, in fines from the state. Indeed, Fulton and the state Department of Revenue are in litigation over prior years’ issues. I and my colleagues on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners worked hard with the Department of Revenue to find relief for the large increases in valuations and fairly obvious valuation errors, given constraints on our power under state law. We then found an old law that gave us the power to correct errors, and used that on June 21. Following our June 21 vote, we are now looking to the state leg-

islature to avoid a recurrence of the problem in future years. Citizens should support any General Assembly member’s efforts in the next session to avoid this kind of sticker shock in the future. Should they implement a cap on the percentage increase any homeowner incurs in a given year? Should they simplify the myriad of Fulton homestead exemptions for seniors based on age and Lee Morris income, which are so numerous, compliFulton County cated and based on different definitions of Commissioner income, that many entitled to them do not make use of them? Should Atlanta ask for the provision that limits increases for residences to the Consumer Price Index? (This cap currently applies only to the Fulton County operating millage and the city of Sandy Springs millage.) Finally, should Fulton County have a senior school tax exemption like Cobb County? We all know seniors who move from Fulton to Cobb solely because of the burden of the school tax. Citizens who have a position on any of those topics should let their General Assembly representatives know. Lee Morris is the Fulton County commissioner for District 3, which includes parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs.

Editor-at-Large Joe Earle Staff Writers Dyana Bagby, Evelyn Andrews Copy Editor: Donna Williams Lewis

Commentary / Trailways are making connections

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Activating and connecting the Dunwoody community is of critical importance to the Dunwoody Parks and Recreation department. Our goal is to develop and maintain superior parks, trail networks, greenspace and playgrounds which help elevate the overall quality of life for residents. From the city’s array of multi-use trails and sidewalks to its parks and open Brent Walker greenspace, Dunwoody offers a number of Director of the options for an active and healthy lifestyle. Since its incorporation, the city has Dunwoody Parks and Recreation department. added three miles of multi-use trails, 11 miles of sidewalks and 13 miles of bike lanes. The city is using newly created trails to connect neighborhoods and parks, impacting quality of life, as well as home and business values, for many years to come. Trails help link areas of the city to improve connectivity and convenience and potentially relieve congestion and traffic. Many new families and young professionals are drawn to Dunwoody because of the city’s convenient accessibility and amenities, including its expanding network of trails. The current public passion for trails has not always been as strong as it is today. Approximately six years ago, the idea of a proposed “greenway” along Georgia Power Co.’s high-voltage transmission line right of way was rather expediently removed from transportation plans due to public opposition. And when the current Brook Run Park multi-use trail was approved and being constructed, groups of residents opposed its creation and even took the city to court to try and stop the trail’s construction. But something unique and energizing occurred through these incidents. A gradual community acceptance of the trail’s existence was followed by a measured use of the multi-use trail. Today there exists an enthusiastic demand for additional trails and future trail

connections. Residents now express a desire to take a short walk from their tree-lined neighborhood to local stores or restaurants. There’s a growing movement towards active exercise and non-motorized transportation to nearby conveniences, a craving which either did not exist prior or was just undeveloped. Trails are important amenities for travelers and visitors as well. According to the Dunwoody Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), a number of local hotel general managers say guests often request directions to or information on nearby trails for exercise and enjoyment. A 2015 research study conducted by the CVB documented feedback from visitors to Dunwoody who stated the need for parks and trails accessible by their hotel for walking, jogging, or enjoying nature. This desire for trails echoes the input Dunwoody citizens shared through the Parks Master Plan Update survey conducted in 2016. Trail connectivity has sprouted from Dunwoody parks, out of and through neighborhoods, and now is awakening within the heart of the city’s Perimeter Center business district. The Perimeter Center Improvement Districts are currently working with Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Brookhaven to provide transportation and recreation options for the workers and residents in the area. Currently, the city is exploring an extension of the Dunwoody Trailway coming out of Georgetown Park at Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. The hope is to continue the trail along I-285, through the Georgetown subdivision, and eventually to connect with Perimeter Center East and the greater Perimeter area. With the continued extension of PATH400 in Buckhead and into Sandy Springs, there is also an opportunity for the city to connect its multi-use trail system into the regional trail network. Great trails and connectivity support active families and thriving communities. By exploring new trails and paths, Dunwoody is establishing itself as an active and healthy example of a true “live, work, play” location. SS

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Community | 11


Townhome development proposed near Pill Hill



An illustration of the 18 townhomes proposed on Johnson Ferry Road near Pill Hill.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A developer is proposing an 18-townhome development on Johnson Ferry Road near Pill Hill and will hold a public meeting June 29 at Marist School to discuss the project. Majestic Investment Corporation is scheduled to appear before the city’s Planning Commission on Aug. 2 as part of its rezoning request of property at 1611, 1621 and 1659 Johnson Ferry Road near the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange to allow for the construction of 18 townhomes on slightly more than 13 acres, according to documents filed with the city. The property, one of few undeveloped parcels in the city, includes wetlands and a floodplain along Nancy Creek. The developer states in the city documents that 11 percent of the approximate 13 acres will be built out with the remaining land to be undeveloped. The project “presents an opportunity to protect the undeveloped floodplain and associated natural resources of Nancy Creek,” according to the application to the city from the developer. “There is the potential for a cooperative effort with the city to use the floodplain for enhanced resource management and passive recreational trails. This would conform to the comprehensive plan goal of leveraging the city’s creek systems for greater access by community while protecting their long-term health and viability.” In the letter of intent to the city, the developer notes the property is within the Lake District character area, where other townhomes are located, and states the proposed rezoning reflects the changing market conditions for the Lake District “primarily by single and empty nest buyers for lower-maintenance housing types.” The developer states it expects buyers to be people who already reside or work in the area.

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12 | Community

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Library renovation coming early next year BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The Sandy Springs Branch Library will get its first renovation in 30 years in early 2018, transforming into a more flexible and modern space, a team of officials said during a June 14 public input meeting. That work will bring temporary pain: a closure of five to six months. Improved facilities for events, children’s activities and a friends group’s bookstore were among the suggestions by about 30 attendees of the meeting, held at the library at 395 Mount Vernon Highway N.E. The ideas were well-received by Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System officials, though they emphasized that the project will only renovate the existing building, not build additions. And while Al Collins, the administrator of the bond program funding the renovation, said the project has a “limited budget,” he repeatedly refused to say what that amount is. The project is far from a blank slate, but still has plenty of room for community input to dictate details of how the library is reconfigured, said representatives of construction and architecture firms hired by the library system. “We’re just starting out,” said Amy Sue Mann of Hogan Construction Group. “We haven’t drawn anything yet.” “What we really want to understand is the personality of your library,” said Joe Alcock of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, which recently worked on major library projects for Louisiana State and Kennesaw State universities. He likened the project to a giant version of renovating and refurnishing a living room. After the current round of public input, the team plans to return in the early fall with a preliminary design, then finalize the plan with more public input

by year’s end. Construction is expected to start sometime in the first quarter of 2018, requiring a closure of up to six months. The team continues to accept public input on renovation ideas at librarycomments@fultoncountyga.gov. That address is used for several branch renovations, so comments should mention they are about the Sandy Springs Branch specifically.

Alcock said that the vision of a modern library is less a “book depository” and more a place “to exchange thoughts, learn and exJOHN RUCH pand our minds and The main entrance of the Sandy Springs Branch trade ideas.” Library at 395 Mount Vernon Highway N.E. “Things come and go in fad and fashion,” he Members of the Friends of the Sandy A LONG LIST OF NEEDS said. “We want long-range, durable ideas Springs Library asked for better after-hours The meeting itself made obvious some that will go on forever.” access for such events as author readings, of the needs of the library, which dates The list of improvements already reand better space for their bookstore, which to 1973 and was last renovated in 1988. quired by the library system is long. It infunds many children’s programs. The Its three relatively small meeting rooms cludes new heating and cooling systems; bookstore is squeezed into an easily overwere all booked with activities, so the lighting; interior and exterior signage; looked area at the back of the young adult meeting was held amid bookshelves and accessibility for people with disabilities; section, and the Friends have to rent off-site DVD racks in the “young adult” section. new computers and Wi-Fi; renovated restorage space for $400 a month. Some attendees fanned themselves in the strooms; carpeting; security cameras overly warm air, and lobby noise interand an alarm system; new electrical wirTHE KNOWN BUDGET AND THE rupted the discussion. ing and outlets. Also on the agenda: betSECRET BUDGET All that activity also shows the popter furniture and at least basic improveThe Sandy Springs Branch project ularity of the Sandy Springs Branch. ments to the lawn and parking lot areas. is part of the second and last phase of a Alcock said its book circulation – about Cramped, crowded and poorly lit rooms system-wide renovation and construc20,000 volumes checked out a month were a major theme of comments from attion program dating to a 2008 voter-ap– is consistently in the top three of the tendees. The design team previously sought proved bond. The current phase will system’s 34 branches. comments from library staff, and said they renovate 21 branches and the Central LiThe team alheard similar brary in downtown Atlanta. Those renready has a mustcomplaints. ovations are being done in sub-phasdo list of basic imTwo mothers es called “groups,” and Sandy Springs is provements, such of young chilamong seven branches starting off the as heating, cooling dren called for work. The nearby Roswell Branch is inand lighting sysan improved cluded in that first group. tems. And with this children’s area Mann said closings for renovation renovation possibly focused on will be scheduled so that the Roswell being the last mabooks and nonand Sandy Springs are not closed at the jor work for 20 to digital items, JOHN RUCH same time, so that patrons of one can Due to a lack of available rooms, the 25 years, the team is and insulated visit the other during construction and June 14 meeting was held amid the grappling with how from the rest of avoid a local “library desert.” library’s bookshelves and DVD racks. to design a brickthe library so The overall budget for Phase II work and-mortar library for an increasingly noise won’t disturb other patrons. is $109 million, with about $50 million digital age. The overarching theme was Better furniture was another suggesgoing to the Central Library project. The flexible space and a focus on perennial tion. As one man put it, the library should other $59 million is for the 21 branch renneeds such as teaching young children to have chairs “that will enhance reading, ovations; if divided equally, that would be read and providing study space for teens. but not make you fall asleep.” about $2.8 million per branch.

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JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Community | 13


After Handel’s win, parties look ahead to 2018

Continued from page 1

Alterman said this was her first camHandel’s totals were down in the paign where she volunteered. She did so beJune 20 runoff by roughly 20,000 in vote. She’ll likely be re-elected in the 2018 cause she opposed Handel’s views on social Cobb, 13,000 in DeKalb and 33,000 in midterms, but open seats may see more of a issues, she said, and she wanted to send a Fulton, Knippenberg said. battle, said Oglethorpe University political message to Trump. “I don’t mean to suggest that the science professor Joseph Knippenberg. “Things are changing. I think we’ll get Handel campaign performed poorly. “No one really thinks that a Tom Price there,” she said. That kind of falloff is what you’d exseeking reelection in 2018 would be fightPHIL MOSIER Knippenberg said Handel’s victory does pect in a special election in the suming for his political life,” Knippenberg said Handel supporter Doyle Wang cheers reassure Republicans that the 6th Congresmer, even with voting as convenient shortly before the Election Night results at the Election Night party. sional District is a fairly solid red district as it is,” he said. came in. Handel replaces former U.S. Rep. unconstitutionally drawn. and the best Democrats can hope to do in “But I think it’s fair to conclude Tom Price, who left the seat earlier this year this district is “come close.” But the numfrom the consistency between the 2016 Republicans and Democrats when in to become the U.S. secretary of health and bers do show some shaky ground. and 2017 raw Democratic vote totals that control tend to draw districts to favor parhuman services. “[Ossoff’s] overall vote total was nearOssoff mobilized virtually every possible Handel, a former Georgia secretary of ty candidates, he said. But the decision by ly the same as what Tom Price’s challengDemocratic vote,” he said. “At the moment, state and Fulton County Board of Comthe Supreme Court, not likely to happen in er received in 2016,” Knippenberg said the the best Democrats can do in this district is missioners chair, is a well-known figure in time to affect the 2018 elections, could hurt morning after come close.” the majority-Republican disRepublicans more because there are simply the vote. Todd Rehm, a Republican political contrict, which includes parts of more Republican elected officials through“To be sure, sultant from Brookhaven, said the Georgia Brookhaven, Dunwoody and out the country. not everyGOP is on “strong footing” going into 2018. Sandy Springs. Ossoff’s strong performance, especially one who vot“We will continue to have internal deOssoff was a political his consistent moderate stance, also must ed Democrat bates over President Trump’s executive acnewcomer who lives outside be noted by Republicans and Democrats, in 2016 vottions, legislative proposal, and more than the district, an unusual situaKnippenberg said. ed for Ossoff anything else, healthcare reform,” he said. tion allowed by the U.S. Con“The anti-Trump energy mobilized Demin this round. “But those internal debates do not threatstitution. ocrats, but they have to be careful. There are Knippenberg said the race Some stayed en our ability to come together after a heattwo kinds of anti-Trump energy – screambetween Handel and Ossoff home. But lots, ed primary or to make the strongest arguing at the barricades doesn’t play well in was so special that it cannot and I do mean ments to voters.” the 6th District, and Bernie Sanders doesn’t be used to predict political lots, of Price Knippenberg said what Republicans DYANA BAGBY play well in the 6th District,” he said. “Oscampaigns in 2018. Among voters either most have to fear is the potential outcome Nadine Becker of Sandy Springs said soff crafted a message that I think sells in the reasons: the enormous stayed home of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take she was a ‘compassionate volunteer’ for the district ... that downplays the liberalism campaign funding. or switched up a gerrymandering case in which WisJon Ossoff at his Election Night party “Two sides spent $50 milat the Concourse Center Westin hotel. sides,” he said. consin challengers say district lines were of the Democratic party.” lion on this race … so it is not much of a predictor for future races,” Knippenberg said. “This race is unprecedented and can’t be replicated that many times in 2018.” Knippenberg said he believes political convention wisdom will prevail and that incumbents, regardless of party, will win re-election in 2018. Where there may be a question is where there is an open seat, he said. Republicans will, however, be “running scared” in 2018, no matter what happened in the 6th Congressional District race. “They’re going to have to work harder, break a sweat, raise more money,” he said. Democrat Joe Seconder of Dunwoody, founder of the Perimeter Progressives, is hopeful the energy surrounding the Ossoff campaign that touted 12,000 volunteers will carry into future campaigns at the state and local levels. “The Georgia GOP has taken two-anda-half decades to be where they are today. This is Year One for the Georgia Democratic Party, in my opinion,” he said. “This is Year One for active, progressive and engaged Democrats. We have built a network that did not exist six months ago.” Becky Alterman of Dunwoody, one of the Ossoff volunteers, acknowledged her Please call or come in disappointment with his loss, but said the to see how we can be of energy surrounding Ossoff’s campaign was assistance for your loved ones. a “silver lining.” Near Mt. Vernon and Gelnridge Drive intersection “I think it means we got a really strong movement started and this [GOP control] is not how it is going to be forever,” she said. 690 Mount Vernon Hwy. NE, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 | 404-843-8857 | InsigniaofSandySprings.com

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14 | Community

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Property tax assessments rolled back amid outrage Continued from page 1

Commissioner Lee Morris, who represents parts of Sandy Springs and all of to express frustration over the increasBuckhead. es and what some see as a lack of transWhen asked what will happen with parency. the appraisals in 2018, Morris laughed David Crest, a Buckhead resident, arand said, “That’s a great question.” gued at a June 19 town hall meeting that The decision essentially passes the all the information assessors use to apbuck to the state legislature to solve the praise properties needs to available. “It’s problem. Commissioners are hoping hard to make appeals when we don’t have the legislators are able to create a cap the information we need, and they owe it on the percentage increase of appraisto us,” said Crest, whose property value als and exemptions went up 32 percent. the county doesn’t But residents are have the power also grateful that to create, such as Fulton County is breaks for seniors. holding the town The increased valhall meetings and uations could also giving residents an be spread out over a outlet to express few years instead of frustration. applied all at once, “I think they reMorris said. ally are listening to State Rep. Debus and all they can orah Silcox, whose really do right now district includes is listen,” said Diparts of Sandy ane Buckler, a SanSprings and Buckdy Springs resident head, attended a whose property valJune 19 town hall ue increased by 43 meeting on the appercent this year. praisals and said legThe Fulton JOHN FOSTER islators are aware CHASTAIN PARK RESIDENT County Board of of the tax increasCommissioners votes and will try to aded unanimously June 21 to rescind 2017 dress them in the next legislative session. property tax appraisals and instead use New assessments that will use 2016 2016 appraisals. numbers for residential properties will be The resolution passed by the board mailed out in August. A new 45-day appeal directs the Board of Assessors to use the period will begin when property owners 2016 valuations with some modifications receive them. State Rep. Wendell Willard to include new construction. Commercial (R-Sandy Springs), who is also the Sandy properties will be assessed at 2017 levels. Springs city attorney, said property owners This move means residents will face concerned about the original 2017 assesssharply increased appraisals next year ments should still appeal them in case the unless the General Assembly acts, said 1880s-era law the Board of Commissioners

I’m not complaining about progress, but I feel like my wife and I are being run out of our own neighborhood.


Fulton County Chairman John Eaves listens as Chief Appraiser Dwight Robinson answers a question from a homeowner at the Buckhead Library during a June 14 meeting on property tax assessments.

used to justify using 2016 numbers is challenged. That current appeal period runs through July 10. The vote to rescind the 2017 appraisals comes after residents voiced frustration over higher property valuations for tax purposes and what they see as a lack of transparency in the Board of Assessor’s office. Over 200 residents came to two town hall meetings held by Fulton County officials in Buckhead and Sandy Springs to ask questions and express concerns. One was held in the Buckhead Library on June 14, and one at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church near the Sandy Springs and Buckhead border on June 19. County Commission Chairman John Eaves hosted the earlier town hall meet-

ing and Morris held the later one, along with Chief Appraiser Dwight Robinson who attended both. Eaves advocated voiding the 2017 property assessments and reviewing them, and said expecting residents to pay much more in taxes in this short amount of time is “unjust.” Robinson maintains that almost all appraisals are accurate and the increases are necessary to comply with state law. State law requires counties value properties between 90 and 110 percent of their fair market value, and the state Department of Revenue found that Fulton was valuing properties at 79.6 percent of their market value. The 2017 assessment digest values properties at 98 percent of their fair market value.

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JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Community | 15


“This is my fourth town hall meeting. I hear you. I understand you are fearful,” Robinson said. “But my job is mandated by state law.” Neither Eaves nor Robinson could answer some questions, especially concerning why the assessments have not kept up with market value each year and instead increased dramatically. Eaves said he does not have control over the assessor’s office, and Robinson said he has only been in his position since September 2016 and can’t speak about other administrations. The millage rate is what’s to blame for high taxes, Robinson said. Assessors have no control over the rate and it is set by other departments, including the county’s Board of Commissioners and school systems, he said. Of the 318,000 residential parcels assessed, 22 percent have seen increases greater than 50 percent, Robinson said. Through review, the assessors have

learned some mistakes were made on some assessments and those will be fixed.“You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said. Owners of older homes complained at the town hall meetings that they should be protected from rising assessments. Their houses are not worth as much as others in the neighborhood, they argued, but as new builds raise property values, owners of older homes are becoming unable to pay their taxes. “I’m not complaining about progress, but I feel like my wife and I are being run out of our own neighborhood,” John Foster, a Chastain Park resident, said at the June 19 meeting. Melissa Samford, a resident of the Wildwood neighborhood in Buckhead, complained at the June 14 meeting about what she sees as a lack of transparency from the county. She argued that it’s difficult to make

HO W TO FILE AN APP EA L Residents can appeal by submitting a paper or online form at fultoncounty.modria.com and must be filed by July 10. Property owners who appeal will be billed for taxes at 85 percent of their current assessed value. Most will appeal based on value (the appraised value is incorrect), uniformity (similar homes in the neighborhood are appraised for less) or denial of an exemption. Any documents can be submitted along with the appeal, but can also be submitted later. Read more at qpublic.net/ga/fulton/appeals. html.

an appeal when she doesn’t have access to documents detailing how the assessors determined the value of her home. Robinson said that information is obtainable by contacting the board, but Samford, who said her home value increased 101 percent in the neighborhood near Memorial Park, said she has tried that with no success. At the June 19 meeting, Robinson responded to similar questions by saying he heard the complaints about transparency and all the information will be made available in the future. Bryant Cumming, who lives on West Paces Ferry Road, said he appreciates Eaves and Robinson answering questions, but the question of why the assessments did not keep up with market value over the years went unanswered.“Someone has to be held accountable,” said Cumming, whose property’s value went up over 60 percent. --John Ruch contributed

Fireworks will illuminate the skies above the King and Queen buildings in Sandy Springs as the community comes together in celebration of our nation’s independence.

July 2, 2017 • 7:30 pm • The Concourse Lawn Music from the band Shiloh will begin at 7:30 pm. Fireworks will dazzle the skies beginning at 9:45 pm. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and enjoy an evening under the stars. Pets, tents, outdoor cooking, drones, alcohol and personal-use sparklers will not be permitted. The Sandy Springs Stars and Stripes Celebration is sponsored by Regent Partners and Building and Land Technology (Concourse) and the City of Sandy Springs. Additional event information can be found online: spr.gs/fw


16 | Out & About

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CONCERTS BY THE SPRINGS Sunday, July 9, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.






Heritage Sandy Springs’ summer outdoor concert series continues with the country classics of the Kinchafoonee Cowboys. Gates open at 5 p.m. Picnics welcome. Food, beer and wine available. Free. Sandy Springs Society Entertainment Lawn at Heritage Green, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org or 404-851-9111, ext. 1.


AN EVENING WITH ALAN ALDA Tuesday, June 27, 7:30 p.m.

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta welcomes back actor and bestselling author Alan Alda as part of its A Page from the Book Festival. Alda will present his book “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.” Ticket prices include a copy of the book: $37 per person, $33 for MJCCA members. 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/bookfestival or 678-812-4002.


The “jamgrass” band Honeywood is up next in this concert series presented by the city of Dunwoody. Picnicking begins at 6 p.m. Craft beers available for purchase. Free to Dunwoody Nature Center members. Non-members: $5 adults, $3 students, free to children 3 and under. 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodynature.org.


Saturdays July 1 and July 8; Sunday, July 9, 6 p.m. Take a leisurely paddle down the Chattahoochee River with experienced guides. Perfect for a first time paddle or a fun way to reconnect with the river. All equipment is provided. Registration required. Ages 6+. $30 public; $25 CNC members (per person). Info: chattnaturecenter.org or 770-992-2055 x237.

5488 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd 2486 Mount Vernon Rd 4511 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd 1155 Mount Vernon Hwy 2150 Johnson Ferry Rd 770-390-0859 770-986-0410 470-395-9769 770-394-4164 770-396-0096

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JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Out & About | 17



WEEKEND 2-day weekend pass now for just $10.50.


Saturday, July 8, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Dance with the Nashville-based Roux du Bayou Cajun Band in an event sponsored by the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association. $18; $5 students; $14 active military. No partner necessary. All ages welcome. Cajun/Creole food for sale. Dorothy Benson Senior Multipurpose Complex, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: aczadance.org or 877-338-2420.

You and your family can enjoy Atlanta’s many attractions & events with unlimited rides on all buses & trains for only $10.50 per person. The 25% discounted passes are available for purchase until June 30, 2017, but you can use your Weekend Passes for any weekend you have planned!


Through Sunday, Sept. 17, Tuesdays through Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.

The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art presents paintings by four Rwandan artists whose lives were impacted by the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Adults $5; free for children under 12 and OUMA members, students with Petrel Pass, and members of military and their families. 4484 Peachtree Road N.E., Brookhaven. Info: museum.oglethorpe.edu.

LEARN SOMETHING PERIMETER ADULT LEARNING & SERVICES Ongoing Mondays through July 31. No classes on July 3.

The summer quarter of PALS classes is underway at Dunwoody Baptist Church. Class topics range from financial planning and current events to geographical marvels and “dirty dancing.” $45 for up to three classes each Monday or $8 per day. Bring a lunch or purchase a meal for $8 with advance reservations. 1445 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: palsonline.org or 770-698-0801.

AUTHOR TALK: “THE TERROR YEARS” Wednesday, July 26, 8 p.m.

Lawrence Wright, a staff writer for “The New Yorker” and author of “The Terror Years: From Al-Qaeda to the Islamist State,” appears at the Atlanta History Center. $10 public; $5 members. 130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W., Buckhead. Info: atlantahistorycenter.com or 404-814-4150. 404-848-5000 | www.itsmarta.com/Weekend Continued on page 18

18 | Out & About

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 17

Comprehensive Women’s Health


Saturday, July 8, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Learn to weave a garlic basket with Elaine Bradley of the Handweavers Guild of America. The twined rattan basket allows air to circulate and keeps garlic fresh while it hangs in your kitchen. Supplies and light refreshments will be provided. Open to first 15 participants. No registration required. Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: 770-512-4640.


Saturday, July 8, 10 a.m. to noon.

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Heritage Sandy Springs continues its family gardening series (on second Saturdays through October) with Kokedama/Japanese Moss Balls. Kids will receive a small plant to place in a moss ball they create to hang in a window at home. Free. Best suited for ages 6-10, with an accompanying adult. Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market, 6100 Lake Forrest Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.


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The National Black Arts Festival holds its 20th annual gala featuring performances and a silent auction at the special events venue Flourish. 3143 Maple Drive N.E., Buckhead. Registration: nbaf.org or 404-372-4572.


Jessica Guilfoil Killeen, WHNP-BC


Right for you?

Blue Heron Nature Preserve seeks individual volunteers for grounds maintenance and other tasks, such as neighborhood engagement, fundraising, and organizing events. 4055 Roswell Road N.E., Buckhead. Info: email: brookev@bhnp.org or call 404-946-6394.

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Out & About | 19


INDEPENDENCE DAY Nothing says it’s summer like the Fourth of July, a holiday that sizzles with stars and stripes, sparklers and special events. On July 2, Sandy Springs will host fireworks at the King and Queen buildings, and on July 4, Dunwoody will hold what’s said to be the largest July Fourth parade in Georgia.

Buckhead’s Lenox Square announced in May it will not host its annual fireworks show, which it has held for more than 50 years. This year, the mall is partnering with Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta for a July Fourth fireworks show. Lenox Square will host a full day of events at the mall, but the details for the events were not released in time for publication. Here’s a look at some of the Independence Day celebrations scheduled in our local communities:

SANDY SPRINGS STARS AND STRIPES CELEBRATION Sunday, July 2, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Celebrate Independence Day on the lawn at the Concourse Corporate Center (home of the King and Queen buildings) in the city’s fifth annual fireworks event. The band Shiloh performs at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m. Pets, tents, outdoor cooking, drones, alcohol and personal-use sparklers not permitted. Free admission and free parking begin at 6:30 p.m. in Concourse Parking Decks Five and Six. 5 Concourse Parkway N.E., Sandy Springs. Info: visitsandysprings.org.

DUNWOODY 4TH OF JULY PARADE Tuesday, July 4, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dunwoody’s annual 4th of July Parade features marching bands, floats, clowns, animal units and local celebrities and is said to be the largest Independence Day parade in the state. The parade starts at All Saints Catholic Church and proceeds down Mount Vernon Road to Dunwoody Village Parkway. 2443 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: 770-354-7653 or dunwoodyga.org.


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Staying confident, ‘no matter what’ Elijah Jenkins, senior Riverwood International Charter School Elijah Jenkins began playing basketball in an organized league at age 4, and has not stopped since. Elijah credits others’ doubts of him as his primary motivation in the sport. “I’ve never been the most athletic on the court or the flashiest on the court, so people often times don’t notice the fact that I outplay most of the guys they give attention to,” he said. This has pushed him to work harder, furthering his basketball career. He especially remembers one victory in the regional championship during his junior year. “We were doubted by everyone and had to overcome so much to come back and win that game,” he said. However, Elijah says that his favorite part of the sport is how it “parallels so closely with life in general. If you’ve missed five shots in a row, you don’t stop shooting, you keep shooting, the same way in life if you have a bad day in the classroom or at home you just keep pushing and stay confident, no matter what.” Elijah also channels his passion into helping others. He volunteers with the

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Elijah Jenkins.

Junior Raiders Camp, a Riverwood High School summer camp that gives younger kids an opportunity to play basketball while being coached by high school players. Elijah enjoys working with the children who attend the camp. “These are kids who will hopefully in the future help keep the Riverwood basketball program trending upward. Potentially having an effect on the program’s future by working with kids is pretty awesome to me,” he said. His interests span past athletics, too. Elijah is involved in both student government and rigorous academics at Riverwood High School. He is the senior class treasurer, and says that the experience has helped him grow as a person.


“Being senior class treasurer this year taught me a great deal about the importance of the leadership quality in a person and how just one person’s ideas can impact large groups of people and change aspects of their lives for the better,” he said.

What’s next?

Elijah’s academic interests center on engineering, which he says he hopes to pursue in college at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Sarah Kallis, a student at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, reported and wrote this article.

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Classifieds | 21


Reporter Classifieds

To Advertise, call 404-917-2200 ext 110


HELP WANTED Business Development / Membership Sales – The Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber is expanding its Business Development Group and seeks an individual who will call on companies to explain the benefits of partnering with the chamber. Interested candidates should have some knowledge of the local business market and enjoy meeting new people. Good presentation and communication skills essential. Base salary/commission. Send resumes to: tom@sandysprings.org.

Matthew’s Handy Services – Small jobs and chores are my specialties. Shelves, organizers, carpentry, drywall, painting, and plumbing. Member of BBB – 404-547-2079 Email: mwarren8328@gmail.com. Driveways & Walkways – Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repaired, waterproofing and retaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576. Home Tending – Regular inspections of your unoccupied property. Call Charles, 404-229-0490.


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22 | Community




for local news and information! We’re honored that Reporter Newspapers won 12 awards, including three first-place selections in its division, in the Georgia Press Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.


Business Writing First Place - Managing Editor John Ruch Lifestyle/Feature Column First Place - Robin Conte, “Robin’s Nest” Page One First Place - Designed by Creative Director Rico Figliolini


Hard News Writing Second Place - John Ruch News Photograph Second Place - Phil Mosier Special Issues: Second Place - Fall 2016 Education Guide Humorous Column: Second Place - Robin Conte


General Excellence: Third Place Local News Coverage: Third Place - Staff Writers Religion Writing: Third Place - Staff Writers Serious Column: Third Place - Robin Conte Newspaper Website: Third Place

These awards are especially meaningful to us since they are judged by professional journalists and include respected, large-circulation community newspapers across the state. However, what’s most important is that they validate what you have already told us in our readership survey: Reporter Newspapers are your preferred source for local news and information. That’s the “prize” we value most. Thank you for helping to make us the most preferred and most-awarded local newspapers in our communities.

www.ReporterNewspapers.net Published by Springs Publishing LLC

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Ex-Riverwood athlete’s book tells a legendary runner’s story BY JACLYN TURNER Raven was a South Beach running legend. Laura Lee Huttenbach was new to Miami, looking to make her new residence a home. Huttenbach, a Sandy Springs native and former Georgia Female Athlete of the Year, soon caught on to Raven’s daily 8-mile runs and was curious to find out more. Now she has written a book to tell his story and is returning to Atlanta this month to read from it. “I was a runner and I would pass this guy on the beach, who had a super hairy chest, and was sort of hunched over,” Huttenbach said of her first impressions of Robert “Raven” Kraft. Raven is sometimes called the “Forrest Gump of Miami Beach” after the movie character who at one point led groups of joggers on longdistance runs. “He was always running with a diverse group of people — in age, looks, where they came from. It just SPECIAL draws your attenLaura Lee tion to why these Huttenbach, author of people are here,” “Running Huttenbach said. with Raven.” One day, he stopped right in front of her beach towel, and they had their first interaction. She asked if he was Raven. He said he was and invited her to run with him. Each of the 2,600 people who have come from around the world to run with Raven receive a nickname that he will remember after they complete the run. Huttenbach received the nickname “White Lightning.” It resulted from a random beach catcall, with a man saying, “Good afternoon, White Lightning.” A friend suggested the nickname after their first run with Raven, and the name stuck. Somewhere along the 1,000-plus miles she ran with Raven, Huttenbach saw value in Raven’s determination to commit to his runs and the following he created and decided to his story should be shared. So she wrote “Running with Raven: The Amazing Story of One Man, His Passion, and the Community He Inspired.” In 1975, Raven had been in a low point in his life after he attempted a songwriting career in Nashville. He had made a New Year’s resolution to run 8 miles each day, to give him a routine. “Through running, he found his purpose and identity. And when he got better, he invited others to be part of his healing,” Huttenbach said. “He took something not extraordinary, and made it something extraordinary.”

Every afternoon at 5:30 p.m., he starts his path at the Fifth Street lifeguard station. Hurricanes, chronic pain and illness would not stop Raven from breaking his streak. “There are fewer and fewer opportunities to engage with people you don’t know in person,” Huttenbach said. “He has shown up every single day for over 42 years, run over 124,000 miles and created this community. Many stories about him were focused on this eccentric obsession with running every day… but what I saw was the ability to make connections and build a community.” Huttenbach said she runs to clear her mind, but notices a certain intimacy when making running a social activity, either with Raven, or in regional races. “You’re sweating, running hard and breathing hard, you’re in it together with someone and trying to accomplish a goal. When you accomplish a goal and have an objective with someone, it creates this bond.” Huttenbach’s childhood revolved around a strong sports community. Being the youngest of four, Huttenbach remembered trying to keep up with her active siblings and kicking a soccer ball around. “My mom believed it was important to develop confidence and leadership skills, and to participate in sports,” she said. “Specifically for a woman, she thought it was a great skill to extend to other parts of your life as well.” Huttenbach was a four-sport athlete at Riverwood International Charter School. She played volleyball, basketball and soccer and ran cross-country. Her senior year, she ran in the regional cross-country meet and played in the volleyball championships the same day. More than 15 years later, Huttenbach’s accomplishments at her high school continue to be remembered. She was inducted into Riverwood’s first Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. That honor has been bestowed on about 18 athletes in the school’s history, the school’s website says. Laura Lee Huttenbach will read from “Running with Raven” in conversation with Rickey Bevington of Georgia Public Broadcasting on Thursday, June 29, 7 p.m., at A Cappella Books, 208 Haralson Ave. N.E., Atlanta. For more information, see ACappellaBooks.com. SS

JUNE 23 - JULY 6, 2017

Public Safety | 23


Police Blotter / Sandy Springs Capt. Steve Rose of the Sandy Springs Police Department provided the following information, which represents some of the reports filed with Sandy Springs police from June 3 to June 13.

R O B B E RY 8300 block of Roswell Road — On

June 10, a 38-year-old woman reported she was walking to the grocery store on Northridge when a man whom she recognized, but whose name she didn’t know, approached her from behind. She said he told her he would hurt her and then snatched her Louis Vuitton wallet from her wrist. The suspect then said, “I should shoot you.” He gave the impression he had a gun in his pocket. She told the officer that she heard a bystander call the suspect “Taz.” She was not injured in the incident.

B U R G L A RY 5600 block of Roswell Road — On June

3, the resident said that between 5 p.m. and about 11:30 p.m., someone entered the apartment through a bedroom window and took several items. 3700 block of Sandalwood Drive — On

June 4, the resident said between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. the following morning, someone entered the apartment while the residents were out of town. The entry point was unclear, however an unlocked door was found. The resident said the door was locked when he left. Two laptops and other items are missing. Cedar Run — On June 4, the resident

said sometime overnight, someone entered and went through the apartment. A safe is missing. 900 block of Preston Woods Trail —

On June 5, the maintenance staff noticed a deadbolt had been removed from an apartment, so they called the police. The officer checked the apartment and it appeared that a TV had been taken. The resident was believed to be out of town. 5000 block of Long Island Drive — On

June 5, the construction manager reported a Kitchen Aid, 48-inch Pro range, valued at just over $7,000, was stolen from a construction site. 4500 block of Roswell Road — On June

6, the manager of a bagel store reported someone entered the store June 4 through a back door and disarmed the alarm. The intruder proceeded to the office and took just under $1,000 from the safe. Video captured the suspect’s actions and showed the person was

dressed in black and apparently knew exactly where to go.


City of Sandy Springs


An Ordinance to amend the Character Area Map, an element of the Comprehensive Plan. The intent is to correct errors and to ensure consistency with the proposed Zoning Map.

Public Hearings:

Planning Commission July 20, 2017, 6:00 p.m.

8600 block of

Roberts Drive — On June 9, officers responding to an open door call found that Captain a deadbolt to an STEVE ROSE, apartment door had been taken SSPD apart. Two Samsrose@sansung TVs, seven dyspringsga.gov pairs of “expensive” shoes, slippers and some luggage are missing. The resident’s roommate is missing a Michael Kors watch and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. 200 block of Northwood Drive — On

June 10, sometime between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., someone entered an abandoned restaurant building by breaking the front glass door. The complainant said several expensive pieces of equipment remained in the building.

Mayor and City Council August 1, 2017, 6:00 p.m. Location:

Sandy Springs City Hall Morgan Falls Office Park 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500 Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350 770-730-5600


Spalding Court to Nesbit Reserve Court


City of Sandy Springs


Entire Cul-du-sac

Public Hearings:

Mayor and City Council July 18, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall Morgan Falls Office Park 7840 Roswell Road Building 500 Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350 770-730-5600

1200 block of Winding Creek Trail

— On June 12, the resident said she left home around 10 a.m. and returned at 10:20 a.m. to find a man and woman inside her home. She noted a blue Honda CR-V as well. As she approached the house, she called out, and the man and woman fled to the CR-V and then left. It appeared two Apple desktops were stolen. Just around the corner on Bridgewater Drive, it appeared someone attempted to force entry to the home, but was unsuccessful. We think it is the same pair.

Petition Number: V17-0030

6400 block of Barfield Road — Over-

night into June 13, someone stole tools from a construction site. The suspect(s) drilled out the locks on the gang boxes to access the tools. On June 6, a construction employee reported that a welding machine, valued at $4,500, had been taken from the same construction site sometime during the night.


Tony Koury


5965 Riverside Drive


Variance from Section 109-225 of the Development Regulations to allow recently constructed retaining walls to remain in the 50-foot City stream buffer and the associated 25-foot additional impervious surface setback.

Public Hearings:

Board of Appeals July 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall Morgan Falls Office Park 7840 Roswell Road Building 500 Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350 770-730-5600


THEFT 8100 block of Colquitt Road — On

June 3, the resident said sometime overnight, someone stole his Nissan Maxima from an apartment parking lot. 900 block of Johnson Ferry Road —

On June 5, the complainant said someone stole her Samsung Tablet from her workplace between noon and 12:30 p.m. on June 2.





Petition Number: V17-0032 Petitioner:

George Hovis


5118 Northside Dr.


Variance from section 6.1.3.(i) of the Zoning Ordinance, to allow construction of an accessory structure in the front yard.

Public Hearings:

Board of Appeals July 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall Morgan Falls Office Park 7840 Roswell Road Building 500 Sandy Springs, Georgia 30350 770-730-5600

24 |

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