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OCTOBER 2019 • VOL. 11 — NO. 10

Brookhaven Reporter COMMUNITY

City OKs $3.5 million for new pool at Briarwood Park P6

VOTERS GUIDE

TO NOV. 5 CITY ELECTIONS PAGE 13-15

Officials make city sales pitch as part of first ‘Developer’s Day’

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Book festival brings celebrities P10

Starter opera P24 BY DYANA BAGBY AND KEVIN C. MADIGAN

DYANA BAGBY

Check out our podcasts and Facebook Live Streams

The Brookhaven Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30319 For information: delivery@reporternewspapers.net

The day-long ‘Developer’s Day’ on Sept. 12 included stops at various sites in the city, including the Peachtree Creek Greenway.

Police partnerships with doorbell-camera company raise privacy questions BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

In February, the Dunwoody Police Department sent out an upbeat press release announcing it was the first in Georgia to team up with doorbell-camera company

Ring to access the company’s Neighbors app. The partnership, the department boasted, could help the department crack down on package thieves, stop burglaries and keep neighborhoods safe. “Leveraging today’s technology to help See POLICE on page 30

Developers and business owners were recently taken on a guided tour of Brookhaven from Perimeter Summit to the Peachtree Creek Greenway, where officials spotlighted areas ripe for redevelopment during a day-long sales pitch of the city. The tour was part of Brookhaven’s inaugural “Developer’s Day” Sept. 12, where city representatives openly courted more than 50 potential developers and business owners. The city plans for this to be an annual event. Economic Development Director Shirlynn Brownell touted the city’s location; modern zoning regulations; such amenities as parks, a young and diverse demographic; and a MARTA station. She also noted existing relationships with nonprofit giants Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University, See OFFICIALS on page 28

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2 | Community

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City wants I-85, Druid Hills pedestrian bridges for Emory’s Executive Park DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The city is requesting Emory University construct two pedestrian bridges from Executive Park across North Druid Hills Road and across I-85 as part of the university’s rezoning request for a planned $1 billion redevelopment of the site. The City Council voted Sept. 24 to send Emory’s rezoning request back to the Planning Commission. Planning Commission members said earlier this month they wanted more information and visual images of what Emory plans to build as part of what the university has dubbed a “livework-play health innovation district.” The planned redevelopment includes new medical and office space, a new hospital, a hotel and multiunit residential buildings. Besides the pedestrian bridges, the city is also requesting Emory build a nearly

2-acre transit “transfer hub” within Executive Park to accommodate plans in the proposed DeKalb County Transit Master Plan. That plan includes an arterial rapid transit bus connection between the Medical Center and Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA stations, as well as a bus rapid transit station on Buford Highway. Those are just some of the infrastructure improvements Brookhaven officials are seeking to have included as part of the “Emory at Executive Park” master plan. Emory officials say the CITY OF BROOKHAVEN

A site plan for Emory University’s proposed redevelopment of Executive Park. The darker blue buildings show where new facilities are planned, including a hospital, hotel, multiunit residential buildings, office and retail space.

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proposed development expands the university’s health care mission, especially in the growing areas of orthopedics and spine and brain health services that are already located in Executive Park. Emory is seeking to rezone 60 acres in Executive Park from office-commercialresidential (OCR), O-I (office institution) and C-2 (general commercial) to OCR. The rezoning would create a space for office and medical uses rather than a retail-centric site. Carl Westmoreland, attorney for Emory, voiced concern at the Planning Commission meeting about the city putting the construction of bridges as conditions for approval of the rezoning request. City Attorney Chris Balch told the Planning Commission at its Sept. 4 work session that the city and Emory officials are also in negotiations on a community investment agreement to address some of the infrastructure needs of the city, such as the bridges and transit station. Those talks are outside the Planning Commission’s responsibilities, he said. Westmoreland added that Emory is in discussions with city staff, the city attorney and City Council members on finding various funding sources for the infrastructure requests. Emory’s plans include 1.84 million square feet of office and medical space, 60,000 square feet of commercial, a 140room hospital, four multiunit residential buildings with 718 units, and a 200-room hotel. The project is expected to be built out in several phases over 15 to 20 years. The pedestrians bridge the city wants across North Druid Hills Road would connect Executive Park to the CHOA campus. The request includes Emory paying for needed property acquisitions, designs and construction of the bridge and would be finished within two years of opening the new hospital. The other pedestrian bridge is proposed to cross I-85, connecting Executive Park to West Druid Hills Road behind the Double-

Tree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta North Druid Hills - Emory Area This bridge would provide the southern portion of the Buford Highway Corridor character area access to the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The city is asking this bridge to be constructed within two years of completing the multiunit residential buildings. The infrastructures requests are part of the city’s vision of making the area more pedestrian friendly and encouraging use of public transit to alleviate some of the notorious traffic at the I-85 and North Druid Hills Road interchange. Other questions raised at the Planning Commission meeting included how Emory plans to fulfill the city’s workforce housing ordinance. The ordinance requires developers include a certain number of workforce housing units as part of new multiunit residential developments. Brookhaven and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta entered into a community investment agreement in 2017 after the city annexed more than 20 acres south of I-85. The annexed property is where CHOA’s $1.5 billion new medical campus is under construction. The development includes a new 19-story hospital scheduled to break ground next year and be finished by 2025. That community investment agreement included CHOA promising $40 million in traffic improvements around the campus including $10 million to go toward design of a new I-85 interchange. CHOA also agreed to buy the city’s right of way on Tullie Road and Tullie Circle for $10 million that was used toward construction of the Peachtree Creek Greenway. As part of the community investment agreement, the city also agreed to issue $1.1 billion in tax exempt revenue bonds through the city’s development authority to fund the buildout of the campus. The deal does not put the city on the hook for any debt and allows CHOA to offer tax-exempt bonds due to the BDA’s nonprofit status, officials say. BK


OCTOBER 2019

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Always Be Notified. Alerts and notifications help inform you on weather, traffic, and other emergencies in your community. When you opt-in for alerts, you will have the option to choose the kind of notifications you prefer to receive.

Sign up at www.BrookhavenGA.gov/BrookhavenAlert

Plan Ahead For Any Emergency Smart911 Download one app to provide 9-1-1 and first responders information in an emergency and receive targeted alerts including from the City of Brookhaven and the National Weather Service.

Information Worth Sharing www.smart911.com

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Community Briefs

R EPO R TE R T O HO S T O C T . 1 6 CAND IDATE FO R UM FO R C IT Y EL EC TI O NS

The Reporter will host an Oct. 16 candidate forum for the mayoral and City Council races. The candidates in the competitive races for mayor and the District 3 City Council seat have been invited to participate. The forum will be moderated by John Ruch, the Reporter’s managing editor. The forum will run 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Oglethorpe University in the Trustee Room of the Turner Lynch Campus Center, located at the university’s entrance on Woodrow Way. To suggest questions for the moderator to ask any of the candidates, email editor@ reporternewspapers.net. The election will be held Nov. 5. Lillian Schapiro, MD, FACOG

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TWO AR R ESTS M AD E I N EX EC UT IV E PA R K HO TEL KIL L I NG

Two women Brookhaven Police hunted for nearly two weeks have been arrested and charged in the killing of a man found dead at a Brookhaven hotel. Shauntae Laquana Taylor, 27, of College Park, and Jessica Marie Smith, 25, of Duluth, were arrested Sept. 17 and DEKALB COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE BROOKHAVEN POLICE are charged with murder in the Shauntae Laquana Taylor. Jessica Marie Smith. death of Miguel Angel Munoz, according to Brookhaven Police. Munoz was found dead Sept. 4 at the Courtyard by Marriott Atlanta Executive Park/Emory hotel at 1236 Executive Park Drive. According to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Taylor allegedly “pistol-whipped, then shot” Munoz at the hotel, according to a Sept. 16 arrest warrant. Investigators with the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office located Taylor at a hotel in College Park, according to a press release. “At this time, investigators are not releasing additional details about the suspected motive in this case or the relationships of the offenders to the victim,” Brookhaven spokesperson Sgt. David Snively said. Taylor was arrested by Brookhaven Police with help from the DeKalb County Office Fugitive Unit. Smith was arrested by Brookhaven Police with assistance from the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. A police report states a single spent shell casing was found in the hotel room. The hotel room was also found in disarray, with clothes and personal items strewn on the floor, according to the report. The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Brookhaven Police Criminal Investigation Division at 404-637-0600.

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CITY O KS C O NTR A C T TO DES I G N NEW TRAIL AT M UR P HEY C A NDL ER PA R K

A new multi-use trail is in the works at Murphey Candler Park. The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously Sept. 10 to award an $88,575 contract to GreenbergFarrow to develop construction and permitting documents for a planned loop walking trail into Murphey Candler Park from a site near the park’s baseball fields and across Nancy Creek. The trail will be accessible from the Murphey Candler Park side by a new pedestrian bridge. The money budgeted for the trail after the completion of GreenbergFarrow’s work will be $708,458, according to Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden.

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LYNWO O D PA R K R EC R EAT IO N C ENT ER TO G ET NEW R ES TR O O M S

The historic Lynwood Park Recreation Center in Brookhaven will soon be getting new restrooms that comply with the American with Disabilities Act. They will replace the restrooms that have existed at the facility since the 1940s, when it was an elementary and high school for African Americans students before DeKalb schools began desegregating some 50 years ago. “The original restrooms in the Lynwood school, being renovated with this project, were built for a school enrollment of less than 300 students (247 when it opened). Lynwood Park Recreation Center now supports approximately 25,000 visits annually,” Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden told the City Council in an Aug. 27 memo. The council unanimously voted Aug. 27 to award a $422,207 contract to Lefko Development to install the new restrooms. In, May, the city received a $105,000 community development block grant from DeKalb County to help cover costs for this project. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. BK


OCTOBER 2019

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C ON STRUC TI ON BEGI N S O N N EW PUBLI C SA F ETY H EA DQUAR TER S

Construction is underway to build the city’s new public safety and municipal court building along the Peachtree Creek Greenway. This is the city’s first municipal building to be constructed since the city was founded in 2012. The approximately $18 million complex is being built on about 4 acres of CITY OF BROOKHAVEN Mayor John Ernst and Police Chief Gary Yandura, center, are among property in those who shoveled dirt as part of the Sept. 13 groundbreaking an undevelfor the new public safety and municipal court building. oped area

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Community | 5 behind the Northeast Plaza shopping center and overlooking the Peachtree Creek Greenway that is also under construction. The headquarters will house the police department and municipal court facilities that are currently located in a leased building on Buford Highway. The project is being funded with special local option sales tax revenue. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2021.

EM INENT D OM A IN US ED FO R S I DEWA L K

The City Council approved at its Sept. 24 meeting using eminent domain to acquire property to build a sidewalk on Briarwood Road. The council voted unanimously to let City Attorney Chris Balch move forward with the taking of property at 1599 Briarwood Road to build a sidewalk that will connect to Buford Highway. The city offered the homeowner its appraised value of $27,300 for the land needed for the sidewalk. Balch said the homeowner countered with a much higher amount. That left the city no choice but to use eminent domain, he said. Balch said the city has acquired the other property needed for the sidewalk. The sidewalk is being constructed on the west side of Briarwood Road. An existing sidewalk on that side of the road ends at 1526 Briarwood Road. The new sidewalk project is to add 1,200 linear feet of sidewalk to connect it to Buford Highway.

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City OKs $3.5 million for new Briarwood Park pool BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

A new swimming pool at Briarwood Park with an area for swim meets and lap swimmers as well as those who just want to play and lounge in the cool water should be open by next Memorial Day. The City Council at its Sept. 10 meeting voted unanimously to give Mayor John Ernst the authority to enter into a contract not to exceed $3.5 million with Waterworks Aqua Design LLC to build the new pool at the park at 2235 Briarwood Way. The contract calls for work to be completed in time for the new pool to be open by Memorial Day 2020. The new pool will include a competitive section with 75-foot-long lanes for swim competitions and lap swimmers and a recreational swim area with spray features. A new pool house is also part of the project and will be 4,000 square feet with restrooms, locker rooms, concessions, a ticket office and a lifeguard room. Councilmember Linley Jones questioned why the council was only voting to approve the $3.5 million cost proposal and giving the mayor the authority to approve the contract rather than voting on the final contract.

The design for the new Briarwood Park swimming pool shown in blue includes a competitive section for swim teams and lap swimmers and a shallow, recreational area. Other amenities will include tables with umbrellas, a pavilion, lounge chairs and bleachers. CITY OF BROOKHAVEN

“I don’t feel like I can abdicate my responsibility on a contract this size,” she said, adding she wanted to ensure the process is transparent to the public. City Manager Christian Sigman explained this was the same process the council used to approve funding for con-

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struction of the $15 million public safety headquarters. Construction contracts can be several inches thick and take a long time to get through with many minor details still to be finalized, he said. Giving the mayor the authority to sign the contract expedites the process to get construction on the pool started soon and finished by next May. Jones eventually agreed with Assistant City Manager and CFO Steve Chapman’s recommendation that the City Council vote to give the mayor the authority to approve the contract and then the council can vote to “ratify” — or give final approval — to the contract at their Sept. 24. Doing this does not hold up the construction timeline, Chapman explained. But before voting to give Ernst the green light to move forward on the contract, the council had to first approve an amended Briarwood Park master plan because it differs than what was included in the parks bond approved by voters in 2018. The $40 million parks bond designated approximately $7 million to Briarwood Park, with nearly $1.3 million to be spent just renovations to the pool and pool house. The decision to build a new pool and pool house was made by the Parks Bond Oversight Committee in May. Members determined it would be more cost effective to build a new pool rather than renovate the current one because of significant costs associated with bringing the existing pool up to current state health codes and standards, according to Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden. The committee then gave Lose Design the go-ahead to design the new pool and pool house. Borden said the parks department and design firm worked with community members including the Briarwood Barracudas swim team to come up with the pool’s final design.

Sigman explained a resolution approving the master plan change was needed to “make sure [the city] meets the ballot language” voted on and approved by voters in November. The ballot language stated the parks bond money would be used on “City Council approved Parks and Recreational Master Plans.” Similar resolutions to approve updated park master plans are expected for future bond projects because of changes that needed to be made to original plans based on issues like engineering and construction costs, Sigman said. The resolution is also intended to stave off blowback from residents who may argue the council is not building what was included in the master plans approved in the parks bond referendum, Sigman added. Ernst said he blew the whistle on Labor Day to close the current Briarwood Park pool and was looking forward to beginning next year’s swimming pool season with a new pool. Since he took office as mayor, Ernst said he heard consistently from residents wanting a new Briarwood Park pool after it had been neglected for many years under DeKalb County’s watch. And now the city was going to deliver, he said. Jones and Park praised the project and the joy they expected the new pool would provide residents who have wanted an updated facility for some time. Councilmember Bates Mattison and Joe Gebbia, who have been on the council since the city was founded 7 years ago, said this kind of project was why Brookhaven became a city. “When we started this city, this pool had been closed for two years,” Mattison said. “DeKalb County had no funding and couldn’t get it open … and now it is our most popular pool.” “This is a really proud moment,” Gebbia added. BK


OCTOBER 2019

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8 | Commentary

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SCORE helps small businesses for free in Sandy Springs 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 worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

Owning a small business is not for the the jewel of SCORE is the free one-to-one faint of heart. According to the U.S. Small mentoring it provides anyone who owns a Business Association, 30 percent of new small business or is even thinking of startbusinesses fail during their first two years, ing one. 50 percent during their first five, and 66 Metro Atlanta has two SCORE chapters: percent during their first 10. Atlanta and North Metro Atlanta. North Despite the risks, for many of us, ownMetro Atlanta has three branches, one of ing our own business theis aAmerican which Fulton, covering Sandy CarolisNiemi marketing consultant who livesisonNorth the DunwoodySandy Springs line and99 writes about people whose lives inspire Roswell, Alpharetta Dream. According to JPMorgan Chase, Springs, Dunwoody, others. Contact herare at worthknowingnow@gmail.com. percent of America’s 29.7 million firms and Cumming. small businesses, with 88 percent of them Until recently, Sandy Springs had no having 20 or fewer employees. In fact, designated SCORE meeting space, and small businesses drive our economy, proDunwoody had only a part-time space in viding over half of all private-sector jobs. a small shared office. The options were Luckily, since 1964 the SBA has offered long drives to SCORE offices in Atlanta or an amazing free resource to help. Called in Cobb or Gwinnett. But as of August 23, SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executhanks to an agreement between the city tives), it’s a totally volunteer organization of Sandy Springs Economic Development of experienced, mostly retired business exoffice and the North Metro Atlanta Chapecutives and small business owners whose ter of SCORE, the Sandy Springs Library only goal is to give back. now provides a room for mentors and cliWith more than 300 chapters across ents to meet. the country, it has provided free mentoring Sandy Springs Economic Development and advice to more than 11 million entreDirector Andrea Worthy credits SCORE preneurs. Besides its workshops, seminars, mentor Bruce Alterman, former co-owner webinars, courses and library resources, of the much-loved but now closed Brickery

Grill & Bar. Since becoming a SCORE mentor two “He made me aware of the benefits years ago, he figures he’s mentored hunSCORE could offer our small businesses,” dreds of people, some in business looking said Worthy. “The only problem was they to grow and some just starting. He currenthad no place to meet.” ly has 20 regular clients, including a restauAlterman also credits Marc Froemelt, rant. vice chair of the North Fulton Branch of the “Our typical client is a person with a North Metro Atlanta Chapter of SCORE, for passion for something and an ability to starting the discussions, and Carolyn Daimplement but missing the knowledge of vis, who worked with Anhow to run the business,” drea to arrange the deal he said. “Where I can help with the library. is, I’ve got bruises in places In fact, everyone I you’ve never even thought spoke to credited someone of and can offer perspecelse for the deal. Generositive.” ty seems to be in SCORE’s Like other SCORE menDNA. Nobody’s looking for tors, Alterman meets just fame or fortune. They’ve once or twice with some already “been there, done clients. With others, he that” and work for free. maintains a regular onAlterman, owner of a going relationship, often SPECIAL business that enjoyed 24 talking by phone or meetBruce Alterman. years of success, is a prime ing for lunch. He emphaexample of a SCORE mensizes that his goal isn’t to tor. tell anyone how to run their business. “My father was a SCORE mentor. I “I’m not a paid consultant. I don’t tell saw the value he got from it and parked them what to do. I pose questions that it away in the back of my mind. After we make them consider options,” he said. closed the Brickery [in 2015], people asked To learn more about SCORE, research me if I missed it. I always replied, ‘No,’” he mentors or schedule an appointment with said. “We loved what we did, but I was fulone, go to https://northmetroatlanta.score. ly retired. What we did miss was 24 years of org. people coming through our lives.”


OCTOBER 2019

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10 | Art & Entertainment

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Book Festival of the MJCCA brings big names to Dunwoody The 28th annual Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) is set for Oct. 26 to Nov. 18, bringing some of the nation’s bestselling authors to Dunwoody. This year’s event features

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nearly 50 authors, including

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Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton in an already sold-out appearance Nov. 18. Some other guests include:

Cuban and Latin Cuisine Live Entertainment Jazz – Vocals and Tunes Friday 8 pm – 11 pm Saturday 8 pm – 11 pm New Lunch Specials 7 Days a Week Noon until 6 pm 16oz T-Bone or 12oz Ribeye Steak Special A la Cart $8.00

Candace Bushnell (Oct. 27); actor Henry Winkler and coauthor Lin Oliver with their children’s book “Alien Superstar” (Oct. 30); Jodi Kantor, one of the journalists who broke the story about movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations (Nov. 5); novelist Alice Hoffman (Nov. 10); New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss (Nov. 16); and Nikki Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a former South Carolina governor (Nov. 17). Festival co-chair Deena Profis said in a press release that this year’s festival “features everyone from acclaimed actors and renowned political figures, to historians and award-winning novelists, to authors presenting award-winning cookbooks and riveting memoirs. We truly have something for everyone.” Most events will be held at the MJCCA, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Individual tickets and series pass-

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OCTOBER 2019

Community | 11

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We Love BuHi hires new executive director We Love BuHi, the influential nonprofit founded by Brookhaven resident Marian Liou, has hired a new executive director. Lily Pabian, an Atlanta native with 25 years working in marketing and nonprofit development, replaces Liou at the helm of the organization, which seeks to create connections within Buford Highway’s multicultural communities through storytelling, art and design. Liou stepped down from We Love BuHi in IMAGERY BY RASHELL May to take a job as a program analyst for the AtlanLily Pabian is the new executive ta Regional Commission. director of We Love BuHi. Pabian said in the press release her family’s first home in Atlanta was on Buford Highway, at an apartment complex south of the Doraville MARTA Station. “It’s where I learned to speak English and where I had my first taste of foods from other cultures,” Pabian said. “As a 5-year-old Chinese-American kindergartner in the late ’70s, all I wanted was to blend in, to do the impossible. Friendships that I made with other immigrants were special times, where I found solace, laughter and simply to feel like a kid.” In 2015, Liou, an attorney by profession, started an Instagram account called “We Love BuHi,” using it as a way to explore businesses in the Brookhaven/Chamblee/ Doraville corridor and tell the stories of their owners. Partly a personal journey for her as a second-generation Chinese American, partly an expression of concern about the immigrant communities’ lack of a voice in urban planning, the exercise grew into a nonprofit that has recorded oral histories, painted murals, held tours by mass transit and bike, and more. — Dyana Bagby

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The owners of Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway are seeking to rezone the shopping center to allow for a NCG Cinemas 10-screen movie theater in an existing building, saying the new addition will “help bolster the existing businesses” and “thrive in an area with limited entertainment options.” Brixmor Property Group, owner of the 42-acre shopping center at 3307 Buford Highway in Brookhaven, is asking the city to rezone the property from C-1 (local commercial) to C-2 (general commercial). Large assembly businesses such as a movie theater are allowed in general commercial but not local commercial. The theater is being added to an existing 44,700 square foot building and will be a “welcome addition to the existing commercial uses at the shopping center and will fill a needed void for residents in the area,” according to a letter of intent filed with the city. The City Council is scheduled to consider the rezoning request Oct. 22. Although the rezoning has yet to be approved, a large banner sign announcing NCG Cinemas is “coming soon” is displayed on the building with a 3365 Buford Highway address. The building is located in the northern section of the shopping center near Briarwood Road. In January, a Brixmor representative said the theater was expected to open in November. The theater would have 10 screens and offer reserved seating with recliners and “enhanced concessions,” according to Brixmor. From 1990 to 1999, the 12-screen Northeast Plaza Cinema operated in the same building. The space was then the Atlanta Peach Ballroom nightclub until it shut down in 2016 and the building has been unoccupied since. Brixmor says only updates to the exterior frontage and interior renovations are needed to transform the space into a movie theater. Northast Plaza was built in 1957 and now largely serves a local, Latino population and attracts people from Brookhaven and throughout metro Atlanta for its “unique shopping and international restaurants,” according to Brixmor. “[Brixmor] anticipates the theater will draw even more customers to the shopping center and will help bolster existing businesses,” they state in the letter of intent. Brixmor said that the proposed theater, while not a complete redevelopment of the shopping center, “will allow the revitalization of otherwise vacant space with a use that is needed in, and compatible with, the surrounding area.”

BK


OCTOBER 2019

VOTERS GUIDE to Nov. 5 City Elections

Brookhaven voters will elect a mayor and a new District 3 City Council member on Nov. 5. In District 1, City Councilmember Linley Jones is running unopposed. The Reporter asked the candidates about their background and positions, which appear below. To see full answers, go to ReporterNewspapers.net.

MAYOR JOHN ERNST

votejohnernst.com

What is motivating you to run for this office? We’ve accomplished a lot together to make Brookhaven better, including building world-class parks, increasing our green spaces, paving most of our roads and ensuring efficient city services – all while reducing taxes. Let’s build on our successes and continue addressing our challenges to fully realize Brookhaven’s vision as a haven of green spaces nestled inside our urban landscape, a city of thought leaders, and a community with character. I’m committed to increasing green space and protecting our tree canopy, achieve balanced growth, realize a walkable community, provide efficient services, implement traffic-calming measures, maintain our AAA bond rating, and keep taxes low. What is the biggest issue facing the city and how will you address it? The desirability of Brookhaven has brought more people and development to the best “suburb,” as described by the AJC’s Reader Poll. This can cause qualityof-life issues, such as increased traffic and infrastructure stress. We’ll implement our projects laid out in various transit studies, such as the Bike-Ped Plan, Ashford-Dunwoody Corridor Plan and the North Druid Hills Traffic Study to improve the efficien-

When I supported cityhood, I believed local control over finances and development would allow us to grow thoughtfully as more people discovered our great city. Unfortunately, residents seeking basic accountability have encountered a lack of transparency and weak stewardship of public resources on a variety of issues. We

cy of our intersections and connectivity. I led the top-end Perimeter mayors in tackling this issue and we are ahead of the rest of the region with The ATL (transit authority) in planning and implementing transit along I-285. What is your vision for the future of the Buford Highway corridor? A livable, robust, and diverse walkable corridor that will retain its international character while offering the public amenities and connectivity with the Peachtree Creek Greenway. Any development within the corridor must meet community standards of affordability and density.

JENNIFER “JEN” HEATH

can do better, and I love our city too much to allow us to keep heading down the path of overspending and dismissing residents’ concerns.

What is motivating you to run for this office? Concern for the long-term health of our city’s finances and infrastructure. As a Brookhaven native, I have seen many changes in our beautiful community.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it? Transparency and fiscal responsibility, the foundation for many of the issues Brookhaven faces. I founded the community group We Are Brookhaven to prioritize the sharing of information about city

votejenheath.com

BK

Community | 13

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government activity to make it easier for Brookhaven residents to know what’s going on. Our city communications department does a great job communicating about social events, but not so well with issues like changes to the city charter or taking on significant debt through the Development Authority. As mayor, I will increase financial transparency at all levels and prioritize communication about proposed changes involving our city and its governance. What is your vision for the future of the Buford Highway corridor? Continued revitalization through a combination of organic growth and infrastructure provision. We have an opportunity to provide a safe and beautifully diverse corridor, to serve as the front door of the BuHi experience that runs through Chamblee, Doraville and beyond. We’ll have the Peachtree Greenway, a local destination for recreation. We need reasonable development that maintains affordable housing and retail price points so that our existing residents and retailers can continue to thrive. By embracing what is good, addressing what is not, and by developing in alignment with the community, we can create a solution that will benefit us all. Continued on page 14

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14 | Community

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 13

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3

of roundabouts and medians are a possibility, but with expanding sidewalk and paths and people being resistant to change in their neighborhoods, maybe we should focus on more immediate solutions to other quality-of-life issues.

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MADELEINE SIMMONS

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What is motivating you to run for this office? My wife Anne and I have lived in Brookhaven since 2004 and we love our city. Brookhaven is a vibrant community and we need to protect and improve what we have here. The city has seen exponential growth over the past years, so planning and oversight must be a primary focus going forward. From my neighbors I hear common themes of wanting improved parks and green space; ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support the growth of the city; controlling tax rates and maintaining fiscal responsibility and transparency; and they want to have their voices and opinions heard. What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it? Brookhaven is an envy to surrounding communities. Preserving and enhancing our quality of life can be achieved by cautious and prudent administration. I am committed to make sure the reasons we moved here are preserved by careful and judicious application of zoning and not flippant, shortsighted decisions acting without the advice and consensus of residents. I am running with the idea of winning the voters who care if their voices are heard and who trust the diversity I will bring to the City Council. Ensuring a transparency and openness necessary to preserve the character of our communities. What is the best way to address the issue of commuter traffic cutting through the district’s neighborhoods? Let’s start maybe by synchronizing traffic lights to maximize traffic flow on the major thoroughfares. It’s an inexpensive beginning. Previous road planners did not anticipate the level of traffic we have today, so to me the simplest solutions are the ones that cost the least amount of revenue and disruption to daily commutes. Maybe doing road work during non-peak hours. Talk

What is motivating you to run for this office? We need a councilmember who is willing to listen to our neighbors and lead our community in the direction that the residents envision. I’ve knocked on more than 1,000 doors since I started my campaign to be District 3’s next councilmember. Repeatedly, neighbors have expressed their need for a representative who will be accountable, work collaboratively with other councilmembers and tackle the issues: green space, traffic, sidewalks and smart planning. It is crucial that we have a councilmember with the background and experience to ensure Brookhaven continues to be the best place to live, work and raise our families. What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it? District 3 includes several different neighborhoods with unique issues. However, the redevelopment of the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA Station will affect us all. The intersections of Peachtree Road and North Druid Hills, and Peachtree Road and Dresden Drive, border this development and are two of the worst traffic intersections in the city. Residents of District 3 deserve to be engaged every step of the way during the MARTA redevelopment because our district will be the most impacted. Any project proposed must meet the residents’ criteria for traffic mitigation, density, green space and sewer infrastructure improvements. What is the best way to address the issue of commuter traffic cutting through the district’s neighborhoods? This concern is a priority because it affects all areas of our district. Earmarking city funding and securing the necessary funding from state and federal agencies for road and signaling improvements recommended in the 2019 North Druid Hills Road Traffic study and for the remaining projects identified in the 2014 Brookhav-

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OCTOBER 2019

Community | 15

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en Heights Traffic study would be a good start. I will work with neighbors who wish to petition the city to initiate trafficcalming measures such as speed bumps and turn restrictions on their streets, and will ensure that the process is followed in a timely and effective manner.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1 LINLEY JONES

linleyforbrookhaven.com

What is motivating you to run for this office? I want to continue serving the citizens of Brookhaven and following through on the city’s park plans, traffic plans and oth-

er plans created through our grassroots citizen input. Our city has come a long way in its short, 7-year existence and I want to work hard to keep the city on track and moving forward. What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it? Encroaching development is a big issue. District 1 is a wonderful community, largely residential, with much to be protected and preserved, including our single-family residential neighborhoods, our parks, our neighborhood shopping and our natural environment. Traffic is a big issue too, and we will continue to seek and implement solutions for safe and efficient travel along our major corridors, as well as our neighborhood streets. Should your district have more public green space, and if so, how should it be acquired? We are very fortunate to have large parks in District 1, including Lynwood Park, Blackburn Park, Murphey Candler Park and Osborne Park. Still, we should work to acquire more green space because once it is developed, it is gone, and there are still areas without green space at all. I will continue to seek opportunities for preservation, like the Remington Road green space, which I spearheaded in 2016. Public and private partnerships, and grants, can help to fund such acquisitions.

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Commentary / Voting against Ethics Act is most ethical choice This November, DeKalb County voters will head to the lation calls for a significantly less-skilled individual, who will polls to vote on revisions to an Ethics Act passed in 2015 by be unqualified to provide ethics education to employees (one 92% of voters. The ballot will have no explanation of the reof the officer’s primary functions), to provide advisory opinvisions, and voters should not be fooled. This legislation does ions to officials and employees seeking advice on ethical matnot revise the Board of Ethics. It guts it. ters, or to investigate complaints. In addition, the ethics adHow? By undermining the board’s independence, putting ministrator does not have the legal responsibility to report up roadblocks for reporting ethics concerns, and compromiscriminal activity to law enforcement. By lowering the educaing the professionalism and efficiency of the board and staff. tional standards and diminishing the role of the ethics offiThere are three key issues with the ethics bill: cer, these revisions make an implicit statement that First, there is the matter of independence. The bill ethics is less important than previously determined. undermines the independence of the ethics board Don’t just take our word for this. DeKalb County by giving the DeKalb County CEO and Commission resident Dr. Paul Wolpe, director of the Emory Cenreview and approval of the ethics board’s policies ter for Ethics and an internationally recognized ethand procedures. No other independent board is reics expert, reviewed the legislation this summer. Dr. quired to compromise its integrity by having those Wolpe’s conclusion? “The bottom line is that this bill under the purview of the board involved in its govis clearly meant to weaken and dilute the excellent ernance. In addition, the CEO will now appoint policy passed in 2015, without any convincing reaone of the members of the ethics board. sons to weaken the bill. DeKalb is slipping back to Second, the revisions create roadblocks for rea former posture that got it in trouble in the first porting ethics violations. The bill requires employ- Mary Hinkel chairs place. I would agree that this bill should be strongthe DeKalb Citizens ees to go through Human Resources before filing ly opposed.” Advocacy Council an ethics complaint against a supervisor, rather While we are respectful of the opinion that the than reporting their concerns directly to the ethproposed revisions are the result of hard work and ics board. Flying in the face of whistleblower protections, this compromise on the part of some DeKalb County’s state legisrequirement puts the decision of whether or not something is lators, we believe they missed the point in their deliberations: an ethics violation into the hands of a department that is unDeKalb citizens want a strong, effective and independent ethqualified to make that decision. This requirement will doubtics board and staff that is not subject to review, approval or less have a chilling effect on employees reporting ethics viointerference by the very individuals who are subject to the lations. Code of Ethics. Third, the legislation promotes a lack of professionalism Why should DeKalb voters care about this issue? The ethin the staff supporting the ethics board. The revisions downics board has been working professionally and efficiently to grade the ethics officer position to that of an “administraroot out DeKalb’s worst offenders and corrupt practices and tor” with no requirement for work experience or legal or ethto help create a culture of strong ethics among DeKalb emics training. It is considered standard for an ethics officer to ployees and elected officials. have a law degree, but not so for an administrator. This legis-

►Letter to the Editor I F TH E 285/400 INTER CHANG E NEED S A N I C K NAM E, CALL IT THE CO R KSCR EW

The September I-285/Ga. 400 interchange nickname commentary in the Reporter was entertaining. It is sad that neither Keith Kalland, who is reputed to have named “Spaghetti Junction,” nor fellow traffic reporter “Captain” Herb Emory are around for this one. A friend and I just spent time in Mineral Bluff and returned down 575 and 75 and through 285 to 400 (whew!), and we concluded that the “Northend Corkscrew” with its double entendre worked for us.

It could be the “Sandy Springs Corkscrew,” appropriately truncated to “the Springs Screw,” would be easier — and pathetically truer. Maybe when the interchange is finished and sound and light walls built (a week after the end of the universe, if you’re a “Hitchhiker’s Guide” fan), the highway department top officials (GDOT? A bad name for the Department of Tree Cutting and Paving) could cut the ribbons and hold hands as the traffic zooms over them. Velvel Travis Sandy Springs

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OCTOBER 2019

Commentary | 17

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A knife to remember, or forget I was summoned for jury duty over the summer, an occasion which happens with stunning regularity every five years. It reminded me of a situation that occurred decades ago, the first time I appeared for duty. After entering the courthouse with a stream of other ordinary-looking people and falling into the security line, I had put my purse and jacket on the conveyer belt for screening and waited my turn to pass through the metal detector. As I was waiting, I heard one of the security officers say to the other, “This one’s got a knife.” I gasped audibly, thinking to myself, “Who in the world would bring a knife into the courthouse?” Well. It was me. My Swiss Army knife was in my handbag. I used to carry it with me everywhere. I had purchased it while in college during my foreign-study jaunt through Switzerland, as a treasured reminder of cowbells and hot chocolate and train rides through green Alpine pastures to snow-capped mountains. It was a genuine Victorinox: a sleek red body, embossed with the white cross of Switzerland’s flag, that encased a wonderland of tiny tools. I remember deliberating at length over the variety of gizmo combinations available for purchase and finally settling on a nifty version that included two blades, a scissors, a can opener, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, a nail file and a pair of tweezers. Everything was made of quality stainless steel, except for an odd yellowish piece of plastic hidden in Robin Conte lives with her the end that I didn’t figure out was supposed to serve as a husband in an empty nest toothpick until a good 20 years later. in Dunwoody. To contact If you needed an apple peeled or a stick whittled, I was her or to buy her column your girl! If a screw was coming dislodged, I could tightcollection, “The Best of the en it with the top of my can opener! If you were lost in the Nest,” see robinconte.com. woods with nothing but a can of peas and a bottle of wine, I could free them both for you! If you broke a fingernail, I could provide you with a rough-edged piece of stainless steel that would help smooth it out a bit, after 30 minutes of rigorous filing! I think I even used it to carve a jack-o’-lantern once. I walked around with that thing in my purse for years, confident that I was equipped to field-dress an elk at a moment’s notice, should the need arise. It inspired in me an air of self-reliance, and, to be honest, a tinge of superiority, because, let’s face it, how many of my peers were packing such a useful, yet authentic, treasure? None were. That’s how many. It was as natural in my handbag as my lipstick and Tic Tacs. So natural that I hadn’t thought twice about walking into a courtroom with it. So natural that, never having learned my lesson, I forgot to remove it before I boarded a certain flight, and, crestfallen, I was forced to part with it forever. I did replace it, but, detached from the Alpine setting in which the original was purchased, the new knife was more utilitarian and less sentimental. Still, the security lines threatened it wherever I went until I finally removed it from my purse and tucked it into the console of my minivan, where it languishes still, because there aren’t all that many sticks begging to be whittled while sitting in traffic. But one day, that hidden toothpick just might come in handy.

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Order the book at bestofthenest.net Follow Robin’s book-related appearances at robinconte.com. BK

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They’re not exactly the latest thing in movies. Then again, that’s sort of the point. These films show where modern movies came from. And they show what movies used to be. That’s part of the reason Hylda Wilson comes to the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta to watch the movies shown through its Classics Film Club. “I like old movies,” she said. “They’re different. I don’t like the new movies. They’re not fairy tales.” Wilson’s 86 and says she’s been watching movies since 1937 or so. She lives in Sandy Springs now, but remembers going to see “picture shows – they weren’t called movies then” in small-town theaters when she was young. She was born in Atmore, Ala., a small town where her family ran a general store. The family moved to the larger nearby community of Valdosta, Ga., when she was a young girl and when they left, she said with a laugh, the Jewish population of Atmore dropped to zero. Movies were a big deal then. “I used to go to movies all the time when I was young,” Wilson said. “All we had to do was go to the movies.” But movies changed. She remembers seeing “Midnight Cowboy,” a 1969 classic about New York street hustlers, and being turned off. And that was just the beginning. “I don’t like bare butts and bare bosoms,” she said. “I don’t need to see ’em.” But she still like those old movies. She watches some on TV. And last year, she discovered the MJCCA’s Classics Film Club shows. The club started showing classic films in the fall of 2017 and now draws small groups of film buffs to its monthly Sunday afternoon gatherings. Andrew Hibbs puts the shows together. He usually works in the Marcus Center’s membership office, but when he heard that center staff members were thinking about showing classic films as part of the programming for people aged 60 or older, he volunteered to run the series. He’s a big movie fan. He started out wanting to be an actor. He did some acting, he said, “but the life of an actor is pretty tough.” In college, he started looking at movies more deeply, more like a director, he said, and got a deeper understanding of the artform. “Now, I’m more interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff,” he said. He picks the films the club shows and then researches them. He makes a short presentation on each film or on things going on in the industry at the time it was made. After the showing, he leads a discussion on the film. Last year, the club showed serious dramatic films, so this season, he decided to change things up a bit. “I wanted to do comedies,” he said. “I wanted to do something light and fun after having people sit through ‘Wild Strawberries’ and ‘The Bicycle Thief.’” For this round, he scheduled Buster Keaton’s “The General” for August; “Gold Diggers of 1933,” with song-and-dance numbers directed by Busby Berkeley, for September; the Marx Brothers’ “A Night at the Opera” for October; and director Howard Hawks’ “His Girl Friday,” BK


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staring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, for December. One recent Sunday, about a half-dozen people, including Wilson and Hibbs’ dad, Stan, got together in the Marcus Center’s computer room for the screening of “Gold Diggers of 1933.” Hibbs used a computer to project the black-and-white film on a screen set against the wall. Although it’s included in the National Film Registry and was a hit in its day, “Gold Diggers of 1933” may be less well known now than the other titles in the Classic Film Club series. The film stars Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. It included lots of snappy repartee and stuffy rich men being outwitted by worldly, if impoverished, chorus girls. It ends with a song called “The Forgotten Man” set against images of marching World War I veterans being reduced to living on the streets and eating from soup kitchens. “That last piece,” Stan Hibbs said, “was really…” “Dark?” Andrew Hibbs said. “Yeah, dark,” Stan Hibbs agreed. “It was hard times and a lot of films weren’t talking about it,” Andrew said. That’s part of the reason the younger Hibbs chose the film for the program. It speaks of and for its time. And it still has lots of dancing girls covered with coins and singing “We’re In the Money.” “It’s one of those things that a lot of people who love film really love,” he said. “It’s kind of a ‘guilty pleasure’ movie. It does have some interesting things to say… about the Depression. It’s also very specific to its time, to the Busby Berkeley era. You don’t see movies like that anymore.”

Andrew Hibbs watches the screening of “Gold Diggers of 1933 in the computer room of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.

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20 | Community

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Developer sues Brookhaven over failed mixed-use project BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

City officials “maliciously abused governmental powers” to derail a $124 million mixed-use project along Buford Highway that was to include affordable housing, according to a developer and two homeowners who are taking the city to court. Atlanta-based Ardent Companies had more than 20 homeowners on Bramblewood Drive on board in 2017 for a buyout of the neighborhood for redevelopment into 197 townhomes. But the deal fell apart as the city pushed for a mixed-use project with affordable housing and Ardent asked for tax breaks, and amid revelations the city had interest in acquiring some of the land itself for a public safety headquarters. The lawsuit accuses the city of conflict of interest and intentionally slowing the rezoning request to kill the project. Ardent is suing for an amount of money to be determined at trial. The city denies any wrongdoing in court documents and in a written statement said that “the developer’s sourgrapes lawsuit is neither grounded in fact nor premised on actual events.” Ardent Companies is suing the city in DeKalb County Superior Court, alleging officials violated its constitutional rights, partly by purposefully slowing the rezoning process of 17 acres on Bramblewood Drive and Buford Highway, leading to the collapse of the project a year ago. The lawsuit also alleges the city required the company to revise its original project as part of a roughly $2 million “property swap” for approximately 2 acres of right of way on Bramblewood Drive. “Ardent’s experience with Brookhaven serves as a cautionary tale to any developer trying to get in on Brookhaven’s hot redevelopment market,” according to the lawsuit that was filed in December. “Brookhaven will give a developer the governmental approval it needs, as long as the developer pays to play,” according to the suit. “[T]he city and its officials consistently, calculatingly and maliciously abused governmental powers to obtain and protect their own financial interests.” Ardent alleges the city violated a nondisclosure agreement by releasing more than 100 emails requested in an openrecords request last year by the Reporter concerning the project. Ardent alleges in the lawsuit the emails included “confidential and proprietary information to the media,” including the anticipated $124 million total cost of the project. In a press release last year announcing it was rejecting Ardent’s proposed mixed-use project, city officials said the developer demanded a massive, $30 mil-

lion tax break. The city also said because Ardent would not agree on Brookhaven’s definition of “affordable housing” for the project, there was no choice but to say no. “The [City Council] and administration are serious about their role to safeguard and manage the city’s assets for the benefit of all citizens,” city spokesperson Burke Brennan said in a Sept. 10 statement. “The city worked diligently to try to find a path forward to make this projFILE ect work for the Neville Allison of the Ardent Companies with a rendering of townhomes originally proposed to be built on Bramblewood Drive off Buford Highway during a December city and for the de2017 community meeting at the Briarwood Park Recreation Center. veloper,” Brennan added. “Ultimately, the parties could not reach an unArdent got a recommendation of apquest from the city. The proposed projderstanding on the scope and direction proval from the city Planning Commisect included $60 million to be spent on of the project and the developer’s soursion for the townhome project with a deapartments and $64 million on for-sale grapes lawsuit is neither grounded in sign of 197 units. In June, however, the townhomes and some retail. The mixedfact nor premised on actual events.” City Council postponed the rezoning use project was only discussed behind Ardent declined to comment on the vote for 90 days because council memthe scenes as part of an economic devellawsuit. bers said they wanted more of a mixedopment proposal. No formal application No trial date has been. The pretrial use project along Buford Highway. They was made to the city. discovery phase is expected to be finished also wanted a mix of housing with differSept. 30, according to court filings. ent price points. As part of the proposal, Ardent said it Ardent filed applications with the city At the same time Ardent was seekwould price 10% of the project, or 30 resin late 2017 to rezone the Bramblewood ing rezoning of the property, the city was idential units, as affordable housing. ArDrive and two parcels on Buford Highconsidering buying some of the Brambledent also requested a 30-year, $30 milway property to make way for a 226wood property for its own public safety lion tax abatement on all property taxes unit gated townhome development. The headquarters, emails from the city show. – city, county and schools. developer also asked the city to abanThe lawsuit called that a “clear conflict The city required Ardent Companies don about 2 acres of city-owned right of of interest.” The city ended up selecting to use an area median household income way on Bramblewood Drive for the towna site on Briarwood Road overlooking the (AMI) of $50,000, while the developer inhome project. Peachtree Creek Greenway to build the sisted on using $68,000 household AMI Ardent had entered into purchase new public safety headquarters. to meet the 10% affordable residential agreements with the more than 20 sinThe DeKalb County School District units. That disagreement also led to the gle-family homeowners on Bramblealso looked at the Bramblewood propcity’s refusing the project, according to wood Drive, a dead-end street just south erty as a potential site to build the new city officials. of Cross Keys High School. The contracts Cross Keys High School during this time, City officials said in emails they would said Ardent would only buy the houses but decided to build it at the former Briagree to sell Ardent the right of way for after getting the requested rezoning from arcliff High School site in unincorporatroughly $2 million, which would then be the city. ed DeKalb County. reimbursed as part of a tax abatement. Two Bramblewood Drive homeowners Debate over cost of the Bramblewood As part of any tax abatement, the city are joining Ardent in suing the city. Jon right of way ensued. Ardent said it was also required Ardent to pay the city a porand Crystal Wheeler claim Brookhaven’s willing to pay about $250,000 for the 2 tion of its profit if the property was sold actions “interfered with [their] reasonacres; the city argued the land was worth within four years of occupancy. Ardent able investment-backed expectations” much more and refused to abandon it. called this request a “kickback” in the that they would be able to sell their house Negotiations revealed in more than lawsuit. to Ardent, resulting in an illegal proper100 emails released to the Reporter “Ardent refused the city’s improper ty taking by the city. Other homeowners showed Ardent Companies in June prodemand to ‘pay to play’ as a condition of told the Reporter last year they believe posed a $124 million mixed-use project receiving the tax abatement,” according they were harmed by the city’s actions. on the property in response to the reto the lawsuit. BK


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City unveils logo for ‘Explore Brookhaven’ brand identity BY DYANA BAGBY

A Place Where You Belong

dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Visitors and residents will soon be invited to “Explore Brookhaven” as part of a new branding strategy to boost the young city into a regional and national presence. Renée Areng, executive director of the Brookhaven Convention and Visitors Bureau, presented the new brand identity along with a logo to the City Council at its Sept. 24 work session. Explore Brookhaven will be the used in the city’s marketing and tourism materials and even within city departments such as permitting, to “distinguish Brookhaven from its older, larger or more established neighbors.” Full rollout of the branding and marketing is expected to begin in early 2020. The logo, a quadrilateral that roughly mirrors the CITY OF BROOKHAVEN city’s shape on a map, is a An early version of the patchwork of blue and green. city’s first tourism map that The colors represent the city’s shows places to visits like parks and restaurants and parks, the Peachtree Creek their proximity to hotels. Greenway, tree canopy and neighborhoods, Areng said. CVB board members and the consultants reviewed 700 responses from residents, business owners, frequent travelers and visitors to get their perspectives and impressions of the city, Areng said. From those interviews and surveys, they came up with a “destination promise” that includes the phrase, “You are a guest in Brookhaven. For a day or forever.” That phrase resonated well with all 700 respondents, Areng said. “This bridges the relationship between residents and visitors as all being guests,” Areng said. City administrators like the brand identity so much they want to incorporate it beyond just tourism and destination marketing and into other areas like economic development and job creation. With that in mind, the city entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the CVB at the Sept. 24 meeting to cover one-half of the approximately $52,000 costs of the final phase of the branding strategy. The money is coming from the city’s Communications budget. The CVB also voted to split the word Brookhaven into “Brook” and “Haven” when using the logo in vertical marketing pieces, Areng said, to be creative. There is still some question how that may play in the public, but many people like the look of the two words alongside the logo, she said. The council approved spending more than $800,000 earlier this year to hire research and market analysis consultant BrandStrategy Inc. and advertising agency Zehender Communications to develop a comprehensive strategy as well as marketing materials, including the logo. An Explore Brookhaven website is expected to be finished in October, Areng said. The CVB board preferred “Explore Brookhaven” to an initial idea to use “Discover Brookhaven” as the brand identity because the phrase encourages visitors as well as residents to go see different areas of the city, Areng explained. The city’s total CVB budget this year is $1.6 million and is funded with hotel-motel tax dollars. There are 11 hotels in the city with a total of 1,622 rooms. Areng said the city’s hotels currently use Atlanta addresses and a top priority for her is to have them change them to Brookhaven. She said to the council that all the hotels tend to exceed occupancy between Tuesday and Saturdays, but occupancy drops off for the weekend. The CVB is working to find ways to get rooms filled every day of the week. The city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival is an example of a special event the Explore Brookhaven branding would promote. State law requires hotel-motel taxes be spent on tourism and promotion. Legislators agreed the Greenway would become a regional destination and approved the city raising its hotel-motel tax from 5% to 8% in 2017 to fund its construction as well as promotion. Brookhaven was the first city in the state to use hotel-motel tax money to pay for a multiuse trail. BK

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Alternative commuting recommended for Perimeter Center’s traffic woes BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN “Help is coming” was the slogan of a Sept. 12 Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce “Transportation Summit,” advertised with an image of the new I-285/Ga. 400 interchange that is now under construction. But the theme was how to help commuters help themselves, as the expert panelists said infrastructure improvements alone will not solve the area’s massive congestion woes. Ann Hanlon, executive director of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, told the audience at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in State Farm’s Park Center tower that her group’s work with companies on promoting such tactics as transit use and teleworking are making a difference. Panelists at the Sept. 12 “Transportation Summit” included, from left, Marlo Clowers of the Georgia Department of Transportation; Rosalind Tucker of the Atlanta Regional Commission; and Johann Weber and Ann Hanlon of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts. (Kevin C. Madigan) “I’ve had people tell me recently that Fridays and Mondays are feeling better,” Hanlon said. “Now, if we can get them thinking in a flexible way about Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, we can make a lot of progress. We are at a point where traffic is so painful that people realize they have to make changes internally.” Other panelists included: Marlo Clowers, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s project manager on the “Transform 285/400” interchange

project; Rosalind Tucker, who heads the Georgia Commute Options commuting alternatives program at the Atlanta Regional Commission; and Johann Weber, who manages the PCIDs’ “Perimeter Connects” commuting program. On the road-building side, Clowers gave an overview of the Transform 285/400 project, which is scheduled to finish most work about a year from now, and the toll lanes that GDOT plans to add along both highways over the next decade. Clowers did not bring up local controversies about the toll lanes, which include property takings, their efficiency compared to transit lines. On part of Ga. 400, the lanes are intended to carry MARTA buses as well as private vehicle traffic. Rick Carr, a local businessman, told Clowers he thinks the toll lanes will not reduce congestion. “HOV lanes are already there, but no one is using them,” he said. “It’s not going to work.” Clowers replied that the toll strategy adds more control over the flow of traffic. Clowers noted that the Transform 285/400 project includes a connection of a future extension of the PATH400 multiuse trail under I-285 along Peachtree-Dunwoody Road. “We are thinking beyond cars,” she said. Tucker said that alternatives beyond private vehicles are necessary as Georgia roads face increasing demand from delivery services and population growth. Metro Atlanta’s population of about 6 million is projected to reach 8 million by 2040, she said. “Technology and services that re-

duce the need and desire for travel are happening, but are competing forces for the roadway,” she said. “Three million people are ordering from Amazon. Someone has to get that to our doors.” Tucker said she orders all her groceries online for home delivery, and “although I may not be on the highway, I’m still perpetuating an increase of travel on our roadways.” But with challenges come opportunities, Tucker said. “More people are working at home,” she said. “If we can continue to really work with employers to see the great benefit in allowing their workforce to telework, we will continue to see great gains.” Hanlon said State Farm, MercedesBenz USA, and Cox Media Group are among the major Perimeter Center corporations already on board with incentivizing their employees to take transit, telework and offer flexible work schedules. “Each of the corporate owners is, I think, ready for behavioral and cultural change,” she said, adding the PCIDs is also approaching smaller companies. The PCIDs’ “Perimeter Connects” program works with local commuters on such options as transit, sharing rides and bicycling. “It’s a program to try to tackle traffic, and addresses other elements that are at play,” said Weber, the program’s manager. “We estimate that this year [our work represents] about 6,400 trips that aren’t happening each average day. If you take those cars and you put them bumper-to-bumper, 20 miles of highway would fill up.”

Weber said “shift scheduling” is a key part. “If you get someone to work from home one day a week, that trip doesn’t exist anymore.” His company works with employers “to implement policies, programs, services, and other strategies… to change the geometry of traffic.” Tucker noted an option to support alternative commuting is a program called “Guaranteed Ride Home,” in which commuters can register for up to five free taxi rides annually in case of an unexpected event. The PCIDs is a self-taxing district of commercial property owners, and transportation improvement is its main goal. Increasingly, that includes new kinds of infrastructure to support alternative commuting. “We focus a lot on construction and building new stuff, but we also spend time on what Roz and Johann are doing, which is getting people out of their cars,” said Hanlon. As one example, she cited the recently opened pedestrian bridge across Nancy Creek between Dunwoody’s Georgetown neighborhood and Perimeter Center. The PCIDs contributed $200,000 to its construction. “Not a glamorous project, but it connects two places that were not connected before,” she said. “Now people can get somewhere without driving.” For more information about the PCIDs’ “Perimeter Connects” commuting alternatives program, see perimeterconnects.com.

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24 | Art & Entertainment

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‘Frida’ comes to Sandy Springs as perfect show for opera first-timers Where authentic Christian mission and academic excellence aren’t mutually exclusive

Catalina Cuervo as the title character in “Frida.”

VISIT CAMPUS TODAY! FIND OUT MORE AT: WWW.WESLEYANSCHOOL.ORG/ADMISSIONS

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BY JUDITH SCHONBAK If you have thought about going to an opera, but have been hesitant or intimidated by the high art and foreign languages, the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center has your chance to see what it’s all about. The Atlanta Opera’s “Discoveries” series, aimed at first-timers and audiences in search of new types of works, is coming to Sandy Springs Oct. 5-13 with “Frida,” the story of iconic Mexican artist, feminist and activist Frida Kahlo. “‘Frida’ is meant for a smaller venue,” said Catalina Cuervo, who sings the opera’s title role, in a phone interview from her home in Miami. “There is so much acting and it is important to be able to see facial expressions and hear the conversations in the story. Theaters like the Byers Theatre are perfect for this opera, and this venue is perfect for first-time opera-goers.” The series of which “Frida” is a part brings opera to alternative, smaller venues, like the Byers Theatre at the Performing Arts Center. And the Atlanta Opera offers tips to make your initiation into opera a pleasant occasion and, perhaps, a discovery that you really like everything about this genre of theater. First of all, wear something comfortable. There is no dress code. You will see a range of dress from jeans to evening clothes. Most audience members wear something in between, but if you want to strut your style, it’s your opportunity to do so. Operas are usually sung in foreign languages and often have complex plots. But, at virtually all opera venues, you will know what’s going on thanks to supertitles which the singing and action with English translations projected above the stage. One thing that may not be familiar to first-timers: If you arrive late, you’ll have to wait out the first act in the rear of the theater until intermission, when ushers will show you to your seat. The Atlanta Opera also recommends reading a synopsis of the opera beforehand to give you an understanding of the characters and story and what is happening onstage. “Frida” is a straightforward story that portrays the artist’s dramatic life from her youth to her death at 47 years in 1954. Kahlo is considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, known for her folk art and surrealist style. She is equally known for her dramatic and tragic life, her affairs and her two marriages to famed Mexican artist/muralist Diego Rivera. “Frida was one of my heroes when I was a kid in Colombia,” said Cuervo. “My aunt, who was a painter and an artist in every way, introduced her to me and I learned about this woman, who, back in the 1930s and ’40s was living her life like a modern, independent woman.” With the role comes challenges and responsibility for Cuervo. “So many people


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love Frida Kahlo,” Cuervo said. “She is Mexican. She is Mexico. Mexican people own her. Every time I sing this role, I need to be the best I can for Mexican women and for their country.” Cuervo said that when she steps onto the stage, “I am not Catalina. I am Frida, as a strong Latina woman and artist.” Known as the “fiery soprano,” Colombian-born Cuervo, made her Atlanta debut with The Atlanta Opera in 2017 as Maria in Piazzolla’s “Maria de Buenos Aires.” The biographical opera by composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez premiered in April 1991. It gained prominence in its revival in 2015 by Michigan Opera Theater with Cuervo as Frida. She performed the role again in 2017 with Cincinnati Opera. Rave reviews and sold-out shows continued for a number of shows in Florida this year. “Frida was pretty complicated,” said Cuervo. “She was probably bipolar and was very dramatic and intense. She goes against the rhythms of life, and Frida sings against the beat. The music incorporates all her moods and struggles, from love and happiness to confrontations and tensions. [Rodriguez] used all the tools of composition for the audience to feel all of this along with Frida.” Cuervo said she enjoys the musical challenges, too: “I love this opera. Its drama demands two voices for Frida – her romantic soaring soprano, the head voice when I go into ‘soprano-land,’ and her dramatic lower voice, the chest voice when I go into ‘contralto-land’. I sing three octaves during the performance.” But it’s also easy for audiences to enjoy. “This is not opera as you know it,” she said. “It is not Puccini, Verdi or Mozart. I think of it as a cross between opera and Broadway.” Cuervo said that at many performances of “Frida,” as much as 80 percent of the audiences are seeing opera for the first time. “There is big, beautiful opera singing, catchy music, and the story is easy to understand,” she said. “It is mostly sung and spoken in English and some Spanish with English supertitles. It is in an intimate space that allows a good experience. “I am excited to bring ‘Frida’ to new audiences, a new stage and a new city.”

A scene from “Frida.”

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Friday, Oct. 18, 6:30-9:30 p.m. A haunted house event across the museum grounds, with gentler Halloween fun for the children in the main building. Tickets: $15 members, $20 non-members. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: https://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/ programs/haunted-halloween-6

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Friday, Oct. 25, 6:30-10:30 p.m. With live music, costume contest, food trucks, psychic readings, fire pit & s’mores bar, facepainting (6:30-8:30 p.m.), safe trick-or-treating, and screening of the movie “Beetlejuice.” In addition, actors with North Springs Charter High School offer tours of a nearby historic cemetery every 30 minutes. Free; cemetery tours $20. Heritage Green, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org

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SECOND ANNUAL SANDY SPRINGS OKTOBERFEST

Saturday, Oct. 26, noon-5:30 p.m. Featuring live music and German food, raising funds for the Sandy Springs Education Force STEAM program and treatment of injured veterans at Buckhead’s Shepherd Center. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 children, $4 food tokens. Heritage Park, 6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: sandyspringsoktoberfest.com

PERFORMING ARTS THE MIRACLE WORKER

Thursday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, 3 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. The Riverwood Theatre Department presents the classic play about Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. Tickets: $10 Adults, $5 students. Riverwood International Charter School Auditorium, 5900 Raider Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: school.fultonschools.org/hs/riverwood/Pages/DramaTheatre.aspx

THE SAVANNAH SIPPING SOCIETY

Saturday, Oct. 26, 5-7 p.m. Halloween event for younger children, with costumed characters, trick-or-treat stations, face painting and food for purchase. Free. Abernathy Greenway Park, 70 Abernathy Road, Sandy Springs. Info: https://www.visitsandysprings.org/spooky-springs/

Through Sunday, Oct. 13 The Stage Door Players perform the comedy about four Southern women, all needing to escape their day-to-day routines, who find themselves drawn together by fate. Tickets: $34. Stage Door Playhouse, 5539 ChambleeDunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: stagedoorplayers.net

HALLOWEEN PIC IN THE PARK

SPRING AWAKENING

Saturday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m. Decorate your bike and ride a portion of the Dunwoody Trailway before watching “Hocus Pocus” on the big screen. Bike ride at 6 p.m.; movie at dusk. Free. Brook Run Park, 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodyga.gov

FESTIVALS BROOKHAVEN ARTS FESTIVAL

• Annual Well-Woman Exams • Menopausal Care • Cervical Cancer Screenings • HPV Vaccinations

Saturday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m-6 p.m Sunday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The annual festival features a juried show of art from over 140 artists from across the country, a classic car show, children’s art section, live music, food and beverages. Free. Apple Valley Road behind the Brookhaven/ Oglethorpe MARTA Station, Brookhaven. Info: brookhavenartsfestival.com

FALL FUN HEALTH FEST

Saturday, Oct. 26, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; run at 7:45 a.m. The Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s Health and Well-Being Council hosts a day of healthy living in the community. At 7:45 a.m., the Sandy Springs Education Force will be hosting the Footprints for the Future 5/10K, followed by health and wellness vendors, fitness demonstrations and other activities. Free. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: business.sandyspringsperimeterchamber.com

October 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 8 p.m. October 27, 2 p.m. Oglethorpe Theatre presents Spring Awakening, a groundbreaking, Tony-winning rock musical about adolescent love, the trials of puberty, and the friendships that young people build in the face of an uncomprehending world. Admission: $20. Conant Performing Arts Center, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info: oglethorpeuniversity.thundertix. com

MUSIC CITY GREEN LIVE MUSIC SERIES

Friday, Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m. The final summer music concert features Joe Gransden and his big band performing music from Sinatra’s songbook. Free, no tickets required. Tables may be reserved starting at $40. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: citysprings.com/events.

HARVEST AT THE FARMHOUSE

Saturday, Oct. 5, 6-9 p.m. Sojourner plays American roots music, plus food from local farms and prepared by Chef Chris McDonald of Marlowe’s Tavern Dunwoody. Tickets: $75 per person, advance reservations required. Donaldson-Bannister Farm, 4831 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info and menu: dunwoodypreservationtrust. org/bluegrassfarmtotable


OCTOBER 2019

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28 | Community

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Officials make city sales pitch as part of first ‘Developer’s Day’ Continued from page 1 which together are investing nearly $3 billion in new development. The tour also included a peek inside the Atlanta Hawks locker room during the stop at the NBA team’s state-of-the-art-practice facility in Executive Park. Developers said they were impressed. “I wanted to see what was going on in Brookhaven ... and it’s encouraging to see a city be proactive and say, ‘Come, sit down with us, let’s talk,’” said Jay Weaver of Weaver & Woodbery, a company with experience in large office projects. “I’ve not seen anyone else be this proactive and sometimes it can be tough to do business in DeKalb [and] the city of Atlanta ... Sometimes [governments] can almost be adversarial,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see what [Brookhaven] is doing.” There’s no question Brookhaven wants to go big. Those invited represented such development giants as Colliers International, Regent Partners and Portman Holdings. Officials with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce also attended. Developers got to see a big vision for what the city wants at the current site of the Salvation Army’s southern headquarters. It includes an 18-story office tower overlooking I-85 at the North Druid Hills Road interchange. The city tapped HKS Architects in June to dream up a mixed-use development on the property, where a Greenway trailhead is under construction just yards away from Buford Highway. The imaginary “Brookhaven Mixed Use Development Master Plan” also includes office and residential towers. Another visioning project presentation, by design firm TSW, imagined a “City Centre” mixed-use development at the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station. Planners included on the site a new City Hall, performing arts center, office and retail buildings, condominiums and an underground parking deck. Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin explained some of the city’s zoning regulations that include “master planned development districts” where developers are encouraged to be creative and innovative. “We will work with you,” she said. Ruffin also touched on the city’s citywide inclusionary zoning, which requires new multifamily residential developments include 10% workforce housing. While standing on the Greenway’s cement path near the North Druid Hills Road trailhead, some developers raised questions about how requiring affordable housing along the Buford Highway corridor would be feasible after the project increases property values. Patty Hansen, a project manager for the Greenway, said the workforce housing zoning mandate includes density incentives. Next year, the Economic Development Department is scheduled to update the city’s Buford Highway improvement and eco-

CITY OF BROOKHAVEN

Above, an illustration of an 18-story office tower overlooking I-85 is part of HKS Architects’ ‘visioning project’ requested by the city of a mixed-use project where the Salvation Army’s southern headquarters now stands off North Druid Hills Road.

Left, other HKS illustrations A mix of office and residential towers shown in this illustration were part of HKS Architects’ city-backed exercise envisioning a redevelopment of the Salvation Army site. Bottom, Economic Development Director Shirlynn Brownell speaks to the more than 50 developers and business owners invited to the city’s first ‘Developer’s Day.’ (Dyana Bagby)

nomic development plan and include other development incentives. Other stops on the tour included taking in spectacular views from the 42nd floor of the 4004 Perimeter Summit building,

as well as stops at office buildings at 1277 Lenox Park Blvd. and 2700 Apple Valley Road. All are Class-A office buildings with room for new tenants. Developer’s Day ended with dinner at

Oglethorpe University and a panel discussion on what attracts developers and investors to a city or community in the current market. “Another thing that’s important is the willingness of local government to encourage and support redevelopment and the reputation of an area,” said Gary Cornell, a lecturer on city and regional planning at Georgia Tech. In 2017, Cornell led a class of graduate students in a study of Buford Highway and how to plan for its future. Cornell lauded the Brookhaven for accommodating developers by having less restrictive zoning requirements than some other cities in the region. Todd Long, former Fulton County chief operating officer and now at the engineering and management firm Moreland Altobelli, said most of the cities in Georgia are operating with policies that are 40 or 50 years out of date.

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30 | Public Safety

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Police partnerships with doorbell-camera company raise privacy questions Continued from page 1 keep our citizens safe is a key focus of our department,” Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan said in the release. “Our partnership with Ring and use of the Neighbors app will definitely help in our crime fighting efforts.” The Brookhaven Police Department followed up a month later with its own press release announcing its alliance with Ring. “Partnering with Ring using the Neighbors app will give officers a technological advantage when investigating crimes,” Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura said in the release. Dunwoody and Brookhaven are just two of 10 law enforcement agencies in Georgia to team up with Ring, owned by corporate giant Amazon. Across the nation, more than 400 law enforcement agencies have signed on with Ring to gain free access to surveillance video shared by customers to Ring’s public social network, named “Neighbors.” Through the partnership, law enforcement agencies gain access to the Neighborhood Portal which includes a map of where Ring cameras are located. Other Georgia law enforcement agencies partnering with Ring including po-

lice departments and sheriff’s offices in Chamblee, Cobb County, Duluth, Forsyth County, Garden City, Gwinnett County, Sandy Springs and the Savannah Police Department. For some, the rising number of police partnering with Ring is chilling. They say Ring is creating a nationwide surveillance network that raises serious concerns about privacy and the blurring of police departments with corporations. “Constant surveillance may sound safe for people who have nothing to fear from a biased criminal justice system, but making the decision to extend Amazon and police surveillance to your home is a potential hazard for people who live and work in your community,” said Matthew Gauriglia, policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is an international nonprofit organization “defending civil liberties in the digital world,” according to its website. Ring says its partnerships with law enforcement are just another way to keep communities safer by allowing police and residents to share crime and safety information through the Neighbors app. “We are proud to work with law enforcement agencies across the country

and have taken care to design these programs in a way that keeps users in control,” a spokesperson said in a written statement. The partnerships claim to ensure anonymity to Ring users by requiring police to make a request to the company for footage they saw on the Neighbors app they want for an investigation. Ring then contacts the homeowner to make

the actual request. “With each request, customers decide whether to share all relevant videos, review and select certain videos to share, take no action (decline), or opt out of all future requests,” Ring says in a FAQ on its website. Grogan also discounted privacy concerns, saying police are only looking for surveillance footage someone has volun-

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OCTOBER 2019

Public Safety | 31

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SPECIAL

Publicity photos for Amazon’s Ring system show the doorbell that contains a camera, and the Neighbors app on a cellphone.

tarily posted to the Neighbors app. “I understand to some degree some concerns about ‘Big Brother,’ but you also have to understand that none of us have the resources or time to really look at video just randomly just see what people are doing,” Grogan said. “We have specific purposes, to investigate crimes ... other than that we are not looking at video,” he said. “We have no direct access to anything. It’s all voluntary. Nobody has to share anything with us.” EFF says it’s not as black-and-white as Ring says when it comes to giving their customers the choice to not share video footage with police. Ring acknowledged in a story in Government Technology that if a resident does not want to share their footage, the company will still turn it over if a law enforcement agency has a “valid and binding legal demand.” Yandura did not say his department has made demands for Ring footage, but said when customers post to the Neighbors app, it essentially becomes part of the public domain. “Once someone publishes to the app, it’s out there,” Yandura said.

How Ring and the Neighbors app work Residents can download the free Neighbors app and use it to monitor neighborhood activity, share crime and safety-related videos, photos and textbased posts; and receive real-time safety alerts from their neighbors, local law enforcement and the Ring team, according to a Ring press release. Ring users are alerted when their doorbell-cameras detect motion from as far away as 30 feet; when someone presses the video-doorbell button; or when the user turns on a “Live View” option through the Ring app. Those events begin recording a video file that is streamed from the Ring deBK

vice to the cloud on Amazon Web Services servers, according to the company’s privacy notice. Those who subscribe for $3 a month to Ring Protect Plans can have their videos stored on the cloud for 60 days to watch them later. Those without a plan will have their videos automatically deleted, according to Ring’s privacy notice. Ring’s terms of service says the company and its licensees have permanent and wideranging rights to keep and use the footage from the cameras, including: “an unlimited, irrevocable, fully paid and royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide right to re-use, distribute, store, delete, translate, copy, modify, display, sell, create derivative works from and otherwise exploit such shared content for any purpose and in any media formats in any media channels without compensation.” This kind of corporate control of homeowner’s video surveillance contributes to what EFF calls a “perfect storm of privacy threats.” “Having a Ring camera may seem like a harmless way to protect your packages, but it is helping to create a large surveillance network within your own community that does more than just thwart the work of criminals,” Gauriglia said. When Ring customers continually post footage to the Neighbors app resulting in constant alerts sent to users, fear is generated in communities, EFF says. That leads to more sales of Ring doorbell-cameras and other security devices, adding to an already massive surveillance network, according to EFF. “With every update, Ring turns the delivery person or census-taker innocently standing on at the door into a potential criminal,” Gauriglia reported in an Aug. 8 EFF story. “Neighborhood watch apps only increase the paranoia.” Yandura said there is nothing threatening about the Ring cameras, saying they are like having a “cop on every corner in the city” 24 hours a day.

Grogan said Ring and the Neighbors app are simply keeping communities informed on what is happening in their neighborhoods. “People know their neighborhoods better than anybody,” he said. “They live there and know what is unusual. ... The people that participate are choosing to do that and making the decision to work with police to try to help keep their communities safe.” How many Ring doorbell-camera users live in Dunwoody and Brookhaven is not known by the police departments, according to the chiefs, and Ring declined to comment on this question. Yandura did say a Ring representative told him earlier this year that Brookhaven’s 30319 ZIP code had the highest concentration of Ring devices in the state. Both cities have also invested heavily in surveillance cameras and license plate readers, or LPRs. Earlier this year, Dunwoody spent about $189,000 to buy 16 LPRs from Georgia Power to post throughout Perimeter Center where most of the city’s crime occurs. In 2017, Brookhaven entered into a $700,000, three-year lease agreement with Georgia Power to place 44 LPRs throughout the city. The LPRs average 4 million “reads” a month of people driving in and out of the city, Yandura said, and are used to get hits on stolen cars and wanted fugitives.

What’s included in the partnership

Grogan said the department reached out to Ring last year after reading about the company partnering with law enforcement through the Neighbors app. Yandura said he learned about Ring and the Neighbors app at a conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the chiefs agreed their departments would team up with Ring, they were required by the company to sign memorandums of understanding, nonbinding agreements that outlined roles and responsibilities. Both cities MOUs stated Ring would provide mutually agreed-upon press releases announcing the partnerships. The agreements included Ring providing the departments a few free Ring doorbell cameras to give out to residents at community events or homeowners’ association meetings. Last month, the Dunwoody Police Department hosted a “pizza with police”

event at City Hall that included free Ring doorbell camera giveaways. Yandura said Brookhaven Police have also handed out four free Ring cameras at community events and HOA meetings. Emails obtained through the open records request show that Dunwoody Police Department employees were given a special promotion code, “nbdunwoody,” after the MOU was signed in February. The code gave them $50 off any purchase of the Ring Classic, Ring Pro, Ring Video Doorbell 2, Floodlight Cam, Spotlight Cam and Ring Protect. Ring also provided a free webinar to Dunwoody officers to train them on how to use the Neighbors app portal, according to emails. Those requested by Ring to attend online training included the public information officer, the social media coordinator, an investigative coordinator and a community relations coordinator who “oversees the team that interfaces with the community at events, HOAs, Neighborhood Watch meetings, etc.” These kinds of agreements can weaken a police department’s standing in a community where they are supposed to be neutral, Gauriglia said “Ring-police partnerships also undermine our trust in local police departments,” he said. “We know from reporting that almost everything police put out about Ring, from press releases to the answers to potential questions citizens may have, are scripted and approved by Amazon.” Grogan denied Amazon or Ring had control over what his department says, including the initial press release announcing the partnership. “We modified it and removed language we felt sounded too much like an endorsement of the Ring camera,” he said. “Other than that, they have provided no input into any other communication related to the Neighbors by Ring app.” Yandura also denied the arrangement meant Brookhaven officers were now representing Amazon and Ring. “No, we are not salesmen and no money is exchanged by the parties,” Yandura said. “We are not promoting one [security company] over another.” Ring did include in its Dunwoody MOU that it would donate Ring cameras to the Dunwoody Police Department based on the number of Neighbors app downloads that result from their partnership with the city. “Each qualifying download will count as $10 toward these free Ring cameras,” according to the Dunwoody MOU. Grogan said his department is not obligated to Ring or Amazon. “We don’t actively promote one system over another,” he said. “If any other camera company wants to provide free security cameras for us to give out, we will give them out as well.”


2019

OCTOBER 2019

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FREE ENTRY & PARKING

Saturday, October 19th 10am-6pm Sunday, October 20th 11am-5pm Classic Car Show on Sunday 1pm-4pm

October’s most anticipated Arts Festival in Atlanta SPONSORS

Over 140 Artists (from across the country) Classic Car Show Children’s Interactive Art Section Live Music Food and Beverages

Apple Valley Road (Behind the Brookhaven MARTA Station) 4047 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, GA 30319 www.BrookhavenArtsFestival.com BK

Profile for Reporter Newspapers

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