OCT. 28 - NOV. 10, 2016 • VOL. 8 — NO. 22
Perimeter Business ► Filmmaking frenzy hits northern arc PAGE 4 ► Buyers line up for farms, sport estates PAGE 6
MARTA TOD project delayed amid clash on density
Happy little cats
BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com
Sisters Nicole, 2, and Alexis Chevalier, 6, shows off their facepaintings at the Second Annual Brookhaven Arts Festival. The Oct. 15 festival was sponsored by the Brookhaven Community Foundation. Musical performances and the creations of more than 100 artists were featured. More photos, page 13.►
STANDOUT STUDENT Andi Rozelle
Holy Spirit Preparatory School, senior
The way that the election is conducted makes it very difficult to ‘rig’ an election for many reasons. In DeKalb County alone, there are more than 3,000 pieces of equipment that would have to be tampered with in order to have a substantial impact on the election. H. Maxine Daniels DeKalb County Elections Director
See COMMENTARY page 10
The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously Oct. 25 to defer a vote on the controversial MARTA rezoning request that would construct a mixed-use development on Peachtree Road. Questions about stormwater retention, proposed traffic improvements, architectural design and MARTA’s plans to seek tax credits for the multi-million dollar planned transit-oriented development, or TOD, at the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe station were raised by council members and given as reasons to wait until the Jan. 24 meeting to reconsider the request. “We are talking about Brookhaven’s front door, the city’s only transit center and the convergence of three of the city’s busiest streets [Dresden Drive, North Druid Hills Road and Peachtree Road],” Councilmember Joe Gebbia read from a lengthy prepared statement before voting See BROOKHAVEN on page 14
OUT & ABOUT City Council MJCCA Book Festival considers Nov. 5-20 Page 17 $36.9 million
BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookhaven City Council members are expected to vote Nov. 9 on the city’s proposed $36.99 million budget for 2017, an increase of $2.8 million over the city’s revised 2016 budget. The council held its first public hearing on the budget on Oct. 25. No comments from were made by members of the public. Highlights for the budget proposed by City Manager Christian Sigman include See CITY on page 12
2 | Community
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DeKalb assures cities that sewer capacity is fit for development BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com
DeKalb County is trying to reassure developers and city governments that its aging sewer lines can take on proposed large developments in cities such as Brookhaven and Dunwoody despite rising concerns from some city officials and residents. In August, five letters were sent to developers from the county warning them the county did not have the sewer capacity to handle their developments. Those letters were a mistake, according to county officials. “We rescinded those letters. The county is constantly conducting a myriad of tests and some results came back and those letters were sent a little prematurely,” said Burke Brennan, spokesperson for the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Development. One of the letters went to the proposed mixed-use development of Solis Dresden in Brookhaven on Dresden Drive, which included 113 apartments. The Brookhaven City Council denied the rezoning request for the development. Brennan said developers typically ask for sewer capacity approval before a project begins and that is likely what happened in this case. Representatives for Terwilliger Pappas, developers of the project, could not be reached for comment. Dunwoody Economic Development Director Michael Starling reported to Dunwoody City Council that conversations with DeKalb County show sewer capacity testing in the Perimeter Center is in good shape. “Right now, Dunwoody is in a good spot as far as sewer capacity, but that could change with new developments,” Starling told the council in September. The council asked Starling to talk to county officials after news of the letters were made public. One of the sewer capacity letters went to a former Denny’s restaurant in Dunwoody. Starling said a new massage business school was going in the location and that it was not a high-water usage business. Starling also urged developers begin talks with the county Watershed Department as soon as possible in its project. City staff members are providing the county with all known planned developments in Dunwoody so county officials can run the projects through a modeling program that should predict if there is enough sewer capacity available, Starling said. The process takes approximately two months.
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DeKalb County sent a letter to developers of Solis Dresden in Brookhaven. The project was denied by the City Council.
In Dunwoody, the massive High Street mixed-use development, which includes 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 3,000 residential units and 400,000 square feet of new office space, is set to break ground next year. The development has submitted plans to the Department of Watershed for a preliminary review. The Brookhaven MARTA redevelopment, which includes 200,000 square feet of office space and nearly 56,000 square feet of retail space as well as 547 residential units, should it be approved by Brookhaven City Council, is also expected to break ground next year. MARTA officials have told city officials it is working with the county to ensure there is enough sewer capacity. “[Brookhaven’s] Community Development Department has met with DeKalb County regarding sewer capacity and the ability to receive such information earlier on in the rezoning process,” said city spokesperson Ann Marie Quill. “With any rezoning that is contemplated by the city of Brookhaven, staff encourages applicants to request a sewer capacity letter from DeKalb County no later than 60 days in advance of the scheduled public hearing,” Quill said. “The city has yet to encounter a delay in development due to sewer capacity. With the reported significant problems with DeKalb Watershed, the city is extra diligent during review processes concerning sewer capacity and condition.” With the planned MARTA redevelopment, Quill and Brennan said the county is conducting a video assessment of the related sewer main to ensure the additional volume can be accommodated. “This sewer main, and the entire sewer system, is a major concern for all residents, business owners and potential investors in DeKalb County,” Quill said. “The city of Brookhaven hopes the DeKalb County Commission gives this important infrastructure the appropriate attention.” DeKalb County is now in the fifth year of an eight-year program to fix sewer issues and stop spills as part of a settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. If issues arise with a development over sewer capacity, the county works with the developer to find cost-effect ways mitigate the situation, Brennan said, such as onsite treatment and reuse and release of wastewater to the treatment plants during off-peak hours. “While the sewer capacity constraints are problematic, solutions are available and development is moving forward,” Brennan said. “DeKalb County remains open for business.”
Vote on Nov. 8 for president, ballot questions, more The Nov. 8 election will decide a new U.S. president, several local legislative offices and ballot questions. One key ballot question is about the proposal Opportunity School District, which would allow the state to administer schools deemed “failing.” For the Reporter Newspapers Voters Guide to key local races and ballot questions, see reporternewspapers.net. To check your polling place and to see a customized sample ballot, see the state’s “My Voter” page at mvp.sos.ga.gov. BK
OCTOBER 28 - NOV. 10, 2016
Community | 3
Candidates Bennett and Hanson face off in House District 80 debate BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
Georgia Constitutional amendment referendums on education and the state judicial qualifications commission were a primary focus of a brief debate between Democratic state Rep. Taylor Bennett and his Republican opponent Meagan Hanson at Oglethorpe University on Oct. 18. The 30-minute debate between the candidates for House District 80, which includes Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and Chamblee, also covered traffic issues, Medicaid expansion and what role their political parties play in their decision making. The candidates are vying for the House seat on the Nov. 8 ballot. Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall served as moderator for the debate. Although the allotted time for the debate was one hour, the debate ended in right at a half-hour when Schall apparently had no more questions. Bennett is seeking to be re-elected to his first full term after winning a special election last year to replace former state Rep. Mike Jacobs, a Republican, after he resigned to take a DeKalb County judge seat. The first question asked was about the Opportunity School District constitutional amendment referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot. Under Gov. Nathan Deal’s OSD plan, schools that receive an “F” rating from the state Department of Education for three years in a row could be temporarily assigned to a new “Opportunity School District” (OSD). Two schools along metro Atlanta’s northern arc are on the list — DeKalb County’s Montclair and Woodward elementary schools, both located in Brookhaven. Hanson said she readily supports the OSD referendum based on results in school districts in Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, which are the models for the Georgia plan. She also began the debate by accusing Bennett of being beholden to Washington, D.C.-based teachers unions that have funneled money into the state to oppose OSD. “You’re probably about to hear my opponent regurgitate teacher union talking points. But the bottom line is we are funding education right now,” Hanson said before Taylor had the chance to answer. “Since 2011, Gov. Deal has increased school funding by $1.5 billion,” she said. “Actually, it’s the local school districts who are decreasing funding for education. The state is doing its part. Now it’s time to hold [local school district] accountable. “This is not a silver bullet, but it’s a step in the right direction and we have to take some bold leadership and we’ve got to do the right thing,” Hanson continued. Bennett said he opposed the OSD referendum because he does not favor putting local schools under a state-run plan. “I believe access to quality education is a
fundamental right for every child,” he said. “I want to be clear that I am pro charter schools, pro public schools and pro private schools. But I want to ensure that whatever choice parents make for their children is the best choice.” He said he didn’t believe Georgia had lived up to its promise of ensuring quality education for all students, saying the state has underfunded public education since 2002 by billions of dollars. An OSD solution is “putting the cart before the horse,” Bennett added, because control of selected schools would be put under control of a statewide agency with an unelected administrator. “It will be administered by an appointed individual [appointed by the governor] and would close out local control,” he said. “The question I’d rather we be asking is, ‘What can we do to make smart investments into our teachers and students so they can achieve the success we require of them?’” Hanson rebutted Bennett’s answer by saying, “Number one, he just did what I said he would do — he regurgitated teachers’ unions talking points.” “This would not be a statewide school system in the least,” she said. “It doesn’t take control [of local school districts]; it holds them accountable.” Bennett and Hanson also took on the contentious Judicial Qualification Commission referendum also on the Nov. 8 ballot. The referendum would get rid of the independent watchdog agency that monitors state judges and replace it with another committee to be run by the state legislature. Hanson supports the referendum; Bennett opposes it. “I’m not exactly a fan of bringing [this committee] inside the legislature and allowing the legislature to appoint members,” Bennett said, adding he believed appointees would be subject to political influence if the referendum is approved. “I think it’s important to maintain separate bodies of government and I don’t think this [referendum] does that,” he said. Bennett also noted the controversial background to the bill. State Rep. Johnnie Caldwell (R-Thomaston) is a sponsor of the initiative. Before being elected to the legislature in 2012, he was a Griffin County Superior Court judge who was forced to resign after the JQC investigated him on charges of sexually harassing a female attorney. Hanson said she would rather have elected officials appoint members to a judicial watchdog group rather than members of the State Bar of Georgia. “We have the opportunity with this amendment to have it so that elected officials who are accountable to you will oversee” the committee, she said. On the pressing issue of traffic, Bennett said one of his first tasks after he was elected was to set up a meeting between the city of Brookhaven, the Atlanta Regional Com-
mission and the Georgia Department of Transportation to determine ways to get funding for projects to ease congestion in the city. Hanson chided Bennett Photos by Dyana Bagby for not putting Rep. Taylor Bennett, left, a Democrat, debated his Republican opponent, Meagan Hanson, right, at Oglethorpe University on Oct. 18. forward any transportation bills during his fail to make transportation a top priority. first year in office. She said if elected she “I can’t emphasize enough how behind would request to be put on the Transporthe ball we are,” he said. “It takes a little tation Committee and the MARTA funding political courage to step up and create the committee. She said she would work with capital investments we need to build our state legislators to find innovative soluinfrastructure. If we don’t do that we will tions to ease traffic, supported MARTA exabsolutely build ourselves out of our compansion and also a comprehensive review munities.” of the district’s major traffic areas, such On the issue of health care and Medicas North Druid Hills Road, Johnson Ferry aid expansion in the state, Hanson said she Road and Ashford-Dunwoody Road. was wary of accepting federal funds to do Bennett said solving transportation isso because the money comes with “strings sues takes time and that it was important attached.” to not sacrifice the quality of life when Bennett said he fully supported Medicfinding solutions. He also said legislators aid expansion in Georgia because it is “an currently serving in the General Assembly economic and moral imperative.”
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Q+A / Can this election be ‘rigged’? In the current presidential election season, candidates and pundits have debated claims of “rigging” an election. Reporter Newspapers asked DeKalb County elections director H. Maxine Daniels to explain how officials prevent fraud and tampering. Daniels has been DeKalb’s elections director since 2009. Q: Is it really possible to “rig” an election? Are DeKalb’s elections secure from tampering? The way that the election is conducted makes it very difficult to “rig” an election for many reasons. First, none of the equipment is ever connected to the internet so to access it, the individuals would have to enter our office. In DeKalb County alone, there are more than 3,000 pieces of equipment that would have to be tampered with in order to have a substantial impact on the election. Multiply that by the 159 counties in the state and the size of any such operation would be impossible to perform in secrecy. Second, every county, including DeKalb, has physical security protocols that make it very difficult for someone to tamper with the equipment undetected. It is unlikely that there is any hidden programming to “rig the election” because it would have had to been placed in the equipment 14 years ago and been undetected by Kennesaw State University Center for Elections which tests every piece of equipment any time it is sent to the vendor or repaired to ensure that the software has not been altered since the original programming. Additionally, each piece of equipment is tested prior to each election here at our office to ensure it counts the ballots as expected prior to using it for an election. Q: What are the main types of poten-
tial election fraud or tampering, and how does DeKalb guard against each of them? Election fraud is usually when someone tries to vote for an elector or a person who is not eligible attempts to vote. Since all in-person voting requires identification with a photograph, there are almost no instances of fraud at in-person voting sites. Most attempts at voter fraud occur in absentee mail balloting. The safeguard to prevent fraud is by requiring a signature of the voter on both the application and the returned ballot. We then compare those signatures against the one we maintain on file. If they do not match, we reject the application or ballot. Election tampering involves attempting to alter ballots or programming to change the outcome of the election. As mentioned before, the fact that the equipment is never connected to the internet makes it difficult to access the equipment and ballots. Prior to the election, we test every voting unit to ensure that it will count the votes correctly. Additionally, there are multiple levels of security during the delivery of the units and before the poll officials actually put the units into service. Finally, there are proprietary handoffs between the voting units and the server that tabulates the election and between the voting units, electronic poll books and voting cards. To tamper with the election at the poll, someone would have to get past our poll officials, who never leave the units unattended, and would have to break through our security levels undetected. To do so in our office would require a break in without our security systems detecting it. Q: Last year, the county had an elections controversy with the LaVista Hills cityhood vote, with an allegedly stray mem-
ory card from a voting machine and a supervisor alleging fraud. Has that investigation been resolved? Were any of those complaints valid?
H. Maxine Daniels
DeKalb County The allegaElections Director tions levied by our former employee are still being investigated by the Office of the Secretary of State and no charges have been made. Election fraud and tampering are both felony offenses.
Q: In your time as director, has the county ever caught anyone tampering with the vote? We have had no instances of vote tampering in my tenure with the department over the last 15 years. Q: If a citizen has a concern about their vote or the way a poll is run, what should they do? Individuals with concerns about their ballots while they are in the poll should immediately contact a poll official before casting the ballot. If there is a problem with the ballot, the poll official can correct it prior to the ballot being cast. Once the ballot is cast, there is no way for the poll official or anyone in our office to determine the problems since the ballots are randomly stored and cannot be attributed to the voter. If there is a general concern about the polling place, the voter should inform the poll manager or call our office to report the concern.
Letter to the Editor In his recent commentary here, (“Opinion: The Mexican community’s contribution to Georgia’s economy,” Sept. 30-Oct. 13) Javier Díaz de León, the consul general of Mexico in Atlanta, had a lot to say about what he calls “immigrants” and “migrants.” And he outlined what he says are hardships they encounter here in the Peach State. We fear readers with little independent knowledge of actual facts on immigration and the sovereign nation of Mexico may take away a very inaccurate and distorted view of reality without some knowledgeable balance to the Mexican diplomat’s presentation. According to the federal government, “immigrants” are people who enter the
United States lawfully with the intention of permanent residence. The word “immigrant” should be sacred to, and defended by, all Americans. Illegal aliens are not immigrants. It must be noted that real immigrants have zero problems with any of those benefits in Georgia. What he means is that life can be difficult for illegal aliens in Georgia. It is much easier for average Georgians to grasp the motivation and agenda of the Mexican diplomatic corps if we all note that Mexico uses huge amounts of U.S. dollars sent home by its “migrants” to prop up the Mexican economy. In February, the Mexican central bank reported that money sent home by Mexicans over-
seas hit nearly $24.8 billion in 2015, overtaking oil revenues for the first time as a source of foreign income. Get it? The Mexican consul general to Atlanta assures us that Mexican “migrants” possess “a very high resilience and capability for integration with the members of the communities where they live.” Most of us have doubts about that statement when we see the never-ending marches in the streets of Atlanta by angry and illegally present “victims of borders” screaming that we must end enforcement of American immigration laws. Respectfully: No sale, Mr. Díaz. D.A. King President, Dustin Inman Society Marietta BK
OCTOBER 28 - NOV. 10, 2016
Commentary | 11
On earrings and phone rings When my daughter was nearing the end of her high school career and had a Senior Day Off, we did a mother-daughter thing. We got our ears pierced. She had held out for 18 years, and I had held out for, um, longer than that. We went to Claire’s and perched on high-top chairs facing each other, hugged teddy bears and waited for the big staple gun to power through our lobes. It’s how memories are made. I never really wanted to get my ears pierced. I didn’t see a need to have any more holes in my body. And I probably wouldn’t have done it otherwise, but piercing in tandem with your daughter is one of those rare opportunities that you don’t pass up — like when your son asks you to go shopping with him, or your husband wants to schedule a sitting for a family photo. Aside from the unwanted extra orifices, my biggest aversion to the whole piercing process was the fact that I knew that once I did it, there would be earrings. I would start buying earrings, and people would give me earrings for birthdays and Christmas and Mother’s Day, and I would begin to like that. I would learn to linger at the jewelry counter over a selection of dangling objects that never interested me beRobin Conte is a writer fore. It would just be another way to spend 30 bucks a pop. and mother of four who It would be unavoidable. lives in Dunwoody. She That’s essentially the same reason that I didn’t want an can be contacted at iPhone. I knew that once I entered the world of smartThrobinjm@earthlink.net. ings, I would be opening a floodgate to a constant river of distractions and apps for distractions. And there would be no turning back. I had a phone I was happy with, much to the chagrin of anyone who tried to communicate with me on it. It was like a 1992 Subaru. It was reliable, yet old and outdated and not much coveted. It had a warped keypad that I used occasionally to text “k” and “here,” and nothing more. But I could drop it roughly 42 times a day (and I did), then literally pick up the pieces, slam them back into place, and redial. It was a 10-year-old Nokia, and it didn’t do much of anything but make calls. It didn’t give me directions, get my emails, take pictures or answer any burning questions I had about Bastille Day. It didn’t even “flip” or “slide.” It just sat there, easily, in my back pocket with its indestructible self, giving me a serendipitous jolt whenever someone buzzed me with a phone call. But as it creaked on in its years and lost parts through my constant dropping of it, it also slowly lost its ability to function, even as a phone. And I eventually had to admit that no one could hear on it very well, not even me. So a few years ago, when my husband presented me with a snazzy new iPhone4S (because I wasn’t worthy of a 5) complete with the promise of a new service provider, I laid my trusty Nokia to rest in my bedside table and entered the world of Distracted Adults. Sure enough, now I’m playing with Pandora when I should be working. I’m checking emails while I’m supposedly exercising. And I’ve joined my peers in relentless texting. We’re all like a bunch of delinquents who are passing notes in class. Texts come in while I’m brushing my teeth or paying bills or making dinner, and like a passel of whining children who are yanking at my legs, they beg for attention. I’ll glance at my screen and find a pressing question or an irresistible Bitmoji staring back at me, so I stop what I’m doing to text back — taking the time to correct the self-correct and choose just the right emoji — and a flurry of exchanges ensues that completely spins me off task. For all of our “live in the moment” advocacy, the smartphone is the ultimate antithesis. I’ve devised a system though, a type of positive reinforcement designed to limit myself from the tantalizing distractions that this device provides: If I can go through an entire day without messing with my phone while working or cooking or eating or exercising ... I’ll buy myself a new pair of earrings.
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12 | Community
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City Council considers $36.9 million budget Continued from page 1 funding a 3 percent merit raise for city employees; a $2.5 million paving budget finance with Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) and state funding; another $2.5 million for implementation of the parks master plan; and an increase to the police department budget of $145,900 to hire three officers to establish a dedicated traffic unit. The city’s 2.74 millage rate remains the same, the lowest in DeKalb County. The reserve is projected at $5.5 million, or 26.4 percent of the general fund expenditures. The proposed $6.9 million police budget also includes two enhancements to officer benefits as a way to attract and retain officers. One is a change in housing allowance to make the monthly $400 housing allowance for living within the city limits permanent rather than phasing it out after four years of living in the city. The second is participation in the Peace Officers’ Annuity & Benefits Fund of Georgia at a cost of $18,000 a year to cover all officers. The state program provides a source of revenue to an officer’s family in the event of his or her death. Another $559,770 from the HOST Special Revenue fund will be used to buy fixed cameras and license plate readers, the start-up costs for the dedicated traffic unit, a K-9 officer and a mobile speed trailer. The police department has 68 sworn officers, 11 non-sworn and four part-time employees. The proposed budget also includes $150,000 for tourism, including funding the Cherry Blossom Festival. Founded by former mayor Rebecca Chase Williams in 2015, the two-day festival takes place in the spring at Blackburn Park. The event was not included in the approved 2016 budget but was
added during the mid-year review. Revenues for this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival totaled $73,219 while expenses totaled $126,925. “The 2017 funding level of $150,000 supports the 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival. This event is anticipated to generate $100,000 in revenue for a net fiscal impact of $50,000,” according to the proposed budget. Plans are for the fest to be managed by a non-profit Cherry Blossom organization with assistance from the city’s Parks and Recreation and other departments. The offices of mayor and City Council have a proposed budget of $218,262, down more than 26 percent, or nearly $78,000, from 2016’s budget of $296,163. This amount includes $20,000 to be used toward the 2017 required charter review process. The $2.5 million proposed for Parks and Recreation spending includes $1.5 million for the Blackburn Park master site plan and $1 million for other capital projects that include: ● Ashford Park: tricycle track around the playground, construction of a cookout patio, tennis court seating area, loop trail; ● Georgian Hills: adventure play area, concrete multi-use walkway, outdoor halfcourt basketball court; ● Fernwood Park: Demoliton and removal of existing wood bridge and timber sidewalk and rebuilding existing bridge into a 10-foot wide boardwalk; ● Murphey Candler Park: parking improvements; ● Osborne Park: removing invasive plant material; ● Lynwood Park: parking space expansion. The budget maintains a 25 percent fund balance as part of City Council policy.
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OCTOBER 28 - NOV. 10, 2016
Community | 13
A day at the Brookhaven Arts Festival
D PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER
More than 100 artists displayed their works at the Oct. 15 Brookhaven Arts Festival. A. Alexis Chevalier, 6, shows off her facepainting. B. Dennis Brown shows his son, Devan Brown, 8, “how things work” at the science booth. C. The crowd walks through works of fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, sculpture and more. D. Some of the artwork of MarianneB van der Haar, an abstract expressionist painter who is originally from Germany. E. Brookhaven City Council member Joe Gebbia shops for art in van der Haar’s booth.
14 | Community
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MARTA TOD project delayed amid clash on density Continued from page 1
Developer of the project, Brookhaven City Center Partners, is a joint venture of to defer. The Integral Group and Transwestern. After the vote, Amanda Rhein, Senior Rhein said she understood the conDirector of Transit Oriented Developcerns of the council and said MARTA ment and Real Estate at MARTA, implied will work with the city to resolve rethe future of the development may be in maining questions. doubt after the vote delays, first by the MARTA developers have also bePlanning Commission last month and gun the process of discussing with the now the City Council, for another three Brookhaven Development Authority months. the possibility of getting between $17 “This is a time-sensitive project … and million to $26 million in tax breaks for I don’t know what this means for our “site amenities” such as streetscape and development partners,” she said. “They road improvements made as part of the were expecting approval.” project, Gebbia said. He and City Councilmember Bates Mattison questioned what public benefit the project provided the city and its residents. “The single largest ‘site amenity’ the development team is seeking is public fundraising for the $8.4 million MARTA parking deck to replace SPECIAL surface parking,” A rendering of the proposed redevelopment of the Gebbia said. Brookhaven MARTA station as seen from Peachtree Street, Jessica Hill, atincluding a planned eight-story office building.
torney for the developers, pointed out the rezoning request does not address funding for the project. She said benefits included a public town green at the center of mixed-use development as well as some 15 acres of apartments, condos, a hotel, an office building and retail shops now being put on the tax rolls. Rhein said at a public meeting in February the development is projected to bring in $200 million to the city on a site where there is currently no revenue being produced. MARTA owns the land and will not pay property taxes, she said, but developments to the property, including retail space, means more sales tax revenue. MARTA wants to build the pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development on the parking lot that sits mostly empty at the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe station as a way to encourage public transportation ridership. Opponents to the development told the council that the project would worsen already terribly congested roads around the station and urged them to consider carefully a proposal that would affect the city for generations to come. “MARTA is already known as the subway to nowhere,” said Kate Jones. “This project will have a devastating effect on
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Jack Honderd, of the BrookhavenPeachtree Community Alliance, speaks in favor of MARTA’s proposed mixeduse development on Peachtree Road.
traffic. If history repeats itself, we’ll be sitting in a Brookhaven version of the Lindbergh station disaster.” Jack Honderd, member of the Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance, said the MARTA redevelopment is part of a movement to park cars and create sustainable communities by promoting public transportation and urged the council to support the development by making a “forward-looking decision today.” “We have an obligation to our kids and grandkids to find a sustainable way to live. But now we are facing serious car congestion and air quality issues,” he said. “For our quality of life, we need to find new ways to live, [such as] a TOD. This gives people choices to have no car or keep it parked.” MARTA and some Brookhaven residents have worked for more than a decade on a high-density development at the station. In addition to a rezoning request, MARTA developers are asking for a special land use permit to allow them to build an 8-story office building fronting Peachtree to be 125 feet tall, rather than the currently allowed 100 feet. Mayor John Ernst, who does not have a vote on the council, did voice support for the deferral, saying, “I really do want a project that is right, not necessarily right now.” Councilmember John Park suggested cut-through traffic from the proposed development through the adjacent neighborhoods would be “catastrophic.” Councilmember Linley Jones said she didn’t believe the architectural designs for the project were worthy of what would become Brookhaven’s “city center.” The proposed mixed-use development, if approved, would be built on the approximately 15-acre site at the station that borders Apple Valley Road, Dresden Drive and North Druid Hills Road. It includes a 125-room hotel, 547 residential units, nearly 56,000 square feet in retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space as well as small town center park. BK
OCTOBER 28 - NOV. 10, 2016
Community | 15
‘We Are Brookhaven’ homeowners group forms in response to city’s rapid development
where they have purchased homes and are investing in their future. She stressed she does not oppose the HOAs, but that she wanted to be part of
Locked-door business now open after months-long parking dispute
BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
There are dozens of long-standing and powerful homeowners associations in Brookhaven, but not all residents say they feel represented by the powerful groups regularly called upon by developers to review their projects. In recent months, a new group of homeowners has formed named We Are Brookhaven. They already appear to be a force to be reckoned with. The group was successful in helping convince Brookhaven City Council to vote Oct. 25 to defer voting on the controversial MARTA mixed-use development, despite its backing from such noted HOAs as the Brookhaven-Peachtree Community Alliance and the Brookhaven Heights HOA. “I’m what you call a reluctant activist,” said Jen Heath, founder of We Are Brookhaven and a resident of the Brookhaven Fields neighborhood. “They [the other HOAs] forced me to be something I’ve never been before.” As of October, the group is officially recognized as a business by the Secretary of State and Heath said it is seeking non-profit status. She said the plan is for the group to have a board of directors and that members make donations rather than paying annual fees. Heath said when developers began asking the city to build apartment complexes on Dresden Drive and she heard news about the MARTA redevelopment, she wanted to become more involved. But, she said, she could not find out when HOAs were meeting, specifically with MARTA representatives.
BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com DYANA BAGBY
Jen Heath, founder of We Are Brookhaven
This has led We Are Brookhaven members accuse members of the established HOAs of conspiring with MARTA, but nothing could be further from the truth, said BPCA member Jack Honderd. “Contrary to what has been said there is not been some backroom conspiracy,” he said at the Oct. 25 City Council meeting. Heath started organizing with other disaffected homeowners and discovered MARTA officials were only contacting registered HOA boards, leaving out the “average citizen,” she said. “I’ve been a resident of Brookhaven most of my life … and I’ve found I’m one of the average citizens who tries to keep my finger on the pulse of the city,” Heath said. We Are Brookhaven boasts more than 400 people on its mailing list and has more than 650 Facebook “likes” with thousands of people visiting its website each month, according to Heath. “I’ve been accused of having a vendetta.” Instead, she said, she just wants a seat at the table where her concerns are heard. Heath’s major concerns, and concerns of other We Are Brookhaven members, are about high-density development along Dresden Drive that they believe will bring more traffic to a congested area. They have said they do not want to lose the neighborhood feel of the city
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a group that represented her interests. “And, if forming our own group is what is required for average citizens to have a seat at the table, so be it,” she said.
The locked-room business mired in a zoning and parking dispute for the past several months with the city of Brookhaven and a neighboring retailer is now open for business. Time to Escape, a business where customers try to escape a locked room in under an hour, received its certificate of occupancy Oct. 13. The business is located on the second floor of the building at 1441 Dresden Drive and has two specialty rooms – one with an “Escape from Alcatraz” set inside a realistic cell, and the other with a “King Tut” tomb. “We’re excited to go onto the next phase of our business,” said owner Dan Cleveland. Lack of parking at the building during evening hours led the city to withhold the certificate of occupancy due to concerns over parking. Cleveland said he, the landlord and Michel Arnette, who owns the restaurants Haven and Valenza on the building’s ground floor, met for four weeks to come up with a solution acceptable to everyone. Cleveland said he agreed to have a valet service for his customers to park their cars at an off-site lot. He also said he is paying $600 a month for the off-site parking. “I’ll be informing our customers when they call to make reservations for the evening hours that the valet service will be parking their cars in a different lot,” Cleveland said. Cleveland was set to open Time to Es-
cape in July. Cleveland had filled out all the necessary paperwork and received the permitting needed during the $80,000 renovation of the space early this year. But just days before opening, he was told by the city it could not issue the certificate of occupancy due to a possible zoning issue. Community Development Director Ben Song denied the certificate of occupancy after he received an email from Arnette alleging Time to Escape was not properly zoned to be on the second floor of the building. Arnette said he was worried there would not be enough parking spaces for the new business because its parking lot is always at capacity with many of his restaurants’ customers. Parking along the thriving Dresden Drive corridor packed with restaurants and local businesses has long been an issue for the city as people flock to the area. Some people have resorted to parking in nearby neighborhoods, angering residents and leading to “no parking” signs posted throughout the area. In August, the city filed documents in DeKalb Superior Court asking a judge to provide guidance in defining its zoning law, specifically how to define “retail,” and to issue a declaratory judgment on what kind of business Time to Escape is. That case will now be withdrawn. “[There is] no determination of zoning required by the city. It was more an internal issue to be worked out by landlord and tenants, which has been completed. The case will be withdrawn by the city,” Song said.
22 | Public Safety
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Police Blotter / Brookhaven From Brookhaven Police reports dated Oct. 16 through Oct. 23. The following information was pulled from Brookhaven’s Police2Citizen website and is presumed to be accurate.
POSESSION AND DUI 2700 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 16,
possession of controlled substance or marijuana incident. 4000 block of Peachtree Road. On
Oct. 16, man arrested with a DUI greater than .08. 2400 block of Briarcliff Road. On Oct.
16, man arrested for possession of marijuana.
3300 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 18,
2600 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct.
19, man arrested for marijuana possession. 3800 Peachtree Road. On Oct. 20,
man arrested for public intoxication and consumption. 2100 Johnson Ferry Road. On Oct. 21,
man arrested for public intoxication and consumption.
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21, man arrested for marijuana possession. 22, man arrested for marijuana possession.
T H E F T A N D B U RG L A RY 2900 block of Clairmont
Road. On Oct. 16, theft of parts from vehicle. 3500 block of Buford
Hwy. On Oct. 16, theft of parts from vehicle. 2500 block of Thomp-
son Road. On Oct. 18, theft reported. 3000 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct.
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2700 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 20,
woman arrested for aggravated stalking.
OT H E R I N C I D E N T S : 1800 block of Corporate Blvd. On Oct. 16, simple battery reported.
2900 block of Cravenridge Drive. On Oct. 17, verbal dispute reported. 3500 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 18 simple battery reported. 2700 block of Apple Valley Road. On
Oct. 19, simple battery reported.
3800 block of Peachtree Road. On Oct.
3100 block of Clairmont Road. On Oct.
20, criminal trespass warning received and city ordinance violation in effect.
16, hit and run reported. 3300 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 16,
wanted person located. 2600 block of Rivers Edge Drive.
On Oct 17, man arrested for rape.
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man arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
2300 block of N. Druid Hills Road.
On Oct. 18, man arrested for creating graffiti. 2800 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct.
18, woman arrested for not following the animals on city owned property leash law. 3200 block of Dru-
id Hills Reserve Drive. On Oct. 19, man arrested for false imprisonment. 3400 block of Buford Hwy. On
Oct. 19, woman arrested for hit and run
2600 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 20, a woman arrested for battery and family violence incident.
3700 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 20, man arrested for simple battery. 3500 block of Buford Hwy. On
Oct. 21, man arrested for battery. 2700 block of Apple Valley
Road. On Oct. 20, man arrested for battery. 3500 block of Buford Hwy. On Oct. 23, man arrested for battery and family violence incident. 1100 Francis St. On Oct. 23, man ar-
rested for simple battery incident. BK
OCTOBER 28 - NOV. 10, 2016
Public Safety | 23
New police foundation raising $100,000 to support officers, families
Gathering for the first meeting of the Brookhaven Police Foundation were, from left, Chief Gary Yandura, Bill Brown, Steve Wallace, Cassandra Bryant, Tiffany Cox, John Funny, Jed Beardsley, Fred Andrew (treasurer), Mayor John Ernst, Josh Cobb (vice president) and J.D. Clockadale (president).
BY DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org
The recently formed Brookhaven Police Foundation is in the midst of raising $100,000 to help support the city’s police officers and their families. J.D. Clockdale, president of the foundation and Brookhaven’s former interim deputy city manager in 2012-13, said since
the board formed in late August, more than $5,000 has been raised for the foundation. Forming an official nonprofit organization is a way for the community to have a place to donate to thank the police department for its service, he said. “Probably the best thing about our city is our police department, and this is a great chance to return the favor in a more
P O L I C E S EEK TO I DEN TI F Y C A R BREA K-IN SU SPECTS Brookhaven Police investigators are asking for the public’s help in locating three men suspected of breaking into cars in the 2000 block of North Druid Hills Road earlier this month. According to a press release, police responded to a call of cars being broken into on Oct. 19 at about 7 a.m. on North Druid Hills Road. Police spotted the suspects and ordered them to stop. The suspects ignored the police and fled in a gray Subaru Hatchback with damage to the passenger side. The suspect vehicle also had an Alabama tag with the numbers 6282. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Brookhaven Police Department at 404-637-0600 or Crime Stoppers Atlanta (www.crimestoppersatlanta. org) by calling 404-577-TIPS (8477).
O F F I C ER S H OSTIN G C OMMUN ITY M EETING S I N N OVEMBER Police officers are hosting two community events in early November to meet with members of the public. On Nov. 3, the department will hold a community meeting at 7 p.m. at Ashford Park, 2980 Redding Road. The agenda includes holiday safety. On Nov. 4, residents can have “Coffee with a Cop” at Bon Glaze, 3575 Durden Drive, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. There is no specific agenda for this meeting. It’s a chance for the public to ask questions and get to know officers over coffee and, yes, donuts. BK
organized effort,” he said. Clockdale said he and the 13-member board envision the Brookhaven Police Foundation as becoming similar to the Atlanta Police Foundation. The Brookhaven foundation’s primary goals include: purchasing and donating equipment, facilities and property to the Brookhaven Police Department; providing volunteers for community support of law enforcement activities; providing funds for equipment, training and education for officers; to meet the emergency needs of police personnel; and to provide a separate scholarship fund for college education for sworn police officers and their children. Police Chief Gary Yandura has praised the nonprofit foundation during recent council meetings, saying officers welcome the recognition and the opportunity for their children to earn tuition money through the foundation’s scholarship program. The foundation got its early start when several members of the community started a golf tournament three years ago to raise funds for scholarships for officers and their family members, Clockdale said. The annual golf tournament will continue next year, but it will now fall under the umbrella of the foundation rather than remaining its own entity, he said.
City residents have and continue to hold numerous block parties and cookouts and children have set up lemonade stands in their neighborhood to raise money for the police department. Families and restaurants also continually buy food for officers on different shifts to show their appreciation. Clockdale said the foundation now provides a one-stop shop for these donations to go rather than the police department dealing with individual checks, for example. “In the past there has been nowhere official for people to make donations and we wanted to give people an outlet to give,” he said. “We also coordinate with the police department on their needs to make sure donations are spent wisely,” said Clockdale. Board members include Clockdale; Josh Cobb, vice president; Fred Andrew, treasurer; Stuart Marsden, secretary; Bill Brown; Steve Wallace; Cassandra Bryant; Tiffany Cox; John Funny; Jed Beardsley; Jonathan Byrd; Collette McDonald; and Stan Sands. Donations can be made by mailing checks payable to “The Brookhaven Police Foundation”) to 3198 Silver Lake Drive NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319 or online at www. paypal.me/BPDFoundation.
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