11-23-18 Sandy Springs Reporter

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NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018 • VOL. 12 — NO. 24


Sandy Springs Reporter



Perimeter Business ► In bid to attract visitors, hotel taxes seek ‘free money’ with few strings PAGE 4 ► Sandy Springs, Brookhaven refresh their tourism tactics PAGE 4-5

Helping hands

North end task force could submit two differing plans BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net


Bailey Olson, 15, a sophomore at Riverwood International Charter School, hauls a box at the Morgan Falls Athletic Fields on Morgan Falls Place Nov. 17 as he helped with Keep North Fulton Beautiful’s document-shredding event for local residents. The Recycling Center, on Morgan Falls Road, accepts a wide variety of materials on a regular basis. For more information, see KeepNorthFultonBeautiful.org.

The very clear message to our returning and newly elected representatives should be that the era of one-party rule is over and there is no entitlement to these seats for one particular party or the other.


The musicians of No Solution Page 20

OUT & ABOUT 13 ways to celebrate the holidays Pages 18-19



Disagreements over what affordability policies should be included in the north end task force’s report could result in two differing plans being submitted to the City Council. The group has been meeting since May, discussing proposals to spur redevelopment in the city’s north end and hosting public input meetings. It is now in the final stretch of its process. The group has narrowed down its initiatives to six and members presented first drafts of a report at its Nov. 14 meeting that is expected to be presented to the City Council at its January retreat. The task force plans to present a proposal to the council that recommends several other projects, including a new multiuse path and community center. The group generally agrees on those parts of the proposal, but the developer and advocate factions have been vocally disagreeing on key pieces of the housing component. Each side has See NORTH on page 23

City spends $154K on ‘cultural center’ design, eyes auto shop spot BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs is spending nearly $154,000 designing a new “cultural center” after privately approving an architecture firm’s contract. And while the city says no site has been identified, a request for proposals shows its “preferred location” was a privately owned auto shop on Hilderbrand Drive and part of Heritage Sandy Springs’ See CITY on page 22

2 | Community

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DESIGN INPUT MEETING Come meet the design team leading the new Cultural Center, hear an update on the project’s process, and give your input on how to make the Center a vital asset in this community visioning session. Thursday, November 29 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Studio Theatre at City Springs 1 Galambos Way Sandy Springs, GA 30328 For more information please visit sandyspringsga.gov


Community Briefs R U NO FF ELEC T I O NS T O B E HEL D DEC . 4

Runoff elections in two state races will be held Dec. 4. For Georgia secretary of state, voters will choose between Democrat John Barrow and Republican Brad Raffensperger. For District 3 of the Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities, voters will choose between Republican Chuck Eaton and Democrat Lindy Miller. Local early voting runs Nov. 26-30, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the North Fulton Service Center, Room 232, 7741 Roswell Road.


Sandy Springs will begin the process to rebid its government outsourcing contracts next month. The final version of the bidding document is planned to be released Dec. 5 and proposals will be due Jan. 31, according to the city. The contracts are for the Call Center, Communications, Community Development, Facilities, Finance, Information Services and Public Works/TSPLOST departments, the city said. The contracts for the Municipal Court and the Parks & Recreation Department were rebid earlier this year. The city is well-known for its model of outsourcing almost all government services to private contractors, a move aimed at controlling costs, ensuring quality and reducing corruption. The City Council approved renewal of all of the city’s contracts in 2016 for three years without rebidding them to avoid losing employees and save city resources for City Springs redevelopment and the “Next Ten” planning and zoning processes.


A new city park may be created on an empty lot at 6285 River Shore Parkway near the intersection with Riverhill Drive. The city purchased and demolished a house formerly on the lot through a federal program after it was damaged by a flood, according to city documents. The River Shore Estates Homeowners Association is working with the city and the Sandy Springs Conservancy to consider the lot for a new park, according to the HOA website. The City Council was scheduled to review the concept at its Nov. 20 meeting in a non-voting work session. A similar project created the new Windsor Meadows Park on Windsor Parkway.


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The City Council approved Nov. 6 a $325,000 settlement with the contractor for the 2016 Carpenter Drive realignment project. The city withheld part of a $1.7 million contract after there were significant delays with the project, mostly due to relocating water lines. The contractor, Precision 2000, Inc., sued.

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The City Council’s annual retreat, where the city’s policy agenda for the year is set, will be held sometime in January at City Springs rather than a cottage at Lost Corner Park as in recent years. That may provide better public access than in the small cottage, where this year’s retreat set-up may have violated the state open meetings laws, according to one expert. At the January 2018 retreat, officials met in a room with no public seating. Instead, the public was seated in chairs in another room, facing the open doorway of the meeting room, making it difficult to see and hear discussions and leading to some complaints from journalists. David E. Hudson, an attorney who serves on the board of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that government meetings must include room for at least some members of the public to be present in the meeting room. Being able to hear and see everything that happens in a meeting is requirement to comply with the Georgia Open Meetings Act, Hudson said. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the city believes the retreat complied with open meetings laws due to the seating and its positioning. The set-up of the 2019 retreat in City Springs has not been determined, she said.


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NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018

Community | 3


City agrees to reverse zoning change that sparked lawsuit



The property at 80 Johnson Ferry Road has one house that has been used commercially since the 1980s. The gate to the right leads into the city’s Marsh Creek Rain Garden Park.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

A resident’s lawsuit against the city over his commercial property’s change to a residential designation in the new zoning code has come to an end as the city prepares to reverse the move. The change is part of a court-ordered mediation agreement. The property at 80 Johnson Ferry Road was initially placed in a “City Springs” zoning category, which allows for a high-density mixed use, during the implementation of the city’s new Development Code in 2017. But it was later changed by city staff to an exclusively residential category intended for townhouses. The owner, Stephen F. Johnston, claimed in the lawsuit that the city rezoned his property as “revenge” for an earlier eminent domain dispute. “The zoning is going back to what it should be, so I am fine,” Johnston said. “I think everybody will be happy when it is done.” City spokesperson Sharon Kraun did not respond to a request for comment. Other documents filed along with the rezoning call for variances that would allow for a new building or structure and a parking lot. Johnston said the variances are not intended to prepare for a specific new building, but rather in anticipation of what a future owner may want to do on the property. “We’re trying to get out ahead of it,” he

said. The 80 Johnson Ferry property is a 1950s house that, Johnston says, has been used as commercial or office space since 1986 and was zoned as such. Johnston, who chairs the board of the prominent local videogame-oriented company Launch Media Network, bought the property in 2010 as home for another business. In 2014, the city attempted to take part of the property by eminent domain for its neighboring Marsh Creek water detention and park project. Johnston successfully fought the land-taking. In 2016, he moved his business out and has been attempting to sell the property ever since. Johnston said city staff never asked him about the zoning change — though it did ask two of his neighbors — and that he found out about it by accident while attending a Planning Commission meeting. Residents and neighborhood associations complained of other unpublicized changes to land-use and zoning designations during the rewriting of the codes, but Johnston’s appears to be the only one to go to court. Johnston filed the suit in September 2017. A federal court-ordered mediation, which resulted in Johnston and the city agreeing to change the zoning back to allowing a commercial use. The two required preliminary community meetings have been held and the case is set to go before the city’s Board of Appeals Dec. 11. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 1 Galambos Way.

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4 | Perimeter Business

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Perimeter Business

Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities

Winter 2018 | Tourism and Taxes

In local tourism promotion, taxes seek ‘free money’ with few strings BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Hotel-motel taxes are a popular way local governments raise money for their general budgets, self-promotion and tourist-related projects such as stadiums, trails and performing arts centers. Every city in Reporter Newspapers communities has a convention and visitors bureau, one of the ways to take advantage of the endless flow of revenue from taxing outsiders rather than local citizens. But, two experts say, the money does not come with any strings requiring proof that the promotional efforts are effective, and the assumption that visitors can be taxed without negative impact on the hotel business may be faulty. “We don’t have any metrics to gauge effectiveness,” such as hotel occupancy rate changes, said Tyler Reinagel, who answers local governments’ questions about the hotel-motel tax in his role as manager of the Office of Research at the

Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The state encourages those governments to draw up some kind of measurements, he added. Auditing is also largely up to local jurisdictions, he said, with the state receiving a general spending report. Dr. Frank Stephenson, chair of the economics department at north Georgia’s Berry College and a fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, says hotel-motel taxes are politically popular for “tax exporting” — billing outsiders instead of locals. But, he says, there is relatively little research about their economic impact. His own research found that hotel-motel taxes began in major resort destinations such as Hawaii, then spread to smaller cities without international tourist attractions where the economics aren’t the same. “Hotel taxes have long been viewed as ‘free money’ in the belief that they could be fully shifted to travelers and had little effect on room rentals,” said Stephenson.

But he recently published a study whose results, it says, “suggest that hotel taxes are not a free lunch from a tax exporting perspective and that they may impose significant burdens on local hotel operators.” The study looked at a different but similar hotel tax in Georgia: a $5-a-night fee that funds transportation improvements. The study found the fee lowered the statewide monthly average hotel rentals by 92,000 rooms — roughly 0.25 percent — and that hotel operators were not able to pass along all of the cost to the bill-paying visitors. Jim Sprouse, executive director of the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association, would only comment broadly when asked about the hotel-motel taxes, saying, “Historically, investments in the hospitality industry and hospitality product have yielded a greater number of visitors, increased visitors spending, and more hospitality jobs in Georgia.” He did not

respond when asked for specific examples of how the taxes have done that in Buckhead or Perimeter Center. While promotional efforts can be fuzzy, more cities are opting for a provision in state law that allows them to increase the tax rate and use the money to build certain types of structures. Atlanta notably used hotel-motel tax to help pay for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Reinagel said that 10 cities around the state adopted the higher, project-oriented taxes in decisions approved by the General Assembly last session, and about eight to 12 cities a year are joining the club. Among them recently were Brookhaven and Dunwoody, which are using the money to build multiuse trails. In this quarter’s Perimeter Business, the Reporter looks at how the tourism agencies in Brookhaven and Sandy Springs are rearranging the efforts paid for by local hotel-motel taxes to better brand their cities.

Sandy Springs tourism agency tries to renew its welcome BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Signs on I-285 lure drivers to stop at a Sandy Springs “Welcome Center” run by the city’s tourism agency. But Visit Sandy Springs, as the agency is known, had relatively few visitors itself and recently closed the center with an eye to reopening in a possible new building with better exposure. Meanwhile, the agency continues its work of promoting local businesses and the restaurant scene. “I think that a Welcome Center in the right location can be a great asset in promoting the parks, venues, restaurants and attractions in the city,” said Jennifer Cruce, the agency’s executive director. “Our former location was not highly sought after, so it wasn’t as effective as it could be.” The Welcome Center, which doubled as the Visit Sandy Springs office and opened in 2009, was located in the Parkside Shopping Center at 5920 Roswell Road, below the state’s Anne Frank Holocaust exhibit. “We are here to answer any questions about not only what you want to do in Sandy Springs, but the whole state,” Cruce said during a tour of the center when it was still open in August. The tourism agency’s office is now locat-

ed in the Northside Tower at 6065 Roswell Road, but there is no Welcome Center there, though it remains advertised on signs along state roadways. The Anne Frank exhibit remains in the shopping center The city has proposed a new building, called a “cultural center,” that would better highlight the Welcome Center and house other local groups. The proposal is in the early stages and a building opening date has not been set. “Our lease was scheduled to end in December, so we decided to go ahead and move and see what happens when and if we have a timeline on that new center,” Cruce said. Visit Sandy Springs, whose formal name is Sandy Springs Hospitality & Tourism, was one the few metro Atlanta suburban cities with a visitor’s center, according to the state tourism website. Roswell and Alpharetta are among others that operate one. The Welcome Center received around 1,000 visitors per year, and many of them were searching for the Anne Frank exhibit upstairs, Cruce said. Others were locals, including some regulars who came in to get the newspaper, she said. There are not many reliable metrics to measure the success of an agency like Visit Sandy Springs, Cruce said. Other than digital media views, such as videos or the agen-


Visit Sandy Springs’ “Welcome Center” had hundreds of brochures on local and statewide attractions and destinations.

cy’s website, there are few numbers to review. “It’s hard to claim a direct tie between what we do and the number of people who actually book a Sandy Springs hotel room, because it’s the hotels who actually close the deal,” she said. The agency is funded through the hotelmotel tax, and is given $1.6 million out of the around $5 million the city collects each year. Visit Sandy Springs spends about a quarter of its funding on salaries and benefits, according to its budget. The agency’s staff includes Cruce, two advertising salespeople, a marketing manager and an information specialist. The agency supports Sandy Springs promotional events, such as Sparkle Sandy Springs, a holiday-themed display of lit and

decorated miniature houses, Fourth of July fireworks and Spooky Springs, a children’s Halloween event. “The city pays for the events and we help with them because they help promote the city as a destination,” she said. Visit Sandy Springs also organizes an annual lantern parade at Morgan Falls Overlook Park. “It gives the community something to do, and it reminds people we are here and we like to have fun,” Cruce said. Promoting Sandy Springs is geared around marketing it as a destination and a place to stay, not only for business, but on the weekends as well, Cruce said. City Springs, the city’s civic center and theater complex, help with that. “This gives us an opportunity to have something new to promote and its helps develop the city’s identity,” she said. “I think it’s going to transform the city.” The agency promotes some local businesses directly, featuring them in materials such as its visitor’s guide and video series. Those have included High Country Outfitters, which has sponsored the city’s Lantern Parade; the gaming bar Battle and Brew; and local restaurants, she said. For more information, see visitsandysprings.org.

NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018

Perimeter Business | 5


Brookhaven looks to create identity with its own tourism bureau BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net


A ‘Discover Brookhaven’ ad in the June issue of Delta Air Line’s Sky magazine includes images of places not located in the city, such as Stone Mountain Park and the Fernbank Museum. The ad was purchased with city hotel-motel tax revenue by Discover DeKalb.

Brookhaven wants to have more direct control over how its hotel-motel tax revenue is spent when marketing and branding the city and started its own Convention and Visitors Bureau this year, so it would not be dependent on an outside agency to frame its image. The City Council also hiked its tax rate this year as part of an emerging trend among cities to spend taxes paid by visitors to build its own infrastructure. Brookhaven has heavily relied for several years on Discover DeKalb, the tourism agency for all of DeKalb County, to try to market the city. But with the new funds coming in from this year’s hotel-motel tax increase, the City Council decided it was time to focus on the city’s own individual restaurants, parks, festivals and other amenities to attract visitors and businesses. The city still collaborates with and pays Discover DeKalb $575,000 in city hotel-motel tax revenue to advertise in major publications or on billboards, for example. This year, Discover DeKalb spent $135,000 to run a “Discover Brookhaven” full-page ad for nine months in Delta Air Line’s Sky magazine. The maga-

zine is seen by an estimated 300,000 fliers a month, according to city officials. The June ad includes text at the bottom noting that Brookhaven is home to Oglethorpe University, the Atlanta Hawks (the team’s practice facility is located at Executive Park), the Weather Company (whose headquarters is in Perimeter Summit) and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival held each spring at Blackburn Park. The ad also incorporates several images of city landmarks like Oglethorpe University and Dresden Drive. But it also includes several images that have nothing to do with Brookhaven, including the Fernbank Museum, Stone Mountain Park and the Michael C. Carlos Museum. “They [Discover DeKalb] are promoting Brookhaven through their CVB and they’ve been doing it for about three years,” said Assistant City Manager Steve Chapman, who has been Continued on page 7

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Zinburger, a gourmet burger and wine restaurant, opened a Dunwoody location at 4555 Ashford-Dunwoody Road in September. Cutting the ribbon were, from left, City Manager Eric Linton with a group of police officers; Mayor Denis Shortal; Zinburger’s Carlos Oliva, David Maini and David Jackson; Dan Farrar from the city; and Mary Michael and Stephanie Freeman from the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce. Info: zinburger.com.


Pure Dental Health opened in October at 2390 Mount Vernon Road in Dunwoody. Celebrating were, front from left, Stephanie Freeman of the Dunwoody Perimeter Chamber of Commerce; Pure Dental Health’s Kelsi Almanzar; Mayor Denis Shortal; and Pure Dental Health employees in the back. Info: puredentalhealth.com.


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NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018


Perimeter Business | 7

Brookhaven looks to create identity with its own tourism bureau Continued from page 5 serving as the Brookhaven CVB de facto executive director this year. The Sky magazine ad was part of a “group buy” through Discover DeKalb and the city had no input on the design or layout, he said. The city is expecting to gain more local control of how its hotel-motel tax revenue is spent now that the BCVB board has hired its first executive director after a fivemonth search. Renee Areng is moving to Brookhaven from Mississippi where she served as executive director of Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast for four years. She starts her new job next month. Among Areng’s first tasks will be to produce a 2019 budget for the $1 million of hotel-motel tax money set aside for the BCVB, Chapman said. “Our CVB is still in its infancy stage ... and 2019 will be a transition year,” Chapman said.

Discover DeKalb marketing of Brookhaven

In 2017, the city collected about $3 million in hotel-motel taxes. Of that amount, $1.16 million went to Discover DeKalb for regional and national promotions. The city spent $225,000 on marketing and promotions. The city also transferred nearly $1.6 million of the tax money to its general fund, according to budget documents. As part of its destination marketing, Discover DeKalb spent $200,000 promoting the Cherry Blossom Festival in 2017, including $70,000 on out-of-state billboards. They included seven billboards in Birmingham, Ala.; four in Charlotte, N.C.; nine in Columbia, S.C.; one in Chattanooga, Tenn.; and six in Nashville, Tenn. Discover DeKalb also rented billboards in Rome, Ga., and Calhoun, Ga. Another $45,000 was paid by Discover DeKalb to 10 “digital influencers,” people with a large social media following and online presence, to promote the 2017 Cherry Blossom Fest on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Discover DeKalb measured success of the billboards and digital influencers through “impressions,” or views. There were nearly 123 million impressions of tweets promoting the fest with the hashtag “#CherryFest17” during a “Twitter party” held about two weeks before the 2017 fest. Twitter parties are essentially an online chat using a specific hashtag that are meant to bring awareness to other digital influencers and people with like-minded interests. The county’s stats showed that there were only 306 clicks from Twitter to links about the festival. The billboards received more than 20 million impressions, according to Discover DeKalb. Billboard impressions are measured using criteria such as traffic counts made available from various gov-

ernment transportation departments. The billboard and digital influencers were part of new marketing tactics employed by Discover DeKalb, but the attendance at the 2017 weekend-long fest was about 15,000, approximately the same as 2016’s attendance. In 2018, Discover DeKalb spent only about $95,000 on regional and national marketing and branding for the Cherry Blossom Festival. That included about $11,000 for social media influencers. Discover DeKalb, a sponsor of the fest, also sponsored a digital billboard campaign at no cost to the city. The city spent about $290,000 on the Cherry Blossom Festival and budgeted $125,000 for music acts. Attendance over the two-day weekend fest, which included a rainy Sunday, was about 25,000, according to city officials. Last year, city leaders convinced state legislators that hotel-motel tax money could be used to fund construction of the Greenway because, they say, it will become a regional and tourist attraction, much like the Atlanta BeltLine. A law was passed to raise the city’s hotel-motel tax this year from 5 percent to 8 percent, bringing in about $1.3 million more a year in hotel-motel tax money. Of the 8 percent, or 8 cents of every dollar, state law allows 3 cents to be transferred into the city’s general fund for unrestricted purposes. Of the remaining 5 cents, 3.5 cents must be spent on promotion of events or marketing of activities to bring tourists to the city, with the final 1.5 cents required to build infrastructure that will promote tourism, in this case the Greenway. The city used the new revenue stream from the tax increase to issue $12.6 million in revenue bonds to fund construction of the Greenway. The bond will be paid off over 24 years with annual payments of $675,000 in hotel-motel tax money. Brookhaven’s portion of the planned 12-mile Greenway stretching from Mercer University to PATH400 and eventually to the Atlanta BeltLine includes about three miles between Buckhead and Chamblee. The City Council in October awarded a $7.99 million contract to Lewallen Construction Co. to build the first mile between North Druid Hills Road and Briarwood Road. A groundbreaking is set for Dec. 12. Brookhaven is believed to be the first city in the state to use hotel-motel taxes to fund construction of a multiuse trail for tourism purposes. Hotel-motel tax dollars are typically spent to build facilities. The city of Atlanta, for example, used its hotel-motel tax revenue to back $200 million in bonds to fund construction of the approximate $1.6 billion Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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10 | Commentary

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Commentary / Our changing political landscape The Nov. 6 election brought great changes to the political landscape in Reporter Newspapers’ communities. Veteran lawmakers retired or were defeated and Democrats ousted Republicans in districts that long had been represented by members of the GOP. The Reporter asked several local leaders what they made of the election and how they thought the changes would affect our cities and neighborhoods. Here’s what they had to say.

Andy Bauman

Sandy Springs City Council member First, I want to say that the huge turnout in this past election was a great thing. The more that voters are engaged, the more our elected officials need to be responsive. Further, given the extremely close races, in some cases decided by less than 1 or 2 percentage points, I am hopeful that the winners from both parties will recognize the need to work together on the important issues they will be considering in the upcoming legislative sessions. In Sandy Springs, we will miss former Rep. Wendell Willard (who retired) and the seniority and respect he enjoyed in the state House. However, I am very pleased with our new and returning representatives, with us now having representation from both the Republican and Democratic parties in the state House and Senate (and with all of our incumbents winning re-election and having greater seniority). I believe this is actually very reflective of who we are as a community, and the very clear message to our returning and newly elected representatives should be that the era of one-party rule is over and there is no entitlement to these seats for one particular party or the other. I believe this will make for better and more accountable representation. Similarly, Sandy Springs now will have both a Republican (Rep. Barry Loudermilk) and Democrat (Lucy McBath) representing us in Congress. We will benefit from having Representative-elect McBath in the majority party, but I believe she also understands the 6th District is very divided, and I hope and expect she will make an effort to work with her Republican colleagues in Congress in advance of what will likely be another very competitive race, if she seeks reelection in 2020.

Kate Kratovil

Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon Brookhaven resident The midterm elections signified a shift in the north Atlanta suburbs and a doubling down of female-led campaign volunteerism that has no signs of stopping. Locally, voters chose candidates who will bring a “blue” bal-

ance to the Republican-controlled legislature. Notably, Jen Jordan, who broke the Senate supermajority last December, defended her seat and will continue to serve parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs. Other major wins and flipped House seats were in Brookhaven and Dunwoody, where voters chose Barack Obama-endorsed candidates Matthew Wilson and Sally Harrell. By electing Jordan, Wilson, and Harrell, suburban voters demonstrated their readiness to be led by progressive voices. With high voter turnout and an engaged electorate, these elected officials have mandates to fight for quality public education, gun-sense reform, and greater access to healthcare. Although statewide races weren’t as successful, suburban Democrats and campaign volunteers who enthusiastically championed Democrats have much to celebrate.

Terry Nall

Dunwoody City Council member I have faith the newly elected representatives will remember they represent people more than a political party. Following the Nov. 6 election, the residents of Dunwoody and our city’s needs and issues are the same as prior to the election. Throughout our city’s 10year history, the elected officials of the city of Dunwoody worked together to build a healthy two-way relationship with state and federal representatives, regardless of anyone’s personal voting preferences. I expect this collaboration to continue for the coming years. Quality of life issues affect us all. It’s only by working together that we solve the issues we face as a city and as a region. Healthy and vibrant cities depend on strong relationships with state and federal officials. Dunwoody is no different and we will work hard to build strong relationships with the new representatives.

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represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC. SS

NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018

Commentary | 11


Around Town

Newly Opened And Welcoming New Patients Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

Flying to remember D-Day World War II fascinated Moreno Aguiari when he was a boy. Growing up in Italy, he saw the results of the war all around him and learned the importance of what had happened there. His grandparents had seen the war firsthand. “My grandmother always told me that if it wasn’t for the Americans, we wouldn’t be free,” he said recently. “So, I have an appreciation for what the Americans did.” As a teenager, he developed his interest in airplanes. He wanted to learn to fly and attended a high school that specialized in aviation, he said. As an adult, he moved to the U.S. and worked as a commercial pilot. “A lot of Europeans came here,” he said. “This is the country of aviation.” He became a U.S. citizen in 2009. As Aguiari grew older, he never lost his fascination with flying fighting machines from World War II and other wars. About six years ago, he started a website called Warbirds News, which published online articles about vintage warplanes and the people who fly them. He has described Warbirds News as “a group of passionate warbird enthusiasts who love the history and technology that aviation museums and flying collections preserve for the public.” Recently, the owner of the print magazine Warbird Digest purchased Warbird News. Aguiari works as the company’s marketing and business development director. At age 42, he’s involved in another project that honors machines and men who fought in World War II. From a one-room office he keeps at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Aguiari is coordinating U.S. efforts to fly a group of Douglas DC-3s, also known by their military designation as C47s, to Europe next summer for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “We are taking them back after 75 years,” JOE EARLE Aguiari said one recent afternoon as Moreno Aguiari shows drawings of the he sat in his PDK office, which is dec“Placid Lassie” on display in his office at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. orated with photos and drawings of warplanes and pilots and other aviation memorabilia. In June, the American planes will join planes from around the world carrying paratroopers into France in a ceremonial reenactment of the invasion of Normandy, when allied troops started moving across western Europe to attack Germany in World War II. The flyover project is called “Daks Over Normandy” because the C-47 was known as the “Dakota” and nicknamed the “Dak.” Aguiari’s involvement with the project came through the foundation that owns and operates the “Placid Lassie,” a restored C-47 that took part in the original D-Day invasion and will join the reenactment next summer. The people behind the foundation that owns the “Lassie” found the plane in a field near Covington in 2010 and restored it. They call the plane “a real war hero.” The “Lassie” now takes part in air shows around the country. Aguiari said part of his passion for World War II and older warplanes stems from how relatively simple they are, compared to more recent planes. In those days, before extensive development of electronics and computers, he said, the men who flew the planes really flew them. “World War I and World War II aviation was still a very man-driven type of flying…,” he said. “Flying those airplanes, you had to be a ‘good stick.’ There is a saying: ‘flying by the seat of your pants.’ From 1903 to 1948, we went from zero to jets.” He’s also drawn to World War II planes and fliers because they are still around. “There is a lot of it out there. You can still touch it,” he said. “World War I, it’s all in museums, but World War II, you can still talk to the pilots. You can still talk to the veterans. … You can reach out and meet the people. It’s the human aspect. I never think of the war aspect.” So, to honor those people and the airplanes they flew, he started about a year ago to help coordinate and raise the money needed to finance the D-Day Squadron’s participation in the anniversary flight. He thinks it’s important to remember what happened then. He saw the results. “You cannot build a future if you don’t know your history,” he said. SS

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Republican losses won’t hurt the city, local leaders say

Enjoy free admission and special programs on the second Sunday of each month.

Left, Democrat Josh McLaurin won the state House District 51 seat. Right, Andra Gillespie is a political science professor at Emory University.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

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Local leaders don’t think the loss of longtime Republican legislators will have a major effect on city business. Democrats saw a new wave of support in the suburbs in the Nov. 6 election, flipping three local seats, which experts attribute to national Republican criticism and the area’s changing demographics. “There was a wave that came through here and it didn’t matter how well anyone was doing or how long they had been there,” said Gabe Sterling, a former City Council member and Republican political consultant. Longtime Republicans who will no longer represent Sandy Springs include Sen. Fran Millar, who lost his seat, and Rep. Wendell Willard, who retired. Re-


publican incumbent Rep. Meagan Hanson, who took office in 2017, lost her seat to a Democrat. “The suburbs have become more competitive in part because they are more diverse. We should not be surprised Democrats are winning races,” said Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor. Gillespie said as demographics continue to change, bringing more diversity to the suburbs, including Sandy Springs, more Democrats will continue winning races. “The election showed Democrats can make races competitive,” she said. “I don’t see anything changing that pattern.” Mayor Rusty Paul said he believes the city will be able to work with legislators the same way it always has and did not


NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018

have concerns the changes would affect communicating with the General Assembly. “We all represent the same constituency and I’m sure that we will be working together in the best interests of those people,” Paul said. “Very few of the city’s legislative issues have a partisan or ideological cast.” City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said the city will miss Willard and would like to still have him, but he believes it will not hinder city progress. “We try to work with everybody and to be apolitical,” DeJulio said. “We will continue to communicate our issues and if they can help us in any way, I’m sure they will.” There were some open seats this year, but Democrats were also more willing to challenge due to the changes making the seats more competitive, Gillespie said. “Good candidates don’t run against strong incumbents for no reason,” she said. Joseph Knippenberg, a professor of politics at Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, said the shift seems to be driven by college-educated, white suburban women who may be rejecting President Trump. “As long as the Republican brand is defined by Trump, that’s going to be a big issue,” Knippenberg said. The opposition to Trump has created a huge challenge for Republicans, Sterling said. “It’s hard to overcome that even with really good people,” he said. The new legislators should be able to figure out the process, Sterling said. “This happens in jurisdictions all the time. You have new people who need to their legs under them, but normally they figure it out,” he said. Many of the legislative efforts Sandy Springs cares about concern local control, which is bipartisan, Sterling said. Sterling said the presence of several other Republicans who have been serving will lessen the blow, such as Sen. John Albers, Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick and Rep. Deborah Silcox. “It will make things a little different,” he said. “But we’ve still got a lot of bodies there.” New legislators have a unique opportunity for success in some cases, such as Silcox successfully passing a new fireworks control law. She wasn’t aware that fireworks had been controversial in previous sessions, so she didn’t hesitate to try to pass a law when she heard about the issue, she said at a Nov. 12 Sandy Springs Rotary meeting.

McLaurin wins despite ethics complaints

Sterling played a role in one of the nastiest races this year, where the GOP unsuccessfully challenged the eligibility of a Democrat who eventually won a state House seat. But both are speaking in SS

Community | 13

www.ReporterNewspapers.net peaceable terms now. Josh McLaurin, the Democrat, won the House District 51 that Willard is leaving, despite being the subject of three ethics complaints from the state Republican Party. The GOP sent out mailers based on the complaints, which drew a libel lawsuit from McLaurin. Sterling was behind one of three complaints that alleged McLaurin was ineligible to run. Sterling said he hasn’t kept up with updates on the investigations, which are still pending, and said he wished the best for McLaurin. McLaurin said he intends “to work with local elected officials and other state officials of any party in the pursuit of what is best for District 51.” McLaurin lives in an apartment complex on the north end, which the city is attempting to see redeveloped through a new “revitalization task force.” McLaurin said he, and other Democrats elected, will be a voice for people who have needed better representation. “One of the single most important outcomes of this election is that there will be a voice for people in these districts who are there and face tough economic challenges, including affordable housing and the ability to pay for healthcare,” he said. But these new policies he plans to push for will come while working with others and compromising, McLaurin said.

“Although we are excited to endorse policies people have been asking for a long time, like access to affordable healthcare and building new schools, it’s an area in transition. I think people managing transition have to be respectful of both old and new,” he said.

Despite moving back to the state recently after living in New York, McLaurin said he feels he is equipped to represent the area. “I have a feel for the culture and the people who live here,” he said. – Dyana Bagby contributed.

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City Springs to deck the halls with holiday event lineup

‘Tis the Season to Be Merry


Some audience members take a look at the houses while others take a seat to hear live music at the first Sparkle Sandy Springs event in 2017.


Discover a lifestyle full of social, cultural and recreational opportunities. Please join us for our Home for the Holidays Tour of Homes to celebrate the holidays with seasonal cheer! Enjoy our beautiful holiday décor and delicious savory treats along with festive entertainment. Find out for yourself why so many call The Piedmont at Buckhead home.

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Sandy Springs is decking the halls of City Springs with a set of holiday events, kicked off by the city’s first annual Christmas tree and menorah lighting. The package of events includes the Atlanta Symphony’s Orchestra first performance at City Springs and other musical and theater performances. The holiday package is one example of the type of community celebration the city envisioned for City Springs, the art and civic center that opened earlier this year, anchored by the Performing Arts Center. The lineup kicks off with Sparkle Sandy Springs, an event that started last year with the intent of beginning a new city tradition. The event, which features decorated miniature houses amid festive lights, was inspired by the city’s founding mayor, the late Eva Galambos, who always wanted the city to have a signature holiday event. It was held last year at Heritage Sandy Springs and now moves to City Springs with an opening event on Dec. 1. The holiday package also begins the integral arts education programs at City Springs. The programming starting up fulfills a major goal for Mayor Rusty Paul, who pushed for the art and civic complex to offer arts education programming. Programs include discounted matinees available to students for showings of “The Nutcracker” on Nov. 29 and 30 and “Elf, The Musical” on Dec. 11 and 12, according to the City Springs Theatre Company website. Students can also register to learn the choreography behind “Elf, The Musical” and go behind the scenes on the show to learn about the set design, construction, lighting and sound design and stage management, the website said. The following is the full list of the holiday events:

“The Nutcracker” performed by Roswell Dance Theatre

Nov. 23 – Dec. 2, $10-$35 Byers Theatre at City Springs Roswell Dance Theatre presents its 30th anniversary production of “The Nutcracker,” directed by Nancy Tolbert Yilmaz and Mary Lynn Taylor. With 350 performers, this “Nutcracker” is the largest and oldest in North Fulton.

Sparkle Sandy Springs

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Opening Event: Dec. 1, 6 – 8 p.m.; Display runs Dec. 1 – 31, free City Green at City Springs The 2nd Annual Sparkle Sandy Springs is a month-long holiday light and art display featuring decorated six-foot-tall wooden houses, painted by local artists and organizations. Complimentary hot chocolate provided. Wine, beer and other concessions will be available for purchase. For more info and a list of participants, visit visitsandysprings.org/sparklesandysprings.

“Elf the Musical” performed by City Springs Theatre Company

Dec. 7 - Dec. 16, $30-$62 Byers Theatre at City Springs Based on the holiday film, this comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. SS

NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018

Community | 15


The Sounds of Christmastime

Dec. 15 at 3 p.m., $23-$27 Byers Theatre at City Springs Award-winning a cappella vocal ensembles Song of Atlanta and Atlanta Vocal Project will sing in this special holiday performance in the Studio Theatre.

Jewel’s Handmade Holiday Tour

Dec. 19 at 8 p.m., $45-$80 Byers Theatre at City Springs Grammy-nominated pop and folk singer Jewel will bring her second annual Handmade Holiday Tour to City Springs this season, performing holiday classics, holiday originals and classic Jewel songs alongside special guests and Kilcher family members Atz, Atz Lee and Nikos.

Boston Brass: Christmas Bells are Swingin’

Dec. 22 at 8 p.m., $25-$35 Byers Theatre at City Springs Boston Brass has teamed up with all-star brass players from around the globe to produce big band arrangements of classics like the Stan Kenton Christmas Carols, Greensleeves, and Motown Jingle Bells.

New Year’s Celebration with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, featuring Joe Gransden and Francine Reed

Dec. 31 at 8 p.m., $45-$55 Byers Theatre at City Springs The Grammy award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra kicks off New Year’s Eve in the Byers Theatre with a program of orchestral pop favorites, featuring trumpeter and vocalist Joe Gransden and vocalist Francine Reed.

A Champagne Encore with Joe Gransden

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Dec. 31 at 10 p.m., $60 Studio Theatre Join Joe Gransden, the Big Band and Francine Reed for dancing and treats in the Studio Theatre, including fruit, cheese, coffee and a champagne toast at midnight.

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‘Lynwood Integrators’ honored for courage during desegregation

A hole in the sidewalk near a Dunkin’ Donuts at 6060 Roswell Road marks where a fire hydrant was knocked down by a veFamiliar sights hicle nearly a year ago and remains misscrowd the new exhibit ing. And for the last four months of 2015, at the Atlanta History if firefighters had needed water to battle a Center. Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ blaze there, they would have found a fire Wreck holds BY DYANA BAGBY vancy. that we center stage. hydrant across the street gone as well. to let you know A billboard-re dyanabagby@ ady “I am pleased has a reporternewspapers.net Chick-fil-A cow Such long repair times and uncertain that Dunwoody protests in one sigis are now certain corner. A few there inspections for the city’s 4,000 public and Eugenia Calloway feet away, a Varfacility and that for need for this flipped through sity car-hop’s private fire hydrants are an ongoing conpages of the 1968 in the community the tray hangs Cross Keys High nificant support President door of a ’63 Plymouth from a cern for Sandy Springs fire officials. Fire yearbook, glancing School Conservancy Valiant. over the photographs that need,” states to the counIt’s no surprise Rescue Chief Keith Sanders is now gearof many white a Jan. 15 letter that the items faces. But in Danny Ross in in this particular the back of ing up a tighter, more accountable inspecthe yearbook museum show she found first at cil. seem familiar. the boys’ basa new theater tion system. Step one: bringing hydrant ketball team They’re all part and then the The cost to construct cost $24.5 milof girls’ basketball Atlanta. Each inspections in-house instead of using priteam. size would was chosen to about the same represent some important city vate contractors, as the study states. “That’s me,” she said, pointing PHIL MOSIER lion, the feasibility PHOTOS BY the city, the exhibit’s feature of its feasibility its since done sent has smiling to the girl at the far curators say. Cutno breaks The conservancy recently right in the The exhibit, player Anjanice varsity team founding. girls’ a varsity “Atlanta in 50 Council members photo. One other court during High School basketball the study to City Objects,” which to come up at black girl At left, Dunwoody as she heads down her home Wolverines on Jan. 15. 2016 “The was on the far opened Jan. 16 pack Lady issue is expected left; all the players the School and and High away from the is to be on display and the coaches in between inspections the Miller Grove 25 meeting. through July game against were white. council’s Jan. 10, is intended to show, Nash talks that there is support will be done “That’s when Coach Angela in I had the most While Ross argues Above, Lady Wildcats with her players. what makes Atlanta its own way, Theater, he may fun, when I was playing by the SanAna Avilez, 14, renovating Brook Run over strategy basketball,” she Atlanta. for a member of PHIL MOSIER said. “I think my favorite from the council. the Danza dy Springs Calloway was battle “Dia de Losface Aztec Dance Group, uphill top, 62-37, and anfestival thing is the one of 17 students was still Reyes” came out on and family leadership, prepares for a are 8-9 King manuscript, Jamie Chatman,fire departat the Atlanta on page 22 integrated Cross a nonprofit that helps achieve financial independence, personal growth who of Every ”Woman performance The Lady Wolverines ContinuedHistory Center Tillie O’Neal-Kyles, founder The Lady Wildcats one of the “Lynwood page 15.► guest Works, Keys High School during the Day celebration at City Hall on Jan. 18. Story onwho curator a 12- 8 record. PHIL MOSIER on Jan. 10. See integrated Cross Integrators,” on page 15.► SandWilson said of the Year, at the 10th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ly 50 years ago, 2016 Humanitarian ment,” currently have the city’sAmy nearnamed additional photos Three Kings Day or attends a Rev. Keys additional photos High School nearly on the day bepart of that by graduates on page 15.► Martin Luther this season. See fore the show 50 years ago. first group of Lynwood said. of black students ers High School, The Jan. 18 program, King Jr. Day dinner and opened, as she Cross Keys High to attend an celebration honoring PHIL MOSIER and History Center all-white School and Chamblee held at Lynwood Park school in DeKalb “That way, I the 17 students exhibitions direcRecreation Center, County and now Charter High featured comments tor Dan Rooney School. See additional as the “Lynwood known know all hymade last-minute photos on page Integrators.” Reporter Newspapers firm, tweaks to the 13.► drants have exhibit. She market research is working with point- Reporter Newspapers is working with a new mobile market research firm, Atlanta-based a new mobile a new mobile ed toward a case Continued on page been touched 1Q, to survey periodically about is working with market research holding a series 12 residents of our about communities periodically topics communities our our of fi of residents rm, of survey to of 1Q, Reporter Newspapers handwritten proposed state Atlanta-based been communities and have the residents and local interest. pages from a Reporter Newspapers periodically about we ask about 1Q, to survey In our first poll, Religious Freedom yel- topics of state and local interest. In our first poll, we ask about the proposed low legal pad LegislaAtlanta-based In our first poll, is working with inspected.” we ask about in the state Restoration Act on which the Atlanta-based and local interest. a new mobile the proposed are two ture. Nearly two-thirds Rev. Religious Freedom Restoration Act being considered in the state Legisla1Q, to survey being considered being considered Martin Luther topics of state market research That will mean be rejected. Here residents of our Restoration Act King Jr. had in the state topics of state of 200 respondents fi rm, two the bill should are Here Freedom rejected. be ► said communitie should bill reactions writthe 11. Legislasaid and local interest. ten the acceptance Religious on page said the bill should ture. Nearly two-thirds of 200 respondents to the law. Read s periodically “more accuracy, more Religious of 200 respondents In our first poll, about local comments speech for his more about the be rejected. Here on page 11. ► Freedom we ask about it 1964 Nobel Prize. ture. Nearly two-thirds more about the poll and said, adding poll and local Restoration Act Page 18 reactions to the law. Read more about the poll and local comments are two accountability,” Sanders ture. the proposed comments on “It’s the original law. Read being considered Nearly two-thirds page 11. ► manuscript.” reactions to the hands-on knowlin the state of 200 respondents will also give firefighters reactions Legislasaid the bill should to thein law. Read more Wilson and edge of where the city’s hydrants are be rejected. Here about the poll Rooney started Page 18 are two and local comments BY JOE EARLE Page 18work on the project case they need to find them in an emers.net on page 11. ► rternewspaper in Novemjoeearle@repoI’m so sick ber 2014. The proposal gency. a of Georgia original idea Even having beEven having a proposal off on the city’s hind the exhibit law looking I’m so sick of Georgia sound But those inspections are where the fire Even having a like – gathering The chance to backwarto BY DYANA BAGBY proposal of a religious freedom crucial objects that I’m so sick of Georgiad bufthan 120 people d bufof a religious freedom law department’s direct control moreThis foons. looking like backward bufof a religious freedom represent imporI’m ofsothe in the dyanabagby@ parks drew sick of Georgia on Jan. 12. is just reporternewspa tant themes safety devices ends. The 2,910 hydrants seems to be a step start looking like backwar library branch law pers.net seems to be a step in the or events in legalized foons. This is just seems to be a step Dunwoody’s looking by the Even having a histoto room, standdiscrimin ry – had been on city streets are actually ownedlike backward bufinto a meeting proposal ation, used in a few City officials right direction... a foons. This is just ation, right direction... to start They packed are preparing othplain legalized discrimination, right direction... in the their ideas on foons.of This Watershed er high-profi of a religious freedom voicesimple. city of Atlanta’s Department toand to look for a new city manager le museum shows is just to start If that plan. ing room only, having more considerlegalized discriminIf that having more considerlaw to replace Marie and books, such take months to isn’t city’s five-year parks plain and simple. If that having more considerManagement, which can legalized seems to be a step period. rett, who held Garas “The Smithdiscrimination, rewrite of the enough, it’sa bad bit familthe job since for sonian’s History plain and simple.bad for ation for religion, Brookhaven’s make repairs. ation for religion, period. the discussion inception. isn’t enough, it’s bad for the state plain and “chalation for religion, of America in right direction... in the Some found economically. Sanders called that situation a simple. to start If that period. isn’t enough, it’s D WOMAN A national search Continued page iar. A 34-YEAR-OL isn’t enough, the state economically. having more considerally. A 34-YEAR-OLD WOMAN went to all these of for a new city 14 not aware it’s A 44-YEAR-OL ago, we A 34-YEAR-OL lenge,” though he added he is IN SANDY SPRINGS ager was expected bad for manD WOMAN “A few years the state economic D WOMAN WHO LIVES WHO LIVES IN SANDY SPRINGS to trouThe Atlanta History ghters had firefistate ation for religion, WHO LIVES Continued on page 12 any recent fire wherethe WHO LIVES tails of a separation begin as soon as deA 44-YEAR-OLD WOMAN economic IN BROOKHAV IN SANDY SPRINGS ally. period. D WOMAN exhibition, “Atlantacenter’s between the city EN ble finding a working hydrant on a public A 44-YEAR-OL BROOKHAVEN IN Garrett in LIVES EN WHO 50 could Objects,” showcases A 44-YEAR-OL be reached. Council and A 34-YEAR-OL IN BROOKHAV unique, D WOMAN 14 D WOMAN WHO LIVES Continued on page local items like bers met behind memWHO LIVES this katana from WHO LIVES closed doors with IN BROOKHAV IN SANDY SPRINGS “The Walking and a mediation Garrett Dead” TV show. EN attorney on Jan. 20 to try to work out an agreement. Mayor John Ernst and members of City Countinued on page 14


law Surve om’try y: No to ‘Relig on parks Puppe ious Freed ious Freed Arts Opinions

Survey: No to ‘Relig

some feel

Center expandsvary, as under Atlanta’s they’ve been this own puppet maste e way r befor

OUT & ABOUT om’ law

Puppetry Arts Center expands under Atlanta’s own puppet master

OUTlaw Survey: No to ‘Religious Freedom’ & ABOUT

Puppetry Arts Center expand s under Atlanta’s own puppet maste r

Survey: No to ‘Relig

ious Freedom’


Nationwide search planned for new city manager

22 | Community

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City spends $154K on ‘cultural center’ design, eyes auto shop spot Continued from page 1

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site once pegged for its own museum. Groups interested in being part of the center include Visit Sandy Springs, the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and its local Anne Frank exhibit. Visit Sandy Springs, the city tourism agency, has shuttered its visitor center and moved to an office building due, in part, to the potential cultural center. Following a request for proposals for the design services, the city selected Houser Walker Architecture out of seven submissions, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in an email. The contract amount is $153,900, Kraun said, and was approved by City Manager John McDonough. The city manager can authorize spending that amount of money without a City Council vote, Kraun said. The request for proposals for the cultural center was released June 27 and closed July 25, months before the center was discussed publicly at the Nov. 6 City Council meeting. City officials said at that meeting that no specific location has been determined and a presentation showed a general area of several blocks surrounding City Springs.

The RFP singled out a 1-acre site along Hilderbrand Drive, between Blue Stone Road and Sandy Springs Circle, as the “preferred location.” Final site selection is “still underway,” the RFP said. Around half of that “preferred location” is occupied by Buckhead Motor Works at 145 Hilderbrand Drive. A person who answered the phone at the auto shop declined to comment. The other half of the site is an older house and a driveway area, both cityowned parcels that are part of the park and complex operated by Heritage Sandy Springs, a history and culture nonprofit. In a 2016 master plan, Heritage identified its part of that site as a possible location for a new museum for its own exhibits. Heritage did not respond to requests for comment about the new cultural center plan. The city considered building a facility to accommodate those groups while developing City Springs, according to the RFP, but decided to hold off.

Public input

A public input meeting about the cultural center plan is scheduled for Nov. 29, 6 p.m., at the City Springs Studio Theatre, 1 Galambos Way. At the meeting, residents will be able to meet the design team, hear an update on the project’s process and provide input on how to make the center “a vital asset within the community,” a press release said. It’s unclear how much residents’ opinion could change the details laid out in the RFP for the design. The RFP includes such details as which groups would go in the center and how much space each of them would need. The groups would need about 10,000 square feet split among them, with 7,000 more for a gallery or museum and 2,000 for shared space, the document said.

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Due in part to the new building prospect, Visit Sandy Springs has shuttered its Roswell Road “Welcome Center” and moved its office without an announcement. An expiring lease and a recently proposed new building for the agency and other groups are the reasons for the moves, Visit Sandy Springs says. Explaining the move, Jennifer Cruce, the agency’s executive director, cited the “cultural center” the city has proposed, which would provide space for Visit Sandy Springs offices and a new Welcome Center, among other local groups. The Welcome Center, which doubled as the Visit Sandy Springs office, was located in the Parkside Shopping Center at 5920 Roswell Road. The center offered visitors information on Sandy Springs and hundreds of brochures on local and statewide destinations and attractions. The office is now located in the Northside Tower at 6065 Roswell Road. SS

16 | Faith

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HER E ’ S WH AT S OME OTH ER RESP ON DENTS SAID WHEN A S K ED, “ WH AT I S YOUR SP ECIAL WAY TO CELEBRATE TH E H OL I DAYS?” The holidays are about being with family. – 64-year-old Atlanta man Church, football, food. – 70-year-old Atlanta woman I go out of my way to see as many family members and friends as I can since work and travel makes it difficult to see them during the year. – 27-year-old Atlanta man Shopping on Black Friday, experiencing the lights at a garden or shopping center, going to and/or binging holiday movies at home. – 47-year-old Atlanta woman Decorate a tree with ornaments purchased on each trip we take, light the fireplace, and partake in classic holiday food and drink from brunch to dinner, with leftovers for days. – 36-year-old Atlanta woman The whole family goes to church together. Then we all go back to my parents’ house, all 40-plus, and have appetizers, dinner and gifts. We all just relax and eat and drink and drink and it is just so much fun. My favorite tradition with my husband and kids is going to the Center for Puppetry Arts and seeing Rudolph every year. – 39-year-old Atlanta woman

Community Survey: The many ways to celebrate the holidays When it comes to the holidays, 200 local residents say, they’re all about family. But traditions vary widely on how to spend that special holiday family time. Reporter Newspapers surveyed 200 residents, conducted by 1Q.com via cellphone, about their holiday traditions. The results are not scientific. More than half the respondents said they expected to be home with their loved ones this year during the best parts of the holidays. “The key is being with family,” a 44-year-old Atlanta man commented when responding to the cellphone survey of 200 adults who live in communities served by Reporter Newspapers and INtown Atlanta. The second largest percentage of respondents, 36 percent, said their favorite part of the holidays would take place at the homes of friends or family members. Five percent looked forward to dinners at restaurants and 3 percent said the best part of the holidays would come at church or another religious institution. Respondents may have agreed on who they wanted to be with during the holi-

days, but they differed on the best way to spend that family time. One 52-year-old looked forward to his family’s annual “famous ‘Turkey Bowl’ football game prior to Thanksgiving lunch. Others planned to watch football on TV. Still others wanted to go shopping on Black Friday or head to the mountains or to the beach for a holiday escape. “Our family takes an annual beach vacation over Thanksgiving as a way to escape the unpredictable Atlanta weather,” a 31-year-old Sandy Springs woman said. “This year we’re going to Mexico!” But most of the respondents seemed ready to turn to homebodies. Asked for their special ways to celebrate the holidays, respondents said they looked forward to taking part in family sleepovers, going bowling, heading to church, looking at holiday lights, playing board games, doing community service and to joining a Thanksgiving-style “Friendsgiving” dinner with friends rather than family. A 33-year-old Atlanta man wanted “conversation by the fire.” A 36-year-old Buckhead man summed up his holiday

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Where are you during your favorite part of the holidays!


Faith | 17



At my home with loved ones


% Out on the town at a restaurant, club, etc.


At the home of a friend or family member

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3% other, including community events such as tree-lightings. plans simply: “Eating turkey and ham, watching football and taking daytime naps.” Food seemed to hold a special place on our list of holiday treats. One 24-year-old Atlanta man said he looked forward to simply “eating like there’s no tomorrow.” And our holiday menu is nothing if not varied. Survey respondents eagerly awaited more than just the traditional standbys — turkey, green bean casserole, pecan pie — as their family traditions turn on hot chocolate, Christmas tree cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, lasagna, spaghetti on Christmas Eve, hot pot and even a mix of Mexican and Korean foods. “We make paella for Thanksgiving,” a 44-year-old Buckhead woman said, referring to a Spanish rice dish. More than one respondent looked forward to a special holiday trip to a Waffle House. “We go to midnight Mass, open presents and then hit Waffle House in our PJs,” a 47-year-old woman said. “We are on our 15th year!” Movies seemed important, too, as some have made certain films into their own family holiday rituals. One family views “Home Alone 2” every year. Another settles in to watch “The Lord of the Rings.” A 50-year-old Sandy Springs man said his family has an annual showing of “Pulp Fiction.” A 37-year-old Brookhaven woman said Christmas Day brought chaos as her family gathered to celebrate each year “and we love it! All the kids (cousins) wear matching pajamas!” Many, however, looked forward to more traditional holiday celebrations. “We deck the halls inside and outside our home with Christmas decorations. We also go to one of our local churches to watch the ‘living nativity’ with animals,” a 37-year-old Atlanta man said. “I love to

sit by the fire and drink mulled wine and cider while listening to old holiday classic music.”

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18 | Art & Entertainment

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Thursday, Nov. 29, 6-8 p.m. Musical performances, reindeer, holiday crafts, games, visits with Santa, Christmas tree and Hanukkah Menorah lightings, refreshments, food trucks. Free. Toys for Tots reps will collect donations of new, unwrapped toys. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info: brookhavenga.gov.

Saturday, Dec. 1, 5:30-8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, 5:30-7:30 p.m. This 6th Annual Atlanta Nativity Celebration by the Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints features unique nativity sets from around the world and a live nativity. New this year is Art from the Heart, featuring the religious-themed works of local artists. Christmas music performances, sing-alongs, Christmas crafts for children, holiday cookies and warm cider. Free. 6449 Glenridge Drive N.E., Sandy Springs. Info: atlantastake.org.


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Monday to Wednesday, Dec. 3-5, 5:15-5:45 p.m. Join the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta for three days of Hanukkah celebration. Each night will feature songs and activities, followed by a performance and the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah. Arrive at 4:45 p.m. for a free Family Yoga and Mindfulness experience. Jelly donuts and hot chocolate will be served. Free. 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org or 678-812-4161.


Friday, Nov. 30 to Sunday, Dec. 16 Stage Door Players presents Phil Olson’s “A Nice Family Christmas.” A young newspaper reporter on the brink of being fired has been assigned a last-chance story about a typical family Christmas – his family’s Christmas. His recently widowed mother, crazy uncle, eccentric grandmother, and battling siblings provide no shortage of material. $15-$33. North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, 5339 ChambleeDunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Show schedule: stagedoorplayers.net.


Friday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus delivers its 38th annual holiday concert at the Cathedral of St. Philip. This year’s “Holly, Jolly and Gay!” show features new arrangements and new artistic leadership. $40 through Dec. 6; $45 at the door. Free ice cream social after the Saturday matinee. 2744 Peachtree Road N.W., Buckhead. Info: voicesofnote.org.


Sunday, Dec. 9, 4 p.m. The Atlanta Concert Band presents its annual holiday concert, “Holiday Cards.” The family concert will include sing-alongs, a narrator for “A Christmas Tale (Beware the Krampus),” the Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church choir and handbells. Free; donations accepted. Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, 471 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Info: atlantaconcertband.org.



Saturday, Dec. 1, 8-11 p.m.; Beginners’ dance lesson 7-8 p.m. The Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association sponsors Gerard Delafose & the Zydeco Gators of Louisiana in the group’s first performance in Atlanta. Cajun/Creole food for sale. $18; $14 active military; $5 students. No partner required. All ages welcome. 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: aczadance.org.


Sunday, Dec. 9, 2-6 p.m. Family Fun Day includes reindeer, story time, performances, winter crafts, games, campfire and cocoa at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Find Fairy Houses and Gnome Homes on the Enchanted Woodland Trail. Bring a picnic or pick up food from one of the food trucks. Included with general admission; free to CNC members. 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell. Ticket info: chattnaturecenter.org.


Saturday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The North Side Library Association holds its first annual Holiday Gift Fair at the Buckhead Library. Shop for unique items made by local artisans. Free. Funds raised benefit the Buckhead Library, 269 Buckhead Ave. N.E., Buckhead. Info: afpls.org/buckhead-branch.


Saturday, Dec. 1, noon-2 p.m. Decorate your own cookie and have some cocoa while you shop the selection of handcrafted gifts and home decor at the Spruill Center for the Arts’ 25th annual Holiday Artists Market, a six-week shopping event that runs through Dec. 23. Free. Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: spruillarts.org/holidayartistsmarket.


Sunday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Congregation Or VeShalom hosts its 43rd annual Sisterhood Hanukkah Bazaar featuring authentic Sephardic/Mediterranean foods and handmade pastries served by the OVS Sisterhood for dine in or carry out. Shop for local art, Judaica, jewelry, crafts, unusual gifts, used books, and more. Also at the event will be a newly revamped KidsZone and a premium liquor auction. $3. 1681 North Druid Hills Road N.E., Brookhaven. Info: orveshalom.org.


Sunday, Dec. 2, 3-5 p.m. Learn to make a variety of Hanukkah treats including latke waffles, sweet potato latkes,

NOV. 23 - DEC. 13, 2018

Art & Entertainment | 19



cookies and more. $25 members; $35 nonmembers. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org or 678-812-3993.


Sunday, Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Swedish Women’s Educational Association, showcases the culture and holiday traditions of Sweden in this annual market featuring home-baked goods, candy, traditional and modern handicraft, gift items, used books written in Swedish and new and old Swedish products. Swedish Christmas foods and drinks and hot dogs will be for sale and children’s activities will be hosted by the Swedish School of Atlanta. The Lucia procession, a famous Swedish tradition, will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. $2 adults; free for ages 17 and under. Also, free for any visitor wearing a Scandinavian National Costume. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: atlanta.swea.org/julmarknaden.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Mike Castronis discusses his book, “A Football Story in a Football Story,” a fictional story of possibilities set in the late 1960s, when a football-crazy town begins to understand what might happen to their team if African-Americans were able to play. Free. Community Room at Heritage Sandy Springs, 6110

Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org.


Take a class or teach a class at the Community Assistance Center. Free adult education classes focus on enhancing life skills and improving job skills. Classes include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), computers for beginners and personal financial management. All classes are taught by volunteers. 1130 Hightower Trail, Sandy Springs. Info: ourcac.org.



SPARKLE SANDY SPRINGS OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATION DECEMBER 1, 2018 6PM AT CITY SPRINGS Enjoy a wonderland of festively decorated six-feettall wooden houses, painted by local artists and organizations. This year’s event will feature the City’s first annual Christmas tree and Menorah lightings. School of Rock Atlanta will provide festive entertainment. We’ll have complimentary hot chocolate and concessions for sale. This free event will kick-off December 1st at 6 p.m. and the display will remain open to the public through December 31st.


20 | Education

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The musicians of No Solution Sutton Middle School The music started at their sixth-grade talent show. That was when Max Bittner, Devon Gates, Chris Robinson and Micah MacLane came together to form their blues and rock band No Solution at Sutton Middle School. “We did the talent show, and after that we were like, ‘Let’s keep doing this,’ ” Devon said. Fast forward six years, and these four high school seniors — Max attends The Weber School, the others attend North Atlanta High School — have made a name for themselves performing all across Atlanta and the entire Southeast. They have competed in and won numerous competitions, most recently the Atlanta Blues Society’s Atlanta Blues Challenge. The band will represent Atlanta at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this January. Each band member has brought their unique backgrounds and skill sets to the table. Max’s farther, David Bittner, manages the band, and Max plays the guitar, an instrument he picked up at 6 years old. Chris, who grew up playing on a drum set at his church, remembers first meeting Max at Sutton Middle School. “I had moved here and I wanted to play drums, so I walked into the band room at Sutton Middle School, which had a jazz

band,” he said “I hear this kid playing crazy riffs on the guitar, and I’m like, ‘Who is this? I need to be his friend.’” Devon Gates balances the band’s performances and practices with her numerous extracurricular activities, once competing in a Quiz Bowl state championship before

Standout Student performing later that day. Devon has been singing for as long as she can remember, but she added bass guitar when the group suddenly needed a bass player for the talent show. The other band members are certain that she will end up as a lawyer and they will one day be sleeping on her couch. “This is a really unique thing we have gotten to do,” Devon said. “These guys are great and we are like a big family.” Micah MacLane began taking piano lessons when he was five years old, and now plays the keyboard for No Solution. The members attribute their success to putting in hours and hours of practice, both as a group and individually. They also gave thanks to David Bittner for managing the band for all these years. “None of this

Above, from left, Micah MacLane, Devon Gates, Chris Robinson and Max Bittner perform on stage.


Inset, from left, Max Bittner, a student at The Weber School, along with North Atlanta High students Devon Gates, Chris Robinson and Micah MacLane, formed the band No Solution in middle school.

would happen without David,” Chris said.

What’s next?

All four band members are looking to study music in college, and hope to play together when they can. “The luxury of today’s world is even if we are in different places, we can still do things together,” Chris said. This article was written and reported by Max Goldstein, a student at Atlanta Jewish Academy.

C O R R EC T IO N The story “Dunwoody expresses concern about DeKalb graduation dates” in the Nov. 9 issue incorrectly stated the graduation date for Cross Keys High. The correct date is May 30.

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North end task force could submit two differing plans Continued from page 1 different opinions on the affordability goal of the task force and how displacement and preservation should be handled. Two developers, Jeff Garrison and Richard Munger were assigned by the consultant leading the group to draft the official housing redevelopment plan that the rest of the group would provide feedback on. Disagreements between the advocates and the developers have not all been worked out, and may lead to the advocates submitting a separate, alternative plan to present to the council, although they all hope they can agree on a unified version. The advocates, philanthropic couple Melanie Noble-Couchman and David Couchman and affordable housing advisor Meaghan Shannon-Vikovic, came to the meeting with an alternative plan in hand. The task force was asked by Mayor Rusty Paul to present actionable recommendations and practical solutions to the City Council, and it is unclear how two different plans could be received by the council.

The developers’ plan

The plan calls for creating mixed-income developments, starting with one “catalyst” project that could serve as a template for future developments. It would be guided by a new city-appointed committee. The project would likely need some public funds or incentives and city flexibility with the current zoning ordinances and building codes, the report said. The “best place” for this project would be the North River area, the report said. Also proposed is creating a new “North End Revitalization District” and overlay that could provide developers relief from some regulations as incentives. The affordable housing component of the north end report is intended to serve as a framework for citywide policy, but there are few specific affordable policies included the main plan. One proposal, which was also included the advocates’ plan, calls for incorporating an “affordable housing impact statement” to be used during the zoning process. Another would waive fees for developers that agree to build mixed-income housing.

The advocates’ plan

The advocates’ proposed changes include calling for the preservation of existing affordable apartments with some renovation and creating an anti-displacement policy. They also proposed the city hire a director of housing with an expertise in mixed-income developments and preservation. But they do agree that the catalyst should be in the North River area. The advocates’ plan, suggested by some on the task force to be called the “minority report,” also calls for a comprehensive study on the potential effects redevelopment could have on gentrification and resident displacement, among other measures. An affordable housing consultant should SS

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be brought on to help the city define what mixed-income housing should be, the report suggests. “We are very concerned about the workforce we have in Sandy Springs and the impact this could have on them,” David Couchman said. Garrison and Munger pushed back on the idea that preservation can be a key component of the proposal. “We are not the north end task force of preservation,” Garrison said. “We hope it is new.” They also argued that the city would have the leverage and need to implement affordable housing protections after growth, spurred by the catalyst project, begins. “After the spark, then you can govern the change,” Garrison said. Shannon-Vikovic said her definition of revitalization can include preserving and improving existing apartments and affordable housing. “I get it, it’s about economics,” ShannonVikovic responded. “But it’s a city that has the opportunity to put some of these protections in place.” The five other task force proposals include creating the “Greenline” trail; Roswell Road pedestrian improvements; connections to Roswell Road communities; new access to the Chattahoochee River; and a community center. The sections of the reports on these components received general support by the task force. No specific location was proposed for “The Greenline,” which would be a multiuse trail for cyclists and walkers. The report recommends the city use TSPLOST funds or a possible “loan” from the city’s general fund to pay for the project. Gabe Sterling, a former City Council member, led this section and the others dealing with transportation. To create connections on Roswell Road, the report recommends minimizing parking spaces created in the north end to “make sure land is used in its most productive way.” It also calls for working with MARTA to create connections to future transit stations. The sections of the report on the Chattahoochee River and community center were led by Ronda Smith, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, and Charles Crosby, a construction management executive and board member of the Community Assistance Center. These projects could be potentially funded through a tax allocation district, bonds, TSPLOST funds or city loan, according to the reports and discussions at the meeting. To create more access to the river, the report proposes creating a trail along Roberts Drive and acquiring more land near Morgan Falls. The community center component also proposes building a natatorium, or swimming complex, that could be located on the same site, depending on resources, Crosby said. The final version of the report will be presented at the task force’s last meeting on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 1 Galambos Way.


City of Sandy Springs


An Ordinance to amend the Development Code as follows: To amend requirements associated with building height in Sec. 3.4.3. Residential Multi-Unit; Sec. 3.5.3. Residential Mixed Use; Sec. 4.2.3. Office Neighborhood; Sec. 4.3.3. Office Mixed Use; Sec. 4.4.3. Commercial Mixed Use; Sec. 4.5.3 Shopfront Mixed Use; Sec. 4.6.3. Transit Mixed Use; Sec. 4.7.3. City Springs; Sec. 4.8.3. Industrial Mixed Use; Sec. 4.9.3. Commercial Corridor; Sec. 5.3.3. Perimeter Mixed Use Low/Mid-Rise; Sec. 5.4.3. Perimeter Mixed Use High-Rise; Sec. 5.5.3. Perimeter Medical; Div. 5.6 Perimeter Center Frontages; Sec. 6.1.3. Height and Mass; Div. 6.4. Protected Neighborhood Transitions; and Div. 6.7. Height Bonus;

Public Hearings:

Mayor and City Council December 18, 2018, 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs GA 30328, 770-730-5600




Nick Lanese


8045 Innsbruck Drive


Variance from Section 2.2.2. to allow for encroachment into the side setback

Public Hearing:

Board of Appeals December 11, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall 1 Galambos Way Sandy Springs, GA 30328 770-730-5600




NorthPlace Associates LLC The Galloway Group LLC

Property Location:

0, 6401, 6403 Barfield Rd

Present Zoning:



Rezoning from PX-10/12 to PX-10/12 to amend zoning conditions to allow a hotel use

Public Hearings:

Planning Commission December 19, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. Mayor and City Council January 15, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall 1 Galambos Way Sandy Springs, GA 30328 770-730-5600


V18-0031, V18-0032


City of Sandy Springs on behalf of Stephen F. Johnston Sr.


80 Johnson Ferry Rd NE


V18-0031: Variance from Sec. 8.2.7 to encroach into the District Boundary Buffer and to waive the wall. V18-0032: Variance from Div. 9.2 to allow an encroachment into the Impervious Setback and the City Stream Buffer. Both variances are intended to implement a court-ordered mediation agreement.

Public Hearing:

Board of Appeals December 11, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.


Sandy Springs City Hall 1 Galambos Way Sandy Springs, GA 30328 770-730-5600

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