DECEMBER 2019 - Sandy Springs Reporter

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DECEMBER 2019 • VOL. 13 — NO. 12

Olympic Park bombing investigation: Remembering dark days P8

Sandy Springs Reporter

Proposed grocery would be eighth near City Springs


Advocacy group continues affordable housing push P4


Ryan Gravel

Designer of the Atlanta BeltLine

Richard Jewell


A public challenge: Reimagine I-285 P21


‘A Tuna Christmas’ continues theater partnership P26

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The concrete “triangle” across the street from City Springs holds billboards that the city is attempting to remove.


Future park site stalled by billboard lawsuit BY HANNAH GRECO

Mayor Rusty Paul says he has heard several complaints from residents and has his own frustrations with the “eyesore” property on the east side of Roswell Road across from City Springs. The city has long aimed to spruce up the area with a park and paths, but projects have been stalled due to a law-

suit over booting three billboards from the property. The suit has been drawn out for a year. City Attorney Dan Lee said at a Nov. 19 City Council meeting that the city cannot redevelop the land until a judge issues an order for the signs to come down. “I have been getting a lot of questions about the property...the wasteland, as it’s See CITY on page 28

Downtown Sandy Springs is bustling with grocery stores, with a new grocer filing to enter the already saturated market, which means more choices for residents and competitive pricing. But in the North End of the city, there are significantly fewer options and proposed stores for the area have not panned out. In October, Lidl, a discount German grocery store, filed a permit with the city to open a store in Sandy Springs in the City Center Crossing Center at 6337 Roswell Road. Within a 2-mile radius of the hub of Sandy Springs, City Springs, which is just a block from the proposed Lidl, there are seven major chain grocery stores: Aldi at 6336 Roswell Road; Kroger at 227 Sandy Springs Place and 4920 Roswell Rd; Publix at 6615 Roswell Road; Sprouts at 4600 Roswell Road; Trader Joe’s at 6277 Roswell Road; and Whole Foods Market at 5930 Roswell Road. Tosh Wolfe, the director of retail services at real estate firm Colliers International’s Atlanta office, said downtown Sandy Springs is an ideal market for grocers because of its mix of urbanism and suburbanism. “Looking at Sandy Springs demographically, it is a great opportunity for grocers,” Wolfe said. But the North End, which spans about 4 See NEW on page 30

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The City Council approved at its Nov. 5 meeting the purchase of 99 license plate reader cameras for police use at a $39,852.02 monthly fee. The Sandy Springs Police Department said it has planned camera placement and plans to include locations marked as high-crime, but it would not provide the planned locations. According to SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Sam Worsham, the cameras could possibly be installed within the next three months.

THIR D CAN DI DATE ENT ER S T HE R A C E FO R FU LTO N C O UNTY S HER I FF Charles Rambo, a retired lieutenant in the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, joins a race that includes incumbent Theodore “Ted” Jackson and Patrick Labat, the chief of the City of Atlanta Department of Corrections. Jackson, who has held the position since 2008, was re-elected in 2016, defeating a field of six challengers. Rambo, 51, began his law enforcement career in 1989 sworn as a sheriff’s deputy. Rambo served his entire professional career with the FCSO for over three decades, according to his campaign website. The election will be held on Nov. 3, 2020. The Fulton County Jail has been controversial, with overcrowding causing some inmates to sleep on mattresses on the floor, according to the Associated Press.

CO U NCIL AP P R O V ES C O NT R A C T FO R M O U NT VERNO N/HI L DER B R A ND PAT H The City Council approved a contract for the construction of a multiuse path between Mount Vernon and Hilderbrand Drive at a Nov. 19 meeting. The contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, Tri Scapes, Inc., for $268,749.48. The multiuse path will connect Mount Vernon and Hilderbrand just west of Roswell Road. The trail will be located behind the Chase Bank and next to the Georgia Power substation across the street from City Springs, the city’s art and civic complex at 1 Galambos Way, running north-south. In March, the council unanimously approved an easement agreement with the power company to allow landscaping and fencing to be installed around the substation as part of the project. No timeline was discussed for the project. The multiuse path is one of many streetscape projects the city is working on.

CITY PU R CHAS ES TWO PA R C EL S FO R $1 3 4 K FO R SPALD ING DR I V E S I DEWA L K P R O JEC T The City Council approved two parcel purchases for $134,100 in order to continue with the Spalding Drive sidewalk project. One property includes the acquisition of 1,531.57 square feet of right of way and 3,415.25 square feet of a temporary construction easement for three years during construction at the front of a house located at 6018 Spalding Drive, for $133,000. The property owners, Kevin and Christine Ulm, rejected the city’s original offer of $69,600 and have agreed to $63,400. The biggest difference between the city’s appraisal and the property owners’ appraisal was the cost to re-establish the owners’ landscaping because the project will take out 14 mature trees at the front of their property. The second purchase approved at a Nov. 19 meeting was to spend $1,100 on a temporary construction easement of 475.91 square feet at the front of a house located at 6000 Spalding Drive. The construction easement would last three years. In October, the council approved acquisition of five parcels via eminent domain for the project for $239,100. The Spalding Drive Sidewalk project will run from Winters Chapel Road to Holcomb Bridge Road and will widen the road from two lanes to four. It will also include replacing the existing bridge over Crooked Creek, a multi-use sidepath and improvements to the traffic signal at River Exchange Road. Design efforts also are underway in Gwinnett County. The city of Sandy Springs is contributing to the project via a cost-share agreement as part of its TSPLOST Sidewalk Program. SS

Community | 3


City reissues bid for North End shopping center designs BY HANNAH GRECO

The city has reissued a request for proposals for redevelopment concepts for four North End shopping centers. The idea of redeveloping the shopping centers follows a lengthy process and report from the city-formed North End Revitalization Task Force, which sought ways to spur redevelopment. In May, the task force said the shopping center study is expected to be finished by the end of the year and would include “detailed concepts for how each property could be developed to attract developer interest.” In August, the City Council delayed an expected vote to choose a designer for the project and it was said that the vote would return after a non-voting work session, but instead, the procurement was canceled altogether. “In reviewing the responses, it became clear that there was some confusion related to the scope [of work],” city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. “To ensure a best outcome for the city and vendors, we decided to cancel and issue a new procurement.” The new RFP was issued in September and requires the selected consultant to provide three conceptual designs of each of the four shopping centers. The designs will include the estimated cost. The design includes plans for four shopping centers in the North End: the former Loehmann’s Plaza (8610 Roswell Road); the Northridge Shopping Center (8331-8371 Roswell Road); the North River Shopping Center (8765-8897 Roswell Road) and the Big Lots Center (7300 Roswell Road). One plan will conform to the city’s Development Code, one will potentially require variances and the third will be “unique” and would not be bound by any code requirements, according to the procurement. The RFP also requires the contractor to hold at least two public meetings: one at the beginning of the plan to take public input; and the second at the end to display the preferred conceptual plans. At least one meeting must also be held at each of the properties, the document said.

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Advocacy group continues to push for affordable housing BY HANNAH GRECO

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An affordable housing advocacy group, Sandy Springs Together, launched less than a year ago in January. But the founders of the group, David and Melanie Couchman, have been pushing for affordable housing in the city for years. In the wake of the City Council approving a 31.4-mile master trail plan in October, SST held a public meeting at Sandy Springs United Methodist Church on Nov. 7 with speakers from the Atlanta BeltLine to share their experiences and failures with the project in regard to affordable housing. “Cities usually focus on individual projects,” Melanie Couchman said at the meeting. “In our case, it is a trail system, a shopping center revitalization...access to the river and other improvements. But what will that do to the rents and the property taxes?” The master trail project includes a 10-year implementation plan which would build trails in the north end of the city, including a connection from Morgan Falls Park to Colquitt Road and a sidepath along the North River Shopping Center. The BeltLine was a dream project for the city of Atlanta: it was fresh, innovative and even included affordable housing. In 2006, the project planned to have 5,600 affordable units by 2030. With 10 years left to reach its goal, the BeltLine currently has 1,640 affordable units. Dwayne Vaughn, vice president of housing policy and development with BeltLine Inc, the organization behind the multiuse trail, park and transit project; David Jackson, deputy executive director of BeltLine Partnership, a nonprofit to support the BeltLine’s initiatives, spoke on their experience with the project while Bill Bolling, founder of the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum, a quarterly gathering of affordable housing stakeholders, moderated the panel. Vaughn said in hindsight, the BeltLine would have tried to control the land around the project better before it began. “He who controls the land can control affordability,” Vaughn said. “We were a little late in the game.” Jackson said when it comes to city-wide projects that affect a large section of the community, citizens have to speak up in order to hold the responsible accountable. “The only way that I have hold government and project management accountable is [for] the citizens to demand metrics and measurements and scoreboards upfront, hold elected officials responsible to score on those scoreboards and take action when they don’t,” Jackson said. Vaughn said in Atlanta, there is an inclusionary zoning ordinance in the BeltLine area that requires a developer of 10 units or more of rental housing to have a percentage of the units affordable. What is considered affordable is based on the AMI, or the area median income, of the city. While Sandy Springs does not have inclusionary zoning, the city has attempted affordable housing. It has worked out a 10-year agreement with two apartment complexes, requiring units to be set aside for workforce housing, which is intended to ensure housing for primarily middle-income, but also lower-income, households. Vaughn also said through the BeltLine, he learned that the project managers need to be flexible on their agenda and value the community input. “Sometimes when you have an agenda, that is not what the community wants to talk about and you need to be flexible enough to say ‘Yes, we have our agenda, but we hear that you want to talk about something else, and we are here, so let’s talk about it,’” Vaughn said. The Couchmans worked with the city for years behind the scenes for years on affordable housing policy, particularly in Sandy Springs’ north end. The “North End” is considered to be the approximate four-square-mile area of Sandy Springs stretching from Dalrymple Road in the south to the Chattahoochee River in the north, from Georgia 400 to the west side of Roswell Road. In March 2018, the Couchmans co-chaired the North End Revitalization Task Force, chaired by District 2 City Councilmember Steve Soteres, which studied ways to spur redevelopment and propose an affordable housing policy in the north end. In January, the couple launched Sandy Springs Together, an initiative out of their philanthropic Couchman-Noble Foundation, in opposition to the task force’s North End Revitalization Plan. They both opposed the plan because they believe it would drive gentrification and displacement, particularly through its plan to have a multiuse path called the Greenline that has been compared to the BeltLine. In September, the council approved a $199,942 contract to Heath & Lineback Engineers to design a plan for Chattahoochee river path and access. The city desires to make connections to the river and to construct trails that run parallel SS

Community | 5

DECEMBER 2019 ■ to the river and that would connect to the regional project underway, dubbed the Chattahoochee RiverLands Greenway Study. District 1 City Councilmember John Paulson, whose district falls in the north end, was in attendance of the meeting and did not immediately respond to a comment request. Josh McLaurin, Sandy Springs’ House District 51 representative, was also at the meeting and did not immediately respond to a comment request. Shea Roberts, a resident of Sandy Springs who is running against Deborah Silcox for the District 52 Georgia House of Representatives seat, also attended the meeting. The event had around 120 people in attendance. The group plans to have its next meeting in the beginning of 2020, but no agenda has been determined yet, according to Melanie Couchman.

From left, Bill Bolling moderating a panel with Dwayne Vaughn and David Jackson at a Nov. 7 meeting held by affordable housing advocacy group Sandy Springs Together.



EDUCATION/ MEMBERSHIPS/ PROFESSIONAL AWARDS/ APPOINTMENTS Clark Atlanta University, Bachelor of Arts, 1995 South Texas College of Law,1998 Distinguished Leader Award, Fulton County Daily Report Chief Assistant District Attorney, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Community Prosecutor of the Year, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, 2016 Community Service Award, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District, 2017 Chief Deputy Solicitor, Fulton County Solicitor General’s Office (2017-Current) State Bar of Georgia Judicial Nominating Committee, (2018-2020)

Member, Georgia Bar Association Member, Atlanta Bar Association, Probate Section Executive Board, Georgia Association Women Lawyers Foundation (2019-2020) Executive Board, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (2012-2017) Regional Director, National Black Prosecutors Association (2015-2019) Executive Committee, Gate City Bar Community Law Clinic (2012-2019)

“The Probate Court of Fulton County is a true ‘family court.’ From marriage licenses to guardianships for loved ones with mental health needs, Probate Court can help families grow and prosper. For 20 years, I have represented victims of crime, achieved justice for families after devastating crime events and protected public safety as a Community Prosecutor. When my dear mother passed, I was left to handle her business affairs through grief and bureaucracy. When loss and challenges arise, families need an effective, competent and compassionate court to guide them through difficult times. As a proven leader, I have the experience, knowledge and vision to take Probate Court into the future, increase efficiency and make probate services more accessible and convenient. In 2020, I ask for the privilege of your vote to serve as your next Probate Court Judge in Fulton County because family, either by blood or choice, means everything.


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KEITH E. GAMMAGE Fulton County Solicitor-General


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Historic American Legion building is renovated to serve generations of vets BY JOHN RUCH

The historic Waldo M. Slaton American Legion Post 140 building in Chastain Park is freshly renovated and will serve more generations of veterans after the post set aside a controversial plan to demolish it and build a larger version. “This renovation should ensure the viability of the building for another 50 years,” said post Commander Ken DeSimone, who also serves as the Sandy Springs police chief, about the roughly 80-yearold, rustic structure at 3905 Powers Ferry Road. The post held an open house on Veterans Day to show off the $100,000 renovation, which repair rotting flooring, outdated wiring and other issues in the 1930s-era building. The work was done by Cobb County’s Gay Construction, a prominent firm with historic renovation experience whose work includes Atlanta’s Ponce City Market. Tom Gay, the company’s chairman, is a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam and a Legionnaire at the post. “For many years this building has served as the headquarters for the activities of the post as well as for community


Above, the Waldo M. Slaton American Legion Post 140 building on Powers Ferry Road.

Right, the preamble to the American Legion’s constitution hangs over the historic fireplace.

service,” said Gay. “We believe it is important to preserve and upgrade the facility, and we performed the work at our cost.” Three years ago, the post proposed de-



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molishing the building as outdated, past its lifespan, and too small for growing ranks of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. In its place would rise a much larger, $1

million building. That plan drew some resistance among the post’s membership and, in the outside world, from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the Buckhead Heritage Society. The post gained city zoning approval, but DeSimone said the plan is not happening due to funding. “It was all fundraising-dependent. The more money we raised, the more we could do,” he said. “We are still taking donations for kitchen refurbishment and other items that are needed.” Some of that work yet to come includes installing a sidewalk ramp and gutters, he said. Post 140 serves military veterans mostly from the Buckhead, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs areas. Its house-like building has a stone fireplace, a deck and walls of irregular wooden planks painted green outside. The post is known for community connections, including last year’s opening of a T-ball field next to the building and the renting of the facility to such groups as the Buckhead 50 Club. Legion members help run a Boy Scout camp and hold such fundraisers as a run for Buckhead’s Shepherd Center for brain and spinal injury treatment. The origins of the post’s building are not know for certain. A common assumption is the structure was built as a bunkhouse for workers in President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal work programs. Post 140 was chartered in 1936, according to DeSimone, but no one knows exactly where, though it is believed it was not in the Powers Ferry Road building. What is known is that the building has served as the Legion post since at least 1954. At that time, it was deeded by Fulton County on the condition it remain in Legion use; otherwise, ownership reverts to the county. Slaton, the post’s namesake, died while serving in the Army during World War I. The post’s building also features a prominent memorial to Staff Sgt. Ryan P. Means, a Brookhaven native who became a Special Forces soldier after his friend was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks; Means died of cancer in 2009 while serving. With decades of social gatherings and community events in its past, and now many more decades to come, the building and its renovation invite personal reflection to those who have made the memories. “I have been a member of Post 140 for a number of years,” said Gay, “and I am proud of the services the post provides to our veterans, our service members and our community.” For more information about the post, see


S O M E R B Y S PA R K .C O M • 8 0 0 . 6 2 4 .1 5 3 1


Commentary | 7


Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at

Sandy Springs resident joins the ‘Georgia Gang’ The table on the set of the state’s lonand 2007. I was told it was nonpartisan, but gest-running TV issues show, “The Georgia I saw a lot of President Obama’s stuff being Gang,” now has a new occucirculated. I didn’t understand. pant of the middle seat: Sandy That didn’t really seem nonSprings resident Janelle partisan.” CarolKing. Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodyAs anyone who hasSandy watched Nevertheless, she was imSprings line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at the 37-year-old Sunday mornpressed by Obama and his ing talk show on FOX 5 knows, ground game. the panel consists of two com“I looked up to him and votmentators from the political ed for him the first time, even left, two from the right and a though I didn’t agree with evmoderator. erything he stood for,” she said. King, 35, joined the show “It was historical.” in August and, as the show’s But having been born in youngest panelist, offers a Connecticut and raised in youthful perspective. An North Carolina in “a totally SPECIAL Janelle King, the avowed Republican political non-political family,” she realnewest member of activist and President Trump ized she didn’t know what ei“The Georgia Gang.” supporter, she seems reasonther party stood for and decidable and thoughtful, perhaps ed to find out. because of how she became a Republican. “I researched both parties based on the It began at North Carolina A&T State values I was raised with -- school choice, perUniversity, the top-ranked historically black sonal responsibility, small government, procollege in the state. life. That’s when I said, ‘I’m a Republican.’” “When I was a junior,” she said, “I saw a She voted for Mitt Romney the next time. voter registration drive happening in 2006 So new was she to politics that she didn’t re-

alize how few minority voters nationwide agreed with her. “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I thought everyone had a right to decide,” she said. She moved to Atlanta jobless in 2007 to pursue her interest in politics and had a job within a month. A friend warned that her political views could make life difficult. Her response was to be more “vocal,” not less. If she as a young black woman identified with conservative values, might other minority voters feel the same way when exposed to Republican policies? “I went on a mission working with the state party as a volunteer educating our community,” she said. Thus began her career as a volunteer event organizer bringing Republican leaders into minority communities in Georgia’s smaller towns. The event she’s proudest of was in 2015 at a community center in East Point for minority small-business owners, where she brought in then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp. “He was my first bigname person,” she said, “and I got a lot of pushback for inviting him.” She is now a paid staffer of the Georgia Republican Party. She was in the capacity-filled room at the World Congress Center when Trump launched “Black Voices for Trump” on Nov. 8. Trump invited her husband, Kelvin King, to the dais to talk about growing a successful general contracting firm from his bedroom to its own 12,000-square-foot office building in just seven years. On the dais with him, King said she

was proud of her husband and grateful to Trump for helping to make it all possible. She told me her only regret was that “the room wasn’t big enough.” With such conservative credentials, how does she get along with the other two African American commentators on “The Georgia Gang,” Alexis Scott and Tharon Johnson, who are both staunch liberals? “It’s a respect factor,” she said. “I may disagree with Alexis and Tharon’s opinions, but I respect them.” She has particular respect for Scott, a longtime respected journalist who for 17 years served as editor-in-chief and publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, the nation’s first successful black-owned daily newspaper, founded in 1928 by her grandfather, W. A. Scott II. “Alexis endured a lot so that I don’t have to,” she said. “I appreciate that because of what she’s done, I can go my own way.” King has no desire to run for office. Instead, her goal is to recruit and help minority candidates who want to run as Republicans. “Demographics are shifting,” she said. “The Republican Party has to grow in diversity.” “You may not agree with who represents the party at this time, but it doesn’t change the foundational values the party stands on,” she said. “It’s a value system no matter who’s in office.”

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS RE-THINKING ROTH IRAS… ROTH IRAS ARE NOT EXACTLY NEW. WHAT IS THERE TO “RE-THINK?” More to the point: Some people should re-think the use of Roth IRAs. Start by remembering two key differences between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. First, money contributed to a Roth has already been taxed. BUT, if you conform to the rules, everything you ever withdraw, including earnings that might be many times what was contributed, is completely tax-free. Second, unlike traditional IRAs, there is NO requirement to withdraw minimum distributions from a Roth IRA after reaching age 70-1/2. YOU SAID “SOME PEOPLE” MIGHT NEED A RE-THINK. WHO SPECIFICALLY? After 48 years of working with clients, we’ve now advised through the full cycle of IRA drawdowns for some of our longer-tenured families. Oftentimes, we encounter meaningful balances left in these IRA accounts when the estate passes to the next generation. Those clients were well enough positioned for retirement that they did not “need” all the funds in their IRA. That is the opportunity. SO, HOW DOES THAT CONNECT TO THE ROTH IRA? Phillip Hamman, CFP®, CFA, chairs our Wealth Planning Committee, a group of our professionals with multiple professional backgrounds, including attorneys and CPAs. He summarized the connection in this way: “Clients approaching or just starting retirement may forecast that IRA accounts will not be fully withdrawn during their lifetime, leaving a balance for heirs. Until seeing the numbers, it is difficult for them to imagine the potential wealth enhancement from a Roth conversion. The strategy of converting all or a portion of a

(Left to Right: Bill Kring, CFP®; Michelle O’Leary; Tamara Wagner; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®) traditional IRA and paying some tax now is counter-intuitive, but the savings accumulated over many years can be substantial.” Each person’s situation is unique, and running the numbers is critical. WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS? Make sure you have experienced and well-trained eyes preparing the analysis. This is an area where it is essential to rely upon an advisor who is 100% committed to the fiduciary business model, which puts the client’s interest first. Do not rely on “analysis” from anyone with a product selling motivation. Our experienced team of financial professionals are ready to sit down at our Atlanta office to visit about the potential.

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8 | Community ■

Panel recalls FBI, AJC roles in case of Richard Jewell, Olympics bombing hero turned suspect BY JOHN RUCH


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ator John Pruitt, a former WSB-TV news anchor, read a Facebook post from Dana Jewell praising the book and saying, “I made a promise to Richard when he died, I would tell his story.” The Olympics were a watershed moment for Atlanta, stirring local pride, at-

One of the dark moments in Atlanta’s history, the 1996 Summer Olympics bombing, grew darker still when the FBI and major media wrongly fingered heroic security guard Richard Jewell as the bomber. A Nov. 12 panel discussion at the Atlanta History Center about “The Suspect,” a new book telling Jewell’s story, was a historic moment in itself, gathering significant figures from the case onstage and in the audience. Drawing a crowd of hundreds, the event was partly SPECIAL a preemptive strike Richard Jewell, right, joined by attorney L. Lin Wood at a on how Atlanta 2006 event where Jewell was honored by Gov. Sonny Perdue may be portrayed as a rescue hero of the Atlanta Olympics bombing. in Clint Eastwood’s upcoming movie about Jewell, partly a lectracting international media attention, ture on history and Jewell’s life, and partly building venues ranging from modern an emotional reflection on an investigalandmarks to white elephants, and sparktion gone astray while the real bomber esing massive downtown redevelopment caped to continue his crimes. Jewell died and gentrification. The History Center is at age 44 in 2007. the official repository of Games artifacts “The Suspect” co-authors Kent Alexanand is in the midst of remaking its Olymder, who was Atlanta’s chief federal prospics exhibit for a 2020 debut. ecutor at the time, and Kevin Salwen, the The bombing is part of that history, Wall Street Journal’s regional editor durand commemorations of Jewell’s heroic ing the Olympics, were on the panel. So role are increasing. On July 27, 1996, terwas Bert Roughton, a former Atlanta Jourrorist Eric Rudolph planted a pipe bomb nal-Constitution editor involved in the pain Centennial Olympic Park. Jewell, a seper’s decision to reveal Jewell as the FBI’s curity guard who lived on Buford Highsuspect. Roughton said it was the first way, discovered the bomb and led an eftime he had discussed the controversial fort to clear the area before it exploded. story before an audience. One person was killed and many injured, “I know that a lot of people secondbut Jewell’s effort is credited with savguess and say, ‘Oh, we would never do ing many more lives. Rudolph went on to that,’” said Roughton about publishing the bomb an Atlanta lesbian bar and abortion Jewell scoop, based on leaked information clinics in Sandy Springs and Alabama, obtained by the late reporter Kathy Scrugkilling two more people, and became a fugs. “I don’t believe that there’s a red-bloodgitive until his 2003 capture. The Georgia ed American journalist who, in that same World Congress Center recently said that set of circumstances, wouldn’t have gone a plaque honoring Jewell will be placed in ahead and published the story. …That’s the park next year, according to the Atlannot to say that what happened to Richard ta Business Chronicle. Jewell after that wasn’t awful. A new take on the bombing and its af“There was absolutely a rush to judgtermath is about to enter popular culment in the media and law enforceture: Eastwood’s movie “Richard Jewell” is ment…,” said Alexander, while also descheduled for release on Dec. 13. In a rescribing Jewell as a valid suspect. “So, rush cent AJC essay, Roughton voiced anxiety to judgment, yes. But should Richard Jewabout how the film might portray Jewell ell have been a suspect? Yes, also.” and Scruggs. Among those in the audience were Pruitt echoed that sentiment early in Watson Bryant, Jewell’s defense attorthe panel discussion, cautioning that the ney; Dana Jewell, the widow of Richard; film “will be Hollywood’s version of what Bill Rankin, an AJC reporter who co-wrote happening in our town in that horrible a crucial story casting doubt on Jewell’s time.” He said Alexander and Salwen’s guilt; and George Hamilton, who said he book gives the “truly objective” story. was Scruggs’ partner before her death in Alexander noted that he and Salwen 2001 at age 42. served as advisers on Eastwood’s project, During the discussion, panel moderthough they have yet to see it. “I would

Community | 9



From left, panelists Bert Roughton, former senior managing editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and “The Suspect” co-authors Kent Alexander and Kevin Salwen, joined by moderator John Pruitt, listen to an introduction by Atlanta History Center President and CEO Sheffield Hale at the Nov. 12 panel discussion.

just encourage everybody not to prejudge the movie,” Alexander said. Salwen said the book leaves moral lessons up to the readers to conclude, because “it’s not so, necessarily, black-andwhite.” The FBI’s obsession with Jewell was one of those gray areas, Alexander and Salwen said. Jewell was one of three major suspects, Alexander said, but added that the FBI had some cause to zero in on him with their theory that he planted the bomb to look like a hero. But the FBI also delayed the use of other evidence while focusing on Jewell, Alexander said. One witness described a suspect at the bomb scene who later was

confirmed to be Rudolph. “That will haunt me forever,” Alexander said. At the AJC, Scruggs’ scoop about the investigation turned into the paper’s most notorious and controversial story. Roughton strongly defended its publication, while acknowledging some mixed feelings and certain personal qualms he had with it then and now. He also disagreed with Alexander and Salwen’s assertions that the paper may have rushed the story due to competitive pressure. “Fine, I’m happy to be a piñata,” Roughton joked at one point. But he later said, “We lose track of the fact that we’re writContinued on page 10

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10 | Community ■

Panel recalls FBI, AJC roles in case of Richard Jewell, Olympics bombing hero turned suspect Continued from page 9 ing about people,” and that his favorite part of “The Suspect” was learning more about Jewell as a person. “He had become a public character in a story that had this extremely bizarre twist and also at the same time [was] the biggest story on Earth,” Roughton said in defense of the Jewell investigation scoop. “… I still believe that we did the right thing. We had an American citizen who was being pursued by the full apparatus of the American government in some way. And this is debatable, but I would argue that we have an obligation to put some daylight on that.” But that doesn’t mean the editing and publication process was easy. Roughton was one of several AJC staffers involved before then Managing Editor John Walter made the decision to publish. “It was a very difficult discussion, I have to say,” Roughton said. “Part of what I want to personally be careful about is not becoming defensive… There are a lot of good questions around what we did at the time, and I think there are good journalistic questions about that, and those are important. And I think in the world we live in, they’re more important now than they may even have been then.” Roughton disputed Alexander and Sal-

wen’s repeated statements that Scruggs’ source was a leaker inside the FBI. Scruggs and co-reporter Ron Martz never revealed their sources, even when threatened with jail time in a subsequent libel lawsuit, and Roughton wouldn’t, either. “I won’t even acknowledge that there’s an FBI source, if there was one,” he said, though adding the source had “very deep firsthand knowledge of the FBI.” Debate over the AJC’s role comes down to whether the paper was too uncritical in reporting a mistaken suspicion. Alexander said the AJC was not aware that the FBI had other suspects as well. It was when all FBI officials stopped talking to the media that the AJC scored another scoop. Rankin, the AJC reporter, found that Jewell did not have time to both plant the bomb and to reach a pay phone used by the bomber to make a warning call. With officials not talking about the investigation, “that was the only reporting we could do,” Roughton said, and it helped to lead to Jewell’s exoneration. Jewell soon filed libel lawsuits against several major media outlets, including the AJC, CNN and NBC News. In a long and fierce case involving prominent Buckhead attorney L. Lin Wood, among others, the AJC finally emerged victorious in 2011 and was the only media outlet not to settle with Jewell or his estate.

LO CAL M EM O R IES O F A TER R O R I S T’S B O M B I NG S P R EE While security guard Richard Jewell was briefly suspected of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, the real perpetrator was right-wing terrorist Eric Rudolph. After the Olympics, Rudolph went on to bomb an LGBTQ nightclub in Atlanta and two medical clinics that performed abortions, one in Alabama and one in Sandy Springs. The Sandy Springs bombing on Jan. 16, 1997, at an office building at 275 Carpenter Drive, was the first use of his tactic of setting off a delayed second bomb in an attempt to kill first responders. He was captured in the North Carolina mountains in 2003 and is serving a life sentence in a federal “supermax” prison. Here are some memories about the Olympics and Sandy Springs bombings. If you have memories you would like to share, email and we may use them in a future story. Centennial Olympic Park bombing MITCH LEFF Then: Public relations rep for Olympics sponsors; Now: President and CEO, Leff & Associates public relations I was working for a local public relations agency, representing several major Olympic sponsors. That day was a busy one and I had fallen asleep on my couch with the TV on when I got

a call from a friend checking to see if I was OK. She thought I was working down at Centennial Olympic Park that night. Initially, Jewell was hailed as a hero for getting people away from the bomb and I was part of the team that was fielding media calls and setting up interviews with him. That lasted for a day or so. When he was named a suspect, we had to stop. Sandy Springs bombing STEVE ROSE Then: Fulton County police officer; Now: Retired Sandy Springs police captain My car was there, but I was not. I left a day earlier on vacation to Lake Tahoe. At the time, I was assigned as security for Fulton Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis. He told my sub to take him to the bomb site. They parked beside another car near a dumpster. They were standing in the parking lotwhen a second bomb went off in or next to the dumpster. The car next to mine took the brunt of it, but the blast was so strong my car assumed it was a collision and activated the fuel shutoff valve, disabling the car from starting. That Crown Vic never worked right again.

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Large hotel planned on former Glenridge Hall estate

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A hotel with a conference center and an outdoor tavern has been proposed for a site that was once part of the Glenridge Hall mansion and estate. The 203,000-square-foot lot is located on the northwest corner of Abernathy Road and Glenridge Drive. The hotel is proposed to contain more than 240 rooms; a conference center; a restaurant; and a rooftop bar and pool, according to site plans. The site plans also include a small, secondary building for an outdoor tavern that the developer is calling a “Biergarten.” The proposal does not specify the planned number of floors, but a conceptual illustration included in a city filing shows a building with at least six occupied stories, plus a ground floor and a partially enclosed roof. The property falls in the PX-8 district, or the Perimeter Center Mixed Use district, which allows up to 8 stories. The proposal, labeled the Mayson House Hotel, was received by the city on Oct. 28 from Glenridge Green Partners, LLC, who are the owners, according to Fulton County property records. Atlanta-based architecture firm Cooper Carry is also involved in the design, according to site plans. The firm was involved in the design for a hotel planned next to Buckhead’s Lenox Square mall near PATH400 and one in the Roswell Road shopping center. The project requires several zoning variances, including on the loading dock location and on the height of the retaining walls. Because the plan only needs zoning variances and not a rezoning of the property, the project is not required to go through a process of community meetings and City Council approval. The proposal is scheduled to be heard at a Board of Appeals meeting on Dec. 10 at 6 p.m at City Hall, 1 Galambos Way. The planned hotel rests on land that was formerly the Glenridge Hall estate, a mansion dating back 85 years and heavily wooded grounds. The mansion was demolished in 2015 and the property flanking Abernathy Road now holds a number of redevelopments. The northern part of the estate was pur-

chased in 2014 by developer Ashton Woods from former owner Caroline Glenn Mayson. That property now holds Aria, a community with hundreds of units, includin townhomes and detached single-family homes. In its development deal, Ashton Woods agreed to preserve 14 acres of the estate for a public park to be donated to the city upon completion. The park has not yet been completed. During a 2017 site tour, senior vice president at Ashton Woods Atlanta Mike Busher said the complex is to be completed in 2020 and the park would likely be closer to 10 to 12 acres. The southern part of the former estate, where the hotel would go, already contains other redevelopments, including housing and the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz USA.

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Council gives city manager ability to OK roadway project changes BY HANNAH GRECO

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After fears that a new ordinance could give the city manager the exclusive power to approve some zoning variances without public notice, the City Council passed a reworded version that says it only applies to minor changes in sidewalk and road projects. The confusion was based on the use of the word ‘variance,’ which city officials say was intended to mean design modifications in a project, not variances from the city’s zoning code. “Language is important. Words are important,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “The confusion is something I regret and we will try to avoid nomenclature issues going forward.” “I think this is a way for us to be more efficient and more effective to what we do,” District 5 City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio said. The amendment with the changed language was approved unanimously by members of the council at a Nov. 19 meeting. The amendment, which falls under the city’s ordinance code, allows the city manager to approve design modifications to public works projects without public notice as long as the modifications are within the existing or proposed public right of way, a type of easement reserved over sidewalks, pathways and roads by the city. The amendment says that “these design modifications sometimes vary from certain standards in the Sandy Springs Development Code” – the city’s zoning code -- to mitigate damages to a property, such as adjusting a sidewalk to save a tree or preventing the costly relocation of a utility pole. But city officials say that those “certain standards” are not zoning code requirements, and thus the city manager is not gaining the ability to approve zoning variances. “What [zoning variances] are referring to deals with buildings and land use, which is different,” city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. “Both use the word ‘variance,’ but when you read the ordinance, it is clear on the use of the word -- to vary the existing design for public works projects in the right of way.” Lee also said design medications will not trigger zoning variances. “This is the city designing its own right of way,” Lee said. “We are not changing zoning laws; we are changing designs.” DeJulio used the example that if a design for a city sidewalk proposed the sidewalk plows through a tree, the city manager can approve a modification in the design that would move the sidewalk to instead go around the tree to preserve it. “Most of the projects we are talking about have to do with projects that have been approved on an agenda in the public,” City Attorney Dan Lee said. Lee also said the amendment will not

allow the manager to expand a project in any way. “It would never be an expansion of a project,” Lee said. “It would be the reduction of something that had been approved by the council.” Previously, the changes would go before the council after a 2010 amendment stopped them from gong through the variance process through the Board of Appeals. “As projects…are presented to and reviewed by the mayor and City Council before adoption, any such project that may require a variance can be identified early in the process and reviewed by the City Council for approval, instead of then going before the Board of Appeals, saving both time and financial consideration in the process,” the 2010 amendment read. Any changes on city-owned property for city projects will still require public notice and to be presented as a vote by the council. On Nov. 5, an amendment to the ordinance code was presented to the council that would allow the city manager to approve design modifications on the city’s own projects involving both public right of way and city property without public notice or hearings. The amendment caused both council confusion and public concern, resulting in the vote being removed from the agenda and moved to the Nov. 19 meeting. “I think about every member of council had the same issue with the language,” District 6 City Councilmember Andy Bauman said at the Nov. 19 meeting. Interim City Manager Peggy Merriss said it is not out of the ordinary for a city to have this type of ordinance in place. “That is how it would be handled almost everywhere,” Merriss said. Shea Roberts, a resident and zoning attorney who also is running against Deborah Silcox for the District 52 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, spoke in opposition to the original ordinance, but spoke in support of the ordinance amendment with the changed language at the Nov. 19 meeting. “I have reviewed the revised language and because it now restricts solely to the right of way, I am not going to object to it tonight,” Roberts said. But Roberts still argued that the ordinance was, in practical effect, a zoning code change and should have been given full public process as such and the city should have been more transparent. “The minimal manner in which this item was published to the public was totally insufficient,” Roberts said. “Sometimes the minimal notice you’re providing the public about significant changes and the way things operate is fostering distrust within the community.” At the Nov. 5 meeting, Lee said that only minimal notice and discussion was required because it would be an administrative change. SS

Community | 13



The city hosted a public information open house regarding the extension of Buckhead’s PATH400 on Nov. 6 at City Hall, 1 Galambos Way. The project will construct a 2.3-mile multiuse path that would extend Buckhead’s PATH400 existing trail from Loridans Drive to Johnson Ferry Road in Sandy Springs. About 80 people attended the meeting, which began with a short presentation on an update of the project followed by an open house where most residents asked about the project’s timeline. Currently, the city is in the design phase of the project. In April, the City Council voted to enter into an agreement with the city of Atlanta to design the path. In September, the council approved a design contract of $1,040,434.40 to be awarded to the engineering firm Heath & Lineback for the completion of preliminary plans and preparation of final construction plans for the trail. The completed designs are expected in 2020, with construction projected to begin by 2021 and complete by 2023. In addition, the council signed a resolution requesting funding from the Atlanta Regional Committee, which awards federal funding to cities for transportation-related improvements through a transportation improvement program, for the construction. The city is requesting $15,379,304 from ARC. To be eligible, it is required to match a

minimum of 20% of the funding requested. City staff estimates the minimum required to match the requested amount is $3,844,826 for a total project funding of $119,224,130. The city expects to pay a total of $4.1 million for the entire project. Atlanta will be seeking funding and constructing their portion of the path project separately, according to city documents. The plan to extend PATH400 has long been in the works. Concept design work began in 2018 following initial public meetings in 2017.


The City Council approved a property be acquired via eminent domain for a Roswell Road sidewalk project at a Nov. 19 meeting. The council voted unanimously to let City Attorney Dan Lee move forward with the taking of property at 5300 Roswell Road to continue with a sidewalk project between Long Island Drive and the Prado shopping center at The property is a 0.581-acre lot located at 5300 Roswell Road that holds a Chevron gas station and a cellphone repair shop. The purchase includes 3,0331.01 square feet of right of way and 2,025.77 square feet for a temporary construction easement at the property. The city offered the homeowner its appraised value of $145,800 for the land needed for the sidewalk. Lee said the homeowner countered with $150,000, which was accepted by the council in July, but the owner’s attorney refused to close the transaction. “Unfortunately, the owner’s attorney continued to try to include the tenant as part of the transaction and the city cannot agree to this transaction,” Lee said in a memo to the city.

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A Slice of Good Cheer

99-year-old GDOT ‘legend’ and WWII veteran tours I-285/Ga. 400 interchange project purchase of $25 or more

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Wendell Lawing, center, surveys GDOT’s “Transform 285/400” interchange project during a tour guided by project manager Marlo Clowers, right, and joined by his son, Mike Lawing, left.

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To many metro-Atlanta residents, the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange reconstruction project is considered a nuisance. But to Wendell Lawing, a 99-year-old former state bridge engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation and a World War II veteran, it is a sight to see. “I have been around a century and I have seen a lot of changes,” Lawing said during a Nov. 7 tour of the “Transform 285/400” project guided by project manager Marlo Clowers. Lawing is considered a legend by the state transportation department, paving the way for the designs of the I-285/I-85 interchange known today as Spaghetti Junction, among other accomplishments during his career. But before he began his more than 30-year tenure with GDOT, Lawing was an aircraft radio operator and, after being gunned down, a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. In 1943, before Lawing’s crew’s departure overseas, his girlfriend Mary caught a train from Chattanooga, Tenn., to where he was stationed in Sioux Falls, S.D., to ask to marry him. “She got in touch with Dad and said, ‘I am here and think we should get married before you get shipped overseas,’” said Mike Lawing, Wendell Lawing’s son. Lawing could not get a pass to leave his base, so he took what he called an “opportune point” and hopped the fence to get married, all without getting caught. “That was quite a feat,” Lawing said. The couple was married for 75 years, up until Mary’s death in October 2018. “Can anybody believe it,” Lawing said. “We had been together in high school.” In 1945, the plane carrying Lawing and his crewmates, a B-17 “Flying Fortress,” was shot down in Berlin and he was captured by the Germans. “The awful thing about it was we had two crew members killed in that engagement,” Lawing said. He was a prisoner of war for a little over a year. After being freed, Lawing returned to Atlanta and enrolled at Georgia Tech, graduated with a civil engineering degree, and began working for GDOT. Lawing was a career GDOT employee, meaning he stayed with the department up until retirement, working his way up from being a bridge designer to become the state bridge engineer. SS

Community | 15


Wendell Lawing, left, and Marlo Clowers pose for a photo during a tour of Georgia Department of Transportation’s “Transform 285/400” interchange project.

“I can say he truly enjoyed his tenure with the DOT,” Mike Lawing said of his father’s career. “He was always very pleasant and upbeat about what he was doing.” During their tour together, Clowers and Lawing realized many commonalities, including that both graduated from Georgia Tech with civil engineering degrees. Clowers said although there have been changes over the years, Lawing’s ideas are still being used today, including his design of Georgia’s first curved steel girder, a structure used for building bridges. “We are still using…the curved steel,” Clowers said. “I had something to do with that,” Lawing said with a grin. Now, Lawing resides at Dunwoody Place, a senior living community in Brookhaven, and remains passionate about engineering. “It is all just wonderful,” Lawing said. “I learned so much today.”

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16 | Commentary

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Commentary: Police cameras are always watching More than 10,000 cameras are watching Atlanta for 24 hours a day and on every day of the year, according to the Atlanta Police Foundation. The foundation says the cameras, through a video surveillance program called Operation Shield, allow police “to prevent crimes before they happen and quickly solve them when they do.” Meanwhile, surveillance cameras have become a target of protests in such places as Hong Kong. We asked Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the foundation, a half-dozen questions about Operation Shield and camera surveillance. Here are his answers. Q: How and where does Operation Shield gather information for police?

Q: What benefits have local police seen from use of the cameras? Do you have any statistics for arrests made through use of cameras or before and after crime reports from areas that use the cameras?

Operation Shield consists of a network of cameras and license plate readers placed across the city that feed footage into the Atlanta Police DepartThe cameras provide APD ment’s (APD) Video Integrawith a “smart policing” tool tion Center. The program that can be used during or acts as both a preventative after a crime’s occurrence. and investigative measure The program has been infor crime. APD signage and strumental in solving some a signature blue light athigh-profile cases including tached to each camera serve the tragic homicide that ocas a crime deterrent to let curred in 2018 at the Barcepotential criminals know lona Wine Bar and the firethey are being watched. bombing of an APD officer’s Dave Wilkinson, home earlier this year. Areas Should a crime occur, the president and CEO of the where cameras are installed cameras provide real time Atlanta Police Foundation have experienced a 20%information to APD for increased situational aware50% reduction in crime. ness, as well as access to past Q: Who gets information from the camfootage for investigations. eras and how is it used? Q. How many cameras are now in operaThe camera footage belongs to the owntion and monitored by Operation Shield ers of the cameras themselves. Some of in the city of Atlanta? In metro Atlanta the cameras are owned by the city of At(if you know)? lanta, while others are privately funded There are nearly 11,000 Operation Shield by businesses and philanthropic organicameras placed throughout the city of Atzations. APD has access to the cameras lanta. Additional cameras are networked for real-time information, should a crime in from the city of Sandy Springs. We occur in the cameras’ views, and limithope to eventually expand the program ed access for a period of two weeks afterto other jurisdictions in the metro area. wards for the purpose of investigations.

Following this, footage needs to be requested from the camera owner. Q: Does Operation Shield use facial recognition software? Can the software used to operate cameras for Operation Shield be converted to use facial recognition software in the future? Operation Shield does not currently use facial recognition software. The Atlanta Police Foundation’s Technology Innovation Center researches and pilots multiple smart policing tools each year, but we are not currently working with a platform that incorporates that type of software. Q: In some places, such as China, cameras reportedly have been used to invade people’s privacy or to identify people who in some way are at odds with the government. What keeps that from happening here? All Operation Shield cameras – even privately funded cameras – exist in public spaces such as streets, sidewalks, public parking lots, parks, etc. They only record where the general public has free and unfettered access. The program is designed to be a “force multiplier,” increasing police presence and public space surveillance.

Letter to the Editor

If college athletes get paid, reward teams, not just superstars

Thank you for publishing the commentary “Amateur sports are worth saving” by Alan Chadwick in the September issue of theReporter. I appreciate your paper sharing a local football head coach’s perspective on a national topic.

I agree that the “pay for play” policy by the NCAA could open up many issues and problems for many college athletes. I most agree with the quote included in the commentary from Tim Tebow, that the game will become only about each individual player, instead of the team as a whole.


A better idea, I think, is to pay a reward to the whole team, not just the individual superstar. William Jablon Seventh grade Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School




reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily

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

Commentary | 17


Family ‘tree-dition’ brings the thrill of the last-minute Christmas tree If it’s Thanksgiving weekend and you’re reading this by the glow of your Christmas tree lights, then you won’t understand. My family is not one to eat the turkey and trim the tree in the same weekend. We like to push the envelope around here. We have our own tradition, which is that is that we wait until the Christmas aisles in the drugstore are packed up to make way for boxes of Valentine’s candy before we finally pick out the tree. The thing is, we’ve always chosen it together. We’d drive home with the tree strapped to the car, on, perhaps, a brisk December evening, and I’d turn on seasonal music, they’d move furniture, I’d pour drinks, they’d tarp the floor, I’d make food, they’d bring in the tree, my husband would pull out the ShopVac, and everyone would scatter. It was a sweet and manageable tradition when the kids were all younger, but it’s getting to be increasingly more difficult. It’s not that we venture to a tree farm in the Carolinas and chop it down ourselves. We just try to find an hour that we all agree on, and that is challenging enough. Each year, the kids are further away from home and arrive later in the month of December, and each year around the 17th, I launch a frantic campaign of texts and WhatsApps designed for us to choose a three-hour time slot during which we can convene for the annual (ahem) tree-dition. Robin Conte lives with her Last year, the appointed day was Dec. 23. We knew that the husband in an empty nest tree-nabbing window was quickly closing and we were cutin Dunwoody. To contact ting it dangerously close and that pickins would most likely be her or to buy her column slim, but we were fortified by the memory of the Tanenbaum collection, “The Best of the of 2004, a 12-foot-tall beauty which we bought at Home Depot Nest,” see on Christmas Eve for 10 bucks. But last year, you may recall, was an especially wet one near Christmas, not the ideal conditions for peddling holiday greenery, and when we finally set out at 7 p.m. to our favorite tree lot (three-quarters of a mile from our house), we were stunned to find that the lot was completely closed. There was nary a pine needle in sight. We drove to the next one down the street, and it, too, was closed. Then, mild panic set in. We called Costco. No trees. Walmart. No trees. Home Depot. Yes, there were a few left. We drove in the rain to the tarped lot, where another forlorn family was picking in the rubble. On one side of the tent was a pile of trees, flopped on their sides, sacked out like a group of diehards on the final night of a three-day music festival. We picked through the pile, searching for a suitable tree. They were all soaked and puny, supposedly a bargain at $30. We each scouted around the debris as I got the sinking feeling that I would have to create a facsimile that season using a bicycle pump and some green felt. My son eyed a possibility in the midst of the pack and picked it up with one hand, giving it a little shake while needles tinkled to the ground like they did for Charlie Brown’s tree. The tree-lot guy agreed to 10 bucks for it (basically $2.50 a foot), and we took it home and mounted it on a stool. It held approximately 1/154 the amount of ornaments we had, which meant that we decorated it in 15 minutes, and -- even better -- a few weeks later, it came down in an hour. Now I know the appeal of a tabletop tree. And now, I really do feel old.

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An activist and grandmother writes her memoir

Sherry Frank wears a small gold necklace. The unobtrusive chain displays a single word: bubbe. It means grandmother, or, more specifically, a Jewish grandmother. “I wear it every day,” Frank said, smiling when the word draws notice. “Bubbe fits me.” Others may see the 77-year-old Sandy Springs grandmother as an energetic activist who has lived a very public JOE EARLE life. But her jewelry proudly proclaims Sherry Frank she’s also the kind of woman who likes to bake cookies for her grandkids. Still, she’s no homebody. She served 26 years as executive director of the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee. She was president of the Atlanta section of the National Council of Jewish women for two years in the 1970s, and now is again president of the group. She helped create the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition and worked to build bridges between religious and ethnic groups. Frank has worked to promote human rights, civil rights and women’s rights. She describes herself as “a pretty passionate feminist.” She’s been involved in Atlanta politics for decades. She helped start a successful synagogue, Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, and served as its president. She recently published a memoir called “A Passion To Serve: Memoirs of a Jewish Activist,” which was included in the 2019 book festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center Atlanta. Frank came to politics early. She remembers that back when she was growing up in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta, her family had one of the first TVs on their block. It made a big impression when members of her third-grade class came over one night to watch election returns. Atlanta was different then, she remembers. She grew up in world that was segregated racially and culturally. “The only African American I knew was the housekeeper,” she said. At the same time, “it was Jewish world. My social life was Jewish,” she said recently during a chat at The Temple in Atlanta, where she had appeared as part of a panel discussion about the history of Atlanta’s Jewish community. “I was very much in a Jewish world.” But she doesn’t remember being conscious of overt anti-Semitism as a child. Atlanta seemed a welcoming place for her as she attended public schools, including Grady High. The world seems much more threatening now, she said, as anti-Semitism grows more visible. “You can’t but be fearful in this day, when you see so much hate out there,” she said. She grew interested in social service and political activism in part because of the times and in part because of her upbringing. She gave money for trees in Israel. She was a teenager when The Temple in Atlanta was bombed by white supremacists. She remembers, a decade later, the devastating news of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She hasn’t given up on politics. Throughout her career, she’s sought ways to bring racial and ethnic groups together and she wants to keep doing so. “I’ve said 1,000 times that if this country is not safe for Jews, it’s not safe for blacks,” she said. “And if it’s not safe for blacks, it’s not safe for Jews.” She’s worked with Christians and with Muslims to allow people to get to know others they might otherwise vilify. As she’s done that, she’s wanted people to understand her Jewishness. She said Jewish leaders once worked behind the scenes. Not her. “I want people to know a Jew is in the room,” she said. “I want them to know Jews are a part of our coalition. I think that’s part of my desire to heal the world.” She’s proud of the work she’s done. That shows up in her conversation and in her memoir. She’s takes pride in trying to make the world a better place by bringing together different types of people to address common issues and improve understanding among various groups that might otherwise be opposed. “It’s given my life great purpose,” she said. “I remember after 9/11, thinking what I do really matters. … It was such a threat to the Muslim world. I thought building bridges of understanding was a great cause and I was part of the chorus.”



Community | 19

Residents praise plan for six-story condo complex on Cliftwood Drive BY HANNAH GRECO

Residents attending a Nov. 18 meeting praised a redevelopment that would bring condominiums to Cliftwood Drive in the downtown area. The developer proposes to build 30 condos in a complex called Cliftwood Flats at 135 and 145 Cliftwood Drive. The 135 Cliftwood building currently holds Advanced Photo and Imaging, a headshot studio, and 145 Cliftwood is Atlanta Veterinary Dentistry, an animal dentist. The redevelopment could also cut down several mature trees. At a community meeting held at the nearby Cliftwood apartments, a group of about 10 people that included homeowners and landlords all agreed that the complex is something new and exciting that would add value to the city. “There is such a variety of housing in Sandy Springs, but there is not An artist rendering of the six-story residential anything quite like this,” one resident said. condo complex on Cliftwood Drive that “I think it would be a great asset to the neighborhood,” another reshas been proposed by a developer. ident said. HANNAH GRECO Gary Unell, one of the developers behind the project, said there is a demand for housing The developer behind the Cliftwood Flats proposal, Gary Unell, presents options for those who want to own rather than rent in downtown Sandy Springs. the project to a group of residents at a Nov. 18 meeting. “We do feel like there is a large demand for the type of product that we propose to build in Sandy Springs,” Unell said at the meeting. property to have 81 parking spaces, according to city documents. The site plan shows the “It is not a product that is out there right now,” said Ronda Smith, president of the Sanlobby level to include a community room, a conference room, a fitness center and 30 stordy Springs Council of Neighborhoods. “With respect to the impact on the neighborhoods, it age units. The plan also shows around 30 parking spaces to surround the lobby and a sepais up to the neighborhoods to decide if they see an impact and think, ‘We have a concern.’” rate parking lot for the remaining planned spaces. Ed Goldberg, another developer on the project, addressed the concern with lost tree canThe property is a block from The Cliftwood apartment complex that opened in 2018 at opy. 185 Cliftwood and two blocks from Atwater, a large John Wieland Homes development, at “There are trees I am sure will come down because that is the nature of construction,” 2009 Wheaton Way. Goldberg said. “But not only are we required to replace them, but we plan to.” A second community meeting will be held at City Hall, 1 Galambos Way, on Dec. 30 at The 0.84-acre property is currently in the CS-3 district of the zoning map, or the City 6 p.m., according to the developer. The rezoning application will then go to the Planning Springs district, which allows buildings to be up to three stories. Commission and the City Council at a later, undetermined date. The developer, NexCity Development LLC, is requesting a rezoning for the property to If the application is approved, the construction is slated to begin in fall of 2020 and be be considered CS-6, which would have the property still fall in the City Springs district but completed by the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. would allow the complex to be six stories. NexCity proposes for each unit to be between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet and for the


20 | Community ■

City buys another house for Hammond Drive widening project BY HANNAH GRECO

The city has purchased another house on Hammond Drive between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive as it continues to buy and hold property in anticipation of the possible widening of Hammond. Meanwhile, the conceptual design for the widening is taking longer than originally estimated.

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The City Council unanimously approved at its Nov. 5 meeting the purchase of a house on a 19,800-square-foot lot located at 600 Hammond Drive for $455,000. District 5 City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio expressed concern with the cost of the property. “Based on the size of this property, it looks like $1 million an acre,” DeJulio said. “That seems kind of high on Hammond Drive.” Public Works Director Marty Martin said it is trending on the higher end of the spectrum, but it is not the highest per-squarefoot purchase The house at 600 Hammond Drive as it appears in a Google Maps image. the city has made for the project. “It is within the range of purchases we have made on Hammond Drive,” Martin said. Martin said the house may be used for public safety housing. The city has four houses on Hammond Drive that are currently set aside for city public officer personnel rentals at a rate of $500 per month, with the renter responsible for the upkeep of the property and utilities. In August, the council authorized a contract with Gresham Smith and Partners for $47,500 to wrap up a design presentation for a public meeting on the Hammond Drive Corridor Design Project. According to the contract, the outcome from the design will be a digital presentation with graphics and a model to showcase the potential development. At an Aug. 6 meeting, Martin said the design would be presented to council within three months. But as of Nov. 8, the design had yet to be presented. “It is still in progress,” city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said when asked about the design. When it’s ready, [the public works department] will submit to add to the agenda.”

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Community | 21


BeltLine creator holds contest for reimagining I-285’s uses BY JOHN RUCH

The urban planning guru who dreamed up the Atlanta BeltLine is staging a contest for rethinking the car-centric uses of I-285 and turning the entire Perimeter highway into “A Bigger Better Loop.” Ryan Gravel launched the contest for the concepts Nov. 15 at Generator, his downtown nonprofit that serves as a brainstorming club. He was expected to announce winners and display their ideas Dec. 6. He circulated the contest on social media, using a graphic showing I-285 as a huge ring and the BeltLine as a smaller loop within it. In an interview, Gravel said the con-

test is just for playful, casual fun and definitely think that it’s possible and I he’s aiming for far-out concepts, while don’t think that it comes, necessarily, at the same time acknowledging that at the expense of cars.” one never knows where “The thesis of the Atbrainstorming might lanta BeltLine was that lead. After all, that’s how adaptation of underthe BeltLine came about utilized infrastructure 20 years ago, an annivercould make a new way sary that is the occasion of life possible in Atlanfor the I-285 contest. ta,” says Gravel’s conThis year also happens test announcement. “Into be the 50th anniversaspired by the success of FILE ry of I-285. that proposition, GenRyan Gravel. “I do like the idea erator is asking you to of rethinking I-285. It could do more pitch your ideas for transformation of than just carry cars,” said Gravel. “…So Atlanta’s larger loop: Interstate 285.” I like the idea of 285 becoming some“Early advocates for the Atlanta thing that people love. And I don’t BeltLine were proposing a wildly ambiknow what it would take to do that. I tious idea for a loop of land they didn’t

own, to be transformed by money they didn’t have, in a political climate that – at the time – was hostile to everything they were proposing,” the announcement says. “Given that, Generator’s hope for this competition is that you not burden your idea with today’s politics, budgets or other constraints. It could be anything – think big and be creative.” I-285 gets prominent discussion in Gravel’s acclaimed 2016 book “Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of American Cities.” Gravel is a Chamblee native who says his family moved there Continued on page 22

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BeltLine creator holds contest for reimagining I-285’s uses Continued from page 21


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because of the suburban development the Perimeter made possible. “I grew up on 285… We drove to Perimeter Mall when there were cows across the street,” he said. The latest plan for the future of I-285 from the Georgia Department of Transportation calls for the addition of toll lanes on the top end of the Perimeter. Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and other area cities are advocating that transit buses use the lanes as well. Gravel said the toll lanes were not an inspiration for the contest and made it clear he’s not a fan. “The toll lanes are fine. But to me, we should be jumping ahead to transit and being real about transit,” he said. “I just don’t get that. I don’t get those [toll lanes].” Like officials in the “Top End” Perimeter cities, Gravel suggests, in his work on the city of Atlanta’s urban planning vision, using bus rapid transit on western I-285. He said projects such as a rail line ringing the Perimeter could be a transformative connection between metro Atlanta communities. “You could do it,” he said. “You don’t have to build anything new. You could take the middle lanes.” Regarding GDOT’s current plan, he said he understands the benefits of charging for driving and that cars will persist in American culture, but that toll lanes raise questions about equity, lifestyle and the future of transportation. “I’d rather start in a more aspirational place and just sort of go design something for everybody,” he said. “At the end of the day, toll lanes are still for cars, right? I just don’t think that ordinary cars are the future.” “The magic of the BeltLine is that it is absolutely a transportation project,” he said, “but it starts with [the question of] what kind of life we’d like to lead.” Gravel’s contest calls for clear, concise concepts that Generator can publicize and adapt. Winners will get unspecific awards “in a range of categories.” He said that won’t be taken too seriously. His idea is that all submissions will be hung on the wall and some judges he’ll gather will choose winners in categories that may be whimsical. He


The “Bigger Better Loop” design competition entry form includes a graphic showing I-285 and the Atlanta BeltLine.

reeled off such ideas as, “Best for People,” “Best for the Planet,” “Best Utopia” and “Best Dystopia.” The prize part is playful, too. What will the winners get? Perhaps a driving tour of the Perimeter? “Honestly, it just occurred to me today, what will people be expecting? I might craft something… But it’s going to be handmade for sure,” he said, adding with a laugh, “But I do like the idea of a personal tour of 285.” Gravel apparently was introduced to the idea of rethinking I-285 in 2017, when he made a keynote speech to the Sandy Springs Conservancy, a parks advocacy group, on the night that part of I-85 burned in a notorious fire. During the event, conservancy Executive Director Melody Harclerode asked about the future of I-285 and its possible alternative uses. However, in the recent interview, he said he doesn’t recall the exchange. “Y’all are so lucky to have Melody here because I’ve never heard that question….But I love it,” Gravel said at the time. “I love the idea of rethinking 285.” “It’s a public space,” he continued, suggesting that some of its many lanes be used for something other than cars. “Instead of thinking of it as a barrier between ITP and OTP [inside and outside the Perimeter], think of it as a place that people come to somehow.” Generator is based at 828 Ralph McGill Boulevard in Atlanta. For more information about Generator, see SS

| 23


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Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. With ice skating, food trucks, live music, “Bouncy” snowman, Coca-Cola polar bear, and a showing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at dusk. Free; $10 to skate. Brook Run Park, 4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody. Info:



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Sunday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. With gifts and jewelry from local artisans, Mediterranean food and pastries, premium liquor auction, used books sale, and children’s activities. Admission $5 at door. Congregation Or VeShalom, 1681 North Druid Hills Road, Brookhaven. Info: 404-633-1737.


international crafts and artist creations for purchase. Tickets: $20, $15 members, $10 children. Atlanta History Center; 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Through Dec. 23 Works of art and handcrafted gifts by local artists. Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Featuring a winetasting event Tuesday, Dec. 10, and special Handmade Gift Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 14. Free. The Spruill Gallery. 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: holidayartistsmarket.



Sunday, December 8, 4-7 p.m. Grammy-nominated band The Revelers play roots music during the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association (ACZA) Holiday Party, with Cajun and Creole food for sale. Tickets: $20, $5 students, $14 active military. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info:


Through Sunday, Dec. 8 The Stage Door Players return with a holiday comedy prequel to last season’s A Nice Family Christmas. Tickets: $34 Adult, $24 Student, $16 Youth. Stage Door Players, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info:



Sunday, Dec. 8, 4 p.m. Sandy Springs hosts its inaugural Sparkle Sandy Springs Holiday Parade, which will serve as a prelude to the Sparkle Sandy Springs Celebration and the tree-lighting. Event begins with a snow machine and hot chocolate at 4 p.m.; parade begins at 5:30 p.m. near the Heritage water tower and continues on Mount Vernon Highway to City Springs. Sparkle Sandy Springs features a holiday village 6-foot-tall wooden houses painted in holiday themes and adorned with lights, which remains on display all season. Free. City Green, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Friday, Dec. 13, 20 5:30-9 p.m. Santa Claus welcomes visitors to each of the three historic houses to experience Southern holiday traditions during the eras of the Civil War (Smith Family Farm), 1930s (Swan House) and pioneer days (Wood Family Cabin). Plus Holiday Market filled with local and

Through Sunday, Dec. 8 The Roswell Dance Theatre performs the holiday dance classic. The cast includes world-class artists who have danced nationally and internationally and aspiring young professionals from the performing company of the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance. Tickets: $25-$38. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way. Sandy Springs. Info:


Dec. 13 through Dec. 22 The City Springs Theatre Company performs a show-business holiday musical, based on the classic film and featuring Irving Berlin songs. Tickets: $30-$65. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:

Art & Entertainment | 25



Sunday, Dec. 8, 4 p.m. The Atlanta Concert Band and Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church will spread holiday cheer with sing-alongs, a bell-ringing, and hot cocoa. Free. Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church, 471 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Info:


Tuesday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. A concert to ring in the New Year. Optional pre-show dinner at 6 p.m. for VIP ticket-holders and an optional dessert package for after the performance. Tickets: $60-$150. Byers Theatre, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Jan. 6 through March 2 Perimeter Adult Learning Services offers eight-week session of classes in such topics as faith traditions around the world, history of American flags, first aid, Atlanta history, economics and more. Fee $50 for eight weeks; lunch can be brought or purchased for $8. Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: or 770-698-0801.


Tuesday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. The storyteller and cookbook author joins At-

lanta local Cynthia Stevens Graubart in discussing her decades of cooking. Tickets: nonmembers $10, members $5. Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info:


Sunday, Dec. 15, 4-6 p.m. Learn how to make all the Hanukkah dinner. Fee: members $20, non-members $25. MJCCA at Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info:

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Saturday, Dec. 14, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. With outdoor art installations, tree decorating, hot cider and cocoa, and a guided walk of the decorated trees. $25 to decorate a tree as a group. Blue Heron Nature Preserve, 4055 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info:


Wednesday, Dec. 25, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. With inflatables and push toys, crafts, community service projects, open swim in the indoor pool, basketball competitions, familyfriendly movies, music, and more. Free; food available for purchase. MJCCA at Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: H IG H


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


Thursday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m. The Buckhead Heritage Society will celebrate the holidays with a gala at one of the earliest homes built on Peachtree Battle Avenue. The event will feature a cocktail buffet, music and valet parking. Tickets: members $120, non-members $150. Info:


DEC 8 • JAN 12 Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and rotating exhibitions. Generous support for Second Sundays is provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

26 | Art & Entertainment ■

‘A Tuna Christmas’ marks the holidays, and a theater partnership BY JUDITH SCHONBAK The Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s production of “A Tuna Christmas” this month is a way to celebrate the holiday season – and a successful new partnership with Oglethorpe University’s Conant Performing Arts Center. “A Tuna Christmas” is the second production GET, the resident professional company at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, has brought to Oglethorpe under a “binding partnership” forged in 2018. The first, in June, was a remount of GET’s 20182019 season hit “Driving Miss Daisy.” Connections between the theater company and the university, however, were already ongoing. GET produced “Million Dollar Quartet” at the Conant in 2017. A number of Oglethorpe alumni work or have worked with GET and others have acted in season productions. And the university also hosts two of GET’s summer theater camp sessions. The Conant partnership grew out of a conversation between Anita Allen-Farley, GET’s co-founder and producing artistic director, and Sharon Moskowitz, the center’s managing director. “Sharon and I had a conversation that GET was going to have to find satellite space to perform if we wanted to increase the number of our productions each year,” said Allen-Farley. Another benefit, she said, would be to expand the theater company’s audience.

oped the terms of the partnership. It is ongoing and will expand as opportunities arise, including opportunities for university students for onstage and technical experience. The Conant is heavily scheduled during the school year, so GET has claimed a timeframe for a production during the summer and during winter break each year. GET pays an amount unSPECIAL der a licensed agreement for Enoch King, left, and Jill Hames star in the Georgia each use of the theater, and Ensemble Theatre’s production of “A Tuna Christmas.” Oglethorpe takes a “very small portion” of ticket sales, Moskowitz said her role as managing said Moskowitz. director of CPAC is “to bring in partnerThe Conant production of “Driving ships and collaborations in the performing Miss Daisy” was a success for the partarts with our mission in mind to enhance nership. Large crowds of new audiences the cultural landscape of the university packed the intimate 513-seat theater to see and the community.” After seeing GET’s the iconic show. production of “A Comedy of Tenors” last “A Tuna Christmas” is one of the six proseason in Roswell, she brought the partductions in GET’s 27th season and will be nership ideas to Oglethorpe President Larperformed only at the Oglethorpe location, ry Schall. running Dec. 13-29. A roundtable of 10 officials from In the comedy, two actors take on the Oglethorpe and GET assembled in earpersonae of 22 different citizens of the litly 2018 to design the partnership, includtle town of Tuna, Texas, with quick-change ing Schall, Moskowitz and Theatre Departartistry of personalities, voices, ages, atment head Matt Huff on the university titudes and attire. It’s a study in speed, side. adaptability and comedic talent. The fastBy March 2018, the group had develest head-to-toe costume change must be

completed in 8 seconds. The plot centers on a hot competition in the annual Christmas lights competition, won 14 years in a row by town snob Vera Carp, leader of the Smut Snatchers of the New Order. On the loose is a “Christmas Phantom” vandalizing the yard display and creating contest chaos. “A Tuna Christmas” is the second in a series about the town of Tuna written by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. The GET production is directed by wellknown Atlanta playwright Topher Payne. “This play is hilarious,” said Allen-Farley. “I like to laugh, and we chose it for the holidays so people could enjoy laughing for a couple of hours. It’s a respite from the same old bad news that is out there every day. And the characters are wonderful. You will recognize a lot of them. You may not like some of them, and there are some that will melt your heart.”


Friday, Saturday and Sunday December 13 – 29, 2019 Conant Performing Arts Center Oglethorpe University 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven Ticket sales through Georgia Ensemble Theatre only Ticket sales: www.get. org or call 770-641-1260

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Public Safety | 27


City Council approves additional fines for alarm companies that don’t verify calls within 24 hours BY HANNAH GRECO

The city will now collect additional fines from alarm companies if they fail to verify the calls within 24 hours. The city has made many amendments to its false alarm ordinance, which first went into effect in 2013, with the newest one coming out of a Nov. 5 city council meeting. The ordinance amendment went into effect immediately following council approval. The amendment says if an alarm company does not file evidence through audio or video or in-person of an attempted or actual crime, fire or other emergency at the site within 24 hours of the request, the company will be fined. The fines are $250 per occurrence for the first offense, $500 per occurrence for the second offense and $1000 per occurrence for three or more offenses. The amendment to the ordinance also deleted what police consider obsolete wording for the definition of “verify.” In June 2018, the city approved an amendment to require “true verification,” which demands alarm companies send confirmation of an actual or attempted crime or other emergency through audio, video or in-person in response to an activated alarm. The amendment says the verification must be provided to the city no more than 24 hours after the request for the dispatch of emergency services. The amendment went into effect in June 2019 to give alarm companies time to adjust to the change. The Chattahoochee River 911 Authority, or ChatComm serves the city as its 911 emergency call center. In 2017, ChatComm received an average of 815 false alarm calls per month, according to police. Since the amendment took effect in June 2019, the call center is now averaging 160 calls per month. While 99 percent are still false alarms, the overall volume of calls has significantly dropped, police said. When the June 2018 amendment passed, some alarm companies said it would force them to raise costs to its customers or to stop doing business in the city altogether. According to Police Capt. Dan Nable, while a few companies did pull out of the city after the June 2018 amendment passed, some new companies have entered into agreements with the city because they have the updated technology to handle the city’s standards. In 2013, the city implemented its first false alarm ordinance with the intent of reducing the number of false alarms. The city has since implemented a series of amendments to the ordinance, putting alarm companies, rather than alarm-users, on the hook for registration and fines for false alarms in July 2017.

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28 | Community ■

Future park site stalled by billboard lawsuit Continued from page 1 become known,” Paul said at the meeting. “The only thing that’s missing is simply for the judge to issue an order.” “Sometimes judges don’t have a deadline so they don’t rush to...make a decision,” Lee said. The property is a triangle of concrete and gravel that has remained untouched since commercial buildings were torn down by the city in August 2018. The billboards there display advertising for various businesses; in late November, they included one of City Springs’ own tenants, the Hydra hydration clinic. The issue with the property dates back years. In February 2016, the council approved the property to be taken using eminent domain. But in February 2017, the city came to an agreement to purchase the four-parcel site known as the Roswell Road/Johnson Ferry Road/Mount Vernon Highway triangle from the former owner W.B. Holdings Triangle LLC, whose principal is Adam Orkin, for about $4.8 million. After the purchase was agreed upon, the condemnation was dismissed. The city purchased the land for two projects. One is a park planned for the Roswell Road side of the triangle, called Triangle Park, that would face City Springs, the city’s civic and arts complex. The other is a project estimated around $30 million to reconstruct the Johnson Ferry/Mount Vernon Highway intersection into dual roundabouts to decrease traffic and increase walkability in the downtown area. After the purchase, Lee attempted a trade-off scheme to allow the billboard to be “upgraded” into an LED version in exchange for the billboard company, Outfront Media, removing three of its other, existing billboards anywhere in the city. But the council killed the proposal saying it did not serve the citizens well. Outfront Media is an outdoor media company that operates in Canada and the U.S. It owns the billboards and the poles,

but it was leasing the ground from Orkin. According to Lee, prior to the purchase, Orkin extended the lease with the lessees that rented the three billboards on the property. The amendment to extend the lease held a clause that said if the property was sold to an entity that could condemn it, the lease would cease to exist, Lee said. After learning of the clause, the city sued for an eviction warrant, and the case was heard in Fulton County Superior Court in December 2018, according to Lee. Simultaneously, OutFront Media sought attorney’s fees, saying if a city files a condemnation and then dismisses it, the condemnee is entitled if they have an interest in the property. “We answered, saying the interest dissolved when the property sold, just as the billboards’ right to be there dissolved when the property sold and the lease ended,” Lee said. Now, Outfront Media and the city have been waiting a year for a judge’s decision as to whether the billboard company is entitled to attorney’s fees and whether the billboards must come down. “We have been waiting on a decision ever since,” Lee said. Orkin and Outfront Media did not respond to requests for comment. City spokesperson Sharon Kraun said

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One of the billboards that the city is trying to remove recently held an advertisement for a business in City Springs.

the lease terminated upon the sale of the property, but the city is following the required legal process in order to “evict” them. “If you rented your home and then sold the property and the tenant refused to leave, you would have to go through a similar process to have that tenant formally removed,” Kraun said. Lee said the city’s options are to seek a rehearing or to file a complaint in a higher court against the judge not issuing an order in a respectful amount of time. “I think we’ve gone on long enough to where a complaint is appropriate,” Lee said. “We paid $5 million and you can’t use it.” District 5 City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio asked at the Nov. 19 meeting if the lessee has been paying rent to the city on the billboards. “Being the monetarist person around here, is their rent being paid on that billboard and if so, where is it going? And how much is it?” he asked. Lee said the billboard company tried to pay the city a year’s worth of rent -- about $24,500 -- but the city returned the check because it would negate the city’s case in court. Interim City Manager Peggy Merriss said city staff is brainstorming site improvements to make the area more aesthetically pleasing. The improvements should be able to stay after the billboards come down to be as economically sound as possible, she said. “When the billboards get torn down, what we have done won’t get torn down,” Merriss said at the meeting. “We are developing short-term solutions to improve aesthetics,” Kraun said. “It is in the top two eyesores in the com-


munity right now,” Paul said. Though finding a temporary solution may be a new idea, Kraun said the city’s long-term plans to create a park and a more walkable downtown in the area remain the same. In September 2017, the city issued a document with an overview of the various construction projects around City Springs, including a miniature 1.05-acre park across from City Springs in the triangle on Mount Vernon. “The Triangle Park is envisioned as a new, passive park for the city adjacent to the City Springs Development. The park will offer a front-row seat to the beautiful City Springs Performing Arts Center and Civic Center,” the document reads. In November 2017, former city manager John McDonough said the future park may include flags and some type of veterans’ monument. The idea for a park reappeared in the city’s comprehensive plan for the recreation and parks system, which was released in February. “One of the trails the plan included was a connection from the Abernathy Greenway to the Hammond Springs Shopping Center. That connection crosses Mount Vernon and Johnson Ferry at the planned City Springs Park II (Triangle Park),” the document reads. Although the park has been a long-envisioned goal, it will not be an easy feat for the city. At the Nov. 19 meeting, Lee said that even if the city gets an order for the billboards to come down, the demolition will be a long process because of all the concrete.


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30 | Community ■

4/2/2018 4/2/2018 4/11/2018 4/27/2018 12/31/2015 5/17/2018 9/9/2016 3/1/2017 3/1/2017 3/8/2017 3/20/2017 5/19/2017 5/17/2018 4/15/2014 2/5/2016 4/3/2018

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Continued from page 1

cation in 2016 at the North River Shopping Center at 8877 Roswell Road and was eyeing City Center Crossing, formerly known as Marshalls Plaza. In 2017, the proposal was driven out amid community concerns about traffic and demands for higher-end retail in the North End. Lidl also withdrew from its contract to purchase the location at City Center Crossing. Although the previously planned City Center location was not as far along in the planning process, Lidl has restored the plan, but there have been no permits filed to revive the North End location. In the North End of the city, there are two grocery stores: a Publix at 7525 Roswell Road and another at 8725 Roswell Road. The North End is the area of Sandy Springs stretching from Dalrymple Road in the south to the Chattahoochee River in the north, and from the Dunwoody border on the east to the west side of Roswell Road. The city has plans to revitalize the North End. It includes many middle- and lower-income households. According to the USDA, in 2015, an estimated 12.7 percent of US census tracts were considered low-income, as defined by poverty rate and median incomes. In a report released in May about understanding low-income areas with low access to healthy food across the nation, the USDA found the Atlanta-Sandy SpringsRoswell statistical area, which consists of metro Atlanta, to have 42.6 percent of neighborhoods as low-income and 21.7 percent of the low-income/low-access neighborhoods to be between 1 and 10 miles of the closest grocery store. Low access to healthy food is defined as being far from a supermarket, supercenter or large grocery store. The USDA uses a radius of about 3 miles when determining where there are “food

square miles, is a different story, with only two grocery stores of the same chain remaining which Alana Rhone, an agricultural economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said could potentially not offer the best prices or quality because of the lack of competitors in the area. “A food store with no close-by competitors may not offer the best prices or quality,” Rhone said in an email. Rhone said the variety of stores found in the downtown area can be beneficial for consumers in terms of the quality, price and options. “If a number of food stores are relatively nearby, competition on price, quality, selection of products and other store attributes is likely to be greater, which could benefit consumers,” Rhone said. Wolfe said the 2-mile radius retailers once used to determine whether a store would be successful is an outdated concept. Today they think in terms of traffic patterns and travel times. “It is an old-school grocer way,” Wolfe said. “You drop a pin and see if there are any other stores within a 2-mile radius.” Wolfe also said downtown Sandy Springs attracts grocers wanting to test their model on families that purchase larger amounts of groceries over urban cities like Atlanta where most people live in apartments with little to no room for grocery storage. “You have affluent families that live in single-family dwellings that eat at home more than they eat out,” Wolfe said. “There will be bigger-ticket grocery shoppers here than an urban environment where people are living in highrises.” This is not the first time Lidl has tried to expand its chain into Sandy Springs, or even to City Center Crossing. Stream Realty Partners proposed a lo-

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PRSRT ST US POSTAGE PAID Atlanta, GA Permit NO. 3592

2018-004041 2018-004041 2018-004507 2018-005235 2015-016458 2018-006237 2016-012058 2017-002709 2017-002709 2017-003010 2017-004119 2017-006653 2018-006213 2014-004742 2016-001584 2018-004142

11/2/2017 11/8/2017 11/8/2017 11/8/2017 11/8/2017 11/8/2017 5/16/2017 11/8/2017 1/20/2015 4/9/2015 5/9/2016 5/23/2016 7/5/2016 7/7/2016 8/21/2017


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S/W 9mm Firearm & Magazine 2016-007674 Wallet with misc. cards 2016-014093 Keltec 9mm, magazine, gun bag & ammo 2017-014771 Misc. Documents 2017-014677 Shoes and Purse 2017-014677 Brown Wallet 2017-014677 Sony Xperia Phone 2017-014677 Black Streamlight flash light 2017-014677 Drivers License 2017-006466 Wallet and ID 2017-014677 Bullet 2015-000838 Black Ski Mask 2015-004304 Red Shirt & Cell phone 2016-005923 9mm magazine 2016-006647 Misc. Clothing 2016-008633 Wallet 2016-008786 $114 2017-011239 Smith & Wesson airsoft pistol/Magazine 2016-011093 Apple I phone 6S 2016-012095 Beretta Firearm & Magazine 2016-012545 Samsung remote, mail, gloves 2016-013646 Cellphone, notebook, purse 2016-013646 Shell Casings 2016-015109 Ruger LCP .380 & Magazine 2016-015147 Silver medallions 2016-015523 Paperwork 2016-015523 Verizon Flip Phone 2016-016278 Kel Tec 380 Handgun & magazine2016-016942 Bruni 96 8mm (blank handgun) 2017-001595 Powerline BB Gun 2017-015285 Black Purse with Misc. Items 2017-015158 Gloves 2017-015158 Gray book bag with items 2016-015993 Painter Knife (Out with Feds) 2014-016256 Brown Backpack & contents 2015-000546 Blue Jacket 2016-004740 Samsung Tablet with red case 2017-016892 2 catalytic converters 2015-002991 Mens wallet 2015-003527 Nike Napsack, Key & Lighter 2015-004386 2 spent casings 2015-005954 Apple I pad 2015-009902 Black leather back pack 2015-011820 Bible, Key, Plug & Pen 2015-011820 2015-012445 Credit cards and gift cards Misc. Papers 2015-012510 Smith and Wesson magazine 2015-012623 Fitbit band 2015-013621 Keys & Papertowels 2015-013839 Screwdriver 2017-016663 40 Caliber Bullets 2016-003797 Car Key 2016-003891 Black airsoft gun 2016-006846 Checkbook with 9 checks 2017-007150 Black Purse with Misc. Items 2017-007150 Black Dasani Book Bag 2015-010655 Black Bag with birth certificate 2015-008704 Playstation 4 w/2 remotes & games 2015-010641 Northface Backpack 2015-010659 Samsung cellphone 2015-014891 40 Caliber Bullets 2016-003797 Car Key 2016-003891 Black airsoft gun 2016-006846 Bank of America 2018-000017 License Plate RJW5559 2018-000096 Black bookbag with misc. items 2016-009595 Green Drill with case 2016-009595 Black Laptop Computer 2016-009595 Silver Flash Drive 2016-009595 Folding Knives 2016-009595 White Apple I phone 2016-009595 Black blue Nokia Phone 2016-009595 Black I phone 2016-009595 Black I phone with silver back 2016-009595 Pink USB 2016-009595 Black Magazine & Ammo 2019-000868 Red Wendy’s Shirts 2019-000372 Motorola cellphone 2019-000372 Comcast ID Cards 2018-000504 Paper Documents 2018-001102 .32 Caliber Bullets 2018-001320 Wallet 2018-001688 ZTE Cellphone 2018-001782 Black LG phone 2018-002055 Black Samsung Tablet 2018-002055 Apple Macbook 2018-002055 HP Laptop (black) 2018-002055 HP laptop (silver) 2018-002055 Ford Vehicle Key 2018-002055 HP charger 2018-002055 Black/blue REI jacket 2018-002055 Black and Red backpack 2018-002055 Headphones/Miami Heat Backpack 2018-002055 Apple I phone with case 2019-002215 Bookbag containing copper 2019-005871 Visa Debit Card 2018-002073 Flower makeup bag 2018-002056 GA License Plate 2018-002101 Fox Gun Holster 2018-001767 Wells Fargo Cards 2018-002280 Black backpack 2017-010731 Bookbag 2018-001527 Bookbag 2018-003768 Keys 2013-015303 Keys 2013-015303 Folding Knife 2013-017105 Scale 2016-017613 Purse with contents 2018-004331 Packs of Cigarettes 2016-003889 temporary tag 2019-007882


Date Found 5/23/2013 8/10/2016 4/25/2018 11/24/2010 8/4/2014 4/18/2017 3/5/2018 5/29/2018 3/9/2018 3/29/2018 10/29/2015 11/18/2015 12/9/2015 1/6/2016 1/11/2016 2/5/2016 4/4/2016 4/24/2018 10/20/2013 10/20/2013 10/20/2013 10/20/2013 3/12/2015 6/1/2015 1/30/2017 6/11/2015


Case Number 2013-002658 2016-010353 2018-005176 2010-015473 2014-010239 2017-005065 2018-002647 2018-003694 2018-002923 2018-003761 2013-015133 2015-014638 2015-015505 2016-000216 2016-000361 2016-001611 2016-004170 2018-005067 2013-014535 2013-014535 2013-014535 2013-014535 2015-003101 2015-006500 2017-001236 2015-007040

Found Item Description backpack Bicycle & Backpack Gym Bag with clothes Flat screen tv with stancd Visa Debit Card Gray bag with misc. items Wallet badge & ID Amazon Envelope & Boxes PT-111 & Magazine Mastercard Business license Michael Kors Black Bag Raven Handgun Revolver - Rohn .22 caliber Point Blank Body Armor Samsung S6 Eastport Backpack with Contents Blue Nylon Card Holder Knit cap, cords, remote Video Camera Handy Cam Crowbar Colt Pellet Handgun I phone Phone Charger Four keys with magnetic key card Vehicle Registration and check book Wallet with Personal Items Tan Coach purse with personal items Phone case with personal items KPMG Mastercard Black Wallet Set of Keys Black bag with misc/ items Assorted Ammo Jimenez Handgun Magazine with rounds Multiple Mail Items Samsung Galaxy Cellphone Michael Kors Wallet Airsoft Pistol Purple Ipod Clear Bag with Red Candy GA License Plate Kimber 1911 Handgun, Magazine, holster Purse Black ID Holder Case with My Gluco Health DVD - Secret Window Debit Card, ID, SS Card Panasonic Lumix Charger Black Jacket and Key Car Keys Purse GA Drivers License GA Drivers License Debit Cards Military ID Malaysia Driver’s license Guatamala Passport Butcher Knife Vehicle Tag Mastercard gift cards Key ring with keys Pro Scan Tablet Airsoft gun & magazine Kinyo Speaker GA License Plate Kyocera Cell Phone Black Wallet Bookbag Mouse pad, book, board game Hi Point 9mm holster bullets & 2 magazines Taurus .38 special .38 ammo .25 cal mag, ammunition and case Student id master cards Glock 22 handgun and magazine Rohm Model 30 Revolver 6 rounds Air Compressor Brown Guess Purse Laptop bag Suntrust card, bra and tanktop Delta Credit card Flip cellphone Genie Garage Door Opener Black Samsung Smart Phone Black Givenchy Wallet Kyocera Cell Phone Black Purse with items Flashlight Purse with contents Blue hanging bag with clothing Scale, charger, and backpack Green Jacket and Black Cap Black/Blue Suitcase Highpoint Arms & 9mm rounds Taurus PT 24/7, magazine, & ammo Wallet & Contents Flashlight Children’s costumes and candy Black Michael Kors Purse Blue Bookbag HTC Cellphone Yellow Steve Madden Purse Keys Wallet Checkbook Wallet with Cards

Proposed grocery would be eighth near City Springs


Sandy Springs Police Department 7840 Roswell Road Suite 301 770-551-6900 MUST HAVE PROOF OF OWNERSHIP

outdoors P.20

The Varsity Turns 90 P.26

Head for the (Southern) Hills P.36


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There is a difference in the way people think about their purchases. Wealthier people will buy organic or obscure items, whereas middleincome [people] will only buy what they need. TOSH WOLFE DIRECTOR OF RETAIL SERVICES COLLIERS INTERNATIONAL deserts” -- areas where low-income and low-access areas overlap. It also examines areas where there are neighborhoods that are close to one grocery store or one type of grocery store, but far from a variety of

stores. “Obviously, areas that were far from any store had access issues,” the report reads. “However, areas that were close to one store but relatively far from a choice of stores may have had similar access issues—including lack of access to competitive food prices, quality and selection.” Wolfe said the lack of grocery stores opening in the North End mainly comes from a lack of demand from the middle-income market in the area. “There is a difference in the way people think about their purchases,” Wolfe said. “Wealthier people will buy organic or obscure items, whereas middle-income [people] will only buy what they need.” In the last few years, the North End has experienced another grocery project being killed, as well as a staple store closing. A proposal to develop a Kroger-anchored project with hundreds of apartments and townhomes and several commercial buildings on Pitts Road in the North End evaporated last year due to public concerns with it relocating a historic family cemetery. In Oct. 2017, a Kroger in the Northridge Shopping Center closed after more than 35 years of business. The store has experienced declining sales over an extended period of time and its closure was necessary, according to a Kroger spokesperson. The closure was seen by city officials at


Lidl has filed with the city for permission to open a new grocery on Roswell Road.

the time as an opportunity to bring in higher-end retail and fueled their effort to promote redevelopment in the North End. In June, the building that formerly housed the Kroger was bought by Rafat Shaikh, the president and CEO of Safeway Group. At the time, Shaikh said he was negotiating with “several” potential tenants. In November, an interior demolition permit was issued to the property for an unannounced project. Shaikh did not respond to a comment request. The shopping center is one of four on the North End being studied by Sandy Springs for redevelopment potential. The city is currently searching for a firm to

conduct the study. In the downtown district, in December 2018, the Publix at Sandy Springs’ Prado Shopping Center closed. The store had been open for nine years but had been underperforming for some time, according to a Publix spokesperson. Wolfe said the saturated grocery market will level out over time as people begin to settle into their travel routines and their preferred stores. “It naturally has a way of sorting itself out with supply and demand,” Tosh said. “But overall, the emergence of new competitors speaks very highly of Sandy Springs.”




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Up to


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