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DECEMBER 14-31, 2018 • VOL. 12— NO. 25

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► Highway toll lanes plan draws more anxiety, and some envy PAGE 4 ► Looking into 2019’s political crystal ball PAGE 10

North end redevelopment concepts head to City Council

Joy to the world

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

PHIL MOSIER

Lucy Strickland, 6, runs among the miniature decorated houses in the “Sparkle Sandy Springs” display at City Springs during its Dec. 2 opening. Continuing through Dec. 31, the free display at 1 Galambos Way also includes holiday lights, a Christmas tree and a Hanukkah menorah. The display is part of a package of holiday events running through New Year’s Eve at City Springs and its Performing Arts Center. For more information, see citysprings.com.

OUT & ABOUT Bring on the holidays with ‘Candlelight Nights’

Q&A Joe Gransden, the jazz man around town Page 18

Page 16

The North End Revitalization Task Force’s report is headed to the City Council, calling for a new multiuse trail, a community center and one large “catalyst” project that would spur retail and residential redevelopment in the area. The plan includes some affordable housing concepts, though there is tension within the group on how successful they would be. A citywide affordable housing policy, one goal of the task force’s work, was not clearly laid out as expected. Also missing is a clear plan for paying for all the redevelopment concepts other than a broad reference to government subsidies. The task force’s chair said the report is a successful, practical guide for the city. The task force’s co-chairs, however, expressed concern that it does not do enough to protect existing residents See NORTH on page 15

Housing nonprofit sues city, claims discrimination BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

I believe that when our airwaves are filled with holiday music, we are all bolstered with a little jolt of brotherhood. ROBIN’S NEST

See COMMENTARY, page 13 SIGN UP TO RECEIVE DAILY & WEEKLY EMAILS WITH LOCAL NEWS @ REPORTERNEWSPAPERS.NET/SIGNUP

A nonprofit in a legal battle with Sandy Springs over its transitional housing condos has sued the city, saying it’s trying to push out minorities and disabled people. The nonprofit, Mary Hall Freedom House, has been embroiled in legal challenges brought by the city for more than a year, alleging it is violating zoning rules by operating a drug treatment facility. See HOUSING on page 14


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BY EVELYN ANDREWS

arm. An art gallery and Holocaust memorial are also on the table.

evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs finished projects meant to transform the city in 2018 — and started some, too. The year saw the opening of City Springs, planning for the future of parks, drafting redevelopment proposals for the north end, and taking Atlanta to court over the water system dispute. Here are some of the major events of the year in Sandy Springs.

CITY S PR I N G S OP EN S

City Springs, the city’s new massive civic and arts center, opened in September, completing a years-long effort to open an ambitious $230 million complex that includes a new City Hall. The complex now hosts regular city government and public input meetings, as well as a wide range of music and theater performances. Some aspects are still being figured out — the Performing Arts Center manager left the operation three months after the grand opening, and some of the development’s restaurants have not yet opened. A “cultural center” initially envisioned as part of City Springs was spun out by the city into a separate building, proposed to hold local groups such as the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce and Visit Sandy Springs, the city’s tourism

TOL L LANES B R ING CO NCER N

The Georgia Department of Transportation released little information about its plan to build toll lanes on I-285 and Ga. 400, but the details that were known by the public brought major concerns from city and school leaders. The new lanes could tower 30 feet or higher above neighborhoods, and possibly bring new interchanges to Mount Vernon Highway, Johnson Ferry Road, Northridge Road and others. The Fulton County School District voiced concern that the new lanes, which would come close to or take property from some Sandy Springs schools, would be unsafe for students.

C OURT BATTLES END A S O THER S B EG IN

The year brought the beginning and end to several of the city’s court battles. The security alarm industry sued the city over its new ordinance that creates fines for false alarms that companies must pay themselves. Sandy Springs won a Georgia Supreme Court decision that paved the way for the city to shut down the three local strip clubs. In November, the city took

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Atlanta to court in a dispute about access to documents Sandy Springs has requested in preparation to challenge the water rates set by Atlanta. The city used eminent domain to take property for projects like the Sandy Springs Circle streetscape and Roswell Road sidewalk project.

R ESID ENTS LO B B Y FO R SCHO O L CHANG ES

A group of a few residents were able to leverage support to convince the Fulton school district to build a new North Springs Charter High School instead of a renovation. Some of the same people later called for a separate Sandy Springs school system that they say would save the city money and provide more control over the local schools.

SCANDALS FO R CE O UT O FFICER S, J U D G E

The city experienced two unusual scandals during the year. Municipal court judge Sharon Dickson resigned from the bench after accusations from a Muslim civil rights organization that she made “bigoted” comments to an Iranian-American defendant, whose sentence was later reduced. She remains on the Dunwoody bench. In a separate incident, three Sandy Springs police officers resigned from the department after one was charged in an alleged domestic violence incident. Two other officers resigned after an internal review found they violated policy.

V IO L ENT C R IM E C O M ES T O T O WN

2018 saw violent crime incidents unusual to Sandy Springs. An elderly woman was murdered in June in a particularly violent crime that remains unsolved. Another woman was killed Memorial Day weekend in a murder-and-arson attack, apparently by a boyfriend who later committed suicide. An alleged gang member was charged with dragging an FBI agent from a truck in a January incident in which he was shot. In May, a juvenile burglary suspect was shot by Sandy Springs Police officers after he allegedly shot at them and engaged in a three-hour standoff in a parking lot.

NO R T H END R EDEV ELO P M ENT P R O P O S ED

A city-created task force drafted a report calling for a new multiuse trail, community center and mixed-income housing to spur redevelopment in the north end. Additional ideas from three affordable housing advocates who were previously behind a secret mixed-income concept for the area, including creating an anti-displacement policy, were left out of the final report. The recommendations head to the City Council for review.

NEW PARKS OPEN AS MASTER PLAN NEARS COMPLETION The city closed in on creating a new parks master plan that is planned to guide future park creation and inventory the city’s existing facilities. Meanwhile, the city opened a new park at Windsor Parkway and planned new parks at Crooked Creek near the Chattahoochee River and in the River Shore neighborhood.

M O UNT V ER NO N/JO HNS O N FER RY C O NC EP T C HO S EN

The city unveiled its plan to remake the Mount Vernon and Johnson Ferry intersection, calling for a major realignment of the strange intersection, eventually opting to build the smaller of the grid concepts. A proposed cut-through road has remained a major sticking point among residents. It was first controversially proposed to cut through a Sandy Springs Branch Library park and then later through the house of a longtime resident. The city now says it will wait until the house “becomes available.”

EL EC TI O N O US T S S O M E LO NG TI M E R EP UB L I C A NS

The November elections brought major shake ups to local offices with some longtime Republican state officials replaced by Democrats. Democrat Josh McLaurin won the District 51 seat after a bitter race, replacing longtime Republican Rep. Wendell Willard. U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, a Republican who won her seat in 2017, lost to Democratic challenger Lucy McBath. Fran Millar, a longtime Republican state senator who represented Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, was defeated by Sally Harrell. Republican Rep. Meagan Hanson lost her Brookhaven and Sandy Springs seat to Democrat Matthew Wilson. Republican Rep. Deborah Silcox and Sen. John Albers held onto their seats. SS


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

Community | 3

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City takes Atlanta to court over water system records BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

SS

Sandy Springs is taking the city of Atlanta to court in a dispute about access to documents about the water service. Its complaint filed in Fulton County court alleges Atlanta has violated state open records law by delaying and refusing to provide records first requested in January, which Atlanta denies. Atlanta operates Sandy Springs’ water system. Sandy Springs has alleged, based on the records it has received, that Atlanta incorrectly uses water system funds and arbitrarily sets rates. Sandy Springs plans to challenge the water rates as part of the city’s ongoing mission to get control of the water system or improve its service. The city of Atlanta said it has not received a copy of the complaint, but a spokesperson denied it has violated the Open Records Act. “There has been no violation of the Open Records Act, or any other aspect of the law, for that matter,” city spokesperson Michael Smith said in an email. “This is an attempt to use the judicial system to strong-arm the city of Atlanta into acquiescing to Sandy Springs’ unreasonable demand that Atlanta relinquish ownership of its water system.” Atlanta has previously disputed Sandy Springs’ underlying claims about the water service. Atlanta’s handling of other open records requests under former Mayor Kasim Reed has been the subject of a state investigation. Some of those requests were made to the city’s Watershed Department for the water billing records of city officials. The city pledged in October to draft a new records policy following a dispute with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about other requests handled by Reed’s administration, the newspaper reported. According to the complaint, Sandy Springs city attorney Dan Lee sent notices for months between January and September, only to receive a portion of the records requested. Atlanta officials have said that a cyber attack earlier this year caused delays in fulfilling some requests, the complaint said. Under the state Service Delivery Strategy Act, cities that receive water service from another city are allowed to ask for rate and surcharge justification, Lee said. Atlanta has not provided that, and the latest rate study provided was

done in 2003, Lee said. Sandy Springs wants to do its own rate study, but has been unable to do so due the lack of records, Lee said. The complaint, filed in Fulton County Superior Court Nov. 29, asks for a court order compelling Atlanta to complete Sandy Springs’ open records requests, as well as leveling penalties against Atlanta for allegedly violating the Open Records Act. Sandy Springs also wants mandatory mediation to resolve the water services dispute. Lee said the city believes the water service problem is a public safety issue. “The problem Atlanta had last week highlights this,” Lee said, referring to a widespread water outage and boilwater advisory in Atlanta caused by a problem at a water treatment plant. Lee said Atlanta has 30 days from the filing of the complaint to respond, so the next update will likely be in January 2019.

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Highway toll lanes plan draws more anxiety, and some envy BY JOHN RUCH AND EVELYN ANDREWS The state’s plan to build massive toll lanes along I-285 and Ga. 400 continues to raise anxiety about local impacts, most recently from Fulton County Schools over possible land-taking. But in the world of transportation advocacy, the plan is drawing some envy, too – especially for using toll prices that vary with driver demand and for including a bus rapid transit line on Ga. 400. “Honestly, if you had BRT running on dynamically priced roads with real stations … Atlanta will be a national model,” says Chris Dempsey, the director of the Bostonbased advocacy coalition Transportation for Massachusetts. “People from Boston will be coming to Atlanta to say, ‘Teach us about transit,’ which is probably not what people from Atlanta are used to.” But before that happens over the next decade or so, the state must figure out how the “express lanes” will fit into neighborhoods. The early concepts have already rattled some officials in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs for possible land-taking and the idea of putting the lanes on ramps towering CHRIS DEMPSEY 30 feet or higher over neighborhoods and DIRECTOR plugging into new interchanges onto such TRANSPORTATION FOR local streets as Mount Vernon Highway. MASSACHUSETTS Fulton County Schools is the latest institution to voice concerns following a private Oct. 22 presentation from the Georgia Department of Transportation that showed possible toll-lane land-taking at Sandy Springs facilities, including a playground at Woodland Elementary and parking spaces at the district’s own headquarters on Powers Ferry Road. “It’s … concerning information that we want our schools and community to be aware of,” Superintendent Jeff Rose said at a Nov. 6 Board of Education work session. GDOT says that its toll lane plans are in the early concept stage and will change over time. In the case of the Fulton schools, GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale said, the property-takings were rough estimates done to fulfill a federal environmental study requirement. “The info we showed to them is all subject to change,” Dale said. “Based on the conversations, we are already looking at changes that may avoid some of the schools altogether.” So far, GDOT has held no general public meetings about the toll lanes, saying the concepts are not ready enough. However, GDOT has met off-and-on privately with “stakeholders,” such as the school system and the city of Sandy Springs, for over a year to get feedback on some details. GDOT also says it will meet with any local organization, such as a homeowners association, but it does not proactively notify residents who might be affected. The public meetings are finally coming in 2019. The Ga. 400 toll lane meetings will begin in the “first quarter” of the year, Dale said, and the I-285 toll lane meetings later in the year. The presentations will include concepts and alternatives, including a “no-build” option, Dale said. The public will not be presented with a done deal, she said. “There is still the flexibility,” Dale said. “We are not going to go to the public with a concrete, [set] in stone” version of the plan.

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The toll lanes are part of a metro-wide network GDOT is gradually building. One section, called the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes, opened earlier this year along I-75 and I-575. The intent is to allow drivers to speed through congested highways on entirely separate lanes in exchange for paying a toll whose rate varies based on demand — a system called “dynamic pricing” or “variable tolling.” GDOT is currently rebuilding the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange to improve traffic flow and safety. The toll lanes are a separate project that would add even more lanes — four


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

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on each highway — in construction that could take a decade. The Ga. 400 toll lanes are tentatively slated to come first, with a construction start in 2021 and opening in 2024. They would run between I-285 — or possibly a bit farther south at the Medical Center area — and Alpharetta’s McFarland Parkway. The lanes are also intended to carry a new bus rapid transit route operated by MARTA, which would work similar to a streetcar line, with large buses at platform-like stops. That involves building bus stations and interchanges at sites to be determined. On I-285, the toll lanes would run between I-75 in Cobb County and I-85’s Spaghetti Junction, with other segments to the east and west extending near I-20. Construction could start in 2022 and opening could come in 2028. The Northwest Corridor lanes are getting good reviews from drivers, according to media reports. That has caught the attention of Dempsey, the transportation advocate in Massachusetts, which doesn’t have the dynamic tolling system. He’s been sharing the Georgia stories on social media. As a former assistant secretary of transportation in his state’s government, and now director of a 70-plus-member transportation coalition, Dempsey has spent a lot of time thinking about how to deal with ever-growing traffic congestion. Dynamic tolling fits right in, he says, with the modern road-planning mantra that “we shouldn’t be building more lanes. Let’s manage the lanes we have better.” The idea is that letting some drivers pay to avoid congestion will reduce that congestion for everyone, and brings in revenue from a highway system that is currently heavily subsidized by everyone’s taxes. While toll lanes have some unfairness — they’re more affordable to wealthier drivers — Dempsey says some states use the money to subsidize tolls for lower-income drivers and to pay for public transit. And putting BRT on the Ga. 400 toll lanes would make commuting life better for everyone, he says, noting similar models have worked in such cities as Los Angeles. “You should be rooting for it,” he said. At the same time, Dempsey said, it’s important for communities to ask questions about local impacts like traffic and pollution. And he had his own question about GDOT’s specific model, going back to that mantra about managing lanes rather than expanding them. The current trend, Dempsey said, is to first place tolls on existing lanes, then see whether there is truly a demand-related need to add more lanes and “eminent domain and take people’s back yards — and that’s the right approach.”

Reporter Newspapers to change format, delivery in January Starting in January 2019, the print edition of the Reporter will move from biweekly to monthly, transforming into a bigger, two-section newspaper. At the same time, the four Reporter community editions will arrive by mail direct to local homes, while still being available for pick-up at many local businesses. “We think the larger, direct-mailed Reporter will better serve our readers in both convenience and content,” said publisher Steve Levene, who is also the founder of parent company Springs Publishing LLC. “These changes are also designed to better position the printed publications in a digital media environment.” In the past year, the Reporter group has accelerated efforts to turn the ReporterNewspapers.net website into a daily news source for Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. The new frequency and format are intended to complement the digital platform. “The new print edition will aim to help readers understand the big picture of those daily stories, and give some more breathing room to stories about the people and culture that make our communities great,” said Managing Editor John Ruch. “However, one thing won’t change: Our writers will still be at government meetings, community celebrations and the scene of breaking news, which are still at the core of our award-winning coverage of our communities.” Reporter Newspapers, a 60,000-circulation community newspaper group, was started in 2007 by Springs Publishing LLC. The parent company also publishes Atlanta INtown and Atlanta Senior Life.

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Time flies when you’re having fun.

And the past decade has been a blast. Happy 10th Anniversary, Dunwoody.

Learn more at discoverdunwoody.com


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

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Dunwoody marks a decade of cityhood BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

At midnight on April 1, 2009, dozens of people gathered in the parking lot at 41 Perimeter Center East to witness officers with the Dunwoody Police Department drive out on their first patrols of the newly formed city. Blue lights flashed and sirens wailed as the local residents cheered. “I’ll never forget it,” Ken Wright said of that night. “The sights and sounds and excitement were incredible.” Wright stood with the crowd that night as Dunwoody’s founding mayor. Just four months prior, on Dec. 1, 2008, nearly 82 percent of voters went to the polls and voted “yes” to create their own city. Wright and a team of volunteers and other council members quickly took on the job of forming a city from scratch, from hiring a police chief and police officers to awarding bids for management services to signing the lease for City Hall. “I’m proud of the foundation we poured for Dunwoody and future leaders,” Wright said. “There were a lot of tough decisions, tough conversations, as we tried to make the right decisions on behalf of our community.” Dunwoody’s path to cityhood and creating a new government was not an easy one. State lawmakers and DeKalb County officials at the time, led by the controversial and colorful CEO Vernon Jones, successfully fought off the cityhood efforts by Citizens for Dunwoody and Yes Dunwoody organizations for three years. Opponents to Dunwoody argued the majority black DeKalb County would lose a sizable chunk of its tax base if the wealthy, mostly white community of some 35,000 people in north DeKalb broke off to form its own city and government. The loss in tax dollars would result in reduced services for the more than 700,000 county residents, they argued. Cityhood proponents claimed their tax dollars were being wasted by a county government mired in controversy and scandal, including the CEO being accused of illegally using campaign funds in 2005 to promote passage of a $95 million parks bond referendum. Desire for more local control of zoning, better police service and more infrastructure improvements, such as paving, were among the driving forces to create Dunwoody, said state Sen. Fran Millar. “The number one thing was to get the services we were not getting,” Millar said. “It was not about race.” Millar was in the state House at the time and assisted former state Sen. Dan Weber in getting the legislation to incorporate Dunwoody approved in the General Assembly. “Dan Weber was the guiding force. It was his vision,” Millar said. “Vernon [Jones] made it easy, but Dan deserves the credit.” Wright said he was also inspired by

Eva Galambos, the founding mayor of Sandy Springs, to take up the fight to create Dunwoody. When he was president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and “she was trying to get pigs to fly” in neighboring Sandy Springs, Wright said Galambos would often attend DHA’s annual meeting to give updates about the lengthy legislative battle to put the city of Sandy Springs to a vote. The “when pigs fly” reference is popular in Sandy Springs lore as a comment former state Sen. Vincent Fort supposedly said about the chances of Sandy Springs becoming its own city. Sandy Springs was finally approved in 2005, becoming the first city to split from Fulton County control. Their success spurred Dunwoody to follow suit and after three years of tough battles, Dunwoody became the first city to separate from DeKalb County in 2008. “We were the first to break the mold,” Wright said. “It was a firefight for two to three years.”

The next 10 years

It was apparent Millar was still stinging from his loss to Democrat Sally Harrell in the November election as he talked about the city’s changes over the past 10 years. A Dunwoody resident for nearly 40 years who represented the city at the General Assembly for 20 years, he only won the city by a few points. People living in single-family dwellings were the backbone of the cityhood movement starting in 2005, Millar said. But single-family homeowners no longer dominate the city’s population of 50,000, and more and more residents are living in multifamily housing, he said. “And you see changing demographics, obviously,” Millar said. “It’s a different Dunwoody going forward. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing,” he added. Current Mayor Denis Shortal was on Dunwoody’s inaugural City Council and said the mission of the city today is the same as it was 10 years ago. “To continue the enhancements of quality of life for our citizens,” he said. “The emphasis is to make sure all citizens know they are important. And the whole key is

Above right, Mayor Denis Shortal and Bev Wingate, who both worked to create Dunwoody 10 years ago, cut a birthday cake at a small ceremony Dec. 10 at City Hall. (City of Dunwoody) Top left, state Sen. Fran Millar. Bottom left, Ken Wright, Dunwoody’s first mayor. (Special)

to keep in perspective the finances we have. “The spirit of citizens that live here … they feel things are better, that’s my feeling,” Shortal added. Major developments on the horizon in Perimeter Center will shape Dunwoody into the next decade, Wright said. The massive High Street mixed-use development, approved by DeKalb County a year before Dunwoody incorporated, is set to break ground next year. The development is expected to have 1,500 apartments and 1,500 condominiums as well as a hotel, a new office tower and retail space spanning 10 city blocks and 8 million square feet. Grubb Properties’ planned redevelopment of Perimeter Center East, where the former City Hall is located and where the Dunwoody Police Department’s officers rolled out on their first patrols on April 1, 2009, includes 900 condominiums and a new office tower. “The evolution of our business center brings with it a lot of new expenses, a lot of new potential police, strains on our infrastructure … things that go along with growth that the council will have to deal with,” Wright said. Millar said that Perimeter Center will always be the city’s, and the region’s, economic engine. But the residential neighborhoods and communities surrounding the business center will remain the heart and soul of the city for years to come, he

said. “The bulk of our residents continue to see Dunwoody as a bedroom community,” he said. “We don’t consider ourselves an urban nexus. “But much of Dunwoody is new and fresh and young people new and fresh,” he added. “That’s fine. You go with the flow and see what people want. That’s the world we live in.” The bitter battle between Dunwoody and DeKalb County that raged a decade ago has mostly subsided, Millar said. He noted his work with DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond to get a special local option sales tax and a freeze on property taxes approved. “The relationships are pretty good, much better than the previous regimes,” Millar said. Wright, who lost a bruising battle with Democrat Mike Wilensky for the state House seat once held by Tom Taylor, said he believes it is important for current local leaders to make sure national political attitudes don’t impact local policy and elections. “The political divide 10 years ago was not as harsh as it is today,” Wright said. “Keeping that divide away from our local governments — I hope that can be maintained. It’s nothing but harmful.”


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10 | Commentary

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Commentary / Looking into 2019’s political crystal ball As 2018 wraps up and a new year looms, we asked a dozen local newsmakers to peek into their crystal balls and see what’s ahead. Here’s are their thoughts on 2018 and their ideas for what’s to come in 2019.

ularly having to do with traffic and transportation … think MARTA! We will also benefit from the coalition’s relationship with City Hall to be selected for the futuristic Smart Cities Program, bringing “Buck Rogers”-type innovations into play.

Sandy Springs City Councilmember Chris Burnett

Dunwoody City Councilmember Pam Tallmadge

In 2018, our city, state and nation continued to enjoy the benefits of a strong economy and while I expect some slowdown in 2019, I remain optimistic that Sandy Springs and metro Atlanta will continue to thrive, given the significant desirability of our region. Locally, through top-quality performances and culturally intriguing programs, we will position City Springs and the Byers Theatre as the premier destination for our citizens to gather as a cohesive community. Transportation needs are always a crucial initiative and transportation-sales-taxfunded road projects will continue in earnest in 2019. Next year, we also expect to formalize a strategic plan to economically stimulate the northern end of Sandy Springs with a focus on affordable housing for empty nesters and for the first responders, teachers, medical and service personnel that are crucial to our community. Finally, we will continue work on infrastructure improvements, such as road paving, sidewalk installation and park and greenspace projects, to further enhance our quality of life and we are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the city of Atlanta to improve the reliability and cost of our water system. 2019 will be another busy year for Sandy Springs and I am personally excited about what the future holds for our great city.

Brookhaven City Councilmember Linley Jones

2018 was a banner year for the city of Brookhaven! Years of public input and effort paid off as voters went to the polls and approved a park bond that will fund top-notch parks throughout our city. 2019 promises to be equally exciting as Brookhaven undertakes these major park improvements along with significant projects from the Ashford-Dunwoody Corridor study, including a constantlyflowing right turn lane from Ashford-Dunwoody Road southbound onto Peachtree Road. These projects will, of course, incorporate the sidewalks and paths that are assured to provide us all with great connectivity and mobility in the years ahead. The city is also preparing to break ground and start construction on the Peachtree Creek Greenway, the beltline path that will one day connect our city to paths throughout the metro area. These projects and many more promise to make 2019 yet another banner year for the city of Brookhaven!

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell

As the Buckhead Coalition celebrates its 30th anniversary, we must confess use of the wellknown adage, ‘build it and they will come,’ for that’s exactly what we urged when organizing in 1988 … and it happened. Described back then as a sleepy bedroom community, Buckhead caught the attention of some of the country’s leading developers satisfying the hunger for such an address. We went through the need for office space that provided millions of square feet, a phenomenon that scared the inexperienced, and economically dampened some of the plans. But, following the downtimes described by some as recessions, we came out of it with even those at the end of the cycle renting up to 90 percent capacity. More recently, we experienced the boom in rental apartment construction, which has increased our inventory some 150 percent in the last seven years. This expansion has been satisfied, so we’ve moved on to the next phase, that of hotel and specialty space (such as assisted living, self-storage, medical). What’s next for Buckhead? Probably more of the same. The community is so successful, our attention is turned to governmental partnerships. This is coming into being with all levels -- city, county, state, federal – finally showing interest in infrastructure, partic-

Parks: I look forward to the new amphitheater at Brook Run Park. This facility will be an outdoor venue to revitalize music, drama and dance programming; it is an outdoor focal point for all our citizens’ activities. I stand by the Dunwoody Nature Center and Donaldson Bannister House building projects, educational programs and events. I will continue to support Spruill and Stage Door Players in talks of expansion and design. I cannot wait to see the new Perimeter East Park designed, developed and finished. Trail Connectivity: There is a grand plan to have all the city connected by multi-modal trails. The key deliverables are: the Peachtree-Dunwoody Road Pathway provides interconnection from the Hammond Drive area northward to major employers such as Cox Communications. The Ashford-Dunwoody Road Pathway, along the Perimeter Mall frontage, connects the Dunwoody MARTA station with numerous office developments on the east side of Ashford-Dunwoody Road to restaurants and shops to the north of Perimeter Center West. In the pipeline is connectivity from Georgetown to Perimeter Center East. Village Overlay: I believe it is crucial that the village has a makeover. My dream is added greenspace, less asphalt and walkable entrances. My wish for 2019 is for everyone to get involved somewhere, somehow. Join a committee or club … the list is endless.

Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris

Property taxes will continue to be a major issue in 2019. While many appealed sharp increases in 2018 and will therefore not see increases in 2019, property values will continue to increase in many neighborhoods. New voter-approved homestead exemptions will apply in 2019, providing relief to many: the so-called “floating homestead exemptions” for the city portion of our bills within Atlanta and for Fulton County Schools’ portion within Sandy Springs; the increase in basic homestead exemption for Atlanta Public Schools’ portion within Atlanta; and the new $50,000 senior exemption for the county portion. The General Assembly may look for other ways to provide relief, especially for seniors struggling to stay in their homes. We will continue in 2019 to shine transparency on issues that tend to shift burdens from commercial owners to homeowners, including Tax Allocation Districts, possible commercial property undervaluation, and tax abatements provided by development authorities.

DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader

DeKalb will be focused on delivering on the promise of Special Local Option Sales Tax-financed infrastructure improvements, now that the program is at last underway. The negotiation of a new EMS transport contract will test our ability to integrate the DeKalb Fire Department’s first-responder role with the full spectrum of medical transport responsibilities of a third party contractor, to deliver consistent high coverage and affordability Countywide. The unknown prospects for more municipalization will challenge the sustainability of service delivery strategies, as the uneven distribution of tax base and service demand across DeKalb complicates maintenance of uniform service levels. Continued investment in the water/sewer system will increase pressure for a rate increase, so DeKalb must meet the demand of new customers to offset our system rehab costs. Finally, our growing reserves must be maintained, but a property tax cut should soon become a priority. SS


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

Commentary | 11

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State Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs)

As we begin a new legislative session in January, I believe one of the most important decisions we will make is to help choose and appropriate the funds for a new election system. We must have integrity in our elections. Transit will also be an important topic as we begin implementing House Bill 930 from last session that creates the new Atlanta Region Transit Link Authority or “ATL” for the 13-county metropolitan region. The recommendations of the Senate School Safety Study Committee will also be a significant topic this session, and I hope will result in significant safety improvements for all students in Georgia.

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State Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell)

I am confident 2019 will be another great year for Georgia. My communities of North Fulton and Cherokee County are consistently ranked as the best places to live, work, raise a family, enjoy public safety, etc. This is a testament to the hard work by our first responders, educators, elected officials, business owners and citizens. Continuing to build upon our strong conservative foundation will allow our communities and state to thrive. My prediction for 2019 is a renewed kindness and professionalism to rise from the ashes of rhetoric. As the No. 1 place to do business for the past six years, Georgia will continue this trend by allowing people to fulfill the American Dream. We are truly blessed and should all recognize the abundance by serving others joyfully and more often.

State Rep.-elect Matthew Wilson (D-Brookhaven)

This is going to be an interesting session under the Gold Dome. With so many new faces and perspectives, not to mention a new governor, there will be a lot of uncertainty about which issues the leadership will choose to tackle this year. Clearly, we need to focus on what we all promised we would do and strengthen our public schools. Governor-elect Kemp promised to raise teacher pay and I am all on board, but it will take a coalition of both Republicans and Democrats to get it done. There is, of course, plenty more work to be done to determine how the state can better equip our teachers and students with the resources they need to succeed. I am also hopeful we will truly expand access to healthcare and continue the good work of late on transit. These are all priorities for which I will be advocating, and I am ready to get to work.

State Rep.-elect Mike Wilensky (D-Dunwoody)

This session will be unique. For the first time in 20 years we have a new governor and lieutenant governor starting in the same year. We have over 30 new state representatives and about six new state senators. Also, because of the Super Bowl, this session will finish later than normal, likely ending sometime in April. With all these changes, we must prioritize Georgia businesses and stay away from legislation that discriminates. We must make sure our local public schools retain their current funding and work to increase funding through adjusting outdated legislation. Creating sensible gun laws that prioritize the safety of our children and families is crucial. Advancing our voting system technology must also be a top priority. Last, with the creation of the ATL board, we must continue what has been started and prioritize transit both financially and through proper planning and construction.

State Rep.-elect Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs)

We’re a nation suffering from division. Many of us have felt firsthand how painful this division can be in our families and communities. But we’ve also woken up to the reality that we must engage with our neighbors more and in better ways if we want to have a healthy democracy. We can’t hide behind our computer screens and nurse anger at each other and expect to see change. Thankfully, so many people have begun to participate in civic life these last few years by voting, meeting their neighbors, and joining civic organizations. In my view, this renewed engagement is our only hope for a brighter future for our children.

Kevin Abel, former Congressional candidate and Sandy Springs resident

The Sandy Springs North End Revitalization Task Force has spent the last year struggling with how to revitalize the northern stretch of our city, including the question of affordable housing. As they approach the end of their study period and make their recommendations to the Sandy Springs City Council, no consensus has been reached. Developers and some wealthier citizens would like to see low-rent apartments give way to higher-end housing and retail. Advocates for affordable housing would like to see improvements to existing developments and a recognition that the city must accommodate all of its citizens and workers, not just the upper end of the economic spectrum. In order to be the progressive city of the future that we citizens of Sandy Springs aspire to be, we must ensure housing options exist for the full economic spectrum. Those who work in our hospitals, restaurants, schools and other local businesses deserve no less. SS

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12 | Commentary

Being a Santa for everyone is more than a job

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Around Town

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

As Santa Rick sees it, putting on the red suit “It’s not about anything other than the and the white beard and ho-ho-ho-ing your children, and innocence, and believing in way through the holidays isn’t just a job. It’s the best the world has to offer. That’s really much more than that. what Santa is about to me.” “It’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever exRosenthal, who held various kinds of jobs perience,” Santa Rick said, “And it makes you through his life, decided to embody Santa as a better person. ... It changes you, and it’s the a career after his dad died in 2011. He was biggest responsibility you’ll ever have because close to his father (“I had the best dad in the it touches everybody. It’s not a job.” world,” he says.) and, following tradition, Santa Rick — the name Rick Rosenthal puts didn’t shave after his dad died, he said. His on his business cards and website (SantaRick. beard grew in white. He kept it for months. com) and the name people called him as the One day when he was shopping in a north DeKalb resident chatted over lunch of Home Depot store, he realized a young boy matzo ball soup at a Toco Hills deli one recent was watching him from another aisle. The afternoon — has been the living embodiment boy appeared awestruck. Rosenthal suddenof Santa for years. ly realized the boy thought the man with the He’s Santa all the time. At age 66, he apbushy white beard must be Santa. pears as the holiday spirit at parties and events “He was staring right at me like a deer in year-round at such places as Children’s Healththe headlights,” Santa Rick said. “I walked care of Atlanta;, spreads holiday cheer on TV, over to him … and said, ‘Don’t tell anybody at baseball games and photo shoots; and even you saw Santa in Home Depot buying tools operates his own school to teach others how to for the elves.’ The kid just froze. I knew what properly portray Santa. he was thinking. I said, ‘That’s it. I’m Santa.’ “It’s important people realize what a big reI knew it was a sign.” sponsibility being Santa is,” Santa Rick said. Through the years, Santa Rick has devel“He’s different from anybody in the world. He oped rules for portraying Santa. He’s welldoesn’t live forever, but your grandparents dressed and well-kempt. “Santa is very regal knew him and sat on his knee, too.” and pristine,” Santa Rick said. And he has plenty to say about Santa. For And, of course, he’s a good listener. “Peoone thing, Rosenthal, an Orthodox Jew himple will tell you things they won’t tell your self, argues Santa isn’t just a Christian symbol. spouses, good and bad stuff,” he said. “PeoSanta Rick obviously has thought this through. ple are very open and raw, actually, and they When he starts talking about Santa, his words trust you 100 percent because you’re Sanrush out in a tumble. ta. I can’t tell you how it feels to have peo“Santa is different from Saint Nicholas,” ple unconditionally love you because you’re PHIL MOSIER he said. “There are two camps in Santa World. Santa. You’re that guy.” Santa Rick in his holiday best. One camp thinks Santa is a religious figure There are only a few things, Santa Rick and he should tell everybody the reason for the said, that he absolutely would refuse to do season. Another camp, that I happen to belong to, says that Santa is a toymaker and as Santa — serve divorce papers, for instance, or hand out dismissal notices when that he should provide hope, love and inspiration … employers are firing people. But the people who would ask Santa to do those kind of “Santa is a toymaker. That’s who he is. He loves you and he wants the best for evthings surely belong on his “naughty list” anyway. “I wouldn’t do that because I’m erybody. He wants the best for you. … It doesn’t have anything to do with a specific Santa and Santa wouldn’t do that. religion. ... Santa, he gets around. He’ll visit people of all religions. … “Santa is very real,” Santa Rick said. “Give him a chance, you’ll know it.”

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DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

Commentary | 13

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Canned or classic, Christmas tunes give a jolt of brotherhood

A ASlice Slice ofof AGood Slice of Good Cheer Cheer Good Cheer

For one season a year, whether we living overseas. As I push “play” each Delike it or not, we’re all living to the same cember, it’s like hearing the voice of a dear purchase of $25 or more soundtrack. There might be a million and friend who visits for a few months each one different versions of “Deck the Halls” year. purchase of $25 or more Sandy Springs and every conceivable maleThese tunes ground me 5975 Roswell Rd,Sandy Ste A-103 Springs female duo trying a hand at and keep me centered. I’ll Sandy Springs, GAA-103, 30328Sandy Springs, GA 30328 5975 Roswell Rd, Ste purchase of $25 or more “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” but be rushing to buy or wrap, (404) 236-2114 (404) 236-2114 Sandy Springs we’re all hearing essentialdecorate or bake, when my 5975 Roswell Rd, Ste A-103 NothingBundtCakes.com ly the same 20 tunes, played playlist rolls to “Some chilNothingBundtCakes.com Sandy Springs, GA 30328 Expires 12/31/18. Limit one (1) coupon per guest. Coupon must be presented at time over and over again. dren see Him almond-eyed.” Sandy Springs Expires 12/31/18. Limit one (1) coupon per guest. Coupon of purchase. $5 off $25ofbefore tax.$5Valid only at the bakery(ies) listed. Valid only on must be presented at time purchase. off $25 before tax. Validgoods; only at the Valid onlyNo on baked (404) 236-2114 baked notbakery(ies) valid on listed. retail items. cash value. may not be reproStores everywhere have So, I stop and smile. The mu5975 Roswell Rd, SteCoupon A-103 goods; not valid on retail items. No cash value. Coupon duced, transferred ortransferred sold. Internet may not be reproduced, or sold.distri-bution Internet distri-strictly prohibited. Must be claimed been hammering us with sic transforms my bustling bution strictlyduring prohibited. Mustbusiness beSprings, claimedhours. in bakery during in bakery normal Not valid for 30328 online orders. Not valid with Sandy GA normal business hours. Not valid for online orders. Not valid any any other offer. with other offer. canned carols for months in about into a kind of prayer. (404) 236-2114 NothingBundtCakes.com an attempt to ramp us all up The “Still, Still, Stills,” the “SiExpires 12/31/18. Limit one (1) coupon per guest. Coupon into the holiday gift-buying lent Nights,” the “O Come, must be presented at time of purchase. $5 off $25 before Can’t Find Your Home in Sandy Springs? Call Me! tax. Valid only at the bakery(ies) listed. Valid only on baked spirit. But after a few weeks Emmanuels” transport me goods; not valid on retail items. No cash value. Coupon 18-TR-0041-1030-1 Bakery #: 41 NothingBundtCakes.com may not be reproduced, transferred or sold. Internet distriof the pounding, it backto a place where Christmas Trim: 4.75” X 3.875” Sandy Springs bution strictly prohibited. Must be claimed in bakery during Expires 12/31/18. Limit one (1)valid coupon per guest. normal business hours. Not for online orders. Coupon Not valid fires. After all, there are only is truly still, where Christmust be any presented at time of purchase. $5 off $25 before Bleed: n/a Print with other offer. tax. Valid only at the bakery(ies) listed. Valid only on baked so many times you can hear mas Eve is sacred, where Adgoods; not valid on retail items. No cash value. Coupon may not be reproduced, transferred or sold. Internet distriAndy Williams belting out vent is spent in reverent anbution strictly prohibited. Must be claimed in bakery during normal business hours. Not valid for online orders. Not valid “The Most Wonderful Time with any other offer. Robin Conte lives with ticipation. of the Year” without going And though I think that her husband in an empFor Sale: full-on bah-humbug. we can agree that they start 18-TR-0041-1030-1 Bakery #: 41 ty nest in Dunwoody. To And it’s a shame, realit way too early (and in spite Your Trim: 4.75” X 3.875” Sandy Springs contact her or to buy her ly, because there are, in fact, of the fact that while we’re House! Bleed: n/a Print new column collection, pushing a cart through Tarwonderful images and rec18-TR-0041-1030-1 Bakery #: 41 “The Best of the Nest,” get, Jimmy Boyd is bound ollections wrapped up in the 4.75” X 3.875” Sandy Springs see robinconte.com. to see mama kissingTrim: holiday tunes. Songs evoke Santa Bleed: n/a Print memories. And the songs of Claus), I believe that when December might evoke the clearest memour airwaves are filled with holiday muKeller Williams Realty First Atlanta AngIe PonSELL, SANDY SPRINGS ories of any. sic, we are all bolstered with a little jolt of I grew up on the Kingston Trio’s “Last brotherhood. Month of the Year” album, and I truly bewww.kwatlanta.com www.isellsandysprings.com came weepy-eyed when I recently found that album again on Spotify. When I was young, my siblings and I used to bounce around the living room of our split-level house while the Trio sang a rollicking rendition of the title track: “You got July, August, Sep-tember, October anda November. Was the twenty-fifth day of December, was the last month of the year!” Hearing that song again allowed me to reach out and touch those memories as if I were dusting off a yellow-edged photograph. Even though the tinned tunes of commerce are grating, our personal collections are soothing. Our own melodies conjure images of firesides and sleigh rides, of comfort and joy, of family gatherings and holiday feasts. Once I escape the blaring of the malls, I slip into my own Christmas music like a comfy robe. That’s because my home is a risk-free music zone. In my house, no grandma of mine or anyone else has ever got run over by a reindeer, and Wham will never sing about Last Christmas. JinVisit us today to see how gle Bells will not be barked, meowed or you may qualify for a quacked, and the only Madonna allowed in is not singing to “Santa, Baby.” Instead, I cozy up to the warmth of Rosemary Clooney crooning “White Christmas” and de-stress to the strains of the Vince Guaraldi Trio playing the soundtrack from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I have some collections that are unique enough to escape constant replays at the malls and thus remain untainted: the hammer dulcimer album discovered at a grocery store in north Georgia, 7455 Trowbridge Rd, NE | Sandy Springs, GA 30328 the Christmas with Reindeer jazz duo that 404.255.0640 | www.sewellappliance.com sounds like a classy cocktail hour, the German albums our family obtained while

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14 | Community

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Housing nonprofit sues city, claims discrimination Continued from page 1 “This case arises out of the city of Sandy Springs and its highest officials’ blatant discrimination against homeless women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and/or mental health disorders,” the lawsuit complaint says. The city, which once honored MHFH’s founder Lucy Hall with its Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, now finds itself being sued by her for alleged racial discrimination, including a top city official referring to residents as “these people.” The city is defending its citations, saying they are based only on MHFH’s alleged violations of the code. “The complaint against Mary Hall Freedom House and [the housing site] Freedom Village deals directly with the organizations’ violations of the city’s zoning laws and nothing more,” city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said in an email. “As our concerns with these violations are now within the courts, we will wait for the judge’s decision before any further comment.” MHFH, which helps women with homelessness and addiction issues, in 2017 bought more than a third of the 90unit condo complex at 9400 Roberts Drive, drawing criticism from other residents and legal challenges from the city. The city has issued three rounds of citations to MHFH, alleging it violates the city’s zoning code and lacks proper licensing. MHFH pleaded no contest to the first citation, but the next round was dismissed by a judge, the lawsuit said. MHFH had a city court hearing Dec. 11 for the most recent citations. The citations allege the nonprofit is operating drug treatment facilities out of the condos. The nonprofit says that it only houses its clients there and treatment takes place elsewhere. To help with their defense against the

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citations, MHFH had enlisted a public relations firm and former Atlanta Mayor, Congressman and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who visited the condos Dec. 3 and spoke in support of the nonprofit. Hall’s operation once received praise from the city, which gave her the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award in 2009, but the relationship has since soured. Sandy Springs also provided funding for MFHF for several years, but stopped in 2016. The lawsuit is against the city, Mayor Rusty Paul, City Attorney Dan Lee, Com-

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Andrew Young, left, a former Atlanta Mayor, U.S. Representative and U.N. Ambassador, talks with reporters about Mary Hall Freedom House alongside Lucy Hall, right, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit, in one of the group’s units at the Reserve of Dunwoody complex on Dec. 3.

munity Development Director Ginger Sottile and City Solicitor William Riley. The plaintiffs are Hall; MHFH; Freedom Village, a holding company for the condos; and two clients who live in the condos. The complaint, which was filed in federal court Dec. 12, claims the city does not want MHFH operating because it brings and treats women the city considers as “less desirable.” It argues the city has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act by targeting minorities and people with disabilities, mental health or substance abuse disorders. “For the past year, the city, led by its Mayor Rusty Paul and City Attorney Daniel Lee, has engaged in a campaign to rid the city of Mary Hall Freedom House and Freedom Village and the women they serve through repeated and groundless city code citations and prosecutions purportedly for violations of the city’s land use ordinances,” the lawsuit said. The lawsuit alleges that city staff made discriminatory statements to MHFH. In August, Sottile is alleged to have told Hall, “You wouldn’t want your daughter living around these people.” The lawsuit also alleges that City Councilmember Jody Reichel, who is not named in the lawsuit, asked a MHFH board member “how he would like it if Mary Hall Freedom House was located in Dunwoody where he lived.” The city’s citations allege that MHFH is

operating a drug treatment facility at the condos and office at 8995 Roswell Road. Drug treatment falls under social services, which are not allowed in the zoning the properties are in, Kraun said. The lawsuit argues that the city has violated double jeopardy by citing MHFH multiple times for violating the same rules, and alleged that the city is applying those rules unequally. The lawsuit named four other drug treatment programs in Sandy Springs that are not zoned for social services programs but have not received citations. “Defendants intentionally failed to impartially, uniformly, and equally apply the city of Sandy Springs’s zoning ordinance to white, non-disabled residents of the City,” the lawsuit said. MHFH also alleges the city changed part of its zoning code specifically to target the nonprofit by adding “rehabilitation centers and community living arrangements” to the social services category. But even if it is found to be providing social services, MHFH argues it would be grandfathered into the old zoning code because it was operating previously to the new one taking effect in 2017. “This change was designed specifically to close a known gap in the ordinance and attempt to ensure it caught Mary Hall Freedom House and Freedom Village,” the lawsuit said. SS


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

Community | 15

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North end redevelopment concepts head to City Council Continued from page 1

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from displacement. “This task force put in well over 500 hours of volunteer time to produce these comprehensive, realistic and actionable recommendations to revitalize the North End,” said Councilmember Steve Soteres, who represents the north end and chaired the task force, in a written statement. “The plan is essentially replacing our essential workers for a more affluent worker and disrupting both the socioeconomic and racial diversity of the area,” affordable housing advocates David and Melanie Couchman said in a written statement. The philanthropic couple served as co-chairs on the task force. The report was finalized at the task force’s final meeting Dec. 5, where it was voted for by everyone on the group except for three affordable housing advocates who were not able to get all of their recommendations into the plan. The report will next be reviewed by the City Council at its January retreat. The city-created task force has been working since the summer to draft a plan to bring new development to the north end, ultimately deciding on six key proposals: build a multiuse trail; incentivize new mixed-use and mixedincome developments; make Roswell Road improvements; build new streets and pedestrian connections; create new access to the Chattahoochee River; and build a community center and swimming complex. At the beginning of the process, Mayor Rusty Paul challenged the group to find a way to accomplish two contradictory goals: attempting to boost higher-end retail, which hinges on a wealthier customer base, without displacing the working-class residents of the city’s perhaps most diverse area. He said “gentrification” must be avoided, citing the Atlanta BeltLine as a cautionary tale. The housing piece of the proposal is centered on bringing new mixedincome developments and increasing homeownership in the north end. That would kick off with one “catalyst” project led by the city that creates a “sense of place,” is walkable and mixed-income. “We are fortunate to have City Springs which is doing that in the middle part of the city, but we need something like that in the north end,” said Richard Munger, who authored the housing and development piece of the proposal. Munger is a developer with North American Properties, which owns the giant mixed-use projects Avalon in Alpharetta and Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta and recently joined Dunwoody’s proposed High Street.

The North River area is the best candidate for the project, the report said. The city’s new land-use plan already called for the redevelopment of the apartment complexes in shopping centers in that area. “We suggest starting with a catalyst project that can show others how walkable projects can work in the North End and serve as a template for future developments,” the report said. The report was expected by the city to include actionable items with clear funding solutions, the lack of which stalled similar previous reports. Funding sources are more clearly mapped out for some of the task force’s proposal, but the housing and development section is vague. The city would likely have to partially fund the catalyst project, along with “other innovative funding sources,” the report said. The proposal suggests the city contract with a developer to create a master plan for the north end. The city should use fee waivers and regulations exemptions to incentivize developers to participate in the catalyst project and offer mixed-income housing, the report said. Although the advocates opposed the overall plan after their alternative housing proposal was voted down by the task force, they were able to get several of their key ideas into the main plan. Those ideas include studying the current housing stock, schools, transportation and businesses; creating an affordable housing impact statement; and providing financial assistance to property owners to renovate apartments while keeping them affordable. The city should look to nonprofits for help funding affordable housing preservation, the report said. “With a group this large having such diverse experience and backgrounds, you will inevitably have some disagreement,” Soteres said. “I think the discussions were healthy and helped shape a great plan.” The advocates’ plan that was voted down included those proposals, in addition to creating an anti-displacement and relocation policy; hiring a staff member to oversee affordable housing initiatives; and stronger encouragement of preservation of existing affordable housing. No specifics were given for how to create the anti-displacement policy. During meetings Meaghan ShannonVikovic, an affordable housing advisor, cited other cities that have successfully assisted with relocating residents and allowing some to return after a redevelopment project is finished. The lack of these ideas concerns the Couchmans, who said in an email that the plan as it was approved doesn’t do enough to address concerns about dis-

EVELYN ANDREWS

David Couchman, standing at the front of the room, presents an alternative plan at the Dec. 5 north end task force meeting.

placement, gentrification and rising rents residents expressed at the public meetings held by the task force. The Couchmans also noted several times during the meetings they had issues with the task force’s membership, which did not include any north end apartment or business owners and was mostly developers. It also appeared to be all white. “We are disappointed in the vote, but it wasn’t a surprise,” the Couchmans said in a written statement. “The makeup of the task force was a clear indication, from the beginning, where this process was headed.” Some of the key parts of the task force’s proposal show similarities to a previously secret concept the Couchmans advocated to city staff for years, which the Reporter revealed earlier this year. That concept included building a mixed-income development in the North River area and the idea to build a community center. The task force unanimously supported the other proposals and all other members supported the entire plan.

Developer Jack Arnold was not present and did not vote yet, however. Funding for the other proposed projects varies. To build a swimming complex and community center and create more pedestrian access to the Chattahoochee River, the report suggests the city consider a parks bond, citing Brookhaven’s $40 million bond it passed in November as an example. For the Greenline trail, which does not yet have a proposed route, the report simply says the city needs to “identify alternative funding sources,” in addition to relying on TSPLOST funding, the city’s general fund and right-of-way donations. Right-of-way donations are also suggested for the idea to remake Roswell Road, which calls for pedestrian and cyclist improvements, including protected bike lanes. The concept, which is encouraged in the report to be flexible for new technology like autonomous cars and electric scooters, could also be considered for federal dollars, the report said.

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16 | Art & Entertainment

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

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HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS MOUNT VERNON CHRISTMAS ARTS SHOWCASE

Monday, Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m. Mount Vernon Presbyterian School presents a family friendly celebration of Christmas featuring choirs, bands, dance troupes, string ensembles and actors aged 8 to 19. $9$19. Byers Theatre, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City

Springs, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info: citysprings.com.

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 ever-changing exhibitions. Second Sundays are sponsored by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

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CANDLELIGHT NIGHTS AT THE ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER

Friday, Dec. 21, 5:30-9:30 p.m. The gardens and grounds of the Atlanta History Center will be decorated and illuminated by candlelight, with a holiday market filled with local crafts and exhibits of holiday traditions from the pioneer days, the Civil War era and the 1930s in three historic houses. Santa visit, improv comedy show, storytelling and musical performances. $20 adults; $15 members; $10 children. Food available for purchase; cash bars. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: atlantahistorycenter.com.

NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

Saturday, Jan. 5, 1-2 p.m. The Dunwoody Nature Center holds a bowl burning ceremony, where written statements are burned as a way to move on. Enjoy s’mores around the fireplace. 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody. Info: dunwoodynature.org.

PERFORMANCES “MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET”

drbrentmurphy.com | 404-480-4008 | 755 Mount Vernon Highway NE

Ongoing through Saturday, Jan. 12 Georgia Ensemble Theatre remounts its 2017 show, the Tony Award-winning musical, “Million Dollar Quartet,” at Oglethorpe University. Based on true events, the show was inspired by the recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. Tickets start at $40. Senior/student discounts available. Conant Performing Arts Center, 4484 Peachtree Road N.E., Brookhaven. Schedule and more info: get.org or 770-641-1260.


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

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GET ACTIVE FLASHLIGHT FRIDAY NIGHT URBAN HIKE & MOVIE

Ongoing Fridays through Dec. 28, 8:30-9:30 p.m. Bring your flashlight and join the Heritage Sandy Springs Outdoors Club for a 3-mile hike through scenic areas of Sandy Springs. The walk starts and ends at the Sandy Springs Cinema & Taphouse, where an optional movie begins at 9:30 p.m. The walk is free. Movie admission is $11.50 for adults and payable at the cinema. Advance registration is highly recommended. 5920 Roswell Road, Suite C-103, Sandy Springs. Info: facebook.com/groups/hssoutdoorsclub.

KIDS AND FAMILIES FRIENDS OF BROOKHAVEN LIBRARY BOOK SALE

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Shop at the monthly book sale held downstairs in the Brookhaven Library. All proceeds benefit the Friends of Brookhaven Library. 1242 North Druid Hills Road N.E., Brookhaven. Info: dekalblibrary.org.

FAMILY FUN DAY

Tuesday, Dec. 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta offers a day of inflatables, movies, sports, swimming, crafts and JCC Maccabi Games. Community service projects will also be offered, in partnership with The Packaged Good. Free. MJCCA-Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Registration: atlantajcc.org.

LEARN SOMETHING ATLANTA WORLD WAR II ROUNDTABLE

Thursday, Dec 20, 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Atlanta World War II Roundtable will hold a luncheon meeting featuring the topic “The Athletes in WW2.” Future meetings are held monthly on third Thursdays. Military speakers are featured at each meeting. $20 individual; $35 couple. Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. RSVP requested: atlantawwiiroundtable.com or 770-457-4409.

SCANDINAVIAN WEAVING

Saturday, Dec. 22, 2-3 p.m. Weaving instructor Elaine Bradley teaches the traditional Scandinavian craft of weaving a snowflake or star which can be displayed as a table favor, hung from a ribbon, filled with mistletoe or attached to a gift package. Supplies will be provided. For adults. Free. Funded by Friends of the Dunwoody Library. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: dekalblibrary.org.

I GOT A NEW DEVICE, HELP!

Thursday, Dec. 27, 11 a.m. to noon Take your new phone, tablet or laptop and your questions about them to the Brookhaven Library which says it can help you get them up and running. For adults. 1242 North Druid Hills Road N.E., Brookhaven. Info: dekalblibrary.org.

MARIST EVENING SERIES

Mondays, Jan. 14, Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, 7-9 p.m. Marist School presents three evenings of courses for adults taught by the school’s faculty and staff. Course topics include religion and spirituality, art history, ceramics, photography, college planning, history and culture, poetry, self-discovery, and more. $95 (by Jan. 5); $110 (after Jan. 5) Marist School, 3790 Ashford-Dunwoody Road N.E., Brookhaven. Register: marist.com/eveningseries. Onsite registration will be available Jan. 14 from 6-7 p.m. in Marist’s Whitehead Cafeteria.

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Art & Entertainment | 17


18 | Art & Entertainment

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CHASTAIN-SANDY SPRINGS OFFICE Q&A L I S T I N G S A C R O S S AT L A N TA

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On any given night, Joe Gransden draws a crowd. The musician figures he plays more than 340 gigs a year throughout metro Atlanta, the Southeast and in New York and California. On Nov. 29, Gransden played at the White House tree-lighting in D.C. The trumpet virtuoso, singer and bandleader is a name in jazz and big-band music, and he has a passion to make the music and to share it with established and up-andcoming musicians, including through a jazz camp. At 46, Gransden has made a name for himself and his 16-piece band. He also has a trio, quartet and even a sextet. He has released 14 albums, the latest in April. Called “Go Getta,” it features award-winning saxophonist Kenny G. Gransden counts among his fans Clint Eastwood, the legendary filmmaker, musician and jazz aficionado. “Joe is a young man with an old soul and a classic voice,” reads a quote attributed to Eastwood on Gransden’s website. “He is a great new talent with a wonderful sense of humor to boot. And don’t forget, he plays a hell of a trumpet!” The Joe Gransden Big Band plays twice a month at Café 290 in Sandy Springs, where the band has played for nine years for a fervent following, and Wednesdays at the restaurant Valenza in Brookhaven. Gransden’s packed holiday schedule includes New Year’s Eve performances at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and with singer Francine Reed. For more information, visit joegransden.com. The Reporter recently caught up with Gransden on his busy touring schedule and

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Art & Entertainment | 19

asked him about his life in music.

Q: You were known as a trumpet player and did not sing in the earlier days of your career. What led you to become a vocalist?

A: Singing was not on my performance radar. I considered myself a trumpet player, but survival came into play. About 20 years ago, I had a trio — piano, bass and trumpet — and we played twice a week at a now-closed Italian restaurant in Midtown. We earned $50 and a plate of the house special per night. One night the manager told me that he really liked our music, but wanted a singer, so he was thinking of looking for another band. My on-the-spot response was that I could sing. And I found out I could. The next show, I sang, and everyone seemed to like it. Tips got better, too. Q: Where did you get your inspiration to sing? A: I guess I always sang, but never thought of performing as a vocalist. I fell in love

with the trumpet listening to my grandfather play when I was a kid. He gave me my first horn. Music is in my DNA, so I guess it was inevitable. My grandfather, William Gransden, was a freelance top trumpeter and played with many of the big bands of the 1930s and ’40s. My dad, Bob Gransden, is a piano man and a singer. He is still going strong and plays four or five gigs a week.

Q: Since your dad is a vocalist, did he help you when you added singing to your performances? A: My dad gave me a lot of pointers. Among the most important, he said, “Be true to the song. In other words, don’t mess with it.” And, “Let the song tell the story.”

Q: You formed your big band in 2009. What prompted you to take that plunge? A: When I was 20, I was in my second year studying trumpet at State University of

New York in Fredonia, New York and I got a call to audition for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. I got the job and left school to join the orchestra. It was life-changing. I was the youngest guy in the band, and for a year we traveled all over the U.S., Europe and South America. I remember sitting on a stage in Europe with that band. I loved the sound, the music and the bond with the musicians. I thought, “Someday, I am going to have a band like this.” The popularity of big bands comes and goes over the years. I had been going back and forth between New York City and Atlanta. I had ties to Atlanta having gone to Georgia State and my parents had moved to Roswell. I moved to Atlanta after 9/11. In 2009, it seemed the time was right. I had been playing with all the top guys over the years and I called them to ask them to join my band. They are an incredible group. Big band is enjoying another run of popularity. People are dancing more and the club scene is strong in Atlanta and New York. While we play mostly in Atlanta, we are likely going back this summer to the popular Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.

Q: You became friends with Clint Eastwood after a friend suggested sending your CDs to him and other celebrities. What created a bond between you?

A: We hit it off right away over golf, jazz and music. He loves music and plays both the trumpet and piano. And he has lots of great tales to tell about my heroes, like Miles Davis, Chet Baker, [Frank] Sinatra and others. We enjoy hanging out together over a couple beers. He has invited me many times over the years to play at parties, and we get together when he is filming in Atlanta. I visit his set sometimes and he pops into Café 290 when my band and I are playing. It has helped my career a lot. I’ve met his friends and they have hired me. He is a real fan of mine. He introduced me to Kenny G and suggested we play together. Our first duet was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” We wrote and recorded an album together, “Close to My Heart,” and he is featured on my latest album, “Go Getta.”

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20 | Education

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DeKalb Schools’ redistricting plan gains residents’ support BY EVELYN ANDREWS

gether, residents said. “One of the previous options carved out a portion of the neighborhood. I appreciate that this plan is keeping Ashford Park together,” Residents largely approved of the revised another said. Brookhaven school redistricting plan presented The changes would allow the district to remove at a recent public meeting, saying it better keeps 17 “portable classrooms,” or trailers, which one together key neighborhoods and would successresident said is a “huge pro.” fully address overcrowding at some schools. Others said the district seems to have worked “They listened from the last meeting,” one resout a better way to address traffic patterns. ident said. “I’m really pleasantly surprised.” “It seems to be more efficient with how far peoThe Nov. 27 meeting was the final public input ple have to travel up and down Clairmont Road session for the DeKalb County School District’s and Buford Highway,” a resident said. “It seems to redistricting process to fill the new John Robert minimize that as much as possible.” Lewis Elementary and relieve overcrowding at Under this plan, Lewis Elementary would be at Brookhaven schools. The plan presented would 94 percent capacity, which one resident said may move 607 students to different schools. mean the redistricting “doesn’t go far enough.” Lewis Elementary has over 500 open seats, vaDan Drake, the district’s interim chief operating cancies that the school district hopes to use to officer, said that the district needs that buffer to curb overcrowding at nearby schools in the Cross ensure it doesn’t go over capacity and need portaKeys cluster. Named for the congressman and ble classrooms. civil rights leader, the school is currently operatNearby middle and high schools are also mildly ing in a temporary location on North Druid Hills affected. Eight students would move from ChamRoad and will open in a new building on Skyland blee Middle to Sequoyah Middle. Fourteen would Drive in August 2019. move from Chamblee High to Cross Keys High. Most redistricting changes in the staff-recomThese moves would keep each student moving mended plan would move students to Lewis Elefrom elementary to high school in the set feeder mentary, except for 62 students that would move patterns, Drake said. from Briar Vista to Woodward and three from These changes would slightly increase the Fernbank to Montclair. Moving to Lewis Elemenutilization of Sequoyah Middle and Cross Keys tary would be 22 students from Ashford Park, 93 High, which are both over capacity. However, new from Montclair, 210 from Fernbank and 195 from schools are in the pipeline to address their overWoodward. crowding. DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT The school district has held two prior meetStudents who would move and are rising into A map shows the DeKalb County School District’s redistricting plan. ings, gathering input and presenting two options the final grade at each school would be able to stay residents generally liked. But some questioned with no transportation provided, the district said. the methodology behind some choices and expressed concern about longer travel disSince the middle school and high school changes would increase the overcrowding, tances and splitting up neighborhoods. one resident said that keeping every student on the exact feeder pattern may not be necThe single staff-recommended plan came out of that feedback and was presented at essary and the district should take a second look at that practice. the final public meeting. The superintendent will now adjust the plan based on further inHe said the district should be better at communicating how new schools would alleviput and submit it to the school board for approval, scheduled for February 2019. ate that problem. New schools in the pipeline include a new Cross Keys High and convertThe public can still provide input through an online survey and at future school board ing the current high school to a middle school. meetings. Nothing is in the pipeline for Ashford Park Elementary, which would still be over caThe redistricting changes would go into effect when the school year begins and Lewis pacity by more than 100 students, but Drake said it is likely to become part of the Cross Elementary opens in the fall of 2019. Keys cluster once the new middle and high schools open. The school is currently part of The main points of the plan were presented by Hans Williams, the district’s director of the Chamblee cluster. planning, before the residents split off into breakout sessions to provide feedback, which Addressing overcrowding at Dresden Elementary, which is also part of the Cross Keys was generally positive. cluster, will come in 2019, ahead of the opening of Cross Keys North Elementary, a workThe plan would completely relieve Montclair and Woodward overcrowding, and parting name. ly alleviate Ashford Park Elementary. Dresden Elementary is not addressed in this plan. For more information, visit dekalbschools.org/redistricting. “I think they achieved the number one goal, which is addressing the overcrowding,” one resident said in a breakout session. Residents were supportive of the revised plan keeping more neighborhoods together. Chunks of neighborhoods that would move seem to be more unified instead of pieced toevelyn@reporternewspapers.net

Education Briefs

‘ B LACK PANTHER ’ ARTI S T V I S I TS S A NDY S P R I NG S S C HO O L

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Classes Filling Quickly!

An artist who did illustrations for major works such as a spin-off comic for Marvel’s “Black Panther” series visited Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs to mentor students. During a three-day visit in December, Afua Richardson, who has done illustrations for other Marvel comics and for U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ upcoming graphic novel, provided advice to middle school art students on their graphic novel projects, a school press release said.

ST. M AR TI N’S HEA D R EC O G NI ZED FO R INC R EA S I NG DIV ER S I TY

St. Martin’s Episcopal School’s Head of School Dr. Luis Ottley was recognized by the diocese for increasing diversity at the school. Ottley was awarded the Bishop’s Cross at the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s annual council meeting in November for his work advancing the diocesan mission to “draw the circle wider,” according to a press release from the Brookhaven school. In his two years at the school, Ottley has hired a director of diversity and inclusion and more people of color as faculty and staff, enhanced the multicultural education committee, diversified the board and increased the diversity of the student body, the release said.


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

Classifieds | 21

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Curriculum Director for Chinese Studies - Chinese Cultural School, Inc. seeks Curriculum Director for Chinese Studies to plan and evaluate Chinese studies curriculums and programs for adults and children Chinese education; format policies and educational goals; direct and develop curriculum materials for Chinese classes and associated activities; implement and direct educational planning, teaching methods and coordinating the activities; direct and couch teachers on class preparations, teaching materials, methods and other cultural activities. Min. Bachelor degree or its foreign equivalent degree in Foreign Language plus 2 years of exp. in teaching Chinese language. Send resume to 3737 Brock Road, Bldg. 100, Duluth, GA 30096. Attn: Chinese Cultural School

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22 | Community

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Cultural center vision is still being shaped BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

The city’s proposal for a new “cultural center” received a largely positive response at its debut public meeting. But some major pieces of the concept’s origins and its future remain unclear, including whether it can compete for a new state Holocaust memorial and whether it was essentially already approved by the public in an eight-year-old master plan document. The center would hold several offices, an art gallery and potentially be a place for the state’s Holocaust memorial, though that may be going outside the state Capitol, a lawmaker said. Groups interested in being part of the center, which is expected to be built somewhere around City Springs, include Visit Sandy Springs, the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and its Anne Frank exhibit already in Sandy Springs. The organizations using space in the building would be required to pay a portion of the design and construction of the building, as well as part of the cost to run the building.

Holocaust memorial

The cultural center has been discussed by city officials as a good location for the Holocaust memorial now required by a state law passed earlier this year, but a lawmaker behind the legislation says it may already be claimed. State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, who represents part of Sandy Springs and sponsored the bill, said she is in discussions to put the memorial at the state Capitol building. A display at the Gold Dome “is what I had in mind with my bill,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’d like to see both, but putting something educational at Capitol would be a lot faster!” Kirkpatrick said. “I’d like to see both, but Sandy Springs has a lot of moving parts.” Sally Levine, the director of the Holocaust Commission, which would build the memorial, said it has not officially determined where it will be or what form it would take. But the group does know it will be an educational display of some sort, since that is the group’s mission, Levine said.

SANDY SPRINGS NOTICE OF VARIANCE PETITION Petition Number:

V18-0042

Petitioner:

Kalyn Keeney

Location:

201 Mount Vernon Highway

Request:

Variance from Section 8.2.10. to construct a 10’ tall privacy fence

Public Hearing:

Board of Appeals January 8, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Location:

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

SANDY SPRINGS NOTICE OF VARIANCE PETITION Petition Number:

V18-0042

Petitioner:

Kalyn Keeney

Location:

201 Mount Vernon Highway

Request:

Variance from Section 8.2.10. to construct a 10’ tall privacy fence

Public Hearing:

Board of Appeals January 8, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Location:

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

“It’s not going to be a slab of marble or a statue, unless there is a strong education component,” Levine said. If the Holocaust memorial does not come to Sandy Springs, the cultural center would still have the “Anne Frank in the World,” exhibit operated by the commission that would move from the Parkside Shopping Center on Roswell Road.

A product of the master plan

The first public discussion of the cultural center came at the Nov. 6 City Council, though Mayor Rusty Paul said residents should have been aware of the idea far earlier. The idea for the cultural center came out of the City Center Master Plan, which the city completed in 2012 and sets a strategy to create a downtown and “identity,” Paul said. The new City Springs civics and arts center is a major product of that master plan. “This is not new. In fact, it’s old,” Paul said of the cultural center concept. “Maybe it’s new because they forgot about it, but it hasn’t been sprung on anybody.” The master plan vaguely mentions creating new “cultural facilities” and calls for a new “civic/cultural center that functions as a place of community activity and identity,” seeming to refer to what eventually was built as City Springs. The cultural center is only mentioned as a general concept in the plan, and no specific discussion about a place for these groups is included. However, Paul said the cultural center was once discussed as going inside City Springs, but there was no room left. The cultural center isn’t the first project to come out of the master plan, which mapped out a strategy for the entire City Springs district. The controversial Sandy Springs Circle streetscape project surprised many when it was proposed in 2016, though city transportation officials said the design was publicly vetted long ago through the master plan. Like the cultural center, the streetscape was in the master plan as a general concept. Another major strategy from the master plan is making a new grid street system, which has already started through the recent construction of Denmark Drive. The proposal to remake the Johnson Ferry and Mount Vernon intersection was included in the master plan and has undergone significant changes and public input since. Originally proposed as dual roundabouts, the intersection is now being designed as a grid. Several people at a Nov. 29 public meeting about the cultural center asked about its location, which has not been determined. Paul said that the site selected as the “preferred location” in a bid document, which included the current location of Buckhead Motor Works and part of Heritage Sandy Springs’ property, was never a firm decision. “We just pulled a parcel out of the air,” Paul said. “We had to put a stake in the ground for the architect.” The city owns several parcels in that area, but not that location, and the city has not had serious discussions with the owner about buying it, he said. The center is planned to be in that area and close to City Springs, he said. The city owns the Heritage Sandy Springs piece. Heritage Sandy Springs, in a 2016 master plan, identified its part of that site as a possible location for a new museum for its own exhibits. A budget for the center has not been determined, Paul said, and won’t be until programming decisions are made following the residents’ input. The city has already spent $154,000 on the design contract with Houser Walker Architecture.

Public meeting proposals

At the Nov. 29 public meeting, residents’ wish list for the center included music, possibly small outdoor concerts, classes that correlate with the art exhibits, workshops, speakers and community meeting space for small groups like book or garden clubs. Randy Young, an architect involved with Art Sandy Springs, said the center is “a great idea” and encouraged including an art teaching component in the center, including possible hands-on classes and interactive gallery spaces. Another supported an outdoor garden space, saying it could be a good place for reflection following a visit to the Anne Frank exhibit. “It would be nice to have a garden to walk into to think about what you’ve seen,” one resident said. The center could bring more personality and identity to the city, which has begun to form with City Springs, some residents said. “I kind of think Sandy Springs never had an identity,” one resident said, “We need it to be more than commercial and shopping strips.” Paul addressed some residents’ opposition to the entire idea of building the center, saying, “We can’t make everybody happy. We’re never going to get unanimity.” “But based on the input we’ve gotten, we’re comfortable there’s a consensus on doing this.” The architecture firm will next put together all the residents’ input into a report that is expected to be presented to the City Council at a January work session. A concept design is expected to be discussed at the council’s retreat later that month. SS


DECEMBER 14-31, 2018

Community Briefs TH R EE P OL IC E OF F IC ERS R ESIG N F OL LOWI N G DOMESTIC VI OL EN C E INCID ENT

Three Sandy Springs police officers have resigned following an alleged domestic violence incident between one of the officers and his ex-wife, the department said. One of the officers was the commander of the SWAT team that also serves Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Johns Creek. Officer Anthony Sandoval was charged Nov. 23 with simple battery and domestic violence by Cobb County Police after a dispute outside of a restaurant at The Battery, the development surrounding SunTrust Park, a Sandy Springs Police Department press release said. He immediately resigned from the police department, according to the release. Two other officers, Cpt. David Huffschmidt and Sgt. Amanda Stein, resigned following an internal investigation, the release said. The investigation did not find them to be criminally involved in the domestic incident, according to the release. The investigation found internal policy violations, said spokesperson Sgt. Sam Worsham in an email. Worsham did not provide any other details about the investigation’s findings. Huffschmidt was serving as the commander of the North Metro SWAT team at the time of his resignation. The former assistant commander, Capt. James McNabb, has replaced Huffschmidt, Worsham said. Commanders are chosen by the chiefs of police, Worsham said. Two other employees were interviewed but will face no disciplinary action, the release said.

THR EE S A N DY SP RI N GS P OSTA L WORKER S AM O NG 16 C ON V IC TED OF BRIBES F OR DRUG D ELIVER IES

Three Sandy Springs post office workers were among 16 in metro Atlanta who were convicted over the past year of accepting bribes to deliver cocaine as well as mail, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced. The announcement came Nov. 27, the day the last of the 16 defendants was convicted in federal court following an undercover operation where U.S. Postal Service letter carriers and clerks agreed to deliver what they thought was cocaine on their routes. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, postal workers as drug-carriers came onto the radar of authorities in 2015. At that time, federal agents investigating a drug-trafficking organization in Atlanta learned that the dealers were bribing postal workers to pick up and deliver drugs on their routes, “including through residential neighborhoods,” according to the press release. Sandy Springs workers, who all pleaded guilty earlier this year, included Kawana Rashun Champion, a clerk at the North Springs post office, Tonie Harries and Clifton Curtis “Cliff” Lee, who were both letter carriers at the Sandy Springs post office, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

C IT Y BUY S ROSWEL L ROA D P RO PER TY F OR SI DEWA LK P ROJECT

The Sandy Springs City Council approved another property purchase for the Roswell Road sidewalk project at its Dec. 4 meeting. The $171,800 purchase bought the city 768 square feet of right of way and 633 square feet for temporary construction easement outside Chastain Cleaners at 4980 Roswell Road at the intersection with Belle Isle Road. Most of the money, $109,772, pays for damages for the business’ loss of parking, the legislation. The project is the third phase of sidewalk improvements the city has built out using federal funds from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program.

S OL A R I Z E DUN WOODY DON ATES SO LAR PANELS TO C OMMUN ITY A SSI STA N C E CENTER

SS

Community | 23

www.ReporterNewspapers.net

The Community Assistance Center building on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs will soon be fitted with solar panels donated to the nonprofit organization by Solarize Dunwoody. The CAC, which provides food, shelter and clothing to Dunwoody and Sandy Springs residents facing emergency situations, is expected to save $2,000 a year on its electric bill through the new solar panels. “These savings will allow CAC to provide more benefits to our fellow residents in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, doubling the positive impact on the community by bringing stability to families and helping the environment at the same time,” said CAC board member Charles Crosby in a press release.

The CAC solar panels will be installed in early 2019 on the back of the building where the roof is flat and will not be seen from Roswell Road. The back of the building faces south where the panels will receive maximum sunshine.

CITY CO U NCIL APPRO V ES 1 0 M I L ES O F R O A D R EPAV I NG

Sandy Springs is set to do $3 million worth of repaving next year after setting a priority list at its Dec. 4 City Council meeting. The Public Works Department compiled a list of roads in need of resurfacing based on the street ratings performed in 2018, the city said. The over 10 miles of roads includes parts of Mount Vernon Highway, Northridge Road, Roberts Drive, Powers Ferry Road, Spalding Drive and several others. For the full list, visit sandyspringsga.gov. A separate list of four miles of smaller streets was approved to be submitted for Georgia Department of Transportation funding. The city is expected to receive over $900,000 from the state agency, which requires a 30 percent match of local funds, or over $270,000.

SANDY SPRINGS NOTICE OF VARIANCE PETITION Petition Number:

V18-0036, V18-0037, V18-0038, V18-0039,

Petitioner:

Pulte Home Company, LLC

Location:

3023, 3013, 3008, 3003 Eamont Terrace

Request:

Variance from Sec. 6.1.2.B.3.d. to allow encroachments closer than 5’ from the lot line.

Public Hearing:

Board of Appeals January 8, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Location:

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

SANDY SPRINGS NOTICE OF USE PERMIT Petition Number:

U18-0009

Petitioner:

Allison Dubovsky

Property Location:

640 Weatherly Lane

Request:

Request for a Conditional Use Permit to allow outdoor home occupation. (Sec. 7.8.8)

Public Hearings:

Planning Commission January 22, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. Mayor and City Council February 19, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Location:

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

SANDY SPRINGS NOTICE OF REZONING Petition Number:

RZ18-0008

Petitioner:

NorthPlace Associates LLC The Galloway Group LLC

Property Location:

0, 6401, 6403 Barfield Rd Parcel # 17 0035 LL3347, LL3313, LL3339, LL3305

Present Zoning:

PX-10/12

Request:

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

Public Hearings:

Mayor and City Council January 15, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Location:

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


24 |

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12-14-18 Sandy Springs Reporter  
12-14-18 Sandy Springs Reporter