COVE Report – April 1, 2016

Land Use Community Meeting – April 5, 2016 – 6:30 – 8:00 pm

master plan

DeKalb County Public Library
1282 McConnell Drive
Decatur, GA 30033

The DeKalb County Department of Planning and Sustainability will be hosting a community with residents of and near North Druid Hills to discuss the Livable Centers Initiative’s (LCI) recommendations. The meeting is open to the public and scheduled to gain consensus on land use resolutions for the study area. We encourage you to attend. These recommendations impact the Toco Hills shopping center and nearby area. In particular, it impacts potential zoning for Toco Hill such as the ability to zone for  4 vs. 8 story high buildings. The plans call for multi-purpose trails in our area going through Thomson Park. For more background click here
North Druid Hills Community Meeting Public Notice Flyer 1

Survey Concerning Briarcliff Road


Road Safety Audit Survey: SR 42/Briarcliff Road – from Ponce de Leon Ave. to North Druid Hills Road

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is conducting a Road Safety Audit (RSA) for State Route 42 / Briarcliff Road NE, from Ponce de Leon Avenue NE to North Druid Hills Road. An RSA is a formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an interdisciplinary team of transportation professionals. RSAs have been used successfully for a wide variety of locations to identify potential solutions leading to both short-term improvements and longer term efforts including construction projects. RSAs are proactive tools, not solely dependent on crash data, but that use an innovative approach, including firsthand observation, to identify potential safety issues and enhancement opportunities to be considered in improvement projects.

As part of the RSA process for this corridor the audit team is conducting a survey in order to obtain input from key individuals and groups that have an interest in the study area along the stretch of State Route 42/Briarcliff Road NE between Ponce de Leon Avenue NE and North Druid Hills Road. You are receiving this email because you were identified as a potentially interested party and the audit team would like to gather your thoughts about potential safety concerns and possible solutions to those safety concerns along this corridor. We invite you to take a few minutes to complete the survey. Please feel free to share this survey with others you think might be interested in taking it.

Please CLICK HERE or the image below to launch the survey, or enter the following URL into your browser: Please note, in order to expedite the audit process, this survey will be available for a limited time: it will remain open until 11:59 pm on Friday April 15, 2016.

Please contact Michael Turpeau, State Safety Program Supervisor, Georgia Department of Transportation, with any questions: MTurpeau[at]

Thank you for your time. We look forward to your valuable input.

Jeff Rader

Local Elections Candidates Fair


DeKalb Strong is sponsoring a candidates fair at Rehobeth Baptist Church on
L’ville Hwy, just outside 285 on Saturday, April 30 from 2-4pm

Rehoboth Baptist Church, 2997 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker, Georgia 30084

See the Dekalb Strong Facebook page for updates on confirmed attendees.

Please join us for Dekalb Strong’s candidate forum at Rehoboth Baptist
Church! This is a great way to meet candidates in the challenged local
races in Dekalb County before the May primary, all in one spot! We will be
in the fellowship hall, and will have tables for each of the candidates and
voters can ask questions and share ideas.

We have invited candidates for CEO, Tax Commissioner, District Attorney,
Solicitor, State Court Judge, Sheriff, District 4 Commission and District 6

Confirmed attendees (this list will be updated):

Michael Thurmond
Connie Stokes

Tax Commissioner:
Susannah Scott
Irvin Johnson

District Attorney:
Robert James
Sherry Boston

Nicole Marchand Golden
Donna Coleman-Stribling

Superior Court
Judge Clarence Seeliger
Stephone Johnson

Superior Court:
Judge Gail Flake
Angela Brown

State Court Judge:
Judge Dax Lopez
Roderick Bridges

Kyle Jones

District 4 Commission:
Steve Bradshaw
Lance Lawyer Hammonds

District 6 Commission:
Representative of Kathie Gannon

State Senator Elena Parent Update

March 28, 2016


The 2016 Legislative Session adjourned Sine Die at 12:30 a.m. on Friday, March 25. The Governor now has 40 days to sign or veto legislation or allow it to become law without his signature. Below are updates on some of the high-profile pieces of legislation.

“Religious Liberty”

Governor Deal announced this morning that he will veto HB 757, the so-called Free Exercise of Religion Act. This does not come as a surprise to me, given the onslaught of corporate leaders and others who have declared that they would pull back operations in Georgia if bill became law. Gov. Deal had previously indicated skepticism toward legislative efforts to craft religious liberty laws.
I appreciate Governor Deal swiftly making it official that he would veto. This is the right decision. The legislation was unnecessary, given the First Amendment to the US Constitution and a robust body of caselaw outlining freedom of religion over the centuries. And the context within which it was passed, obvious animus toward the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, demonstrated that the measure did seek to allow people to be treated differently based on sexual orientation. Gov. Deal said this morning that the bill did not fit with the character of the people of Georgia, and I agree. He is charting a better future for our state, and our country, with this veto, and I appreciate his courage.

Rape Kit Bill

My DeKalb colleague, Rep. Scott Holcomb, had an excellent piece of legislation this session that would force an accounting of untested sexual assault evidence kits throughout Georgia and set up a procedure going forward for how such evidence kits should be handled. He worked with law enforcement, hospitals, victims’ rights groups, sexual assault survivor groups, and others to craft legislation supported by all. After unanimously passing the House, this bill was inexplicably blockaded by Senate Health and Human Services Chairman Renee Unterman, who came under a lot of pressure to get this bill moving again, including being skewered on a TBS show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Meanwhile, my bill SB 304 to eliminate the automatic purge from weapons-purchase-ineligibility lists after 5 years for persons who have been involuntarily committed, was put into HB 1060 (and passed!), and SB 304 was still sitting in the House. On the last 2 days of the Session, Rep. Holcomb and House leaders put the rape kit bill into 304, got it passed again and back to the Senate. You can read about it here. This meant that the bill went right to the Senate floor on Sine Die, bypassing Sen. Unterman’s blockade. I spoke with the Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, about how I wanted this bill to come for a floor vote. He spent time working on it and lo and behold, got Sen. Unterman to agree and brought SB 304 to the floor of the Senate, where it passed and was swiftly agreed to by the House! I am proud that I played a role in moving this important legislation.

Campus Carry

House Bill 859, allowing people who have concealed carry permits to bring guns onto the campuses of our colleges and universities, was the second-most controversial bill of the session.

Shortly after its passage, Governor Deal released a statement indicating that without changes to the bill to account for day cares, dual enrollment, and others, he had serious concerns about campus carry. I am very hopeful that he will also veto this dangerous and unpopular legislation. I participated in a press conference on Sine Die, Thursday March 24, organized by a number of gunsense groups, to call upon Gov. Deal to veto the legislation and deliver the thousands of petitions from citizens requesting a veto.
News has come out that Gov. Deal did, in fact, give legislative leaders specific language that would assuage his concerns with the bill. They chose not to act, and I hope he will not give in. Please do continue to contact his office.

Decatur Senior Tax Relief

All of the Decatur senior tax relief bills passed after we were able to lobby leaders and Republican House Caucus measures to build support for our position. Mary Margaret Oliver and other Decatur Representatives worked tirelessly to end the House blockade. Thanks goes to Decatur’s elected officials, especially Mayor Patti Garrett, former Mayor Elizabeth Wilson, Senior Connections Director Debra Furtado, and the many citizen activists who came to the Capitol to explain why this bill should pass!


SB 369, the City of Atlanta/Fulton Co. transportation divorce legislation, passed both chambers. It creates two districts in Fulton, one City of Atlanta, and one the areas of Fulton that are not City of Atlanta, and allow each to levy separate sales taxes upon successful referenda. Atlanta’s would go for MARTA rail, and outside the city it would go towards roads and bridges. You can read all about it here. While I am still dismayed that we have such confounding opposition to transit in our region, I am pleased for MARTA and Atlanta that at least a bit of forward movement has been made.

DeKalb Governance and New Cities

The bill that came out of the study committee I chaired during the summer to make the process of municipalization more transparent and fair ended up languishing in the Governmental Affairs Committee in the House. It is SB 375. I hope that Senator Gooch, its sponsor, does not give up and we keep working next year. Those that want to assist can reach out to the offices of the Speaker of the House and House Majority Leader Jon Burns to express your support for the bill and why it is needed.
SB 378, Senator Fran Millar’s bill to call for a referendum on the elimination of the CEO position in DeKalb County and redraw the Commission districts among other things, failed to reach the House floor for a vote. I think that is good, because what form of government we have is an issue DeKalb citizens need to weigh in on before we move ahead to eliminate the CEO position. We proffered the Charter Review Commission to do just that, but Sen. Millar blockaded it to try to get his way with the CEO bill. I am hopeful that the County will move ahead to establish the Commission by executive order and commence work.
Finally, the City of Stonecrest bill passed both chambers, so there will be a referendum in November. The City of Greenhaven bill failed to advance.
Elena Parent

Commissioner Kathie Gannon


Survey of Super District 6 Residents

Please take a few minutes to let Commissioner Gannon know what you think are the issues facing DeKalb County. Here’s the link to her survey:

Volunteer Positions for Citizen Boards

Dear Neighbors,

There are two citizen boards with District 6 vacancies. I am seeking potential appointees with professional knowledge or committed volunteer experience in these areas.

The Watershed Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Advisory Group has the following responsibilities:
• Review water and sewer system improvement projects
• Evaluate progress on EPA Consent Decree requirements
• Discuss best practices with staff for project implementation
• Represent communities’ water and sewer priorities
• Review scopes of work for Request for Proposals (RFPs), which are used to award contracts for Watershed projects
• Provide feedback on new Watershed CIP initiatives for the CEO
• Time commitment: Monthly meeting.
The Citizen Website Advisory Committee has the following responsibilities:
• Review and provide input on the current use of web services and approaches
• Provide feedback on the County’s future web site enhancement plans
• Identify opportunities for new services that would provide value to DeKalb County website users and visitors
• Serve as informed communicators to others in the community as it relates to current policies, activities, and plans associated with the DeKalb County website
• Time commitment: Initially, 90 minutes once a month; later, one meeting quarterly.
If you are willing and able to serve on either of these boards, please reply to this email. Thank you. Kathie


Legislative Town Hall – April 4 – 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm


Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and Scott Holcomb will be having a post-session town hall on Monday, April 4th from 6-7:30 PM at the Avis Williams Library, 1282 McConnell Drive, Decatur, 30033.

Scott Holcomb 2016 Legislative Recap

The 2016 legislative session adjourned last week. I worked very hard and I’m happy to report the passage of Senate Bill 304 concerning the timely processing of rape kits in Georgia. I also sponsored House Bill 1099 to provide for a referendum for a change of government in DeKalb from a CEO model to a Chair/County Manager model. While this did not pass this term, I am committed to working on this issue going forward and I think we made progress this term. I had a number of town halls on the issue in north, central, and south DeKalb, and I will continue to share information with the community about the merits of the proposed change.

I am also pleased to report that I was a co-sponsor of the bi-partisan “Georgia Military Service Integrity and Preservation Act.” Modeled from the federal Stolen Valor Act, this bill makes it unlawful for someone to claims a public benefit or preference based on false claims of military service or decorations.

For those of you who drive electric vehicles, you may be pleased to know that I sponsored House Bill 878 to correct the annual fee from $200 to $75. The $200 fee is based on bad math and it means that Georgians who drive electric vehicles are paying more than their fair share in taxes. I plan to re-file this bill again next year.

I also sponsored House Bill 1052, a bill that would bring benefit corporations to Georgia. A benefit corporation is a for-profit corporation that has both a profit making and public good purpose. This corporate structure is available in a majority of states and will soon be available in all 50. This bill passed the House Judiciary Committee and is supported by the State Bar of Georgia but did not pass the House before Crossover Day. I will continue to work on this next year.

Governor Deal now has 40 days from the date of passage to sign or veto bills. Any bill that he does not sign or veto becomes law. Below please find a summary of a number of the more prominent pieces of legislation, as well as an update on local issues that were addressed during the session.

Here are some of the bills that passed both the House and Senate and either have been signed by the Governor or await his signature:

Rape Kits SB 304

This was the Senate version of HB 827, a bill that I authored to ensure the timely processing of rape kits in Georgia. The bill was supported by law enforcement, victims’ rights advocates, and care providers.

Here are news articles about its passage:

Campus Carry HB 859

This bill will permit the concealed carrying of guns on college campuses. The bill allows anyone aged 21 and older to carry guns anywhere on campus except for athletic facilities, sorority and fraternity houses, and dormitories.

The Governor has expressed concerns about this bill because it would allow guns in on-campus childcare centers, in disciplinary hearings and for high school students who are participating in dual-enrollment. It is unclear at this time if he will veto the measure.

Fireworks HB 727

This bill limits the usage of fireworks after a certain time. Prior to this bill people could use fireworks up until 2 am on New Years and July 4th , and 12 midnight on all other days. With this law the cut- off time is 1 am for New Years and July 4th, and 9 am for all other days.

Firearms HB 1060

This is a “clean up bill” that does three things. First, it provides a grace period of 90 days for new Georgia residents to apply for a Georgia Weapons License (GWL). They can continue to carry their guns up until this time. Second, it prohibits a probate judge from suspending, extending, delaying, or avoiding the process of a GWL application. Finally, the law protects firearms instructors from civil liability for injuries caused by failure of their students to use a firearm properly.


This legislation allows a referendum for MARTA funding this November. The referendum will allow the City of Atlanta to levy a new sales tax for the purpose of MARTA expansion, and also would allow cities in North Fulton to raise taxes for road improvements. One estimate projects the sales tax could fund about $2.5 billion in new transit projects if this were to pass. DeKalb County did not pass a similar measure.


As required by the state Constitution, the House and Senate approved the Budget for the 2017 fiscal year, with a spending plan of $24 billion starting July. Among other things, it includes a 3% pay raise for state employees and teachers. $800 million will be allotted for transportation projects.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers SB 308

This bill allows state funding for pregnancy centers, and states any centers that receive state funding cannot perform or promote abortions.


Bills that will not become law include the following:

Medical Marijuana

This bill would have legalized the use of medical marijuana for certain diseases and disorders. It passed the House, but was denied a hearing in the Senate. It would have legalized medical marijuana usage for conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, AIDs, seizure-related disorders, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome.

“Religious Liberty”- HB 757

The Governor vetoed the bill earlier this week.


The following are local issues that were addressed at some point during the session:

DeKalb County form of government

As noted above, I proposed House Bill 1099, which would have involved a referendum in which the citizens would decide whether to eliminate the elected CEO position and replace it with an appointed professional county manager. Other changes in DeKalb governance were included in the bill as well. My constituents have expressed overwhelming support for this change. I saw this bill as the beginning of a necessary discussion, and spoke with citizens at several meetings in various parts of the county. In doing so, it became apparent that despite the strong support in the 81st district for changing the form of government, citizens in other view the problem less in terms of structure and more in terms of the people filling the positions. As such, they are not as supportive of a structural change at this time. That said, I am committed to continue working on this and I believe that, while getting the right people is always critical, we can and should make changes to the structure that can improve performance. I believe that moving from a CEO model to a Chair/professional county manager model as proposed in House Bill 1099 can lead to better performance.
Chamblee annexation

At the beginning of the session, some residents of the LaVista Hills footprint expressed the desire for a referendum to consider annexation into the city of Chamblee.  The Mayor and City Council were interested in exploring this as well.  Ultimately the Mayor and City Council members decided not to pursue annexation in 2016.

Proposed new cities for DeKalb

The proposed City of Stonecrest passed both chambers and will be decided in a referendum this coming November.  The proposed City of Greenhaven did not pass

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