COVE Report – January 30, 2017




Houston Mill Road Water Line will be Reconnected and Flushed: January 31, 2017


A notice was provided by the CDC indicating DeKalb County will reconnect and flush a water line on Houston Mill Road Tuesday, January 31, 2017. The work could discolor water or impact water pressure.

Victoria Estates Public Safety Meeting – February 9, 7:00 pm @ 961 Castle Falls Dr.

How will Victoria Estates be impacted by Atlanta’s annexation of Emory University? Will we continue to be served by the closest fire station on Clifton? Changed borders have resulted in some confusion between the County and cities and extreme delays in 911 responses. Does DeKalb county have plans to address this for our neighborhood?

These are some of the questions to be asked of the county’s chief operating officer for public safety, Cedric Alexander. He has agreed to meet with Victoria neighbors to address these important concerns.
Thank you to COVE board members Martha Pacini for arranging the meeting and Barbara Zehnbauer for agreeing to host at her home. This meeting is open to Victoria Estates residents and COVE guests.

Dr. Cedric L. Alexander serves as the county’s deputy chief operating officer for public safety.
Prior to joining DeKalb County, Dr. Alexander was the Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration, United States Department of Homeland Security at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. His responsibilities included the coordination and oversight of all security and regulatory actions. He served as Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services; Chief of Police in the Rochester Police Department; and held several leadership roles at the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry in New York. Dr. Alexander began his law enforcement career in 1977 and served with the Miami-Dade Police Department, and was a law enforcement officer in Florida for 15 years.

Property Owner at 1840 Mason Mill Jailed Over Signage

January 22, 2017 – Reposted from the Mason Mill Civic Association

The judge found the property owner at 1840 Mason Mill guilty on 10 code violations.

He sentenced the property owner to one week in the County jail, starting immediately.

Upon returning to his property the owner is on probation for 60 months. As a special condition of his probation, he is not to violate the code ordinance dealing with signage in any way (including content). If he does, he will be put in jail again, and each time he is returned to jail, the amount of time will be increased, so that after spending 4 months in jail, the property owner will have to serve the remainder of the 60 months in jail. He also assessed a $10,000 fine to be paid over 60 months. This fine will be suspended $1,000 for every 6-month period the owner remains in compliance. (This is based on notes taken at the trial. We hope to obtain a written order from the Court soon.)

We have included below the neighborhood statement presented during the sentencing phase of the trial. Many thanks to the 20+ residents who showed up in the courtroom. We appreciate your support.

I believe the solicitor has provided you with Victim Impact Statements from the neighborhood civic association and property owners near Mr. Avery.

As you consider sentencing Mr. Avery, I hope you will review those statements and consider that our neighborhood has endured his signage and disrespectful behavior for the past six years. Through his signage, behaviors, emails and blogs he has shown us contempt, vilified our leaders and threatened our neighborhood. We do not come before you in a capricious or light-hearted manner, but with a heavy heart. We can no longer deal with our neighbor by ourselves. We need your help. And so does he.

Since this is a code violation trial, our view is this:
When people choose to become property owners in DeKalb County, they inherently assume the responsibility of living within the rules and regulations of the county, as expressed in the DeKalb Code of Ordinances.

This code sets forth just the minimum standards that we as property owners are expected to follow for property use and health and safety issues, and the minimum standards that we expect our neighbors to follow. Even if, as in the case of Mr. Avery, we become angry at county government, community institutions such as churches and academic institutions, or our neighbors, we are expected to adhere to these ordinances and conduct our behavior accordingly.

For the past six years, Mr. Avery has violated the code continuously, to the detriment of our neighborhood. His signage and behaviors have had a negative impact on our residents’ property values and our emotional health, as described in the impact statements. Moreover, he has flaunted his complete disregard for our neighborhood and the justice system of this county by continually mounting an excessive number of signs and inflatables on a daily basis, in spite of receiving numerous citations.

His blog and emails suggest that he finds all of this humorous and that he is “playing” a game with us. Well, we do not view his sadistic and antagonistic behavior as a game; nor do we find it humorous.
We ask that the Court sentence Mr. Avery in such a manner that will ensure his adherence to the code and protect our neighborhood. We also ask for a sentence that will guarantee his facing more serious consequences if he continues to violate the code and threaten our residents.

DeKalb County Comprehensive Plan Update for 2016

Carl Lange
On January 24, the DeKalb County Commission agreed to defer voting on an update to the county’s long-term land use plan to its next meeting on the morning of February 14.
Mason Mill Civic Association president Mary Hinkle, who has been tracking this closely, was unable to attend. I spoke for her and COVE at the meeting, requesting a deferral. Final versions of this important document were not updated till the morning of the meeting, not providing sufficient time for review. My approximate comments to the commission:
– We remain concerned that the land use designation for the Toco Hills shopping center is not in alignment with the wishes of the surrounding communities.
– I’d also like to thank the work that staff has done in updating the plan. However, in the most recent publicly available 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update, Toco Hills continues to be designated as a town center.
– The community expressed its desire for Toco Hills to be a neighborhood center as was previously agreed to in the North Druid Hills LCI study.
– This has been a repeated requested that we feel still has not been clearly addressed. We have noted a small area plan designation on page 98 of the latest 2035 Comprehensive Plan which designates specific Land Use Development Policy Guidelines for Toco Hills. This addresses some issues but still contains higher density standards than neighborhood centers allow.
– Until the implementation of the North Druid Hills LCI is accomplished, we request written assurances that any development in Toco Hills will not exceed neighborhood center requirements in density and land use.
– If these assurances cannot be sufficiently provided, we request that approval of the Comprehensive plan be deferred.
– Additionally, we request sufficient time now and in the future to review these important impacts to our neighborhoods. Receiving a final version of the plan with significant revisions the morning of the meeting is unacceptable, providing insufficient opportunity for neighborhood evaluation and input.

The updated plan is located here:

New Proposal Would Restore Emory’s Briarcliff Mansion

The State Properties Commission approved the plans for renovating the Briarcliff (Candler) Mansion on Emory’s Briarcliff campus, into a boutique hotel. Once this exciting restoration is completed (anticipated to be in late 2018), it will be a wonderful amenity for our community.
Here is a link to an article posted in the Emory Report with old photos of the Mansion along with plans for the new hotel.

First Annual Report of the DeKalb County Ethics Officer

County ethics officer Stacey Kalberman has issued her first annual report, as required by the county’s ethics code. The report describes the activities of the ethics officer and reports on the “ethical health of DeKalb County.”

The four-page report can be found at: Annual-Report-of-Ethics-Officer-2017

DeKalb Tennis Center Open House – February 11, 11 am – 3pm

DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Tennis Center under New Management

DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs and AGAPE Tennis Academy will host an event to celebrate new management at DeKalb Tennis Center on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., located at 1400 McConnell Drive, Decatur.

The event will include entertainment, drills, games, food, tours, giveaways and more. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about parks and natural resources that are available in their community.

For more information, contact Amy Pazahanick at 678-333-5934.

DeKalb Tax Commissioner Reminds Local Residents to File for Basic Homestead, Senior & Disability Exemptions

DeKalb County Tax Commissioner, Irvin J. Johnson, would like to remind all DeKalb County taxpayers who owned and resided in their property on January 1, 2017 that they may qualify for a basic homestead exemption. The homestead exemption, which provides a significant tax savings to homeowners, must be applied for in person, by mail or via the Internet as exemptions are not automatically granted. Please note, that no company to include mortgage companies may file applications on behalf of property owners. Also, by law, exemptions are not available for rental or commercial property and there is never a fee to file.

In addition to the basic homestead exemption, there are special exemptions for citizens 62 years of age and older. Eligibility is determined only by application based on age and total household income. Special exemptions are also available for citizens that are deemed totally and permanently disabled. Applicants for senior or disability exemptions must visit one of the Tax Commissioner’s office locations in person so that specific circumstances and required documentation (2016 State & Federal income tax returns, proof of age and proof of disability status), are reviewed for eligibility.

Residents are reminded that application must be received by April 3, 2017 in order for the exemption to be granted on 2017 annual property taxes. Although applications are accepted year round, any approved application received after the April 3rd deadline will be granted for the 2018 tax year.

Residents are encouraged to visit the website at with questions. You may also call 404-298-4000 or email for assistance.

If your community or civic organization would like to schedule a representative from the Tax Commissioner Office to speak at an event regarding exemption options, please feel free to reach the office at any of the contacts noted above.

Tax Commissioner Office Locations:

Central: 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 100, Decatur 30032 – across from the DeKalb County Jail
North: 1358 Dresden Drive, NE, Atlanta 30319 – 2 blocks east of Brookhaven Marta Station
South: 2801 Candler Road, Suite 66, Decatur 30034 – The Gallery @ South DeKalb Mall by Macy’s

DeKalb County 24-Hour Tag Renewal Kiosk

Town Hall Meeting – February 9, 6:30 pm

State Senator Elena Parent will be joined by State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver in a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, February 9th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central DeKalb Senior Center, 1346 McConnell Drive. This is your opportunity to learn about what’s happening during this year’s state legislative session.

Senator Elena Parent Newsletter

January 9th marked the opening of this year’s legislative session, which lasts 40 legislative days.
What’s on tap for this session? Read on…
Welcome to the Parent Press, Senator Elena Parent’s newsletter. January 9th marked the opening of this year’s legislative session, which lasts 40 legislative days.
What’s on tap for this session? Read on…
Did you know Georgia has the fewest competitive legislative races in the nation, despite being an increasingly competitive state from a partisan perspective? Did you know that legislators get to draw their own districts, which allows them to pick the people who vote for them and intentionally disadvantage voters from the minority party?
That’s the process we call “redistricting” and I’ve got a plan to fix it by turning the once-every-decade process of drawing legislative districts over to an independent commission less influenced by partisan politics. Until we have more fair districts, the extreme polarization and gridlock we see in our governments will continue. Check out more details in this news article.

Campus Carry!
It’s coming back. Even though poll after poll show that Georgians (including the Governor) don’t want it, Republicans announced plans to push for it again this session.

I’ll share the bill with you as soon as it is filed, but I plan to fight against just like I did last year — with success. (You can watch my speech – just click the photo.)

Women’s March on Washington!

I had the honor and distinct pleasure of attending the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, where I marched with my mother, sisters, cousins, many friends and over 500,000 other people determined to make our voices heard that we oppose the new administration’s divisive rhetoric and “alternative facts.” In Atlanta, 63,000 marched, including many of you. This outpouring was cathartic and inspiring; now that the world is watching, we need to stay involved and make a difference. See below for ways to do so.
Legal, but predatory, loans ripple across Georgia
There is a current practice in Georgia where companies send out checks to people they know are in financial distress, and when they cash that check that are stuck in a high-interest loan contract that they can’t pay back. It is totally legal. Find out more in this television report.
I have a plan to fix this problem. Watch this space.
What You Can Do.
Information is power. Empower your friends by sending them this update! Just click here! Forward
Want to get the latest on what’s happening at the Capitol? Attend my town hall, details below.
Town Hall!
Want to find out more about what’s going on this session? Come to my Town Hall! Here’s all the info:
When: Thursday, February 9th, from 6:30-8:00 PM
Where: Central DeKalb Senior Center, 1346 McConnell Dr, Decatur, GA 30033, USA (map)
We need your input, your thoughts, and your ideas! Please contact us at our office at the Capitol, by phone, or by email.
Elena Parent

Representative Mary Margaret Oliver Newsletter

…Before discussing this week’s activities, however, please tell me how you would vote on legislation to allow casino gambling in Georgia–survey below….

Dear Friends,

We have completed eight days of the 2017 General Assembly Session, 20% of our 40 days, and the House has passed only one bill—HB 43, the Supplemental Budget amending this Fiscal Year Budget that ends June 30, 2017. Below is a discussion of this important legislation.

Before discussing this week’s activities, however, please tell me how you would vote on legislation to allow casino gambling in Georgia–survey below. Legislation to allow casino gambling, which requires a constitutional amendment and a 2/3 vote of both chambers was introduced this week in the Senate, SB 79, to allow casinos in two areas of Georgia–Atlanta, and one other unnamed area, presumed to be Savannah. Proceeds would go exclusively to fund HOPE scholarships and Pre-K, the same limitations as the current lottery.

If revenues raised from casino gambling would only fund HOPE and Pre-K education, would you be in favor of allowing casino gambling in Georgia?

Click here to take survey


With friends, on last Saturday, I joined 60 thousand plus other Georgians on a march from the Civil Rights Museum to the Capitol for social justice! I most enjoyed the signs and the families with children marching together.

On a daily basis I am approached by citizens who express their wishes to be more involved in politics, and you are all welcome. We particularly need help under the Gold Dome–come visit please!

Supplemental Budget Highlights

HB 43 passed the House on January 26 to amend the current state budget by adding $606.2 million in additional revenue or 2.5% over the original 2017 budget passed in the 2016 Session. The total appropriation for this year is now $24.3 billion. The new revenue includes fully funding our reserve funds, and $108.9 million for enrollment growth of almost 12,000 additional k-12 school children, a .68% growth rate statewide.

Additional funds will be added to the Governor’s Emergency Funds for south Georgia storm damage and litigation fees for the water wars with Florida. Many other agencies receive additional funds for services that faced unplanned or extraordinary needs, such as waste cleanup, or to expand health care programs for the telehealth network or trauma centers. The complete budget additions and cuts are set out in detail in HB 43, here. These highlight links here and here might

MMO New Bills

HB 86 is requested by DFCS based on a federal mandate to add a definition of Sexually Trafficked minors to a category of child abuse investigations. The federal government has appropriated $100 million for services for these victims and requires that the states provide additional data to receive this money.

HB 126 sets out a new composition and confidentiality requirements for the Judicial Qualifications Commission that the American Bar Association proposes for the reconstituted JQC favorably approved by the voters on November 8.

DeKalb County has requested that I introduce again legislation relating to the pension legacy issues created by incorporation of new cities. More to come on this complex financial and actuarial issue.

Hearings are currently tentatively scheduled for HB 52 and 53, described in an earlier newsletter. Stay tuned for progress reports on these bills, and HB 10 that bans assault type weapons and high capacity magazines and cop killer bullets.

State of Judiciary

Chief Justice Harris Hines gave the State of the Judiciary report this week to a joint session of the House and Senate. Highlights include his review of his 16 years of service chairing the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Commission on Children. Representative Wendall Willard and I are the House appointees to this Commission which has led the state in child welfare reforms — thank you Justice Hines, who will be replaced as Chair of the Commission by Justice David Nahmias.

There are currently 139 Accountability Courts, funded as part of Governor Deal’s Criminal Justice Reform, and additional proposals are coming forth this year to reduce the number of Georgia citizens on criminal probation. Georgia has 6 times the number of citizens supervised by probation services than other states–inefficient use of tax money, that should focus on a smaller number of more dangerous offenders.

Activities this week and Next–join us!

This week I joined this Emory Lavista Parents Council

the Greater Presbyterians Advocacy group
medical residents from Emory and Grady
the DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond and Commissioners, and many others. They all are part of the public discussion under the Dome.

Coming up are the following events:

Every Monday the DeKalb delegation meets at noon, in Room 230 of the Capitol, with guests and an agenda. Local legislation is presented and discussed. All are welcome to come.

February 1, Glenn Memorial Wednesday night Supper for the annual legislative report from me and Senator Elena Parent. 6:30, Fellowship Hall.

February 2, Room 406 CLOB, Tentative hearing scheduled for my HB 53 which expands the jurisdiction of Juvenile Courts to include minors age 17.

February 7, CASA day at the Capitol, Freight Room, noon.

February 9, I am joining Senator Elena Parent for a Town Hall meeting, 6:30 pm, DeKalb Senior Citizens Center, 1346 McConnell Dr., Decatur.

Please contact me anytime with your questions or comments and visit our website at the link below and follow me on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links below. I look forward to working with you during the 2017 Georgia General Assembly, and I need your help and your support!! In the meantime, I will continue to report on issues that may interest you, and welcome your suggestions on how this newsletter may better serve you.

Mary Margaret
Law Office (404) 377-0485
Legislative Office (404) 656-0265

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