Author Archives: Carl Lange

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
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North Druid Hills Community Meeting Public Notice Flyer 1

Survey Concerning Briarcliff Road

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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: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BriarcliffRSA. 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]dot.ga.gov.

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

Jeff Rader
www.commissionerrader.com

Local Elections Candidates Fair

Meet-Candidates

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
Commission.

Confirmed attendees (this list will be updated):

CEO:
Michael Thurmond
Connie Stokes

Tax Commissioner:
Susannah Scott
Irvin Johnson

District Attorney:
Robert James
Sherry Boston

Solicitor:
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

Sheriff:
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

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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!

MARTA!

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.
Sincerely,
Elena Parent

Commissioner Kathie Gannon

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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:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/District6Survey2016

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
kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov

 

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

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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:

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/amid-cheers-rape-kit-bill-clears-final-hurdle-in-g/nqr4J/

http://brookhavenpost.co/revived-rape-kit-bill-passes-in-final-minutes-of-2016-legislative-session/38846/

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.

MARTA SB 369

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.

Budget

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

COVE Report – March 17, 2016

Upcoming Area Property Rezoning and How It Impacts You

Toco Hill & Mason Mill Node

Proposed changes to the DeKalb land use map may have substantial impacts to our future area including traffic, quality of life, and property values. Changes are being considered now by the planning commission and board of commissioners. Once these changes are made, they impact us for the next few decades.

The land use map indicates what desired future zoning is for entire areas such as Toco Hill, Mason Mill Park Area and the North Druid corridor. When a developer looks at a property and the land use map shows that it can be developed with a higher density or more commercial use, they have a much easier opportunity to have the property rezoned to that higher density or use. The land use map serves a valuable purpose in guiding the character of neighborhoods and future development.

The Livable Centers Initiative (LCI), created by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), is a planning and funding program designed to support innovative development within activity and town centers around the metropolitan area. The North Druid Hills LCI, which includes Toco Hill and Mason Mill Park, was developed over many years with input from citizens and businesses. It was passed in 2011 and the county is now, with much delay, attempting to update the land use map based on these recommendations.

Click here for the North Druid Hills LCI report: http://planningdekalb.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/NDH-LCI-Final-Report2.pdf

Click here for Toco Hill & Mason Mill Park LCI map: LP-16-20574 Community Maps

Click the map for the full North Druid Hills LCI map: master plan

Toco Hill is currently on the land use map as a Town Center district that allows for a maximum of 8 story buildings, 60 living units/acre, townhomes, health care, retail, commercial, office, entertainment, and civic facilities. The LCI recommendation was for the area to be downgraded to Neighborhood Center which would reduce future development to a maximum of 4 stories, 24 units/acre, and more limited uses.

In the March 1, 2016 DeKalb Planning Commission meeting, commissioners were scheduled to vote to approved these changes. The Mason Mill Civic Association (MMCA), which has been monitoring this, was prepared to go along with the recommendations. During the meeting the planning staff reversed its recommendations and recommended to the commissioners that Toco Hill be maintained as a Town Center. Mary Hinkel (MMCA president), myself, and many neighborhood representatives and citizens recommended against the vote at that time and the commissioners agreed to postpone.

This past Tuesday, 3/15/16, neighborhood representatives from surrounding areas met with the planning staff to discuss issues. Neighborhood leaders discussed the pros and cons of the proposed changes and the question remains, what should be recommended for the Toco Hill node. Proposed changes also include Mason Mill Park area, and Briarcliff all the way up to Brookhaven at I85.

Transportation is a major issue that was incorporated into the LCI but is not being addressed as a condition to proceed with changes to the land use map. If we increase density and traffic, will the County be able to respond appropriately? Some leaders feel this should be addressed before approving the land use map changes. Once changes are made to the map, it could result in greater traffic. Alternatively, if the LCI recommendations are not adopted, what kind of unplanned development will we end up with, thousands of townhouses without appropriate commercial supporting properties and the same amount of traffic?

The DeKalb transportation study (2014) includes specific projects for our area. None of these projects are currently funded but could proceed with the approval of a future SPLOST or other options. Staff encouraged leaders to advocate with the SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee putting together the proposed SPLOST list so that our area does receive these improvements when funds come available.

Click here for SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee www.dekalbcountyga.gov/SPLOST/advisoryMeetings.html

Another point made by neighborhood leaders is that developer impact fees should be required to support improved infrastructure. This has not been approved by the board of commissioners and strains the county. Leaders should work with the commissioners to have this addressed.

COVE will continue to work with MMCA and in the scheduling of a meeting with the planning staff for neighbors. We’ll also coordinate on neighbors’ opportunities to advocate for proposed transportation changes for our area to be included on the SPLOST list and in commissioners approving impact fees for development projects.

Thanks!Carl small

Carl Lange, COVE Secretary and Board Member

 

Legislative Update

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March 17, 2016 – Pat Killingsworth, COVE President

Substitute Bill 378 was submitted by Sen. Fran Millar to, and quickly passed out of, the House Governmental Affairs Committee at a hastily called meeting at the Capitol yesterday afternoon.  The bill was  amended to remove the CEO position, keep the 7 Commission Districts as they are now, but adding an eighth countywide elected commission chair with significantly reduced authority than the CEO now has, and who can only vote to break a tie.  A county manager who will be given a significant amount of authority will be appointed by the commissioners.  All of the commissioners will have term limits.  It is a major change from HB 1099 introduced by Rep. Holcomb at the beginning of the session, and Sen. Millar’s original SB 378, which was almost an exact duplicate of Rep. Holcomb’s original bill.

 

SR 421, which will establish a Charter Review Commission to make recommendations to the legislature for a new Charter has been amended and passed by the House and is now back in the Senate Committee awaiting final approval and placement on the Consent Calendar for a vote.  It is possible that the General Assembly will approve both a November referendum on Senator Millar’s bill and the creation of a Charter Commission to be convened this summer that will research and make recommendations on the same matter.

Friends of Thomson Park Work Day This Saturday, 3/19/16

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From Mason Mill Civic Association:
Come out and join your neighbors and other volunteers to work in Thomson Park from 9 a.m. to noon.  Any time you can spare would be most appreciated.  Friends Chair Patrick Noonan makes sure there are suitable jobs for every age and interest.

 

Remember, the Friends also can accept *tax-deductible* contributions! These will help greatly in 2016 and beyond, as we begin to rebuild some of the decaying structures in the park – steps, bridges and benches – and add a few new ones to make everyone’s visit easier, safer, and with a reduced environmental impact. (Remember to scroll down to “Thomson Park” on this Park Pride page: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E195170&id=5

 

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the (literally) hundreds of hours of work over the past few seasons. The Park is looking better each year, and the best is yet to come.

Coffee with a Cop, Tuesday, March 22

dekalb police
CENTRAL DEKALB SENIOR CENTER
1346 McConnell Drive, Decatur Ga., 30033
10am – 11:30am

Meet and greet Precinct Command Staff and ask questions.  This is a great opportunity to express any concerns or ask questions one-on-one of the police officers responsible for our area.

2016 “In the Know” Sessions

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From DeKalb County Police Department Detective Al Fowler

The 2016 “In the Know” Sessions are scheduled for April 23, June 25 and October 1, 2016. Each date is a Saturday event and the time is 9:30am – 1pm. The events are held at the Public Safety Building at 1950 W. Exchange Place, Tucker, 30084. The subjects covered at each event will be published 2 weeks prior to each event. The DeKalb County Police department is dedicated to providing information to heighten awareness on topics such as N/W participation/maintenance, how to work with the police, community activity, safety information, court procedures, functions of County departments and many more.

Representative Elena Parent Newsletter

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March 17, 2016

We have reached the 38th legislative day out of a total of 40. The last day of the session is called Sine Die and it is quickly approaching.

Campus Carry

House Bill 859 allows people who have concealed carry permits to bring guns onto the campuses of our colleges and universities. The argument in favor is that it would increase public safety. I am unpersuaded by that argument. The fact is that adding guns into the mix at college does not make our kids safer.  Below, you can watch the speech I made at the well during the Senate’s debate:

Specifically, I identified the fact that this bill would allow guns in the numerous day care centers that are on the campuses of our universities and technical colleges, and pointed out the issue that high school students as young as 14 attend classes on our college campuses through dual enrollment. The Senate voted not to allow amendments, so my attempt to get day care centers that are on campus removed from the areas in which guns can be carried was unsuccessful. There is a petition underway, which I have signed, to encourage Governor Deal not to sign the bill.

Shortly after I and others spoke out about these issues, 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 welcome his statement and hope that we can make policies that do, in fact, make our kids safer.  You can review the latest AJC coverage here.

Decatur Senior Tax Relief

I sponsored a number of local bills this year, including the DeKalb Charter Review Commission to study our form of government, and five bills providing tax relief for seniors in the City of Decatur. One of those, SB 343 which would provide an exemption from school taxes for seniors, has been held up in the House. The City of Decatur Commission, the School Board, and its seniors are in favor of this bill, and I have advocated on their behalf and will continue to push to get this bill to the Governor’s desk.

We hope to get this bill moving again and have it get its due consideration by the people who are affected by it. If you’d like to see this bill become law, you can help by reaching out to the Office of the Speaker of the House, David Ralston.

MARTA!

You may have heard that the comprehensive Marta bill (SB 330) was dead for this session, but there may be a local solution on the way. SB 369 was originally all about fireworks, but it has been gutted in committee and replaced by language creating 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.

 

DeKalb Governance and New Cities

Two bills here are of importance. First, the bill that came out of the study committee I chaired during the summer to make the process of municipalization more transparent and fair is currently languishing in the Governmental Affairs Committee in the House. It is SB 375. This bill would greatly improve the way in which we create cities in this state and we are working to make it the law. Senator Gooch, its sponsor, has a plan to get the bill moving. Watch this space.

The other bill to keep an eye on is SB 378 which would eliminate the CEO position in DeKalb County and redraw the Commission districts among other things. It is also in Governmental Affairs and I will update you on its progress.

Sincerely,

Elena Parent

COVE Report – February 17, 2016

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Rep. Howard Mosby Meeting – Recap

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Twenty-five neighbors met at the home of Ron and Linda McCauley with Representative Howard Mosby, Chair, DeKalb County House Legislative Delegation on January 22. This was our third annual meeting with Rep. Mosby.

Mr. Mosby mentioned a number of bills being considered by the legislature. These included the so-call religious freedom bills, a ban on certain types of guns, criminal justice, the DeKalb County Charter, cityhood, and transportation.

Criminal justice has become a big issue due to lack of funding for training and support of mental health issues. The state’s reduction in funding for mental health issues has contributed to an increase in the homeless population.

Transportation is a big issue including access to Decatur and the Emory area. Rep. Mosby said DeKalb is uniquely positioned to provide leadership in advancing regional solutions, but has not demonstrated the political willpower. Neighbors asked about partnership opportunities with Emory and other educational, research, and health institutions to define this vision. When asked how other major cities are handling these issues, he said that they are having similar problems, with a major factor being how the state distributes funds disproportionality more to rural areas.

The current HOST tax was structured to fund both homestead exemptions and transportation expenses. With the creation of new cities, the distribution has resulted in a significant reduction in available funds for unincorporated transportation expenses. The county would like to restructure the HOST tax so that it is dedicated 100% to homestead exemptions with a new SPLOST tax dedicated to transportation.

A question was raised concerning the statewide billion-dollar transportation tax approved last year. How much of this is going to DeKalb County? Mr. Mosby said that according to the State Department of Transportation (GDOT) that DeKalb has been slow to provide a list of requested projects and does not seem focused on this priority. State revenues are up so GDOT does have more funds available for projects. When asked who is responsible, Rep. Mosby indicated the interim CEO is responsible for creating the list and submitting it to the commissioners. A neighbor suggested engaging Georgia Tech in the creation of a DeKalb County master transportation plan.

Martha Pacini reported on progress concerning regaining the turn lane at the intersection of Houston Mill and LaVista. Discussions with Intown Church, Mason Mill neighborhood, DeKalb County, and GDOT have been positive and the county needs to respond concerning a traffic study. Martha asked Rep. Mosby to assist with follow up with the county.

Rep. Mosby said there is an issue that Marta is funded by DeKalb and Fulton Counties but is acting as a regional transportation system instead. The State should have recognized this a long time ago and taken over management. A neighbor suggested expansion of an express bus service saying it has been effective in other areas and that women do not always feel comfortable riding on Marta trains.

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is in the position to provide regional transportation leadership but is composed of political appointees which have not shown that vision. Rep. Mosby said he has not seen a regional leadership meeting on transportation. Marth Pacini suggested Mr. Mosby should lead that initiative.

The DeKalb County organizational act was not appropriately updated when the county was converted to the current CEO structure. The organizational act should be updated along with an emphasis on best practices for the county government and wholesale restructuring of some departments. The electorate needs to understand that they are electing leaders to manage a billion-dollar corporation. The right people must be elected.

Pat Killingsworth asked if new city legislation could be introduced in the final hours of the legislation? Mr. Mosby expressed his opinion that the unincorporated county delegates should have approval over other delegate’s decision to do this. Anywhere else in the state, local delegates have authority without interference from other delegates.

Mary Margaret Oliver Legislative Update

 

Chamblee Annexation of LaVista Hills Area

chamblee annexation

A proposal has been recently circulated to annex 30,000 residents of the formerly proposed LaVista Hills city into the City of Chamblee instead. This would double the size of Chamblee if the local bill goes forward, it is approved by the city council, and voters within the proposed annexed area approve it.

Elimination of DeKalb CEO Position

Representatives Oliver and Scott Holcomb are co-sponsoring a bill to eliminate the DeKalb County CEO form of government.

February 18 – Town Hall Meeting

February 18–Town Hall Meeting at Lakeside High School on Chamblee Annexation issues, plus other concerns. 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM.

The DeKalb delegation meets every Monday at noon, usually in Room 230 of the Capitol–always open to the public.

Link to the full letter

LaVistaLaVista and Houston Mill/Houston Mill Intersection Update

 

The Georgia Department of Transportation has indicated it is in agreement that there is a traffic issue at the intersection and that it will not require a traffic study. DeKalb County is developing a concept drawing for stakeholders to review.

Early Voting for the March 1st Presidential Primary

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Voters have the opportunity to cast early ballots, Monday through Friday, until Friday, February 26. The locations and times are listed below.

• Main Office, 4380 Memorial Drive, in two separate areas; one section designed exclusively for seniors aged 70 and older, voters with disabilities, and a general voting area for all other voters – 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

• Tucker Recreation Center, 4898 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084 – 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

• South Dekalb Mall – The Gallery at South DeKalb Mall, 2801 Candler Road, Decatur, GA 30034 – 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Voting is available on Saturday, February 20, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., at the same locations.

There will be additional early voting locations starting Monday, February 22nd. For more information, and additional locations, please visit www.dekalbvotes.com.

Conversations with a Cop – Evening Program in Our Neighborhood

dekalb police
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
YOUNG ISRAEL of TOCO HILLS
2056 LaVista Road, 30329
7:15pm

In order to better serve and protect citizens, DeKalb County Police Department’s North Central Precinct is conducting on-going Community Conversations with residents and clergy of the county. This is one of the first evening programs they’ve had. The event will be a good time to meet and greet our Precinct Command staff and ask them questions about policing in our area.
Conversation…pdf

DeKalb County Sewer Assessment Begun

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The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has launched a comprehensive, multi-phased Priority Area Sewer Assessment and Rehabilitation Program” (PASARP) to assess and rehabilitate sewer lines throughout the county.

These activities will encompass about one-third of the DeKalb’s sewer lines. Smoke testing and other assessment activities will be conducted by contractors through January 2018.

DWM will host a series of informational community meetings focused on PASARP activities scheduled to take place in area neighborhoods.

The informational community meetings are free and local participation is encouraged.

For more information, please visit DWM’s Consent Decree website at www.dekalbconsentdecree.com. You may also call the dedicated Project Hotline at 1-800-986-1108

Park Ideas Requested for Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST)

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The county is considering placing a half cent SPLOST on the November ballot for Capital Expenditure funding. Different departments have been told to compile lists of capital projects that need funding. The Parks Dept. has compiled a list, based on the 2010-2020 Parks Master Plan.

If you know of a parks-related need or idea (capital expense level) that is
(a) not mentioned as a project still underway using the 2006 bond funds (attached PlansFor2006Bonds) and
(b) not mentioned on the attached RPCA draft SPLOST list (attached SPLOST2016_RPCA),
please be sure that your Commissioner hears about your need/idea ASAP. Please forward this message to your local Friends group and/or parks activist.

Beth Nathan
North Briarcliff resident; parks activist

SPLOST attachments: 160126_PlansFor2006Bonds (2)  160126_SPLOST2016_RPCA (1)

Kathie Gannon Newsletter – 2015 Year in Review

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/

Major Rezoning Plan for Toco Hills and Mason Mill

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From John Musser in Mason Mill on Nextdoor.com

In regard to all of the new yellow signs placed today along Clairmont and N Druid Hills, I have pasted the link to the “N Druid Hills LCI Plan” a detailed 200 page commissioned plan for redevelopment of this section of town, including new roads, bike lanes, trails, new parks, redevelopment of Toco Hills Shopping Center into something like the Brookhaven Costco multi-use complex, a second senior living complex, and more.

There is a Planning Commission meeting 3/1/16 at 6:30pm at the Dekalb Co Auditorium at 1300 Commerce Drive.

Link: NDH-LCI-Final-Report2

 

COVE Report – January 18, 2016

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Victoria Estates Meeting This Thursday, January 21 – 7:00 pm

The McCauley’s Home – 1017 Castle Falls Dr. (southeast corner of Mason Mill and Castle Falls)

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Past Victoria Estates meeting with Rep. Howard Mosby

Howard Mosby, head of the DeKalb Legislative Delegation has agreed to meet with Victoria Estates neighbors for an update on the 2016 Georgia Legislative Session. Legislation under consideration includes changing the DeKalb County form of government, changes to the process for creating new cities, and a new SPLOST tax for roads and transportation. Please plan to attend this important meeting for insight and an opportunity to directly voice your opinion.

 

Houston Mill Road Update

LaVista and Houston Mill

COVE, Mason Mill Civic Association, Intown Community Church, and DeKalb County met concerning the intersection of Houston Mill and LaVista Rd. The county will be contacting the state to conduct a traffic study. Considerations include restoration of the safe right turn onto LaVista to improve traffic flow, improved safety for ingress/egress to the church, and improved safety for the entire intersection. MMCA President Mary Hinkle is chairing the effort. Additionally, the CDC has informally expressed an interest in opportunities to address Houston Mill near the Emory campus. Thanks go to board member Martha Pacini for her participation and leadership in addressing these issues.

 

2016 Legislative Update

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  • There are several city proposals in discussions outside our area that do not seem viable except for the city of Stonecrest. The city of LaVista Hills does not appear to have legislative support for reintroduction this session. Additionally, the City of Atlanta initiative to incorporate this area has disbanded with individual neighborhoods now petitioning instead.
  • A SPLOST tax is being proposed to fund county roads and transportation. If not passed at the capitol and then approved by voters, the county would need to find an alternative method to pay for the repair of our failing roads.
  • Legislation is being developed for the elimination of the DeKalb County CEO form of government.

Thanks go to COVE President Pat Killingsworth for her leadership and ongoing participation in crafting some of this key legislation.

COVE Report – December 8, 2015

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Intersection of Houston Mill and LaVista

LaVista and Houston Mill

With the construction of Young Israel at the intersection of Houston Mill and LaVista, the dedicated right-turn lane on LaVista (east-bound) was removed. This has created an unsafe situation and backup on Houston Mill at certain times of the day. Discussions with  DeKalb County indicated correcting the situation would require expansion of the road and acquisition of some of the adjacent church property. The church owns the three residential properties at the intersection.

COVE President Pat Killingsworth, COVE Past-President Martha Pacini, and Mason Mill Civic Association President Mary Hinkle met last week with the Intown Community Church to discuss the intersection. The church was open to the idea and the entire group will be meeting with the county.

The church school also has significant challenges during the week for parents turning into and out of the church.  The church has agreed to provide us with a list of all of the groups that use the church throughout the week so that we can support our case with both the county and Georgia DOT that turning into the church is an issue all week, not just on Sundays.

New Emory Lightning Warning System and More

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COVE Board members Emily Koumans and Martha Pacini attended the recent Emory Community Meeting.  Emory has installed lightning detectors on its baseball fields.  A loud horn will sound if there is lightning within a 3-4 mile radius.

Emory is coordinating on construction of a path under the Clairmont Rd bridge (near the VA), linking Starvine Way bike access to the path that goes to Medlock Park through Mason Mill Park.

Also, there will be construction at Emory’s Briarcliff campus (library resources to be housed there).

Report of the Georgia House Annexation, Deannexation, and Incorporation Study Committee

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The committee has drafted recommendations concerning improvements to the process related to the creation of new cities and the related impacts. They include:

  • Possible legislation to expand and define a proper legal notice to ensure all local governments are informed including specific definitions of services to be provided.
  • Definition in Georgia Code of “city-lite” municipalities that offer limited services.
  • Maintain that only the population in a proposed city boundary should have the vote on incorporation.
  • Requirement that a proposed city must have a defined map, scope of services, and feasibility study completed the first year of a two-year session.
  • Committee rule changes or new procedures to create annexation sub-committees to determine the impacts on specific school systems, county distribution of services, and impact on the county government and neighboring cities.

The full report is here. It is recommended that you contact the committee members directly with any comments or suggestions. Annex_Deannex_Incorp_FINAL_REPORT

DeKalb County House Delegation Pre-Legislative Town Hall Meetings

December 9,10, and January 7 – 7pm

DeKalb Delegation Meetings

 

COVE Report – November 2, 2015

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Countywide Referendum on Ethics – Victoria Estates Residents Vote Tomorrow, November 3!!!

It is your civic duty to vote tomorrow. You have the opportunity to approve sweeping improvements to the ethics laws affecting County officials and employees as advocated by Blueprint DeKalb whose leadership included Victoria Estates residents Pat Killingsworth and Martha Pacini.

Ballot Question: “( ) YES ( ) NO
Shall the Act be approved which revises the Board of Ethics for DeKalb County?”

You can help implement it by voting YES tomorrow, November 3.

Click here for a complete summary of the new code.

Significant Traffic Increase for North Druid Hills Road

City of Brookhaven and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Attempting to Ignore State Mandated Traffic Requirements
Voice Your Opinion – November 4 – 7pm

Brookhaven-BlogChildren's Healthcare of Atlanta

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHA) has applied to Brookhaven for a special permit and two variances to build a new medical office facility at North Druid and I-85. A hearing is scheduled at Brookhaven City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven at 7pm.

CHA is requesting variances to build an eight story structure, reduce parking requirements, and reduce building setback requirements. A traffic study indicates that the busy intersection will have a significant increase in traffic, which could have a huge impact at the North Druid/85 intersection, particularly at rush hour.

This should trigger an impact study by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). Brookhaven has failed to involve the ARC as required by law. CHA plans to use both the existing entrance on North Druid Hills as well as the I-85 northbound access road for ingress and egress. If you travel up or down Druid Hills, this could have a big impact for you with an additional 13,688 vehicles per day using our already inadequate road system at this intersection. This is in addition to the already approved 3,100 vehicle per day for new apartments in Executive Park.

The Brookhaven Planning Staff has approved The CHA application and the Brookhaven Planning Commission will vote on it this Wednesday, November 4. CHA has indicated they care about what local residents think so, if you feel strongly about increased traffic, please wear a red shirt and show up at this hearing at Brookhaven City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, at 7 PM. This is the only item on the agenda. Brookhaven needs to be held accountable to enhance traffic flow in this area that impacts us all, before granting these changes.

DeKalb Citizen Input Needed on Form of Government

November 16, 7 – 8 PM
DeKalb South Senior Center at 1931 Candler Road, Decatur, GA 30032

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Kathie Gannon – October 23, 2015

The dysfunction and corruption in DeKalb County requires citizens to consider changes in the DeKalb form of government. DeKalb County Super District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon will host a town hall meeting to launch a citizen study of local governments to guide elected officials. “Government is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people,” Gannon said. “DeKalb citizens must be actively involved in choosing their form of government. It cannot be imposed by politicians or selected by experts.”

Over the past years, corruption, bribery, sloppy management has plagued DeKalb. “I am all for reviewing and improving our form of government, but I think we should look before we leap. We need to understand how changing the form of government will correct the problems. What other corrections and adjustments need to be made that will make DeKalb more accountable to the citizens? “

All interested DeKalb citizens are invited to attend a kick-off meeting on November 16th at 7PM in the new DeKalb South Senior Center at 1931 Candler Road for Blueprint 2. Two years ago Gannon initiated the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb, a citizen lead effort that resulted in legislation being passed to strengthen the Ethics Code (if the referendum passes on Nov 3), create an Internal Auditor and improve our Purchasing procedures. “The first Blueprints effort was a successful method for citizens to make
meaningful changes. We will kick off Blueprint 2 on November 16th and keep citizens at the forefront of reforming DeKalb government. Government is a participatory sport! Now is the time to step up and help,” Gannon said. The meeting will start promptly at 7 PM and end by 8 PM. Interested volunteers will decide how to organize, study the problems and options, reach conclusions and make recommendations before the end of the 2016 state legislative session in March.

Kathie Gannon represents the western half of DeKalb on the Board of Commissioners. She has been a champion for environmental sustainability, government reforms, neighborhood protection, efficient government and senior citizens. Her website is http://www.kathiegannon.com/ and email is
kgannon@DekalbCountyGa.gov .

Nextdoor.com Etiquette

Carl Lange – November 2, 2015

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Last week a couple postings by Victoria Estates residents were flagged and removed from Nextdoor.com. When posting or discussing an item for sale, please do not respond to everyone with what can be accomplished through a private message.

This is an example. “Hello, what year and what is your lowest cash price? Thankyou – XXXX” A neighboring Nextdoor lead provided the following response for the deletion, “Please discuss all one-on-one transactional details such as negotiating price, arranging pickup, etc. via Private Message with the seller. Rather than in the main newsfeed going to thousands of people. Thank You”

Also, remember you have control over the amount of emails and newsfeed you receive. You can limit communications you receive to just those from Victoria Estates or select neighborhoods. Personally, I’ve turned off the Morningside neighborhood from my list because of the volume of members and have eliminated for-sale items from my feed. I’ve also set my alerts status to receive any messages people mark high-priority via text, such as notification of a break-in.

Nextdoor.com has proven to be an extremely useful tool and virtual community for our neighborhood. Take advantage of it and use it well!

COVE Report – October 13, 2015

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Mason Mill/Victoria Estates/Logan’s Knoll Neighborhood Picnic

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This Sunday, October 18th from 4-6 p.m. in W. D. Thomson Park

 

Residents of Mason Mill, Victoria Estate and the surrounding area are invited to our neighborhood’s annual fall picnic on Sunday, October 18th from 4-6 p.m. in W. D. Thomson Park. The pavilion has been rented, shoppers are lined up to secure provisions, and the grill maestros have been recruited.

Please plan on joining us and bring a favorite dish for 8-10 people, along with your folding chairs, blankets and toys for your kids. You can RSVP via nextdoormasonmill or by email to civicassn@masonmill.org. If you’d like to volunteer to help with the set-up (at 3:30) or the clean-up, let us know by emailing civicassn@masonmill.org. Hope to see you there!

 

Don’t Forget to Vote! – DeKalb County Election

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/Voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html

On the ballot for Victoria Estates neighbors:
DEKALB COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTION
YES
NO
DeKalb County Board of Ethics Referendum
(Vote for One)
House Bill No. 597
Act No. 204
“Shall the Act be approved which revises the Board of Ethics for DeKalb County?”

LaVista Park Fall Festival

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Saturday, October 17: Noon – 4:00 pm
Corner of Wild Creek & Brookforest
• Free food & drinks
• Silent Auction
• Many Raffle Items
• Children’s Activities
Click here

Cityhood Forum

Monday, October 19, 2015, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Young Israel, 2056 Lavista Rd, Atlanta, GA 30329
Sponsored and Moderated by State Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and State Senator Elena Parent

Purpose: To provide a structured meeting enabling both sides to present their positions to the public, and for community members to have their questions answered

When: Monday, October 19, from 6:30-8:00 PM. Meeting will start and end on time.

Where: Young Israel of Toco Hills

Please come and hear discussion of this issue so important to our community.

Senate Study Committee on Annexation, De-annexation & Incorporation

Wednesday, October 21: 2:00 -5:00 pm
Tuesday, November 3: 9 AM-12 PM
Room 450 of the Capitol

Sen. Elena Parent has scheduled the last two meetings for the Senate Study Committee on Annexation, De-annexation, and incorporation. More details will follow as the agendas for both are finalized. You can also find the committee documents that have been posted online here
and the notes here
If you have any questions please contact Stephanie Tanner, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Parent, at Stephanie.Tanner@senate.ga.gov

Interim CEO Town Hall Meetings

Lee May is hosting “an up close face to face conversation concerning his Executive Order and the recent report that was released.”

Thursday, October 15: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Tucker-Cofer Reid Library
5234 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084

Tuesday, October 20: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

2842 H.F. Shepard Drive, Decatur, GA 30032