Tag Archives: Crime and Safety

COVE Report – June 3, 2016

COVEReport logo2

Annual Membership Meeting – Tuesday, July 19, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

annual meeting2
Please mark your calendar for Citizens of Victoria Estates’ (COVE) annual membership meeting on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, at the home of Bobby and Jocelyn Baker, 1473 Rainier Falls Dr.

The meeting will include a presentation of accomplishments, election of board members, review of budget, and next year plans. If you are unable to attend, please consider supporting our work for Victoria Estates by becoming a member/renewing your $25 annual dues today.

1) A payment can be made by check, payable to Citizens of Victoria Estates, and mailed to COVE, 1548 Mason Mill Rd. NE, Atlanta GA 30329 (or left in the mail box).

2) Make a secure credit card or checking account payment via PayPal:
Click to donate

3) Make a secure reoccurring payment via PayPal. You’ll be billed $25 annually from the date of payment, and may cancel at any time from your PayPal account.
Click to subscribe

We look forward to seeing you on July 19!

The COVE Board Members and Officers – Bobby Baker, Susan Bell, Tim Buchman, Pat Killingsworth, Emily Koumans, Carl Lange, Ron McCauley, Martha Pacini, and David Woolf

How Would You Like Your Tax Dollars Spent? – Take the Survey Today


DeKalb County’s proposal to address the poor state of roads and other infrastructure is the addition of a Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) penny tax and restructuring of property tax relief on the November ballot. If you would like to voice your opinion on the prioritization of types of projects, please take this survey: http://dekalbcountyga.gov/splostsurvey today. Click for more

DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Summer Swim Season Began May 28

swimming pool

The 2016 DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs swim season opened Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 28 through Friday, August 5. Select pools will remain open on weekends until Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5, 2016.

Pool patrons will have the opportunity to participate in water aerobics, swim lessons and swim leagues throughout the summer.


Browns Mill Aquatic Facility 4929 Browns Mill Rd, Lithonia, GA 30038
Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays 1 – 7 p.m.

Exchange Splash Pad 2771 Columbia Dr, Decatur, GA 30034
Hours: Monday, Wednesday- Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday and Tuesday, noon to 7 p.m.

Tobie Grant 644 Parkdale Road, Scottdale, GA 30079
Kittredge 2535 N. Druid Hills Road, Atlanta, GA 30329
*Gresham 3113 Gresham Road, Atlanta, GA 30316
*Lithonia 2501 Park Drive, Lithonia, GA 30058
Hours: Closed Mondays, open Tuesday through Saturday noon until 6 p.m.

*Kelly Cofer 4259 N. Park Dr. Tucker, GA 30084
*Midway 3181 Midway Road, Decatur, GA 30032
*Medlock 874 Gaylemont Circle, Decatur, GA 30033
Hours: Closed Tuesdays, open Monday, Wednesday Saturday noon until 6 p.m.

*Open Sundays 1 to 6 p.m.

For more information, contact Justin Blanton, Parks Program Coordinator, at (404) 371-6270.

DeKalb County seeks community input in the Development of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan

Comprehensive Plan

DeKalb County Planning & Sustainability will host two community meetings on Saturday, June 4
in an effort to obtain input on the County’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The meetings will take place simultaneously at Stonecrest Mall and Northlake Mall, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The project team will update citizens on the plan process, review and prioritize the list of previous plan goals, as well as identify current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and needs throughout the county.



Calendar of Events at DeKalb County Public Library

Public Library

FESTIVAL OF WRITERS – Friday, May 27-Friday, June 17

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Gallery Show
Now an annual event, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Gallery Show returns to the Decatur Library Main Lobby on Friday, May 27, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Come and see fabulous works of art and literature from some of the South’s finest writers and illustrators. The Gallery will remain on display through Friday, June 17, during library hours. Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur 30030. 404.370.3070.
For more information, call 404.370.3070, ext. 2285 or visit georgiacenterforthebook.org or dekalblibrary.org.


During Library Hours
Brookhaven Library, 1242 N. Druid Hills Road. 404.848.7140.
Chamblee Library, 4115 Clairmont Road. 770.936.1380.
Clarkston Library, 951 N. Indian Creek Drive. 404.508.7175.
Covington Library, 3500 Covington Highway. 404.508.7180.
Dunwoody Library, 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. 770.512.4640.
Flat Shoals Library, 4022 Flat Shoals Parkway. 404.244.4270.
Lithonia-Davidson Library, 6821 Church Street. 770.482.3820.
Northlake-Barbara Loar Library, 3772 LaVista Road 770.679.4408.
Redan-Trotti Library, 1569 Wellborn Road. 770.482.3821.
Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library, 1282 McConnell Drive. 404.679.4404.
Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library, 5234 LaVista Road. 770.270.8234.
Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library, 2861 Wesley Chapel Road. 404.286.6980.

DeKalb County May 24, 2016 Election Results

Voting Result_05242016

Mark Your Calendars – Runoff Election – July 26, 2016








Mason Mill Petition to Enforce Code of Ordinances Regarding Signs at 1840 Mason Mill Rd

1840 Mason Mill

A petition has been forwarded to residents of the Mason Mill neighborhood by the Mason Mill Civic Association concerning the lack of code enforcement regarding the signs at 1840 Mason Mill Rd. The petition was created to “keep pressure on the county to act in this matter and to ensure that the community’s voice is heard in upcoming meetings with county staff – and later before the hearing judge…. We are greatly disturbed by the number, design characteristics, content, and location of signs and activities in the front yard of 1840 Mason Mill Road. Many of the signs use offensive language and present distasteful, provocative and abusive content….”

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


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


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
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

dekalb police

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


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.


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.


Elena Parent

COVE Report – February 17, 2016

COVEReport logo2



Rep. Howard Mosby Meeting – Recap


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


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
2056 LaVista Road, 30329

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.

DeKalb County Sewer Assessment Begun


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)


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


Major Rezoning Plan for Toco Hills and Mason Mill

master plan

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 – November 18, 2014

COVEReport logo2



Proposed City of LaVista Hills Borders Victoria Estates and Mason Mill



City of LaVista Hills


The initiatives to form the cities of Lakeside and Briarcliff have officially merged to promote the city of LaVista Hills. A new map which excludes Victoria Estates and Mason Mill neighborhoods was delivered to the state legislature yesterday. The newly proposed city does include the Toco Hill Shopping Center.
Click for Interactive Map
Click for Press Release
Click for LaVista Yes website



Close up of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill area

Close up of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill area








Letter Concerning LaVista Hills

In a letter posted on the Civic Association Networks’ (CAN) communications site, Allen Venet, LaVista Hills organizer, stated “We have also worked very hard trying to respect the preferences expressed by surveys and petitions in neighborhoods facing two or more cityhood or annexation choices.” Allen is formerly with the Briarcliff initiative and the letter was in response to an informational notification by Patrick Noonan, former president of the Mason Mill Civic Association and drafter of our recent neighborhood survey.

Thank you, Patrick, for helping to spread the word about the City of LaVista Hills.

As each of you, and your respective neighborhoods, study our map, and continue to monitor the multiple annexation and cityhood proposals, please understand that the volunteers of the LaVista Hills effort — both Lakeside supporters and Briarcliff supporters — have labored long and hard to define this map. That was true in the difficult mediation that led to our successful merger, and in the difficult mediation with our friends in the Tucker 2015 effort which unfortunately failed. We have also worked very hard trying to respect the preferences expressed by surveys and petitions in neighborhoods facing two or more cityhood or annexation choices. Those neighborhood preferences, along with the “no island” rule, largely dictated our borders. The boundaries are not as simple as any of us would like, but they do follow — as closely as we could — the desires of the neighborhoods in question.

Some have criticized a perceived lack of transparency because only “old” maps have been displayed for weeks. During this time we were engaged in mediation, while also continuing to meet with multiple neighborhood groups. We neither requested nor had any input into the design of the mediation process created by the Georgia House leadership (although we had long supported the idea of mediation as first suggested by Representative Oliver, and later championed by Representative Jacobs). We do, however, respect the legislative leadership, and we have done our best to abide by the rules and the spirit of their process. In keeping with this commitment to the process, our negotiations have been confidential. Now that the initial deadline has passed, we are pleased to present our map, and to answer any questions, as we move into the next phase of the process.

It goes without saying that some of you support our efforts, and some of you disagree. This is a political process, and differences of opinion are to be expected. I hope that we can all respect each other’s opinions as we continue to debate these critical topics.

We are excited to be moving forward with a plan that we sincerely believe will be an important part of the solution for DeKalb County, and we welcome your questions and comments, as always.


Proposed Atlanta Annexation to Include Victoria Estates and Mason Mill

Proposed Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill

Proposed Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill


Together in Atlanta, Inc. has delivered to the state legislature a proposed map for Atlanta annexation that includes Victoria Estates and Mason Mill neighborhoods. In a communication from Amy Power she stated “We are extremely pleased and grateful to have the support of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and will be working with his office through the legislative session and hopefully onward toward a referendum next year.” Thanks to Jen Tipping for forwarding this information.

Together In Atlanta, Inc.
P.O. Box 133255
Atlanta, Georgia 30333


November 17, 2014

The Honorable Amy Carter
House Governmental Affairs Committee
Georgia House of Representatives
218 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Re: Proposed Atlanta Annexation

Dear Chairman Carter:

On behalf of the steering committee of Together In Atlanta (“TIA”), we respectfully submit the attached map of a proposed Atlanta annexation in west central DeKalb County for your consideration. The proposed map includes Emory University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the complete school zones for Briar Vista Elementary and Fernbank Elementary.

As an organization, TIA’s formation is an outgrowth of the anticipated further municipalization of central and north DeKalb County being handled by your committee. The attached map of a proposed Atlanta annexation helps to prevent an unincorporated island at Atlanta’s eastern boundary, allows the neighborhoods in the proposed annexation area to preserve their elementary school zones within the same local governmental jurisdiction, and creates a manageable service area for municipal services.

Thank you very much for your consideration and for your leadership on the issue of municipalization. We look forward to working with you, other legislators, and City of Atlanta officials to support a legislative resolution that incorporates this proposed Atlanta annexation map and permits it to be put to voter referendum in 2015.


Matthew S. Lewis
Steering Committee Member
Together In Atlanta, Inc.

Attachment (Proposed Atlanta Annexation Map)

cc: Representative Buzz Brockway, Vice Chairman (w/attachment)
Representative Tyrone Brooks, Member (w/attachment)
Representative Howard Mosby, Member (w/attachment)
Representative Mary Margaret Oliver, Member (w/attachment)
Matthew Lewis

A Comparison of Atlanta vs. New City vs. remaining Unincorporated

The Woodland Hills Neighborhood Association has created a comparison of the three options. Atlanta Lakeside-Briarcliff City Comparison FINAL

LaVista Park Neighborhood Cityhood Survey Results

Neighbors in LaVista Park have indicated in a survey that their top choices are remaining unincorporated and joining the proposed new city, now named LaVista Hills. Click for details

DeKalb Police Join Nextdoor.com


Chief James Conroy posted that the department will be utilizing Nextdoor to facilitate virtual neighborhood watches and to facilitate better communications, including local crime and safety updates.

James Conroy, DeKalb County Police Department CITY
My name is Chief James Conroy, and I am pleased to announce that starting today, the DeKalb County Police Department will be utilizing Nextdoor to facilitate virtual neighborhood watch and foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications.
Nextdoor is a tool for us to effectively share information on crime prevention and safety, public events, and emergency notifications. You can expect to receive local crime and safety updates from the DeKalb County Police Department on Nextdoor. Please be assured that your website remains private. DeKalb County Police Department staff will NOT be able to see any of the content on your neighborhood website except for the direct replies to our posts.
Please be aware that Nextdoor is not the appropriate way to request emergency services, police services, report criminal or suspicious activity, file a report, etc. If you require emergency services, please call 911.
We look forward to connecting with you on Nextdoor to build stronger, safer neighborhoods throughout DeKalb County.
– Chief James Conroy

Atlanta Annexation Meeting – November 19

The Laurel Ridge Shamrock Civic Association (LRSCA) is hosting an informational meeting on Atlanta annexation. All are invited to attend. Alex Wan and APS School Board Member Matt Westmoreland are scheduled to attend. The information session will be on Wednesday Nov. 19 at 7 pm at University Heights Methodist Church.

Blueprint DeKalb Meeting – November 20

Blueprint DeKalb


Members of this citizen driven movement to improve DeKalb will be coming to Druid Hills Middle School to discuss their research and recommendations. Please come out on Thursday Nov. 20 at 7pm at Druid Hills Middle School Library to learn more about this citizen driven group.

COVEReport – September 24, 2014

COVEReport Logo



Cityhood Edition 2014/2015

Citizens of Victoria Estates may have a decision to make in 2015 concerning cityhood. Proposed city of Briarcliff/Lakeside boundaries may include our neighborhood, be approved by the state legislature, and result in an individual choice at the ballot. Annexation into the city of Atlanta is also a consideration. Initiatives have till November 15 to make a decision on boundaries. Alternatively, Victoria Estates could be left as an unincorporated island, with future annexation a consideration. Please check out the following articles to stay informed.

Cityhood Round 2!

By Ron McCauley, COVE board member – September 25, 2014

Yes neighbors, we get to face this again. The COVE board views this as an extremely important issue and we’ve been monitoring it closely. We consider it vital that Victoria Estates residents be informed. There has been movement on multiple fronts.

City of Lakeside: Lakeside hasn’t gone away. The Lakeside City Alliance has reorganized and is now calling itself “LakesideYES”. Its website link: http://lakesideyes.nationbuilder.com/. It’s currently using the map that was created by Representative Mike Jacobs near the end of the last legislative session. It says that this isn’t the final map and that discussions are still occurring.

City of Briarcliff: The Briarcliff organization still exists, but it’s nearly silent publicly.

Lakeside and Briarcliff: There have been multiple statements in multiple forums stating that the two groups are working together to resolve their differences and to create a compromise map. Thus far, there hasn’t been anything substantive released about their progress in doing so.

Druid Hills, Lakeside map, and annexation by Atlanta: There is strong sentiment among many in the Druid Hills neighborhood to move some key municipal services away from DeKalb County; principally, Zoning and Schools. Druid Hills has lost some significant battles with the county recently and they are quite active in seeking another solution. LakesideYES has released a statement that it won’t consider putting Druid Hills in its map.

Letter to DHCA Board from LakesideYES

Therefore, Druid Hills is actively exploring the possibility of being annexed by the City of Atlanta. The Druid Hills Civic Association has pledged to have a decision on annexation by Thanksgiving 2014.

There is a movement that is calling itself the Atlanta Annexation Initiative (AAI.) Their purpose is to pursue Atlanta annexation. Discussion and meetings are ongoing and COVE board members have continued to monitor and attend meetings.

Victoria Estates: From a cityhood perspective, we could be considered a small boat cast adrift. We are not included in the current Lakeside map, nor are we part of the Atlanta annexation discussions. The map below exhibits the city boundaries that would exist should Lakeside and AAI both come to fruition. As you’ll see, these movements may leave us as part of a small section of unincorporated DeKalb. Opinions vary on whether this would be a concern. However, if we are to become active in discussions and advocate for a specific path it’s vital that we do so soon.

The Cove board is coordinating and will be scheduling neighborhood meetings with City of Atlanta, Lakeside/Briarcliff, and DeKalb County to inform residents of status and issues. Meeting dates and locations are to be announced.

Potential city boundary map near VE (approximate)

Cityhood map

Effect on pocketbooks if we should become part of Atlanta

Druid Hills released a detailed study on the net change to cost of home ownership. It compared current costs in unincorporated DeKalb to costs in Atlanta within DeKalb County. Its conclusion: the significant tax increase is more a matter of perception than reality. The table below summarizes findings.

Appraised ValueUninc DeKalbAtlanta in DeKalbAnnual Increase
$   300,000$   3,688$   3,741$     53
$   400,000$   5,045$   5,331$   286
$   500,000$   6,402$   6,920$   518
$   600,000$   7,759$   8,508$   750
$   800,000$ 10,472$ 11,687$ 1,215
$ 1,000,000$ 13,186$ 14,866$ 1,680



  1. Water and Sewer fees are billed separately. City of Atlanta states that DeKalb will continue to provide water and sewer service. Rates will be assessed and billed by DeKalb.
  2. Sanitation Fees: Annual rate in Atlanta is currently $321 higher.
  3. Atlanta doesn’t assess fees for street lights ($25), speed humps ($25) and storm water ($48). Effect would be a $98 annual decrease.
  4. According to these figures: for a home with an appraised value of $500,000 the total annual cost increase is projected to be $741.

Click here for the comparison: ATL v Dek 2014 Comparison3

Click here for meeting notes: Atlanta annexation meeting notes (2)

Regardless of the final details, it’s clear that change is coming. We’ll continue to monitor and report as these movements progress.

Mason Mill Cityhood Update

By Mary Hinkel, Mason Mill Civic Association president – September 4, 2014

As you may know, the three proposed cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker have been given until November 15 to agree on boundaries. (See below for a recent AJC online release explaining these developments.)

Last year, parts of our neighborhood were included in the maps for Briarcliff and Lakeside.

  • All residents of Mason Mill, Mason Woods, Vistavia, McConnell and Houston Mill were included in the City of Briarcliff map.
  • The City of Lakeside map included only the northern side of Mason Mill (outside of Victoria Estate), the northern end of Houston Mill (between LaVista and Mason Mill) , all of Mason Woods, the northern end of Vistavia — think Thomson Park side for all of these — and all of McConnell.

We do not know what to expect this year. Will we be drawn into a new city, or not?

While we all would have the option of voting “no” in a 2015 referendum, if the Legislature decided to hold one, the decision will be determined by a majority of those showing up to vote on the issue.

As a further complication, our neighborhood has been invited into a broader conversation with surrounding neighborhoods about possible annexation into the City of Atlanta. This discussion is being led by a Druid Hills Civic Association task force.

The availability of each of these options and the timing for decision making is not known at this time, but the possibility of maintaining the status quo – being part of an unincorporated DeKalb County – appears to be diminishing.

We are working with Victoria Estates (and perhaps Merry Hills, etc.) to host future educational sessions for our residents concerning all of our options. Most likely, we will need to survey our residents this fall, to determine whether we proactively pursue a particular action or not.

Until that time, I encourage each of you to spend time reading the websites of the neighborhood associations listed below, as well as any current postings from the proposed cities, to learn more about each of these options. The neighborhood websites also have information about what an Atlanta annexation might mean.

For further discussion of the City of Atlanta option (including a way to calculate how your Property Taxes might compare with Unincorporated DeKalb), see this document:

In case you were wondering… Emory University is currently weighing the possibility of being annexed by Atlanta. Emory has stated that they do not want to be a part of a City of Briarcliff or Lakeside, mainly because they do not want their campus divided between jurisdictions.

Further, according to the Lindbergh Lavista website, Emory is interested in a transportation plan that will include the Clifton Corridor Transit Line, and they feel that with Atlanta’s recent grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the Atlanta Street Car, financing for the Clifton Corridor Line may come easier and more quickly with the City of Atlanta’s direct federal connections.


In summary, here are the questions we Mason Mill residents are currently facing, along with most of our nearby DeKalb neighbors:

  1. Do we want to be included in a city? (Note that even if our residents do not currently want to be included in the city options currently on the table, it is likely that we will be pulled into some future city. This year especially, we have heard very clearly that the legislature does not want to leave “islands” in-between city boundaries.)
  2. If we did need to affiliate, which city would we want to be included in? Options for discussion right now include a combined Lakeside / Briarcliff creation or Atlanta.


Proposed DeKalb cities instructed to decide borders


By Mark Niesse

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia representatives are giving three DeKalb cityhood movements until Nov. 15 to agree on boundaries. If they don’t, state lawmakers will do it for them.

Maps for the Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker communities must be decided before the end of the year, and those are the only boundaries that will be considered during the 2015 legislative session, according to instructions distributed Tuesday by the House Governmental Affairs Committee.

The current boundaries of the three areas overlap.

The guidelines are intended to resolve local border disputes before state lawmakers consider whether to authorize the creation of new cities, said Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven.

“The problem in the 2014 session was that we were locked in an intractable three-way tug of war over boundaries,” Jacobs said. “In order to avoid that same situation in the 2015 session, somebody has got to come to a decision.”

Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, would appoint a panel of five House of Representatives members to draw city boundaries if the City of Briarcliff InitiativeLakeside Yesand Tucker 2015 can’t agree by Nov. 15. The instructions were developed by Jacobs and Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody.

“This process … gives cityhood proponents in DeKalb County the best chance for successful passage of legislation that will allow new city proposals to go before the voters for consideration,” Carter said in a statement. “There is a need to bring order to this process, and the directions outlined to the stakeholders today will accomplish just that.”

Other potential cities in DeKalb County, such as Stonecrest and South DeKalb, could be considered during the normal legislative process, Jacobs said.

What Would Annexation into the City of Atlanta Mean for Our Schools?

Reported by meeting attendees Diane Benjamin and Mary Hinkel

This is a very complex issue to address and was the primary focus of discussion at the most recent Druid Hills-led annexation meeting.

Typically, school children in any annexed community enroll in the annexing entity’s school system.  Hence, moving into the City of Atlanta would mean students in our neighborhood attend City of Atlanta schools.

By law, capital assets within an annexed area also move into the city.  This means that DeKalb Schools could potentially lose Fernbank, Druid Hills HS and Briar Vista. Presumably, ownership of the Fernbank Science Center, which is owned by the DeKalb County School system, would also move to Atlanta Public Schools.

Thus, annexation into the City of Atlanta would break up the existing cluster of seven elementary schools and one middle school feeding into Druid Hills HS.  Conceptually, because the APS middle school on our side of town – Inman Middle School is currently crowded, we could see a conversion of Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools from K-5 to K-8. Also, since Druid Hills’s current enrollment of approximately 1800 students will decline without the additional students from the other five elementary schools and Druid Hills Middle School, it seems likely that APS would take advantage of the empty seats to at least partially relieve Grady High School.

Any idea that APS would pay DeKalb Public Schools to educate these students within the county school system is politically untenable, especially given the current rocky relationship the City of Atlanta and APS have due to funding issues relating to the Atlanta BeltLine.

The exact impact of annexation on the schools is purely speculation at this point, however, and is subject to negotiation only after the annexation vote.  That residents are even considering the Atlanta Public School system is evidence of the deep distrust of and dissatisfaction with the DeKalb County School system. The Atlanta Public School system, while far from perfect, has a new superintendent and a history of being receptive to parent and neighborhood-led charter school initiatives.

In the opinion of Marshall Orson, our area’s Board of Education member, the best scenario would be for the DeKalb Board of Education to agree to the creation of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster.  The cluster includes seven elementary schools (including our own Briar Vista), Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High School and has the support of the parents and communities served by these schools.

The purpose of the Charter Cluster is to improve education in our schools by:

  • reducing class sizes,
  • refocusing the schools on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics), and
  • improving the authenticity of the current IB and Montessori programs.

(Please see the cluster’s Facebook page and website – www.druidhillschartercluster.org – for background on this charter effort.)

The Charter Cluster’s initial petition was denied on a 5 to 4 vote in late 2013.  This summer, the Charter Cluster re-filed its petition to clarify areas which the Board said were deficient.  By law, the DeKalb Board of Education must vote on the revised Charter Cluster petition, but has not yet done so.  Therefore, residents now have an opportunity to let the Board of Education know their feelings about the Charter Cluster before Board members vote again.

The existence of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, as an independent legal entity operating under a contract with the State of Georgia and the School Board(s) would enable residents of the annexed area to live in the municipality of Atlanta, but have their children continue to attend the same schools we know and would also keep the Druid Hills HS feeder school system intact.

Additional notes re the formation of “new city” schools:

Both Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and Representative Howard Mosby have stated that, because of objections from rural Georgia, it is highly unlikely that the state constitution will be changed to permit the creation of any new school systems.

Many of the parents in our neighborhood working to change the DeKalb School system believe that the only way to improve the public schools now is either to persuade the school board to approve the Charter Cluster petition or to be annexed into the City of Atlanta.


Marshall Orson suggested citizens write the following school board members (David Campbell, Karen W. Carter, and Dr. Michael A. Erwin) and the Superintendent (Michael L. Thurmond) to: express support for the Druid Hills Charter Cluster petition, seek their affirmative vote for the petition, and request their help in placing the petition on an upcoming agenda (it takes 5 votes to place this matter on the agenda). Once this vote is held, there is no further recourse for the Druid Hills Charter Cluster.

According to Marshall, the greatest risk to our children is that the Board doesn’t pass the petition. The Druid Hills Charter Cluster is the only way to keep our schools and students together and reduce the risks associated with the DeKalb system losing thousands of students in central DeKalb.  (Find additional points on the cluster’s Facebook page.)

All letters should be addressed to these individuals at the DeKalb County Board of Education, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA  30083.  If you want to email these individuals, you can do so through the school board’s website, although Marshall thought written letters would be more effective.





Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County

Blueprint Meeting – September 30, 6:30pm

Maloof Auditorium, Decatur

A diverse group of neighborhood leaders, including VE’s Pat Killingsworth and Martha Pacini, has been working since February on recommendations to give guidance to the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. The Blueprint is a framework for reform — it addresses: procurement process, ethics, transparency, and rebuilding trust in our county government. For more information, visit www.BlueprintDeKalb.org. 

DeKalb Citizens Group Calls for Reforms

Kathie Gannon, September 11, 2014

In the wake of swirling charges of corruption, a group of engaged DeKalb citizens is bringing forth recommendations to reform DeKalb County government. The diverse group of neighborhood leaders has been working since February to draft the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. The Blueprint is a framework for reform – it addresses: procurement policies, ethics, inefficient operations and the stale political environment.   Today the Blueprints Leadership team called a public meeting and launched a website www.BlueprintsDeKalb.org

“The voices of citizens must be heard to change the direction of DeKalb County,” said Patricia Killingsworth, a member of the Blueprints Leadership Team. “We hope citizens from across DeKalb County – north, south, in cities or outside – will use this current crisis as an opportunity to press for meaningful reforms, and that our elected officials will engage and take their responsibility for promoting ethics and transparency in DeKalb County government seriously.”

“DeKalb needs comprehensive solutions that are as big as our problems,” said Gil Turman another member of the Blueprints Leadership Team. “Many levels of government must be involved and our business and private sector leaders must also press for change.”


www.BlueprintsDeKalb.org contains:

  • The original Blueprint showing the group’s principles
  • A progress report to the Operations Task Force
  • A survey to obtain feedback from the public
  • Draft position papers written by citizens


The position papers include recommendations to ensure more accountability, transparency and efficiency. Among the recommendations are:

  • An internal audit watchdog that reports to an independent body
  • Ethics reform, including removing Board of Ethics appointments from the CEO and Board of Commissioners
  • Greater transparency in purchasing, budgeting and operations to allow citizens to more carefully monitor County government
  • A straw poll to consider term limits and non-partisan elections

The Blueprints Leadership Team will review these reforms in a community meeting on September 30th at 6:30 PM in the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur. DeKalb citizens are urged to attend.

For more information contact BlueprintDekalb@gmail.com

Blueprints Leadership Team

Ted Daniel

DeKalb resident for 58 years; Community Council District 2   2003-Present (Chair); Leafmore Civic Association-Immediate Past President; Founding Member of Civic Association Network; Community Projects/Studies: Lavista Blueprints, Leafmore Infill Overlay District, Toco Hills Community Alliance, North Druid Hills Corridor Study, DeKalb Traffic Plan,   Zoning Code, Mason Mill Park Master Plan, Oak Groove Festival, Embrace Our Green Space Race

Jana Johnson

20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry Customer Service Supervisor. Owner and founder of an event management company; coordinating and organizing events as well as giving presentations, facilitating workshops, seminars and meetings. Graduate of Leadership DeKalb; Currently on the Board of Directors for I CARE, a non-profit that provides transportation for seniors to their medical appointments, Pride Rings in Stone Mountain (PRISM), the DeKalb County Planning Commission and the DeKalb County Juvenile Court Citizen Review Panel. Past member of the DeKalb County District 4 Community Council. Currently pursuing her Masters in Biblical Counseling.

Robert Glover

Worked for a major telecommunication company for over 30 years leading project teams in developing and implementing new products and services. DeKalb resident for over 25 years. Serves on the DeKalb Board of Equalization hearing real and personal property appeal cases. BoE Chair or Vice Chair for 7 of the 15 years on the board. Served as Vice Chair of Operations for the SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) Downtown Atlanta office. Guided entrepreneurs and business owners how to enhance their business, develop a business plan, and how to secure a Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan. Acquired a Paralegal Certificate in 2008 from Kennesaw State University worked part time for a law firm. Presently serving as a Trustee and Financial Secretary for his church preparing financial reports in accordance with GAAP (General Acceptance Accounting Principles) for Non-profits.

Patricia Killingsworth

Attorney and former Chief Judge of the State Board of Workers` Compensation, Member DeKalb County Board of Ethics 1998-2008 and Chair from 2002-2004, Graduate of Leadership DeKalb. Served on the boards of directors of Leadership DeKalb, Youth Leadership DeKalb, Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde, and the governance council of Chamblee Charter High School.  A recipient of the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service, presented by the Georgia Bar Association. Adjunct professor at Georgia State College of Law. Currently serving on the board of directors of Citizens of Victoria Estates. Resident of DeKalb County for the past 30 years.

Beth Nathan

Electronics and information science professional; small business owner; retired. Past state president League of Women Voters; legislative lobbying; legislative aide; past citizen adjunct Georgia Information Technology Policy Council; member DeKalb Future Funding Commission which established priorities for the 2006 Bond Referendum; member DeKalb Parks Bond Greenspace Advisory Committee, member Recreation, Parks  and Cultural Affairs Citizens Advisory Board; past president North Briarcliff Civic Assn; Chair, Friends of Mary Scott Nature Park; leadership team member Civic Association Network; election pollworker for 10 years.

Brenda Pace

State License Navigator for the Affordable Health Care Act. Former Branch Manager/Officer of Bank South,  Assistant Project Manager for Wegman & Associates and Community Outreach for DeKalb County’s Office Of Neighborhood Empowerment. Active in the community for 25 years in the South DeKalb area. Founding board member in 2002 of East Lake Terrace Association & President for 5 years until December, 2013; Past Member of Georgia Sustainable Community Alliance; Assisted with providing guidance that led to the complete re-write of the Code Enforcement Regulations; Serves on the following committees/boards: Habitat of America for DeKalb, Co-Chaired – The Mapp Foundation/Board of Health and currently on the DeKalb Advisory Committee on Code Enforcement.

Martha Pacini

30 years executive in communications, marketing, community, public affairs and civic engagement programs, most recently with Silverman Construction Program Management. Board member for CHRIS Kids, founding member of the Citizens of Victoria Estates, serves on Clifton Community Partnership and the Civic Association Network.  Member of the Leadership DeKalb class of 2015. Business affiliate of the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization comprised of the 60 largest urban school systems in the country.

Calvin Sims

Served as legislative representative for the Amalgamated Transit Union AFL-CIO (MARTA) from 1980-2009. 39 years of community service in DeKalb County, beginning as president of the Gresham Park Community Association in 1975. Founder and board chair of the Chapman’s Mill/Redan Park Community Development Corporation. Recipient of the Community Champion Award for 30 years of community service in DeKalb, and presented a proclamation from DeKalb County Government. Recipient of the DeKalb NAACP Charles C. Albert Award for his work in economic development. Earned an MPA with major research on “The Fiscal Affects of Metropolitan Fragmentation”.

Gil Turman

Retired Area Director and Principal of three DeKalb County High Schools; 35 year resident of DeKalb; Founder, and current president of South DeKalb Neighborhood Coalition; successfully sued to forced the closure of the Live Oak Landfill, an environmental and health hazard; reconstituted an inactive homeowners association; provided guidance that led to the complete re-write of the Code Enforcement Regulations; chairman of DeKalb Advisory Committee on Code Enforcement; coached on the first all-black high school football team to win a state championship.

Dan Wright

Licensed PE serving as the lead design manager with MARTA on a number of projects; current member of the Board of Zoning Appeals, Past President of the Friends of Kittredge Park which has been instrumental in the redevelopment and expansion of the park through volunteer in-kind work, fundraising and interaction with County contractors; additional community work involves serving as a Condo Association Board Member, participation in the development of an LCI Plan and Tax Allocation District for North Druid Hills

CDC Environmental Impact Statement Final

By Martha Pacini, September 6, 2004

The CDC has published its final environmental impact statement, and the preferred alternative remains adding a 350,000-450,000 square foot laboratory, a 1600-car parking deck (which results in a net addition of 1200 spaces), a major renovation to an existing building on the campus and a variety of infrastructure improvements (new chilled water plant, detention pond modifications, etc.).  Our comments are included in Appendix B, page 189.  I have downloaded a copy of the report and appendices from the website.  Below are the links they sent. We should continue to advocate for a transportation solution that will take some cars off of Houston Mill Road.


Volume I Final EIS CDC Roybal Campus 2025 Master Plan 2

Volume 2 Appendix

Mason Mill Joins Nextdoor.com

Mason Mill has joined Nextdoor.com and creating its own virtual neighborhood. This is replacing their current Google community. Other communications to their neighborhood will continue to be distributed via email. Several conversations have already occurred between members of our two communities concerning cityhood and road issues.

Global Health Action Property – 1902 Clairmont Rd.

A pre-submittal community meeting was held to discuss the proposed acquisition and intended use of the property located at 1902 Clairmont Road Decatur, GA 30033.

The intended use would be for a Goddard Preschool. Goddard is a private preschool. Goddard would continue to abide by the zoning dictate regarding “no right turns onto McConnell when exiting the property” – so that all entering and exiting traffic to Global Health/Goddard School will continue to be accessed off of Clairmont Road.

One of Goddard’s characteristics is NO rolling drop off of students. Goddard requires that each parent walk their child into class every day. There is no pre-set start or end time of classes, so long lines of cars waiting for kids do not occur at the building.
Friends of Thomson Park

The Friends of Thomson Park group is gearing up for the next year of restoration and revitalization work in the park. Tentative autumn work dates are October 11, November 15, and either December 6 or 13th for 9am – 12noon. The park has come a long way over the past several years, thanks to regular volunteer efforts from neighbors and other park lovers.

Lavista/Houston Mill Road Intersection

The county has eliminated the dedicated right turn lane off Houston Mill onto LaVista – it is no longer dedicated or protected. If you are turning right from Houston Mill, beware that there is no longer a safe lane to turn right into. COVE and MMCA will be reaching out to appropriate authorities to determine if this is the final design for the intersection, and if so, advocate for a safer option.

Conversation with a Cop, Monday, September 29, 2014

Briarcliff United Methodist Church
4150 Briarcliff Road

In order to better serve and protect citizens, DeKalb County Police Department North Central Precinct is conducting ongoing Community Conversations with residents of the county. We invite all who live, work, and play in DeKalb to attend. Meet and greet, questions and answers with Precinct

Command Staff.

September discussion topic Sexual Assault
For more information call or email:
DKPD, North Central Precinct
1960 W. Exchange Place
Al Fowler, PES…770‐724‐7616

Sunday Voting Approved, Early Voting Starts Oct 13

The DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections has approved early voting locations in DeKalb County for the upcoming General and Special Elections.

Nearby in-person early voting for the Nov. 4 election is available at:

Central DeKalb: Voter Registration & Elections Office
Two Areas — One Exclusively for Senior and Disabled Voters
4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA
Monday through Friday, October 13 – 31, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 25, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday, October 26, 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM

Clark Harrison Building
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA
Monday through Friday, October 27 – 31, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Voters who do not take advantage of Early Voting must go to their polling places on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to cast their ballots. All early and absentee voting will end on Friday, Oct. 31.

If you have yet to register, you can do so by clicking here. The deadline is Monday, October 6.

To find your polling place and see your sample ballot, go to My Voter Page at www.sos.state.ga.us. Applications and other information may be obtained at the website www.dekalbvotes.com or by calling the Voter Registration & Elections office at 404-298-4020.

DeKalb House Delegation Pre-Session Town Hall Meetings, Oct 13, Oct 21, Oct 28 – 7pm

These are public meetings for you to air any concerns you would like to bring to the attention of the State Representatives and Senators who represent parts of DeKalb County.

  • October 13th (7-9 pm) at Brookhaven City Hall (4362 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, GA 30319)
  • October 21st (7-9 PM) at the Maloof Auditorium (1300 Commerce Dr (Trinity Pl), Decatur, GA 3003)
  • October 28th (7-9 PM) at the Porter Sanford Center (3181 Rainbow Dr. Decatur, GA 30034)

COVEReport – July 16, 2014

COVEReport Logo




Announcement: COVE Annual Membership Meeting – July 22, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, 1364 Rainier Falls Dr.


We want to thank our many neighbors who have joined COVE over the past year. You are supporting our efforts to represent our neighborhood at the state, county and local level. Please renew your membership (renew/join online > Victoria_Estates_membership) so that we can continue to move the conversation forward in the areas that matter to our residents. And if you have not yet joined COVE, we could use your support now. Our annual report is here COVE Annual Report 2014.

While we believe we have accomplished a great deal over the past year, there is still much work to do to ensure that Victoria Estates is included in discussions that affect our neighborhood.

Join us for the first anniversary of the formation of Citizens of Victoria Estates—our annual meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 22 at 6:30 pm at the home of Scott and Pat Killingsworth, 1364 Rainier Falls Drive. We will be discussing our next steps both as an organization and as a neighborhood.

Would you like to be on the board or lead/participate in a committee? At the annual meeting, we will be nominating board members and committee chairs for the next year. Consider becoming a part of our effort in any way that works for you. Many hands make light the work.

As always, we welcome your suggestions and insights. Thanks, and we hope to see you on the 22nd!

Martha Pacini   404-285-7042

2014 COVE annual meeting agenda.

Current board members/ officers:

Martha Pacini – Board member / current president
Pat Killingsworth – Board member/ current vice president
Susan Bell – Treasurer
Carl Lange – Board member / current secretary
Erika Birg – Board member
Tim Buchman – Board member
David Woolf – Board member
Emily Koumans – Board member

COVE Dues Policy



Voter-specific SAMPLE BALLOTS are available here: http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/LoginPage.aspx

Candidates appearing on DeKalb County ballots:

On ALL BALLOTS: County Sheriff (Vernon Jones / Jeff Mann)

ON REPUBLICAN BALLOTS ONLY: U.S. Senate (Jack Kingston / David Perdue) State School Superintendent (Mike Buck / Richard Woods)

ON DEMOCRATIC BALLOTS ONLY: State School Superintendent (Alisha Morgan / Valarie Wilson) (per http://web.dekalbcountyga.gov/Voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html)

VE Dog Walkers Watch


July 16, 2014 –  Martha Pacini

More than a dozen neighbors, including a few canine guests, gathered to enjoy Jennifer & Barry Tipping’s hospitality on Tuesday evening, July 8, while learning more about Dog Walker Watch. The Dog Walker Watch program is a national crime awareness program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) to mobilize dog walkers to serve as “extra eyes and ears” for local law enforcement.

We learned a few new pieces of information:

• 95% of police arrests are the direct result of a citizen’s phone call;

• Call 911 whenever you see or hear something that just doesn’t seem right—the 911 center prioritizes the calls so you aren’t diverting resources from a life-threatening emergency elsewhere.

• Dog Walker Watches can be very effective because dogs must be walked every day, several times a day, rain or shine, so it’s as if you have your own neighborhood patrol.

• ALWAYS carry your cellphone with you when walking the dog so that you can snap a picture and call 911 if you see something that isn’t right.

We organized the sign-in sheets by neighborhood section, just as they are grouped in the Victoria Estates directory. Based on this, we could use some more dog walkers (or just people walkers if you walk without a pet) on the upper parts of Rainier Falls and Mason Mill. Please contact Jennifer if you are a regular walker in this section of the neighborhood.

Also, we want people entering our neighborhood to be aware that we have a Dog Walker Watch. We are ordering dog bandanas—modeled beautifully by Teddy Tipping—and car magnets (which can also adhere to metal mail boxes) with the Dog Walker Watch emblem, which cost slightly less than $5 each. If you are interested in getting a bandana (small or large, please specify which size) or car/mailbox magnet to help us promote awareness of our watchfulness (a deterrent in and of itself), please let Jennifer know so that we can order the correct number. You can pay for them once they are received.

One Special Request: Please send in pictures of you and your pet so that we can highlight our vigilant neighbors—include your name and that of your pet(s).

The handouts from the meeting—

DeKalb Public Safety Resource List –  DeKalb County Police Telephone Resource List

2014 NATIONAL NIGHT OUT 2014 – August 5, 7:00 pm, 31st Annual America’s Night Out Against Crime

Bike Ride Rodeo Flyer Aug 2 – Obstacle Course, Basic Bicycle Inspection, Child I.D. Program, Food & Fun 

Suspect Descriptions -What to look for to give a good suspect description…

Dog Walkers Watch Handout

For those who wish to send Al Fowler a thank-you email, his email address is: alfowler@dekalbcountyga.gov

Victoria Estates Neighborhood 4th of July Party – Thanks Pat & Scott!

fourthJulyPat Killingsworth

As for the party, we had perfect weather and a lot of fun! We had about 30 neighbors and a few children stop by (the kids really enjoyed the pool), with some new neighbors who were glad to have the opportunity to meet us all and start making themselves at home. Scott grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, we put out chips, soft drinks and essentials, and our neighbors brought some fabulous side dishes to share. We had such a good time that we are hoping to make this an annual event.

Briarcliff and Lakeside Present Joint Statement to DeKalb County Operations Task Force Atlanta, GA, July 3, 2014 (Press Release)

Two DeKalb County cityhood groups, The City of Briarcliff Initiative, and Lakeside Yes read a joint statement before the DeKalb County Operations Task Force (OTF) on Tuesday, July 2, at the Maloof Auditorium. The Operations Task Force was created by Interim CEO Lee May and is charged with making recommendations that can be forwarded to the Georgia General Assembly by December 2014.

For months both citizens and legislators have urged the two groups to communicate and work together more. Briarcliff and Lakeside have historically shared many overlapping views of cityhood, but have differed on proposed city borders. Both groups view cityhood as an opportunity to lift up the community and improve the strength of DeKalb County.

The prepared statement from the July 2nd meeting reads: Lakeside Yes Chairman Mary Kay Woodworth read, “Lakeside YES and The City of Briarcliff Initiative appreciate the invitation to present maps to the Operations Task Force. You have received our individual working maps, but we respectfully present this joint statement in lieu of focusing on a specific map.” She continues, “Both of our groups presented maps during the 2014 session of the Georgia General Assembly. However, because our current maps overlap, Lakeside and Briarcliff have agreed to collaborate with the goal of creating a unified map free of overlapping areas and respecting existing city borders and future annexation plans. We respect the compromise map between Tucker and Lakeside as the starting point of this collaboration, and we respect the inclusive approach of the Briarcliff map. We will continue to work with our sponsors, Representative Jacobs and Senator Millar, residents and business owners in our community to reach the goal of local control and governance for this community. We invite the advocates of the city of Tucker to join with us so that we can present two cities with a clear path to cityhood prior to the 2015 session of the General Assembly.”

City of Briarcliff Imitative President Allen Venet read, “We are committed to working together because we agree on almost every issue except boundaries, and boundaries can be solved. As we refine our map, we are soliciting neighborhood input, and we will work with state, county and local elected representatives of both major parties and with the existing cities of DeKalb County.”

He Continues, “We seek to unite, rather than divide, to improve government operations not just in our region of DeKalb but in the entire county. The residents of unincorporated DeKalb deserve, and with respect we demand, the opportunity to form new cities that will become destinations where business and families can flourish. The time has come for us all to cooperate, north and south, inside the perimeter and outside, city advocates and county officials. We all share DeKalb County, and we all know the challenges we face. Cities are an important part of the solution.” He concludes, “We welcome your questions and your suggestions.”

More updates from the City of Briarcliff Initiative can be found on https://www.facebook.com/briarcliffga and http://briarcliffga.org/. About City of Briarcliff Initiative: The City of Briarcliff Initiative, Inc. is a non-profit corporation chartered under the laws of the state of Georgia. The group seeks to enable residents to form a new city government in central DeKalb County that would serve all people within the community and promote the health, welfare, and safety of the general public.

Media Contact: Keith Hanks Member, Board of Directors City of Briarcliff Initiative, Inc. info@briarcliffga.org

Briarcliff & Lakeside partnership means new map, city name

July 9, 2014, Atlanta Intown, Collin Kelley – Editor

When officials from the Briarcliff and Lakeside cityhood initiatives announced at the July 2 DeKalb Government Operations Task Force meeting that they were joining forces – “dating” (not married or engaged) in the words of Lakeside Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth – there was little detail about how the relationship would unfold. The couple’s first date was an awkward one as representatives from the merged cityhood movements spoke at the July 9 Lindbergh-LaVista Corridor Coalition (LLCC) meeting.

To carry the analogy further, it was basically The Breakfast Club – enemies thrown together in a social setting and warily talking out their differences to find common ground. Whether this will end with someone fist-pumping the air to “Don’t You Forget About Me” remains to be seen, but what is certain is that if the partnership between Briarcliff and Lakeside holds, those names will disappear and a new one will be chosen to represent the merged north DeKalb County territory. It also means going back to the drawing board and creating a new map.

At the end of this year’s Georgia legislative session, the three competing cityhood movements – Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker – found their efforts tabled over boundary disputes. A last minute effort to merge the Lakeside and Tucker plans was – here’s another analogy – an arranged marriage that neither side really wanted, but accepted in hopes of getting any kind of action at the capital. With the dust settled, Tucker is now on its own, there have been shifts in the behind-the-scenes players for both the Briarcliff and Lakeside movements and there is – at least in this early phase – a willingness to get this couple to the altar.

But before there are any wedding bells – or a referendum on the ballot – the combined cityhood initiatives are going to have to convince residents in both territories that the merged groups are viable and inclusive. If the mood of the members of the LLCC, a group comprised of residents from Lindridge/Martin Manor, LaVista Park and Woodland Hills, was any indication, there might be a few bumps in the road.

There was lingering bitterness from some residents in the LLCC neighborhoods who felt snubbed by Lakeside, which, as it was finally admitted, didn’t think the communities were essential to the movement. The neighborhoods joined the Briarcliff initiative, which stalled out at the Gold Dome as Lakeside and Tucker limped forward.

“What we are trying to do is consolidate two visions,” said Briarcliff spokesman Keith Hanks. “These first meetings are going to be raw things as we figure out how to work together.”

Lakeside representative Josh Kahn agreed, calling the cityhood process “messy.” Some of that messiness was the palpable tension between members of the Briarcliff movement as they tried to explain how the process would, essentially, start from scratch again. There was also uncertainty voiced about whether or not a state representative would take the newly merged cityhood movement to the Georgia Legislature for the 2015 session.

“We are two groups trying to get to one map,” Kahn said. “We are going to have to talk to people and see which neighborhoods want to be a part of it.” Going forward, there will be some kind of poll or survey taken of residents in both the old Briarcliff and Lakeside cityhood areas to determine if they still want to move forward with creating a new city and what essential services are most important to them. No timeline was set for when the poll might take place. The LLCC members were encouraged to talk to their neighbors and take the temperature of this new movement.

The couple’s next date has not been announced, but watch this space for updates.

DeKalb County Operational Task Force – July 2 Meeting

PatJuly 16, 2014 – Pat Killingsworth

CITYHOOD – Lakeside and Briarcliff are now “dating,” using the Lakeside map as the basis for further negotiations on the boundaries for a single new city (as yet unnamed). VE, Druid Hills and Emory are out, and Mason Mill remains divided. Tucker has gone back to their original map, which has a fair amount overlap with that of the new couple (“L/B”), and they have not yet been invited to the prom. Mike Jacobs made it clear that he is disappointed with Tucker for not sticking with the boundaries that they agreed to in a compromise with Lakeside at the last minute of the session, although he didn’t seem too upset that Lakeside returned to their prior map as well.

The Task Force agreed that they will consider the proposed boundaries of the new cities in their larger discussion of municipalities in DeKalb, without engaging in a debate at this meeting.

In speaking with some residents of Druid Hills after the meeting, I discovered that Emory is in serious discussions with Atlanta regarding annexation, and is appealing to Druid Hills to join them. Some residents of Druid Hills, unhappy with that prospect, yet sensing the inevitability of being municipalized in some fashion, expressed an interest in the possibility of creating a township in lieu of annexation into any city (Atlanta or Decatur). It would include Emory and surrounding neighborhoods with common interests (Mason Mill, VE and Druid Hills in particular). They want representatives from those neighborhoods and Emory to be included in the discussions.

CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN THE TASK FORCE – The CEO is hugely resistant to naming any citizen representative to the Task Force under the premise that it would make the group too “unwieldy”. Apparently his office has solicited names from the Commissioners and some Task Force members for a single appointment, but he made no promises.

Senator-elect Elena Parent insisted that members of the Task Force be allowed to name at least one citizen representative each to their subcommittee. She also brought up Commissioner Gannon’s Blueprint for a Better DeKalb, which has been actively working since February on many of the issues facing the Task Force, and which is entirely comprised of citizen leaders (myself and Martha Pacini included). She recommended that the Blueprint research and report (due in August) be included in Task Force discussions so as not to reinvent the wheel.

No comment from the CEO, other than to leave it up to the Task Force to decide how they want to deal with Parent’s proposals, if at all. He did not appear to be enthralled with either prospect.

ETHICS – This was hugely disappointing to me! GSU, which has committed to supporting the Task Force on many of the issues being discussed, is not currently planning to do any research on the structure of the Board of Ethics or the matter of ethics in government generally, deferring instead to the recent Executive Order creating the new positions of Integrity Officer and staff, whose duties include providing support to the BOE.

That order does not deal with the fundamental issues of appointment of board members or funding for their work, nor with the legal issues regarding BOE independence from any other agency. Appointment of an Internal Auditor, much less best practices, is not currently on their agenda.

Whatever the Task Force ends up addressing, Blueprint will continue to deal with those issues and present our recommendations to the Task Force, CEO, BOC and Legislative Delegation by the end of August.

Remember, those of you who cannot attend future Task Force meetings can view them on live stream on DCTV (cable only). I have attached the slide shows. Enjoy! operations_task_force (2)

Blueprint to Reform DeKalb Leadership – Letter to DeKalb Operational Task Force

To Members of the CEO’s Operational Task Force and Citizens of DeKalb:

PatmarthaJuly 2, 2014 , Pat Killingsworth, Martha Pacini, and members of the Blueprint leadership

RE: An Update on the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb.

First, to the volunteers appointed to serve on the Interim CEO’s Operations Task Force, thank you for your time and service. As constituted the missing link to the Task Force seems to be the citizens of our communities. The Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb was launched in January 2014 as a citizens’ reform effort and perhaps our work can complement your efforts.

DeKalb County reached a ‘tipping point’ in 2013 and in 2014 matters even further deteriorated: nearly everyone now agrees that fundamental reforms are due. The attached Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb was drafted and electronically distributed in January. In February a group of citizens from across the County reached consensus on its main issues. A diverse Blueprints leadership team emerged and began focusing upon the consensus issues: Internal Auditor, Ethics, Procurement Procedures, Elections, Government Structure and HOST.

This is the Blueprint leadership team’s first Report to the Community. But first it must be noted that there has also been consensus that reform should follow some key principles:

• We need comprehensive solutions as big as our problems. Marginal adjustments will not work.

• Governmental transparency is a must. We cannot negotiate changes so fundamental and so diverse behind closed doors.

• Citizens’ voices count.

We ask the Task Force to consider all of the principles contained in the Blueprint as they move forward. Here is the progress to date:


Internal Auditor: The Blueprint speaks to the need for an Internal Auditor and all that continues to happen in DeKalb County reinforces the need. Many governments use this method to provide independent, technical oversight of government procedures and operations. Best practices are available through the Institute for Internal Audits and others. A white paper is being prepared to include best practices for how an internal audit function should be established with an independent oversight structure. This white paper will be presented to the Legislature in October.

Board of Ethics: A Carl Vinson study of Ethics Commission best practices revealed that these boards should be nominated and vetted by an independent/neutral body comprised of community and business organizations. Recommendations for strengthening the Ethics Commission are being researched and will be proposed in a white paper. If legally appropriate a formal request will go to the Board of Commissioners to adopt a new process, otherwise this will be included in the October Report to the Legislature.


Administrative Procedures: Consensus was reached specifically around Procurement procedures, which are not codified and are subject to change as solely determined by the CEO. Procedures should be vetted by the Board of Commissioners and the State, standardized and codified for accountability. This will require an adjustment to the Organizational Act by the General Assembly.


Term limit change for local election: Many citizens believe that the power of incumbency is a major barrier to new voices participating in local government. The quality of the appointees to the Board of Education demonstrates the depth and quality of leadership available in a county of 700,000 people. Those attending the consensus meeting endorsed term-limits but it has not garnered support from elected officials. The team will request the Legislature to conduct a straw poll on term-limits. Consensus was not reached on non-partisan elections so it is being deleted from the recommendations.


Apportion all of unincorporated DeKalb into equitable boundaries and Charter Commission: As noted, the “Genie” is out of the bottle with forming new cities, and there is no way to turn back. We all agree that people have the right to self-determination; the “problem” with cities is the way the state allows them to be formed. The current proposals for new cities and annexations have set off a panic. We should not form cities based upon our fears, but instead we should form them with an understanding of the benefits and costs for everyone.

The County must have a better understanding of the fiscal impacts upon unincorporated DeKalb of new cities and municipal annexations. The Blueprints effort does not have the resources to conduct such a study, and hopes the Operations Task Force will explore this issue. The motivation for new cities will remain particularly strong as long as corruption or the perception of corruption exists. We hope that our efforts to strengthen ethics, hire an internal auditor and alter the procurement policies will help abate corruption and begin to restore the public trust in DeKalb County.

There are people who question the current form of DeKalb government. A well-staffed Charter Commission, with strong citizen participation, dedicated to this specific issue is the preferable method to examine the options for DeKalb. However, it is premature to redefine County government when we don’t know what functions it will be performing. The issues of cityhood and annexation will require changes to County government that we can’t predict. A Charter Commission should be established after we understand the role of DeKalb County and any new cities being formed.


Sales Tax: HOST has been a very successful tool to reduce the burden of residential property taxes, but it fails to fund repairs and improvements to a large, aging infrastructure. The creation of new cities has further limited the viability of HOST as a source of capital funding. The larger community needs to be more informed about HOST in order to accomplish needed revisions. If the Legislature will not change the HOST formulas, as they have already done on two occasions, the Leadership Team will be recommending a long-term, two–year comprehensive approach to changing this law with public education as a focus. AGAIN, the existing cloud of corruption needs to be lifted first to restore our trust in the County government.

The Blueprints Leadership team will continue to meet this summer to research best practices and to draft recommendations to the Board of Commissioners and the DeKalb Delegation to the General Assembly. We will also be working to inform the citizens of DeKalb County. We are happy to collaborate with you in any way possible and hope that you will consider our efforts complementary to yours.

Sincerely, The Blueprints to Redefine DeKalb Leadership Team: Ted Daniel, Robert Glover, Jana Johnson, Pat Killingsworth, Beth Nathan, Brenda Pace, Martha Pacini, Calvin Sims, Gil Turman, Dan Wright

Website coming soon. July 1, 2014

Kathie Gannon Response to the DeKalb County Operational Task Force

about-kathie-gannonJuly 10, 2014

Dear Mr. Irons and Mr. Shelton: Thank you for agreeing to co-chair the Interim CEO’s Operations Task Force. Last week, I provided members of the Task Force an update of the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb County. It was apparent at the meeting that an explanation about the history and intent of the Blueprints effort would have been helpful. Please allow me this opportunity to provide additional information.

In 2013 before the last legislative session, I worked with CEO Ellis, Representative Mary Margaret Oliver and others to try and develop a more thoughtful approach to the process of forming new cities and enable DeKalb to understand the impact of forming new cities and annexations. In my District, which is half of the county, I was constantly asked about what is the county doing to respond to the city movement and the ethical issues that were continuing to crop up. People in the proposed city boundaries wanted more information. Their legislators were looking for a sensible way to address the issues. Also, many citizens were not in a boundary and therefore were not a part of the discussion.

The plan we advanced was for an interactive model to be developed by Georgia State University that would use the County’s GIS and tax information to create viable financial boundaries in all of unincorporated DeKalb. The data would show the economic impact as precincts moved in or out of boundaries. Professional facilitators and other methodologies would have been employed to explore County service delivery, issues and options.

When CEO Ellis was suspended the new Administration opted to not pursue this direction. At the same time I was talking to our legislators about the need for reforms to the way we appoint our Ethics Board and the inability of the Commission to fulfill the 3 year old resolution for an Internal Auditor. There was interest in helping on those issues, and the Grand Jury Report listed other reform measures.

In January I drafted the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb as a way of “doing something” to respond to my constituents and to disseminate the many reform measures that had already been suggested. It was circulated for endorsements from citizens around the County.

There were five broad principles in that document and they are as relevant today for the Operations Task Force as they were six months ago:

• Marginal adjustments no longer suffice. We need comprehensive solutions as big as our problems.

• No one change suffices. We need approaches as multi-faceted as our problems.

• Many levels of government must be involved. The Board of Commissioners can and must play a key role, but so too must the Board of Education, the DeKalb delegation in the State Legislature, our municipalities, and our business and private sector leaders. Each must act, do so in concert, and proceed on a jointly agreed timetable.

• Governmental transparency is a must. We cannot negotiate changes so fundamental and so diverse behind closed doors.

• Citizens’ voices count.

In February, a community meeting was held to discuss the reforms in the Blueprint, find consensus on what actions to move forward and turn the process over to the citizens. From that meeting a diverse group of citizen leaders coalesced to conduct further research and advocate for the various reforms.

A major focus of the Blueprints effort is ethics. Please keep in mind this was long before stories broke in the newspaper about the misuse of P Cards by members of the Board of Commissioners. Yet, those embarrassing stories further underscore the need for addressing ethics. It is unclear to me how much work the Operations Task Force will focus on ethics, but the Blueprints effort is pursuing this issue and will recommend changes to the Delegation and the Board of Commissioners in the areas of procurement policies, internal auditor, and the proper establishment of an ethics board.

The original concept to apportion the county and provide for ways to examine problems and options was more than a citizens group could manage without a legislative mandate or funding mechanism.

In closing, I want to reiterate that the Blueprint to Redefine DeKalb was started in the fall of 2013. It includes a broad base of diverse citizens, and can hopefully complement your work. They would be happy to cooperate with the Operations Task Force. Three members of the Blueprints leadership team asked to be recommended for participation on the Task Force subcommittees. They have a proven track record and it is my hope they can be included.

It is my sincere belief that until we address the cloud of corruption that is hanging over DeKalb, no progress can be made. The demand for creating new cities will march forward. Our attempts to improve government efficiency will be stymied and our economic development strategy will not achieve the outcomes we wish for and need.

Again, thank you for your service to DeKalb County.

Kathie Gannon, Commissioner Super District 6

CC: Members of the Operations Task Force, Interim CEO May, the Blueprints Leadership Team

Kathie Gannon DeKalb County Commissioner Super District 6 404-371-4909 www.kathiegannon.com

District 5 Commissioner

PatPat Killingsworth, July 17, 2014

Interim CEO Lee May has appointed Lisa Allen of Lithonia, attorney Rosalind Newell, and State Representative Rahn Mayo of Decatur to review candidates for the interim District 5 seat. This is to fill the vacant seat since Lee May became the interim CEO. The county reports that 20 people to date have expressed an interest in applying for the position.

The three-member panel will recommend two individuals to Lee May for consideration, from whom he will choose one to submit to the Board of Commissioners for a vote, which is expected in August.

Applicants who have filed formal requests for consideration include: Markus J. Butts, Geraldine A.Champion, Harmel Deanne Codi, Faye Coffield, Tarnisha Dent, Charles Smith Hill, S. Pierre Louis, Gina Smith Mangham, Randal Mangham, Kamau K. Mason, Melvin D. Mitchell, Angela Moore, Belinda Myers, Joscelyn C. O’Neil, Gwendolyn Peters, Kathryn T. Rice, Kenneth R. Saunders III, Jacqueline Tumbling, George Turner Jr, and Andre R. Whit.

No information has been provided regarding times or dates that the review panel might meet, or whether they will be considering citizen recommendations or concerns in their discussions.

Please contact me if you’d like copies of the candidate applications.

Commissioner Gannon Responds Concerning the Ethics Compliant Filed Against Her

about-kathie-gannonJuly 16, 2014 – Kathie Gannon

In April I sponsored a Resolution to Audit all of the commission’s expenditures. None of the Commissioners are exempt, and in that spirit my budget will be the first one to be audited. That audit is already underway. Its results will be made public and given to the Ethics Board. The Ethics Board has its own process, and the complaint will proceed according to those procedures. Let me be clear: I am confident that all my budget expenditures are legitimate and in due time I will be vindicated. The charges are bogus. Please continue to follow the work being done in District 6 and DeKalb County on my website at http://www.kathiegannon.com/.

Parks Bond Advisory Committee Meeting Outcomes

Jul 10, 2014, Citizens Association Network, Beth Nathan

Last evening (July 9, 2014) there was a joint meeting of the DeKalb Parks Bond Advisory Committee and the Initiative for a Green DeKalb Advisory Council. Following an hour of RPCA staff reports on current conditions/activities vis-a-vis greenspace and parks (see below), the committees discussed their roles and responsibilities (more discussion is likely before and at the next quarterly meeting) and authored/approved unanimously a joint-committee letter to the CEO & BOC on the proposed YMCA purchase. The committees’ letter will state that the joint committees recommend against the proposal but will ask that, if the BOC wants this acquisition, they at least renegotiate the master agreement in ways that would enable all county taxpayers to benefit from the county’s investment.

From the county reports:

– This week the BOC approved acquisition for $125K of 152 acres from the Conservation Fund (which apparently gathers and holds land from estates); tax value of the parcel is/was $794K. The parcel is off Klondike Rd across from Stonecrest Library and has no deed restrictions. Parcel is referred to as “Arabia Hayden Quarry” in the July 2014 accounting of land acquisition funds. I will post that report today to the CAN website’s reference room under the parks grouping.]

-July 2014 accounting of land acquisition funds shows “prospective acquisitions” of nearly $7million “authorized/in process” from 2006 bond funds. No specifics were available but the committees were given to understand that it was likely that the BOC in Executive Session had given authorization to move ahead with this potential acquisition(s) which are likely be in the negotiations stage. Some of the 2006 bond funds were earmarked for specific projects but some of the funding was flexible.

– KaBoom playground at Fairington Park (off Panola) was completed on schedule with 150 workers from the Federal Reserve bank and significant funding from the Federal Reserve Employees Foundation. The county’s cost was approximately $30K in preparation work, trail improvement and fencing.

– Park Pride has grant workshops coming up.

– Summer day camps are serving approximately 1500 kids.

– Pools are operating normally. GRPH district swim meet is coming up at Emory.

– Family Fun Day will be held at Mason Mill Park (1340 McConnell Dr, Decatur), Saturday, July 19, noon-5pm. Free, open to public. Includes food, music, entertainment, information, games, more. [A press release was distributed which does not seem to be posted on the county’s website. Jeff Rader’s July 3 e-newsletter covered this event.]

– Brookside project off North Decatur near 285, between Rockbridge and North Decatur. The old apartment complex has been completely demolished. There is now approximately half a million dollars available for development. Park Pride (Ayanna Williams) is trying to organize a Friends group for this park.

– 5-7 million seems to be coming available from HUD, Housing and Parks to replace the Tobie Grant Rec Center with something more like what’s at Redan Park. The project could be moving by the end of the year.

Beth Nation North Briarcliff resident; parks activist; Blueprints activist

Code Enforcement Advisory Committee – Wednesday, July 24, 2014, 5:00-6:30pm

Clark Harrison Building, 330 Ponce DeLeon, downtown Decatur, in conference room A. The committee requested the following will be in attendance: Interim CEO Lee May, Gordon Burkett of Keep DeKalb Beautiful and the Director of Sanitation.

COVEReport – June 26, 2014

COVEReport Logo





Citizens of Victoria Estates (COVE) Annual Membership Meeting To Be Held on Tuesday, July 22, 6:30 – 7:30 pm, 1364 Rainier Falls Dr NE

Please join us in recognizing our one year anniversary. The meeting will include a presentation of accomplishments, election of board members, review of budget, and next year plans. Look for more details in the coming weeks.

Victoria Estates Neighborhood 4th of July Party, 1-3 pm

PatScott and I are hosting the Victoria Estates Fourth of July pool party at our home this year.  If it rains, we’ll move it to the 5th.  We will provide hot dogs chips and soft drinks, and ask guests to bring sides.  The pool/patio are handicap accessible. Visiting family members are also welcome to join us.

Please notify the neighborhood for us, and let me know if you have any questions.  If this goes well, we’ll make it an annual event!

Patricia Killingsworth
1364 Rainier Falls Dr NE

404.323.3720 (cell)


Dunwoody 4th of July Parade 9:00 am


City of Avondale Estates 4th of July Celebration, 10:30 am

The parade begins at 10:30am. Concert and fireworks in the evening.

City of Decatur Pied Piper Parade, Concert, and Fireworks, 5:30 pm

The parade begins at 5:30 pm. Concert, featuring the Callanwolde Concert Band, begins at 7:00 and fireworks begin at dark (approx. 9 pm).


Dog Walkers Unite! – July 8, 6:30 pm

Home of Jennifer, Barry, and “Teddy” Tipping – 1374 Rainier Falls

dog walker watchDear neighbors:

Please join us for an inaugural meeting to launch the Victoria Estates Dog Walker Watch:

Please RSVP for you (and your pet, if your pet likes to hang out with other dogs) so that we can plan the right number of snacks and milkbones.  Canine guests will have the opportunity to play in the fenced backyard.

We are launching a Dog Walker Watch program, a national crime awareness program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), in Victoria Estates to mobilize the dozens of dog walkers (as well as those who walk without pets) in our neighborhood who can serve as “extra eyes and ears” for our local law enforcement.

Al Fowler, DeKalb County Public Safety’s education specialist, will be there to help us learn about the program and some other useful tips, such as how to identify suspicious activity and what to do when we see something.

To learn more about the program before the meeting, you can visit http://natw.org/dog/

Thank you.

Your co-hosts,

Jennifer Tipping & Teddy (the dog)



Martha Pacini & Beau & Bacwyn (the corgis)




RUN-OFF ELECTION: July 22; Early Voting Starts Next Week 

voteCivic Association Network

June 24, 2014

By: Beth Nathan

Can voter turn-out be any lower than in a Primary election? YUP — in a Primary Runoff. And there’s one coming up on July 22; Early Voting starts next Monday, June 30. Remind your association members and neighbors that the primary isn’t over yet.

Voter-specific *SAMPLE BALLOTS* are available via

*EARLY VOTING**: *8am-5pm, Memorial Drive Complex, Suite 300; 4380 Memorial Drive; Decatur, GA 30032
06/30/2014 – 07/03/2014 (Mon-Thu) & 07/07/2014 – 07/18/2014
(Mon-Fri, Mon-Fri)

/Candidates appearing on DeKalb County ballots:/
*County Sheriff *(Vernon Jones / Jeff Mann)
*U.S. Senate* (Jack Kingston / David Perdue)
*State School Superintendent *(Mike Buck / Richard Woods)
*State School Superintendent *(Alisha Morgan / Valarie Wilson)
(per http://web.dekalbcountyga.gov/Voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html)

Proposed County Funding of YMCA Controversy


DeKalb County is considering spending approximately $5million of the remaining Parks Bond dollars (approx $1M from district-allocated funds and $4M from countywide funds which is ~38% of remaining countywide funds) to acquire the South DeKalb YMCA and then lease it back to the YMCA for 50 years at $1/year.  The YMCA is to devote the purchase proceeds to site improvements.  This YMCA is geographically close to several other DeKalb recreation/health facilities (parks & senior centers). The Board of Commissioners voted 5 to 0 to defer action on the South DeKalbe YMCA proposal until its first meeting in August.

Kathy Gannon’s Response

Fellow DeKalb Citizens,

Please see the attached letter regarding my position on the South DeKalb YMCA. While I appreciate the work of the YMCA and I’m in favor of partnerships, I am opposed to the current proposal. I hope that the YMCA will withdraw so we can consider a partnership that benefits DeKalb County as well as the Y.

Dear YMCA Board Members and our DeKalb Community:

We appreciate all of the work across metropolitan Atlanta that YMCA’s do every day. Whether it is helping their members stay healthy and fit through exercise and recreation programs, or providing early enrichment to Head Starters or the numerous other ways that the Y helps build community – the service of the YMCA staff, volunteers and Board of Directors is of the finest American tradition.

As members of the DeKalb County Board of Commission we believe Partnerships which leverage complementary capabilities are a valuable tool and in the potential relationship with the South DeKalb YMCA, we hope to find one that is transparent, respects the taxpayers and serves the needs of the broadest group of citizens.
With this in mind, we have reservations about the proposed Master Agreement between DeKalb and the Metro Y that would use County Green Space Acquisition Bond Revenues to purchase your South DeKalb Y facility and lease it back to you at a nominal price.

Please consider these FACTS:

  • This Partnership agreement is exclusively negotiated with the YMCA, and nothing similar has been offered to any other non-profit, private organization or governmental partner. No terms or parameters for negotiation were authorized by the DeKalb Governing Authority, and the proposed Master Agreement was only made public when it was placed on the Commission Agenda on April 8th.  Neither the Green Space Bond Advisory Board nor the Development Authority of DeKalb County have had any input to the Master Agreement.
  • The Y brings no new money to the table.  The County has successful models for staffing facilities, and is experimenting with other partnership models. For example the Boys and Girls Club will manage the after-school program at the Redan Recreation center next fall, each entity receiving a benefit.  We should treat partners comparably, and negotiate openly.
  • The South DeKalb YMCA is in an area where significant County investments in recreation and senior services have already been made: the Y is 2.5 miles from Exchange Park Multi-Generational Recreation Center ($7.2million); 2.8 miles from Browns Mill Recreation and Aquatic Facility ($8.9 million); 4.1 miles from Lou Walker Senior Center with a heated indoor pool; 5.7 miles from Candler Road Senior Center, which will have exercise equipment when it opens this summer; 8 miles from Redan Park Recreation Center ($5.4 million); and 8.7 miles from Wade Walker Park and YMCA ($13.6 million).  In 8 square miles of this South DeKalb community, the County has already invested over $35 million in recent and ongoing Parks Bond developmental funds and additional county and federal grant dollars for the senior centers.  Investing in this location is not a good return on the citizens’ tax dollars.  It will duplicate services in this area while many areas of the county still do not have access to any recreation center. DeKalb County taxpayers will continue to pay for the operations of Browns Mill, Exchange, and Redan Centers. No current public expense will be reduced.
  • The Master Agreement provides no benchmarks or guarantees related to the health deficiencies the investment is purported to address.  Indeed, the question may be fairly asked:  why, after 40 years’ service to the community has the Y had so little effect on these deficiencies?  Why will a renovation have a transformative effect?
  • DeKalb County will purchase the existing YMCA for $5 million, using $1 million of District 3 and 7 Parks Bond Land Acquisition Funding and $4 million in County Wide Acquisition Funding.  The agreement diverts land acquisition funding to development, contrary to the Bond Referendum.   The property is appraised at $2.5 million for tax purposes, with the land appraised at $400,000.  The Appraisal provided by the YMCA estimates the value at only $3.9 million.  All appraisals supporting this proposed transaction are made using the “cost” method, which is inappropriate, given the multiplicity of similar facilities in the service area.
  • After the purchase, the County will transfer the property to the Development Authority of DeKalb County (DADC), who will lease the property back to the YMCA for $1 per year for 50 years. At the end of the lease, the property reverts to DeKalb County. The Return on Investment to the taxpayers footing this bill is $50.  The Y will book the lease as an asset, similar to the Wade Walker Y, whose lease is currently valued by the Y at over $10 million.
  • The YMCA will renovate the building to its own plan, and continue to operate the facility as a YMCA, charging a fee schedule of its own choosing, except that special benefits exclusively for residents of three surrounding zip codes, not all taxpayers, shall be provided.
  • Currently the SD YMCA operates with a $300,000 + annual surplus and there is no requirement to use surpluses to the benefit of DeKalb County taxpayers.  The Wade Walker Y likely generates a surplus as well, yet there is no provision in either Master Agreement to account for such surpluses.
  • The YMCA has other options for renovating this facility without using taxpayer funds. Typically YMCA renovations are completed with private capital campaign contributions through the umbrella Metro Atlanta YMCA organization and through fundraising within the service area being served by the facility.
  • The county does not have the funds to renovate the much needed repairs and upgrades at the Tucker Recreation Center, the Lithonia Recreation Center, the need for a real Recreation Center at Mason Mill and the long overdue replacement of a Tobie Grant Recreation Center in Scottdale.  There is no Parks and Recreation Plan Update that assesses the need for another recreational facility in this area whereas there is assessed need for a new Center in Southwest DeKalb County.

Where is the partnership in this proposed agreement? There is a no win for the citizens of DeKalb County, only for the YMCA.  It is clearly the wrong thing to do and should go back to the drawing board.

Please withdraw from this proposal and let us participate in a transparent process that assesses the needs of both partners to the “partnership.”

Commissioner Kathie Gannon, Super District 6
Commissioner Jeff Rader, District 2
June 23, 2014

An easy introduction to the proposal is found on Crossroads News: http://crossroadsnews.com/news/2014/apr/11/dekalb-county-acquire-south-dekalb-ymca/

Many important details are summarized in SoDeKalbYMCA_DetailOverview.pdf, compiled by Commissioner Rader’s office

Source documents on this proposal, the RPCA Master Plan, and parks bond funding are available on the Civic Association Network’s website in the reference materials section.  See http://www.can-dk.org/file-cabinet/parks_gardens/southdekalbymca

DeKalb County 2014 Transportion Plan Complete!

DeKalb Transportation Close UpCarl Lange – June 26, 2014

The DeKalb County 2014 Transportation Plan was unanimously adopted on May 13, by the Board of Commissioners. The development of this plan has resulted from the hard work of many individuals across DeKalb County including all of the stakeholders that sent emails and participated in focus groups, surveys, and public meetings.

Tier 1 plans, which are based on the current DeKalb level of spending through 2040 include improvements to Clairmont, Clifton, and Briarcliff. Houston Mill Rd. is not identified for improvements, which in my opinion can be a good thing as routing of traffic to Emory and CDC is envisioned around our neighborhood, not through it.

1675 – 31 Signal Upgrades on Briarcliff Road./Clairmont Road./Church Street. – Upgrades to approx. 31 signals on Briarcliff (from Sheridan Rd. to Johnson Rd.), Clifton (from Briarcliff Rd to N Decatur Rd.), Clairmont (from LaVista Rd. to N Decatur Rd.), and Church St (from N Decatur Rd. to Bell St.) – $5,000,000

5093 – Clairmont Road Multimodal Corridor Improvements – Corridor improvements to include a median (center turn lane or landscaped) as well as bike and pedestrian accommodations and operational recommendations at key intersections. – $45,000,000

5108 – Briarcliff Road at LaVista Road Intersection Improvements – Intersection improvements, including turn lanes and signal timing to reduce vehicular delay; pedestrian improvements, as needed. – $6,000,000

In one of the early public input meetings I made a recommendation concerning the intersection at Whole Foods, a frequent slow-down obstacle for me. I’m glad to see this included. Check out your frequent travel paths and see what might be improving the quality of your travels too! Plans include public transportation, bicycles, cars, trucks, and pedestrians.

The Recommendations Report, the Appendix, and the Project Fact Sheets document are available on the project website:  www.dekalbtransportationplan2014.com.

For a quick read, jump to this excerpt of Tier 1 projects Pages from DeKalb 2014 Transp Recommendations – Tier 1

Here is the full report DeKalb 2014 Transportation Recommendations

Emory Community Meeting – Emory Point Phase II

emory pointMartha Pacini

A few quick notes from the Emory Community Meeting that was held on Wednesday evening (June 11):

  • EmoryPointPhaseI is fully leased and there is a 50-person waiting list.  They will begin leasing for Phase II in 3-4 months, and are scheduling for occupancy in first quarter of 2015.  More than 90% of those leasing the apartments work or go to school on Clifton Road.  Parkingwillcontinueto be handled separately from the housing as an encouragement to take advantage of Emory’s bus system, etc.
    • Earthfare out of Asheville, NC, is taking 25,000 SF in Phase II.  This is one of four stores they are opening in Atlanta.  They are similar to Whole Foods, but not strictly organic. Earthfare’s emphasis is on strict nutritional standards.  My layman’s way of understanding this is that you will be able to get a Coca-Cola there, but it will be the kind from Mexico that is made with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Should open in May 2015.
    • I asked about car alarms in the parking deck.  There is a full-time security presence there, and they should be handling.  If the alarm continues to go off, we can contact the 24-hour security line—I’ve asked for the number, but some of you may already have it and can share with the group.
    • Noise.  I asked about the noise that rattled windows in our neighborhood the second weekend in May.  Several other attendees said that they thought the noise was coming from somewhere not Emory/Emory Point–like Toco Hills or North Druid Hills Road.  I asked for a contact with DeKalb County School System, because I think we need an early warning system for when things are scheduled at Adams Stadium.  As soon as I receive that, I’ll reach out and see about working out some form of communication with them.

Emory Point Security Number

The  24-hour number for Emory Point’s security to report something/contact someone there:  404-840-5751

Houston and Clifton Property Zoning Approval

Zoning approval at Houston and Clifton

DeKalb Ethics Board

dekalb_seal_hi-resJune 24, 2014

Civic Association Network

By Mike Cooper

WSB-TV reported at 5 p.m. that Acting CEO May “will recommend a huge increase in funding for ethics training and enforcement.”

The report, by Richard Belcher, says Lee May seeks to establish what would be the largest ethics budget of any metro-area government, if it is approved by the Board of Commissioners.

May is to recommend a mid-year adjustment increasing the Ethics Board’s budget to almost $470,000 from the current $118,000. His plan would create three full-time board positions — a Chief Integrity Officer, an investigator and an administrative assistant, WSB-TV’s report said.

Belcher’s report also said May will impose new limits on gifts county employees can accept.

DeKalb Commissioners Ethics Complaint

June 24, 2014

Civic Association Network

By Mike Cooper

The DeKalb County Ethics Board agreed Tuesday (June 24) to accept and investigate new complaints against Commissioners Larry Johnson and Sharon Barnes-Sutton and her aide involving their use of county purchasing cards.

The board agreed to consider the complaints, filed by Rhea Johnson and Viola Davis, after hearing the board’s legal counsel say the board had personal and subject-matter jurisdiction.

Earlier complaints against Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her chief of staff, Bob Lundsten, remain active, but action on them was delayed until the board’s next meeting. The board is awaiting the results of a preliminary investigation by attorney Victor Hartmann, who was chosen by the board to investigate the complaints made by Thomas Owens. Hartmann is expected to present his findings at the board’s next work session.

The board dismissed a complaint against the CEO’s office that questioned why the CEO did not investigate an internal 2011 finance department audit which showed three commissioners did not comply with county policy in their use of county purchasing cards. The board’s attorney was instructed to tell Robert Ballou, who filed the complaint, that he could resubmit it if he made more specific allegations.

A separate complaint by Johnson against suspended CEO Burrell Ellis was tabled until the conclusion of Ellis’ racketeering trial, which is
scheduled to begin in September.

Complaints against Kevin Walton, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Ellis case, and Nina Hall, Ellis’ former secretary, were tabled until the board could obtain a certified copy of grand-jury testimony that
was cited in the complaints. The board’s attorney said that attorney Oliver Halle, who conducted a preliminary investigation, believed it would be better for the board to wait until completion of the Ellis
trial, in which Walton is expected to be a witness. He said trial testimony might be a more “economically efficient” way to handle the investigation.

The board rejected an ethics complaint against Susan Apolinsky, a former member of the DeKalb Historic Commission, that said she should have disclosed in a vote that she lived three houses away from a
property being considered. The motion failed 2 to 3, with two abstentions.

DeKalb Government Operations Task Force

task force charterThe Operations Task Force was created by DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May with the support of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners through an Executive Order in March 2014.

The 15-member committee is empowered to explore and study (1) the financial, business, zoning and quality of life impact on residents and government operations caused by the creation of new cities and annexations; (2) the effectiveness of the current governance structure of DeKalb County and ethics and transparency in County operations; (3) the equitable distribution of Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) proceeds and legacy pension costs between the DeKalb County and it’s cities; and (4) other related matters.


Task Force June 5 Meeting – Report


Friday Jun 6, 2014
Beth Nathan, CAN (Civic Association Network)

Some details became as clear as mud last night about how the CEO’s Task Force is going to operate, but it sounds like a lot of the proceedings and materials will be made available to the public.  Last night’s meeting was simulcast on public television and will be rebroadcast on DCTV. The rest of the meetings are to receive similar treatment. No word on whether they will be web-available for those who do not get DCTV.

In addition, a website has been added to the main county website in a subdirectory named “*taskforce2014*” to carry all of the information given to the Task Force members (they received a loose leaf binder of information last night), beginning with the 40+ slide PowerPoint that Lee May presented covering his Executive Order (2014-1) creating this Task Force.  The PowerPoint was extensive and included summaries of the law on municipalization, history of municipalization with voting statistics and bottom line financial impacts on the county, history of county government (starting with the 1886 creation of 5 commissioners of Roads and Revenue), maps of proposed cities, maps of proposed annexations, collection & distribution statistics for HOST dollars, and more. A place for citizens to email their comments and suggestions may be added but did not seem to be part of the original plan.

11 of the 15 announced Task Force members were present last night  (absent: Patrick Ejike, Stan Watson, April Atkins, John Shelton) as Lee  May announced that the Task Force had been EXPANDED TO 17 with the  addition of Fran Millar and Mike Jacobs to ensure all areas and viewpoints are represented.  [The list of all Task Force members is now posted on the county web site.]

Phyllis Mitchell, assistant to the CEO, is coordinating organizational matters for the Task Force.  She outlined her proposal on the structure by which the Task Force would operate,  which prompted a good number of further questions from the members. She suggested that the full Task Force meet twice a month at the Maloof to discuss info from two SubCommittees which would meet in the  intervening weeks. She mentioned the date of Wednesday, June 25, for the next full Task Force meeting, at which the members are to elect a Chair & Co-Chair and hear an in-depth report from GSU (subject matter unspecified). The two envisioned subcommittees were designated as (1) Municipalities/Annexation and (2) Governance, but the division of work between those two committees generated several questions for clarification. There was an indication that citizens, many of whose names are already in the CEO’s hands, would be asked to participate on those subcommittees, but no indication of how or when they would be called. Subsequent to this meeting, the Task Force and its Chair are to have full power to run independently and the CEO will step back. Phyllis Mitchell will remain available to assist them.  Citizen comments were taken at the end of this meeting and it was suggested they would be taken at subsequent meetings as well.


Jeff Rader proposed that the Task Force needs an apolitical chair who is also qualified to deal with organizational matters. He expressed hope that the Task Force’s eventual recommendations would be taken seriously by the legislators even though the Task Force is not legislatively-chartered. He spoke of the uneven nature of the cityhood process which has been running in an opportunistic manner reflecting the lack of public support over large areas of the county for current county management practices. The recommendations need to aim to make the county more stable and have less people racing for scarce resources. Transparency and purchasing practices in the Organizational Act need to be amended, allowing citizens to know what’s happening.

Bill Floyd, former Mayor of Decatur, commented that, while HOST may appear to be disproportionately distributed, the data presented to this Task Force in the power point was incomplete and should be clarified to allow the Task Force to figure out what’s best for both the county and cities alike.  Lee May responded that the Task Force was free to challenge any materials/figures presented to them.

Several members asked for clarification on organizational issues, including Vaughn Irons, Sharon Barnes-Sutton, Gloria Butler, Elena Parent and Karla Drenner, who specifically noted the lack of citizen participation on the Task Force.


These were as varied as you might expect. Speakers included Mary Kay Woodworth (Lakeside Yes), Tess Knight (DeKalb Planning Commission), Charles Peigler, Robert Stanfer (Stone Mountain), Joe Edwards (Kings Ridge Civic Association), Debra Jackson (Mayor of Lithonia), Roj Frierson (Hidden Hills Civic Association), Patricia Killingsworth (member of COVE and former Ethics Board chair), Willi Pringell (retired transit worker), and Alan Venet (City of Briarcliff, Sagamore Hills). These comments included a thank-you for service on what looks to be an impossible job, a call to do it right and pull the county’s varied factions together, both that cities are good and that the county should not be broken up into cities, a call for the Task Force to throw away its charge and instead focus on economic development, a call to make the ethics board stronger and make timely appointments of new members, expectations that politics and racism will play big roles, a reminder to use technology to share info widely, and statements that some Task Force members are part of the county’s problems with a call to fix the problems at the ballot box.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 pm.

*The meeting scheduled for June 25th was postponed, and no future meeting date has been published.*


The Meeting Powerpoint Presentation :


Suburban Plaza Development

suburban-plaza-planCivic Association Network

Mon Jun 9, 2014

By Jim Smith


New DeKalb Zoning Code to be Deferred until July 

Civic Association Network

Tue May 20, 2014

By Mike Cooper

DeKalb County Planning Director Andrew Baker told county commissioners this morning that his department will ask for deferral of a vote on the proposed new zoning code, with plans to ask the Board of Commissioners to approve it in July.

Baker asked commissioners for guidance on changes being considered in Article 4 (Use Regulations) and Article 7 (Administration). Meeting as a Committee of the Whole, commissioners agreed to discuss Article 4 at the May 27 Planning and Economic Development (PED) committee meeting
and Article 7 at the June 3 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Baker presented a list of changes he said had been made to the zoning code because of input from the public and the PED committee. He said about 50 people attended last Thursday evening’s public meeting on the new code.

“We did receive a list of written responses and comments from the Good Growth committee, which is made up of people in and near downtown Decatur, but also other representatives from other neighborhoods throughout the county. They provided a list of concerns that they had. And what we have provided for you today actually is our staff response to those items specifically that they raised,” Baker said.

Among the changes made to the zoning code:

– Reinstated the six-foot fence requirement in addition to required buffers

“The community was requesting that we add back the 6-foot fence as part of the buffer requirements,” Baker said. “Staff has made that change to the zoning code.”

– O-I when adjacent to SF zones requires undisturbed buffer separation, transitional height requirements

“There was some concern from the residents about O-I districts when they are next to the single-family neighborhoods,” Baker said. “If an individual or an applicant comes in and requests a rezoning to O-I, the Commissioners can also add additional conditions.”

– Pervious pavement – lot-coverage calculations have been revised limiting application to patios and pools

– Administrative variances

“We have specific criteria that is [sic] used by staff for the applications for variances.”

Additional examples of changes in response to public input:

– Deleted the reference to concurrent variances

“We had concern about concurrent variances,” Baker said. “We have deleted the section on concurrent variances.”

– Zoning petitions denied by the BOC require the applicant to wait 2 years (put back in code)

“We put back into the code the two-year wait period.”

– Provide better notice by posting agendas, staff analysis and recommendations on the web site. Considering larger signs or redesign of the sign copy to improve readability.

– Changes the definition of dormitories and provided clarification in Article 4 Table 4.

“The new code has taken measures to protect single-family neighborhoods,” Baker said. “We think we’ve made this document more protective for the neighborhood resident.”

Baker said planning staff wanted guidance on wireless-tower restrictions in Article 4.

“We’ve had some discussion regarding the wireless communication towers,” Baker said.

“The discussions we’ve had with the commissioners deal with the height of the proposed cell towers, the location, should they or should they not be allowed in residential districts and on public property, as well as the stealth design,” Baker said. “We are requesting additional policy direction on that particular article.”

Baker said questions also remained about Article 7, involving rights to appeal, appeals to Superior Court, as well as who has standing and the definition of an aggrieved person. “We continue to work with the law department,” he said.

Baker said the department would request a deferral at the May 27 County Commission meeting, while maintaining “an aggressive schedule.”

“We need individual meetings on Article 4 for wireless. We can possibly do that one at the PED committee meeting on the 27th,” he said. “We need an additional meeting with PED to discuss Article 7.”

Commissioner Larry Johnson said discussion of Article 7 could take place at the June 3 Committee of the Whole meeting, instead of waiting for the next PED meeting one week later.

Baker proposed that the Board of Commissioners approve the code at its July 22 meeting.

“We will be taking the map, the home rule and the code to the Planning Commission, hopefully on the (July) 8th, and we would like to have adoption on July 22nd,” he said.

He said he wanted to get feedback from commissioners between June 17 through 23, with plans to have a final document back from Pond & Company on July 3 before going to the Planning Commission on July 8.

– Mike Cooper
Community Affairs Representative
Little Creek Farm Conservancy

Community Zoning Review Meeting

BE IN THE KNOW! At the Community Council meetings, the public has an opportunity to discuss zoning or land use map amendment applications that will eventually be decided upon by the Board of Commissioners. After the Community Council meetings, the public has opportunities to comment on applications at public hearings that are held by the Planning Commission and by the Board of Commissioners.

Community Council Zoning Meeting – June 17

From Martha Pacini

Hi all,

I went by tonight’s community council meeting to make sure there wasn’t anything on the agenda that affected Victoria Estates.  Good news—there wasn’t!

Two things were on the agenda.  One involved a person who actually was going through the zoning process for her small in-home daycare off of Woodridge Drive in the Medlock neighborhood.  The council members congratulated her on actually going through the process since so many people ignore it.  Her request was approved.

The second item involved an application to put a liquor store in an existing building out on Lawrenceville Highway.  There were about 100 people from the surrounding neighborhoods wearing red shirts there to speak against it.  I didn’t stay for the fireworks since the 4th is just around the corner.

Public Hearing – DeKalb County Millage and Mid-Year Budget – July 8

The public meetings for the 2014 mid-year budget will be held June 24 and July 8 as part of the public hearing portion of the regular Board of Commissioners meeting.  The public hearing portion of the meeting begins at 10:00 am.  The millage rates will be adopted at the July 8 meeting.

Public Hearings – DeKalb Schools Millage Decision – July 7

Wed, June 25, 6pm
Mon, July 7, 11am
Mon, July 7, 6:30pm

DeKalb School System
Administrative and Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd
Stone Mountain

The DeKalb School Board is holding 3 public hearings regarding its decision not to roll back the millage rate to compensate for higher revenues from increased property tax assessments.

DeKalb County Launches the Vacant Property Registry 

 vacant registryThe Vacant Property Registry Ordinance requires the owners of vacant properties to provide the County with official contact information for party responsible for bringing the vacant property into compliance. Property owners are required by law to register their vacant properties with DeKalb County or face fines up to $1000.

Contact: 404-371-2289 | registry@dekalbcountyga.gov

Thompson Park

Thompson ParkFrom Patrick Noonan

Greetings Neighbors and Friends of Thomson Park –

As we wind down our park volunteer activity a bit during the hot summer months, I thought it a good idea to give you an update on some progress and other recent park news.

— We have one more regular volunteer day planned for the summer: Saturday, July 5, 9am-12noon. We’ll be finishing our work in the wooded area surrounding the tennis courts and upper parking area.

— Thanks to Derek Sampey of McConnell Road and Pack 43 of Twin Oaks LDS Church on Wesley Chapel, we’ve been able to start restoring the trail markers in the park. The Cubs and adult leaders helped give the existing posts a fresh coat of paint, and we’ve started replacing some of the missing posts and filling in other gaps. (As the new ones weather they’ll get painted, and they should fade into the woods and not stand out quite so much. Also, as we are able to add some trail maps at the entrances, we can probably remove a few redundant ones to reduce their visual impact.) A very *rough* initial sketch of the upper trail system is attached. The Cubs also donated a nice redbud tree, which now lives adjacent to the tennis parking area.

— Google finally admitted that they’d been misspelling the name of W. D. Thomson Park on their maps for years (leading to most of the Internet calling it “Thompson Park,” because Google). The County fixed the spelling on their site, too. When you see online references that are misspelled please write to the host and ask them nicely to change it. Now they *can* “Google it” to confirm!

— In addition to the July 5 volunteer day, we are in need of some help over the summer for other projects: Repairing, replacing and adding bridges over the creeks and drainage channels; cutting up and removing some large fallen trees from the paths; repairing the stairway from Mason Woods Drive. If you’ve got the will and the skill (and perhaps a chainsaw, which doesn’t fit that rhyme scheme), please contact me and we’ll coordinate some time to work together on this.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who have contributed literally hundreds of hours of work this past year. If you’d like to support the work of our Friends of Thomson Park group with a donation, you may write a check to the Mason Mill Civic Association and designate it for the “Thomson Park Fund.”

Best regards
Patrick Noonan
Coordinator, Friends of Thomson Park

Past President, Mason Mill Civic Association

Check out the map of the trails:

Upper Trails – rough map 5-28-14