Commissioner Kathie Gannon update

Contents: Redistricting, Green Commission Expo and Neighborhood Summit; Plant 10,000 Trees; SW DeKalb Planning; Fischer Mansion; Proposed city of Brookhaven; Memorial Drive clean-up.

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Kathie Gannon - DeKalb County Commissioner, Super District 6
Quarterly Update September 2011
 
Friends and Neighbors,

I can not believe how quickly summer has flown by and fall is in the air.  This summer has seen DeKalb face many budgetary hurdles and I want to thank all of you who have reached out to me with your thoughts, ideas or suggestions for making DeKalb a better community.  I know we will not always agree, but please know I always have the best intentions for you and all of DeKalb in mind when weighing the facts presented to me when making a decision.

Redistricting of Political Boundaries
I recently hosted meetings in North and South DeKalb to discuss the 2010 Census demographic changes that will drive reapportionment and change our political boundaries. Redistricting for Congressional, Senate and House districts was completed during the Special Legislative Session and is winding its way to court.  It is no surprise that the new lines favor Republicans and will likely mean 2 fewer house represetatives for DeKalb County.  Please click here to view the Legislative and Reappointment Office website with proposed maps.

County Commission and Board of Education districts will be redrawn in the next Session which begins in January 2012.  We are legally required to comply with the principal of “one person one vote”.  However, if the population gain or loss is within 5% of the previous census the boundaries do not need to be redrawn. The Board of Education is more difficult as the state delegation has eliminated two entire districts.

The 2010 Census shows the largest gain in population occurred in Commission District 5 (southeast DeKalb) and the greatest loss in District 3 (parts of central and southwest DeKalb). Districts 1 (north) and District 2 (north and central) had slight increases and District 4 (central and east) had a slight decrease in population. Super Districts 6 (western half of DeKalb) and 7 (eastern half) have stayed roughly the same in population.  So, in terms of boundaries, District 3 will be greatly increased and District 5 wil be greatly decreased– most likely swapping several precincts.  District 4 will need to grow a little taking from District 1,2 and/or 5. The Super Districts could remain the same or swapping only 1 precinct to have even populations.  I would appreciate hearing from you about any concerns or ideas on boundaries.  I’ll keep you posted as January politics will likely enter into this exercise!

Here are some helpful links on the census and redistricting:
Neighborhood Nexus Weave Analysis Tool: http://www.weaveatlanta.org/weave.html?defaults=/census2010_ct.xml
ARC Data Dashboard: http://www.atlantaregional.com/info-center/2010-census
Census Query Tool: http://census.ire.org
Census Website: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/popmap

Green Commission Expo and Neighborhood Summit
Save the date, October 29th 9am to 2pm, for this year’s Neighborhood Summit and Green Expo to be held at Decatur High School. The Summit is an opportunity for neighborhoods to discuss common problems and successful solutions to:
zoning, code enforcement, economic development, community gardens, crime and other issues.
It is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your neighborhood organization and political network by meeting other neighborhood leaders in DeKalb County.

The Green Commission Green Expo will be held simultaneously and will feature local companies that are providing services and selling products that are helpful to the enviornment and saving you money while you save the planet.  There will also be Community Garden exhibits.  Please check my website for updates on the Green Expo.

Green Commission Suniva Solar Panel Tour
Move Over Willy Wonka by Beth Bond Green Commission Member and Managing Partner of Southeast Green

Last month I was honored to attend a tour of the Suniva, Inc manufacturing plant in Norcross, Ga. Commissioner Kathie Gannon of DeKalb County Commission and creator of the DeKalb Green Commission which I am a member of, invited the commission to join her. We were greeted at the plant and international research & development hub of Suniva with a small presentation and then the tour.

Okay so here is the declaimer, I might look like the middle aged mild mannered little lady but a kid at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory could not have been more excited than me to be touring the plant! link here to read more

Together We Can Plant 10,000 Trees
I can’t believe the winter planting season is almost here.  Nalley Automotive Group, DeKalb County and the City of Decatur are once again gearing up to plant 10,000 trees.  So start talking with your friends, neighborhood associations, civic or church groups about a seedling planting day in an area near you.  As the planting time “grows” closer I will have more information on my website or you may contact my office any time at kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov for more information.

SW DeKalb Planning – Part 2
Cedar Grove, Moreland Avenue corridor and Bouldercrest Rd. triangle area were the recent subjects of a comprehensive study by the American Institute of Architects. The report examined our previous community based planning vision and additional community input to focus on more detailed recommendations for  transportation, market analysis, land use, landfills and enviornmental justice. The consultants focused on the same three but interelated districts:
  • An exclusive industrial area west of I-675 and south of I-285 that will provide jobs in the logistics industry with its close proximity to the airport and interstate system (Moreland corridor).
  • A low and medium density residential area that is east of I-675 and south of I-285 that has an emphasis on open space, recreational trails and small scale commercial (Cedar Grove Rd. /Bouldercrest Rd.)
  • A regional commercial and mixed-use district near I-285 and Boudercrest that would upgrade the Pilot truck stop and shopping center sites.
This is a very valuable and insightful study that will be used to guide future private development and county investments in transportion and open space. I appreciate all of the many citizens who participated in the planning sessions.

NEXT STEPS – We are raising money to develop the overlay zoning needed to implement the land uses AND a not-for-profit community Alliance is forming to oversee the LONG-TERM implementation of these PLANS.
For more information or copies of this study, please contact my office at kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov.

Fischer Mansion
In June, the Dr. Luther C. and Lucy Hurt Fischer House, at 4146 Chamblee Dunwoody Road was listed in the National Register of Historic Places along with the garden grounds, known as Flowerland.  The building, built in the late 1920’s, and grounds were the subjects of a 2005 rezoning where I was able to include, as a zoning condition, the requirement to pursue this historic preservation designation.  Between 1959 and 1971 the Roman Catholic Diocese and the Grey Nuns Order of the Sacred Heart owned the property.  The Unity Church of Christianity owned the property from 1977 until 2005, when it was purchased by Stafford Properties.  In 2005, Stafford Properties rehabilitated the Fischer House as the centerpiece of a residential complex of a dozen two-story apartment buildings.  The interior of the Fischer house was divided into three condominiums with its principal interior spaces and character-defining features intact. The carriage house and surviving gardens on the wooded bluff above Nancy Creek were also preserved. 

Proposed City of Brookhaven
Representative Mike Jacobs introduced legislation in the 2011 session of the General Assembly to start the ball rolling towards the possible creation of a new city in DeKalb County.  Generally the area is south of I-285, east of the Fulton County line, north of I-85 and west of the City of Chamblee, plus land between Chamblee and I-85, Buford Highway, Clairmont Road and Century Center. This area would be the largest city in Fulton or DeKalb and the proposed name is Brookhaven. Empowered by Rep Jacob’s legislation, a citizen group was formed to sponsor a financial feasibility study by the Carl Vinson Institute of the University of Georgia.

I applaud citizens for becoming actively involved in the future of their communities.  However, I believe that this kind of study should examine the impact of creating a new city on the rest of unincorporated DeKalb County.  A sufficient amount of commercial, retail and apartment properties are being drawn into the “city” to create a tax base that will make a city financially stable. Moving this tax base into a city will have a financial impact on the rest of DeKalb County.  It also creates a vulnerable and unstable condition for those residential neighborhoods, around these commercial properties, that are left out of the boundaries because they are residential.  Residential properties cost more in tax funds to serve and pay less in taxes then commercial properties.  

I also have questions about whether cityhood is the right solution for the problems that are to be fixed.   The problems to be “fixed” have yet to be articulated.  They were not identified during any of the community meetings and are not a part of the study. There are a wide variety of tools and options to deal with identifiable issues.  Forming a city is one way to go, but an additional layer of government may not be the right solution.

I have asked the citizen group to broaden the scope of their study to better understand the impact of the proposed city and to identify the problems they want to solve with a new city. It would be best for the consultant group conducting the city feasibility study to examine the issues I have raised. When I recently met with members of the citizen group, they rejected my request.

Memorial Drive Clean up
On a Saturday in August another step was taken on a partnership to revitalize Memorial Drive. Myself along with CEO Burrell Ellis, Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton, State Reps. Michele Henson and Karla Drenner, Keep DeKalb Beautiful and 200 volunteers spent the morning picking up 8,560 pounds of litter along a three-mile stretch of Memorial Drive.  The Memorial Drive Merchant Association, PRISM, Georgia Perimeter College and DeKalb County are spearheading the Revitalization Partnership.

If you would like to organize a clean up event for your neighborhood or larger community, please contact my office to learn how DeKalb County and Keep DeKalb Beautiful can assist you.


I am always looking for ways to stay in touch.  Your neighborhood and community meetings are important to me as they give me a chance to hear directly from you about concerns and ideas.  If you do not belong to an association, I can arrange to meet with your friends and neighbors for a conversation in your home. 

Thank you and enjoy the fall,

Kathie
 

Commissioner Kathie Gannon
kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov
Our mailing address is:
1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA 30030
Office - 404-371-4909
www.kathiegannon.com
Copyright (C) 2009 Commissioner Kathie Gannon DeKalb County* All rights reserved.