This past Monday I decided to head over to the Dunwoody City Council meeting. It had been a while since I had a free Monday night to attend but there were a few things on the agenda that will impact the future of our city and our kids so I thought I should attend.
The biggest thing on the table was the vote regarding the parks bonds. Initially the city council was considering putting one bond referendum on the ballot in November to buy land for parks and to build out our park land based on the recently adopted parks plan. The city separated the bonds into two “up to” $33 million bonds. One for the purchase of new park lands the other to fund the improvements to the parks.
According to estimates each bond would add $104 in property taxes for the average Dunwoody homeowner. So we, as a city, get to decide if improving our city’s parks is worth up to $208 per year for us. Or maybe just buy the land now while the property values are low and fund the improvements later for only $104 per year. Or implement the park plan within our existing parks for $104 and don’t buy anymore property. Or the final option, no bonds for buying or building at this time and pay for things as we go.
For many of us with kids it will be a choice based on what we want our city to provide for our kids. For some it will be a choice based on real or perceived impact on property values. For others it will be a simple choice of dollars and cents. Any way you look at it this issue affects everyone in the city. Stay tuned for more.
The other thing on the agenda that caught my attention was an application for a Special Land Use Permit or SLUP. Here is how it read on the agenda:
“PUBLIC HEARING & SECOND READ: Ordinance to Authorize a Special Land Use Permit to (address redacted) (SLUP 11-061) to Initiate a Home Occupation for Private Educational Purposes with Customer Contact.”
What does that mean? It means we need to get a special permit to be able to provide violin lessons to kids in the city of Dunwoody. That in itself is not that big of a deal, but this process has taken the violin teacher 5 months! That is shameful.
When Dunwoody first became a city one of our newly elected councilmen stated that his vision of Dunwoody was to be like Mayberry. I’m pretty sure Opie took piano lessons in a few episodes and I don’t remember Andy or the mayor sitting through 5 months of meetings so Clara could get approval so Opie could take piano lessons that he would eventually complain about.
We moved to Dunwoody back in the 70’s when I was in high school. To round out my musical skills and add to my trumpet playing I took piano lessons from Mrs. Turner who lived in the Dekalb Highlands neighborhood. I used to ride my bike over to her house for lessons. No special permits needed, nobody complaining either. Luckily we didn’t have the layers of government and permits needed back then because those lessons helped pay for my college education.
This is something our city council needs to fix ASAP! A SLUP is needed not only for music teachers but for tutors and many others as well. The process may be necessary but it should not take 5 months and should not be such a huge burden for people who are just trying to help and teach our kids. For the people who don’t have kids or just don’t care remember, every hour spent in music lessons and practicing means that those kids aren’t riding bikes through our yards or making too much noise at a park or somewhere else. There are benefits for many.
A lot of parents in our area simply don’t have time to attend city council meetings. The meetings are always at 7:00 PM, with some snuck in at 6:00 PM. That’s right around the time parents are feeding the kids, cleaning up from dinner, helping with homework or putting the younger ones to bed. There are many issues that have been decided with little or not enough input or awareness from our city’s parents and families. It’s hard but it’s worthwhile to pay attention and speak up when you have an opinion, one way or the other.