Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Macaroni Grill in Dunwoody Closed and Cold Cans

Two of three restaurants in a Dunwoody shopping center have closed.  First to fall was Firkin Gryphon, and now Romano's Macaroni Grill.  Only Chili's survives.  I think the issue with Firkin Gryphon is its location.  It is not on the walking route of the apartment/condo posse of Perimeter and not in Dunwoody Village.

Macaroni Grill Dunwoody Closed

Closed Macaroni Grill Dunwoody


Firkin Gryphon Dunwoody

Above are a couple of videos form happier days at the Firk (St Patrick's Day, maybe 2010 or 2011)

To end on a positive note, where is the coldest soda in Dunwoody?  Chevron's pop machine dispenses cans at approximately 32.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Now that they removed their 'Save Dunwoody' signs from their front lawn I am back to buying my gas and Diet Coke's there.  The Ace Hardware on Dunwoody Village Pkwy has a pop machine tucked away in the back right corner as well.

soda machine inside Dunwoody's Chevron

Dunwoody Chevron
Above is a clip from the same St pat's night but at the Dunwoody Tavern.  Below is more footage from Firkin Gryphon. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Do You Want Your Dunwoody Neighbor to be a Grief or Sex Counselor?

The Dunwoody City Council is working on the monumental task of rewriting the Zoning Rules for Dunwoody.  The issue is huge and complex, and a boring read for most people.  But scattered throughout our city are people who like to dig deep.  Lots of people have worked on this issue for over a year.

Dunwoody Working Girl is very passionate about Work-from-Home issues.  She was on a committee that helped write the proposed changes, changes that can affect everyone.  I applaud her passion and it's great she volunteers.  Go HERE to read her recent post.

I agree with a lot of her points.  But when it comes to zoning I believe in The Worst Case Scenario.

One of the allowed occupations Dunwoody City Council is considering to allow is that of therapist.  Counselors are also okay to operate in a home, in a residential neighborhood, right next to you and your kids.

Here's a story from not too long ago about a lady doing counseling in her home.  Another story discussed a similar situation whereas sex offenders were being counseled daily, in a residential neighborhood.  If council does not act to change this, there is nothing to stop this from happening on your street.

Imagine making a few pitchers of lemonade, carrying a Little Tikes table and chairs to the curb, then having your kid and a friend sit out front and sell lemonade.  Ten or so customers driving up to buy lemonade, all sex offenders.    Oh yeah, the 10 sex offenders a day are going to park next door at your neighbor's house and get their therapy from your neighbor.  City Council won't allow me to have chickens in my backyard or park an RV on my property line, but my neighbor can run her therapy business from her home in the cul-de-sac.  

So, the question to council: Do you want your neighbor to be hosting sex offenders all day?  How about having a mental-health therapist next door?   

What if word gets out that Dunwoody allows sex offender counseling in homes and three or four people buy homes on your street?  Extreme case?  Of course.  Allowing customer contact in the home (except when clients are under 18 and receiving educational instruction such as music lessons or math tutoring) is wrong.

At last night's meeting the council addressed all the issues the Community Council and Planning Commission discussed, in addition to more items like pet limits.  I think city council and the mayor did a really good job last night moving through the new zoning document.  Many good points were discussed and lots of good questions to staff.  

Only a couple of decisions rendered differed from what I'd like to see written.  One is the tree removal rules.  Both Community Council and Planning Commission voted 5-0 to remove the tree rules on your residential lot.  The proposed tree rule takes the stance that trees on my (or your) property and the accompanying tree canopy belong to the people of Dunwoody, not the homeowner. If you decide to build a deck or add a garage or build a retaining wall (anything that requires a permit) you can only cut one tree a year (unless non specimen, and a government-hired arborist tells you what is a specimen).  I am of the opinion that I own the home, the land, and the trees.  Others feel differently.  There is no problem here that needs fixed.  We will not have people clear-cutting lots for the fun of it.  Tree removal is expensive and trees can improve home value.  Council will discuss the issue more at their next meeting.  Hopefully council will keep the newly interpreted tree rule (that affects only when you get a permit) but still, limiting tree removal even when a permit is required is wrong.  Trees don't have rights, people do.

The other issue I disagreed with is the setback rules for parking a fishing boat or RV.  City council pretty much banned all RVs and boats from Dunwoody.  Yes, if you have a boat, travel trailer, pop-up, or even a $400,000 Class A diesel pusher, tough luck.  You can't park it in your driveway, you can't park it within 20 feet of your neighbor's home.  Add the 10-12 feet needed to park the RV and the 20-foot buffer and you have eliminated 99% of all homes in Dunwoody.  Again, where is the problem we are fixing?  The Zoning Sounding Board voted to reduce this distance to 10 feet (that does not do much as most people have only 20 or less) and Community Council voted to eliminate the distance required.  Your neighbor can park five F150 Ford trucks in the driveway, have three dogs running around in the backyard, have sex offenders come to the home one at a time, but I can't park an RV beside the house?  At the end of last night's meeting a few council members suggested residents give them feedback - well, there's my feedback.

There are many neighborhoods in Dunwoody with restrictive HOA's.  If you want a square yard with no gardens, no boats, and no RVs, buy a home where this is a strong HOA. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to School Tips for Dunwoody Parents

It's back to school time for kids in Dunwoody.  So what is the biggest fear of parents?  Is it getting the 'bad' teacher?  A schedule with lunch too early or too late?  Classes with that annoying kid from down the street?  Nope.  The answer is of course a four-letter word. L I C E.  There, I said it.  Now scratch your head and know right now your family and home is lice-free.  But what about the first 30 days of school - the dreaded Lice Time?

Any kid can get lice, even a Dunwoody kid.  Shocking, I know.  But I have seen it happen.  Your kid gets lice and suddenly your entire family is placed on the "do not talk or go near them" list.  Invites to cookouts are rescinded, no sleepovers for a minimum of 30 days, and no invites for birthday parties.

Can you prevent lice?  The jury is out but some small studies have shown natural products containing rosemary, citronella, and eucalyptus do repel lice.  You can do your own research.  The DunwoodyTalk staff will spray Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel spray on the head of at least one kid for the first week of school.  If your kid gets lice there are many ways to treat it.  the DunwoodyTalk suggested method is take your credit card and kid to elimilice, right here in Dunwoody.  Then wash everything in hot water, including the book bag.

School is tough for kids.  Talk to your kids about bullying, making sure they are not on either end of a bullying incident.  The State of GA has rules on bullying (HERE) as does DeKalb County.  If you feel your student is a victim of bullying then talk to the staff at school immediately.  The quicker issues can be addressed the better.  If incidents continue and school staff acknowledges these incidents, make sure the word "bullying" is written by a faculty member.  This is important.  You want to see the word 'bullying' used.  It is sometimes difficult for a principal to have a student removed from a school so you want accurate documentation, and you want the term 'bullying' used as this will be important if the issue continues.  On the flip side, if your kid is written up for 'bullying', you need to address the issue to avoid having your kid being labeled a bully then getting bounced from school (and ruining the day/year of others). 

Bad Teachers
I taught middle school a few years in Georgia and I have had kids attend private and public school (in addition to home-schooling).  I can say without a doubt our local schools have some great teachers.  Teachers who care about their profession and care about educating your child in a safe and orderly environment.  I can also tell you our local schools have some bad teachers.  These are people who need to find a new line of work because they:
a. cannot control the classroom behavior and keep it orderly
b: cannot transfer knowledge to your child  
c: cannot interact with parents and students 
d: are not intelligent enough to handle the subject matter
e: etc.

So what do you do about a bad teacher?  First off, what you don't do is accept it as bad luck and hope next year is different. I spoke to a person recently who was worried their younger student would get the same bad teacher an older sibling had in school.  Did this parent ever express his/her opinion with the grade-level principal?  With the school principal?  With the regional superintendent?  With the central office?  No, no, no, and no.  You will rarely see a teacher removed from the classroom during the school year, but if the principal gets heat about a teacher all year from numerous sources, the odds that teacher comes back are lowered.  So do future students a favor and complain.  The average Dunwoody homeowner will annually send $3000 plus to DeKalb for education (and less than $200 to the city for police, roads, zoning, etc.) so speak your mind louder than those opposing a trail or intersection improvement.

Like bullying, you need to document and intervene early in the school year.  The only way to rid your school/community of a bad teacher is to complain.  And if other parents share your opinion then they need to complain as well.  Keep complaining.  Keep it up all year if you need to do so.  The school principal needs to know if someone on his/her staff is a bad teacher. Have your kid report to you what is going on in the classroom and hallways, then let school administrators know.  Our local schools have too many kids in the classroom and often too many trailers.  Teachers have too many students and not always enough prep time.  They are expected to manage, teach, and evaluate.  Often they are not aware of things happening in hallways, bathrooms, and on the bus.  It is your job to gather this information from your kid, evaluate it (as not everything your kid says will be accurate or fact) then report it. 

A great way to keep tabs on a teacher is to compare classroom work to Georgia's Performance Standards.  Georgia has a website for teachers and parents that details curriculum.  See it HERE. Unfortunately there is no parent evaluation for teachers as part of a teacher's annual review.  (I know, teachers would love to do a Parent Evaluation as some parents will do nothing all year except make sure their kid gets on the bus everyday).  

Have a great teacher?  Let him/her know, often.

Dunwoody parents, you want great schools and awesome student learning?  Then get involved and stay involved.  All schools need volunteers now and all year. Don't rely 100% on the government (DeKalb School District) for the education of your kid.  Show up and volunteer at your local schools.  Parents, your kids' teachers like parents to help.  Ask what you can do to help them have the best year possible.

Special Concert in Dunwoody August 17

The Tim Redovian Memorial Fund is having its 5th Annual concert series August 17, 2013 at Dunwoody Baptist Church.