Editor’s Notes
By John Schaffner

Prior to a recent meeting in Buckhead, I had what may have been my first real opportunity for an off-the-cuff chat with Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook, who represents both the most commercial and also some of the most charming of Buckhead’s single-family neighborhoods—neighborhoods that have been called “the crown jewels of Buckhead.”

Peachtree and Roswell roads divide Buckhead into two council districts, Shook’s District 7 and District 8, where Clair Muller is councilwoman. Except along the I-75 corridor, District 8 is more heavily single-family residential and, in some cases, represents the highest priced residential in Buckhead.

Over the years of covering Atlanta City Council, I have always viewed Shook as being quiet, reserved and possibly wed to the policies of the mayor and administration. My recent one-on-one casual chat with him gave me a new, more open perspective about Shook.

Shook came out of a neighborhood organization-type background, but now represents a district where commercial growth dominates the skyline and impacts all that happens on the ground around it.

Like Karl Wallenda crossing Tallulah Gorge on a tightrope, Shook must maintain a critical balance to deal with his various constituencies. And, he seems to be doing just that.

I’m sure I will not always agree with Shook on issues and will speak out against his stances in this column on those occasions.

I was not supportive of his position to allow the atrocious traffic calming design on East Wesley to proceed as the administration decided. However, I am encouraged that any future such projects will require a petition signed by 60 percent of abutting property owners and preserve bike lanes in order to gain his support.

I will follow closely his positions concerning the Peachtree Corridor streetcar proposal and especially the potential 25 percent property tax increase residents along the corridor may be faced with to pay for the streetcar and other improvements. As an upcoming new resident to the Peachtree Corridor in Buckhead, I am opposed to both.

But, for the record, I have encouraged Shook to write occasional “guest columns” for this page of the Buckhead Reporter. I also encourage Councilwoman Muller, Councilwoman Mary Norwood and other council members at large, as well as the mayor to also submit guest columns expressing their viewpoints on important issues.

In fact, we encourage guest columns and “letters to the editor” from members of the public as well. That is one way to minimize the amount of my opinions you may have to endure.

Kudo for Clair Muller

While I am being nice to members of the Atlanta City Council, allow me to praise Councilwoman Muller for proposing that apartments, condos and the like be required to participate in the city’s recycling program.

My wife and I were astounded as we went around shopping for a condominium in Buckhead to learn that virtually none of them make accommodations for owners to recycle, glass, plastic, paper goods, etc. We became spoiled living in Roswell for 22 years, where just about everything is recycled and picked up at the curb in front of your door.

One would expect that a city that has spent decades battling environmental problems would at least have an iron-clad recycling program.

…And more kudos

This time the kudos go to State Rep. Edward Lindsey of House District 54 in Buckhead and again to Howard Shook for the two of them working together to change state law to ensure that developer impact fees, generated by development in Buckhead, will henceforth stay in Buckhead and not be used on the southside of Atlanta or elsewhere.

With the amount of development going on in Buckhead, maybe those fees can greatly reduce the burden on taxpayers to pay for improvements along the Peachtree Corridor.

And a note of congrats

The city of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs has announced the appointment of a friend, Brian Leary, as the new chair of the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC). I got to know Leary very well since he is the vice president of Design and Development for Atlantic Station and its developer AIG Global Real Estate, while I was the editor of an intown Atlanta weekly newspaper.

He is a visionary and a great choice for the position, even though he and I have differing opinions about the beauty of the new Millennium Gate being built on 17th Street in Atlantic Station and its appropriateness for the design and scale of that development.

My congratulations to both Brian Leary and the city for this appointment.