Dunwoody residents descended on the Dunwoody  Charter Commission during its July 3 meeting, venting about a variety of contentious issues, some of which weren’t under the commission’s control.

There was barely standing room left in the tiny conference room, a venue chosen because Dunwoody holds municipal court on Wednesdays. Attendees were suspicious of the venue, the timing of the meeting (a day before Independence Day festivities) and other things that weren’t on the commission’s agenda.

The attendees were loosely affiliated with a group called Save Dunwoody, a self-described grassroots organization that has launched a campaign to remove current members of the city council. Its members aren’t listed on the organization’s website, though Robert Green and Norb Leahy have identified themselves as the group’s organizers in public meetings and newspaper articles. Not everyone at the meeting identified themselves as being part of the group. Many of the attendees were women and an email about the meeting was circulated among women’s groups about the July 3 meeting.

The outrage was intense.

Specifically, the residents who attended wanted to discuss a proposed Dunwoody Fire Department. It would be funded using fire tax money already collected by DeKalb County. Residents said the city shouldn’t take on additional liabilities without a vote.

“There are serious questions about this provision,” resident Jim Dickson said. “You say it’s only about fire.  … If that’s the case, then you ought to tightly write it and specifically state that. I think, having read the document, that it opens the book up to a lot of different things. I believe that’s the opinion of some pretty capable people including one of the state legislators.”

The fire tax wasn’t on the Charter Commission’s agenda July 3. The commission is a volunteer advisory board, appointed by the city, that will make recommendations to amending the city’s charter. The city’s charter is essentially its constitution, defining its duties, responsibility and authority.

Residents also wanted to discuss adding bike lanes to Mount Vernon, a controversial proposal that doesn’t have anything to do with the Charter Commission.

“This commission has no purview over that matter,” Chairman Max Lehmann said. “I just want to make that clear, and I appreciate your point of view.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com