The Dunwoody Charter Commission – which has seen some of its meetings turned into public platforms for complaints against the city — turned its attention Aug. 14 to recommendations of ways city officials could improve communication with residents.

Henly Shelton, one of three candidates who have announced they are running as a slate against incumbent council members, told the commissioners the charter should be revised to require Dunwoody City Council to hold quarterly “town hall meetings.” At the meetings, city officials could discuss their plans and projects and answer residents’ questions, he said.

“Communications have broken down,” Shelton said.

Members of the commission endorsed the idea, but weren’t convinced it should be included in the city charter, the city’s foundation document. The five commissioners are reviewing the charter and are to recommend to the state Legislature any changes the commissioners feel are needed. The commission can only propose revisions; any changes would be made by state lawmakers.

“I think this is a great idea. I think we ought to do it. But I would keep it out of the charter because I don’t think it’s something for the Legislature to dictate to elected officials,” commissioner Robert Wittenstein said.

City Manager Warren Hutmacher said city officials are considering scheduling a similar public meeting.

Commissioners also decided not to recommend a proposal by Commissioner Rick Otness that the charter require three “Constituency Councils” study proposals headed for a council vote. Otness said the councils would represent Dunwoody’s residents, business community and non-profit groups in an effort to “get multiple sets of eyes” on proposals before the council.

Other commissioners said the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and the city’s Chamber of Commerce already provide similar reviews of city plans.

The commission’s report is due in October. Commissioners decided that the Aug. 28 meeting would be the last at which it would consider new recommendations. Anyone who wants to make a recommendation should submit it by 7 p.m. Aug. 27, members said. Recommendations may be submitted online at charter.commission@dunwoodyga.gov, Chairman Max Lehmann sid.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.