Thank you to the thousands of friends and neighbors who sponsored, marched, and cheered the 2018 Dunwoody July Fourth Parade. That event, in its 28th year, is Dunwoody’s common ground to celebrate the community we all love.

But even while celebrating, there’s work to be done.

On July 1, the Dunwoody Homeowners Association hosted Crim & Associates, who presented their special land use permit application for their Dunwoody Village property and fielded questions and comments from the audience. Richard McLeod and Michael Starling presented their proposal for changing the Dunwoody Village overlay in response to input from developers and residents alike. Richard’s comments about the city council’s plan for this district certainly exceeded the board’s expectations.

Everyone on the DHA board, down to a person, believes there is a need to update and modernize the design standards for Dunwoody Village. But what was not expected was that the overlay that made Dunwoody Village a symbol of the type of the interconnected, small-town community we want to see continue would be eliminated altogether.

What’s even more shocking is that our government wants to make these dramatic changes through a run-of-the-mill City Council process. And they want to do it during the summer, when there is less public involvement. And right after the annual parade, when even fewer citizens are paying attention to city business.

In every other major zoning change, there was extensive public vetting before decisions were made. Starting with the city Master Plans, the Zoning Code Rewrite of 2011, the charrettes regarding the Winters Chapel area, the Perimeter Center district zoning plan, and most currently with Brook Run Park: all of these zoning and infrastructure updates had extensive public discussions outside of City Hall and a step-wise creative process leading to a final plan.

But when it comes to the Dunwoody Village Overlay District, the “Heart of Dunwoody” in many minds, there is no public vetting. Were it not for the DHA meeting, there would not have been any open public discussion at all before the required city hall schedule. There was nothing on the city website until this morning (July 9) when the Planning Commission agenda packet was published. No “Connect Dunwoody” questions or “master plan” pages. Most of all there are no visual concepts to work with. So no one can say with any certainty what the outcome will be. Will there even be a

“Heart of Dunwoody” if this process continues as-is?

That’s not very transparent on the city’s part. They are obviously treating this situation differently than any other major project. I would like to know why.

In the DHA’s position statement issued on July 3, the board advocating for our homeowner community stated: “DHA opposes the architectural changes and other controls to the Dunwoody Village Overlay District presented by Richard McLeod on Sunday, July 1st, without well thought out replacements that are publicly vetted by the community.”

We all know that infrastructure changes related to an evolving population are not only inevitable but an enhancement to our community. But only if the community is allowed to play an active part in finding the balance between tradition and innovation, just as they have been invited to do in past zoning upgrades. I urge the Dunwoody city government to treat this zoning and infrastructure upgrade with the same public diligence that they have with the other zoning changes that have gone before.

Adrienne Duncan
Dunwoody Homeowners Association