Free-For-All Friday 8/15/14

Feel free to use this post to make comments and ask questions about local topics not discussed here over the past week.

Comments close on Monday.

108 thoughts on “Free-For-All Friday 8/15/14”


    1. Trudy, I have a newish bike that I can sell you for less than you could rent one for even even a few days. It’s a Schwinn voyager II medium sized. You can reach me at guindy (at) comcast (dot) net. Hope it helps.

  1. Parents, please remind your kids about walking to/from school safety! Yesterday afternoon, I saw a child trying to rush past a couple of kids on the sidewalk and he stepped out into Clairemont Road to get around them. Then on Superior, a child was talking to his friend and started to cross the street without looking. He was about ten feet from my (moving) bumper! I hit the brakes and he sheepishly went back to the sidewalk. I know that reminders don’t always translate to changes in behavior but have to try!

    1. Thanks for the reminder Heather! I never would have thought to remind my kids about sidewalk safety and cars without your keen observation!

      1. Wow Daggerscar- that was unhelpful and a little mean.
        I had a kid on superior run out in front of me last spring. my car is quiet, and he was just careless. A little reminder never hurts, but a couple thousand pounds of steel will.

        1. I honestly wasn’t sure if daggerscar was being really nice or really jerky. I gave the benefit of the doubt.

            1. It was snide. The better response would have been ” Kids and parents are walking and biking to school. Pedestrians of any age may not proceed in a linear or predictable fashion, please adjust your speed according to your proximity (Heather).”

      2. At the intersection of Kirk & Candler one morning this week there were two dads walking/biking their kids to school who crossed Candler against the light. The crossing guard was helping individuals safely cross Kirk when the group decided to cross Candler against the light. Parents, please set a good example for your children and keep them safe. This situation could have had a tragic outcome.

        1. Kids learn from their parents. Yesterday, I was turning from Northern onto Ponce Eastbound (with a green light) when a youngish bearded guy holding a tiny baby decided to dart into the crosswalk against the pedestrian light, right in front of my car. Had to stand on the brakes.

  2. In April, my vehicle was struck by an uninsured motorist (while I was stopped at a red light). Damage to my car was nearly $2k and State Farm picked up all but the $250 deductible. I tried to switch to a zero deductible going forward and learned that in the state of Georgia, the lowest deductible on UI coverage we can carry is $250. Why is that? I called the insurance commissioner’s office and spoke with several different people and still don’t understand why. (The most illuminating answer I got was, “That’s the way it was filed.”) Any ideas about the rationale for that law?

    1. That is odd. I recently had to use my uninsured motorist coverage (hit by driver in a stolen vehicle) with USAA and I had no deductible to pay. The claim was originally filed under “Collision – Hit & Run”. The claim was initially payed out minus a $500 deductible. Once they changed the claim to “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist”, my $500 deductible was payed back to me.

      Maybe it is limit of State Farm. May want to check with other carriers and see if they have the same limits.

      1. Thanks. State Farm and the insurance commissioner’s office both insisted that it’s a statewide limit. But maybe I’ll cold-call one or two carriers and see what they say.

        1. You’ll probably get a lot of people telling you who to call, so I’ll go ahead and be the first. Rob Enfinger with Allstate has an office on Scott Blvd. He lives in Decatur with kids in CSD. Very honest and knowledgeable. I’m sure you could call for his opinion.

    2. Most likely fraud prevention. I believe uninsured coverage also covers hit and runs so think like a criminal and figure out how you might game the system if there is no deductible. One way is to have a friend smash your car, call your insurance company, and take the cash meant for fixing the car. To enhance profits you and your friend could ram one another and each file an uninsured motorist claim. This could be a profitable enterprise and having a deductible in place reduces the likelihood of this behavior. I do not know that this is the reasoning behind the law/rule but it is a reasonable explanation.

      1. I have wondered, but it doesn’t really make sense to me. I reckon there are people who would try it and a few would succeed. But I can’t believe it would happen enough to justify forcing the rest of us to take the risk when we’re willing to pay to avoid it. (The two-way scam wouldn’t work because at least one driver has to have insurance in order to file a claim.)

    3. Might it also be because hit and run falls under UI motorist for deductible purposes, and it would be easy to claim minor dents and dings were caused by someone who fled or didn’t leave a note in a parking lot? My car has two or three dings which were caused by road debris and aren’t worth fixing, but would be if there were no out-of-pocket costs.

      1. “hit and run falls under UI motorist for deductible purposes” — Are you sure about that? My claim process hinged on getting a copy of APD’s accident investigation report documenting that the at-fault driver was uninsured, plus a certain amount of spadework by State Farm to confirm there was no record of his being insured. Otherwise, my claim would have been against my comprehensive coverage. Maybe different carriers are less stringent, but I don’t see how anyone could possibly file a questionable UI claim with State Farm.

        Which brings me back to my original complaint: Why can the state of Ga force me to assume any financial risk at all from uninsured motorists, if I’m willing to pay additional premium to avoid it? I was sitting at a stoplight, minding my own business, and it wound up costing me $250 (plus a whole lot of time and inconvenience).

        1. Yes, we were rear-ended by a hit and run driver a few months ago and we paid the UI motorist deductible. We have Progressive, but I assume it’s a state law that governs it. But you’re right in mentioning the necessity of a police report, which would be a deterrent to most false claims.

  3. A question for the “in the know” on city regs/policy folks:

    I keep hearing people complain about the City “letting” developers build apartments. If a property owner submits an application to build something that is compliant with the current zoning regulations for that property, can the City decide to not approve the project?

    Thanks and Happy Friday!

    1. Nope – if you want to build something that fits the zoning of the property and follows all current regulations and laws, say for instance a tree ordinance, then you may build, “as of right.” What you build must meet current building codes and pass inspections and that’s all the city can hold over your head during the review process. If the city/county/state tries to stop you in any way, you can claim it is a takings similar to eminent domain and you can sue the city for both money and the right to build.

      It’s why projects like Walmart get through. They have the right to build and what they want to build is within all applicable regulations. The City of Decatur had little ammunition to stop them once they had already purchased to property and submitted the plans.

      1. Wild Bill, skipping past your opinion of Walmart:

        1) Suburban Plaza isn’t located within City limits.
        2) Selig owns the property. Walmart is building its store as a long term tenant.
        3) Walmart is a $$$ tax bonanza (not just what they’ll be paying, but also the other businesses that are now eager to set up shop nearby). What makes you think the City would’ve actually tried to stop it?

        1. I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to the proceedings (as made clear by your fact check), because fighting large developments like that is usually futile once the owner files the plans. It’s that whole, “as of right,” thing. I’m not sure that the city really did try to stop it in any way, but the populous opinion certainly did. That’s why I referenced it.

    2. Just like a homeowner or lot owner, if a developer submits an apartment building application that is compliant with the zoning, they don’t require any special permissions. They can just start building. It’s only if their design fails to meet what’s allowable (like if they want a reduction in parking requirements or want additional units or something), in which case there would be one or more conditional public hearings seeking a variance.

      Apartment projects underway like Trinity Triangle and Paces Clairemont both met zoning, so they didn’t require consideration by city commission.

      1. What Scott said.

        Zoning designations are how we as a community “engineer” what we want future construction to look like. Or not look like. It keeps strip bars from being built in the middle of Winona Park. It enables retail construction with street frontage and sidewalk requirements downtown. It explains why the Village Vet and its next door structure look so out of place compared to their neighbors – they were built to a newer code envisioning what downtown Decatur may become, not what it has been.

        The zoning map provides a picture of what the future of Decatur may look like.

        I highly recommend anyone who cares about these issues take a look at the zoning map:

        http://www.decaturga.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=486

        C-2 is the “general business district” designation. If you want to know what can be built there, the list is here:

        https://library.municode.com/HTML/12110/level3/PTIIICOOR_APXAZO_ARTVIIDIRE.html#PTIIICOOR_APXAZO_ARTVIIDIRE_S7.9GEBUDI

        So yes, public meetings about zoning sound boring and throw around terms like C-2, R-60, and UDO, but they are processes that significantly define future construction in the city.

        1. Thanks to all of you. That information is very helpful. Hopefully the message is getting out because there are a LOT of misinformed people around.

  4. Where is Nelliebelle? Did she change her screen name or just lose interest in posting?

  5. I’m hoping that some powers that be can chime in on this conversation.
    I am about to pull my hair out regarding a lack of recycling bins in this -most progressive city in the state-
    I suspect that the issue is not the obtaining of receptacles but rather the disposal of contents. Thoughts on how to achieve more recycling containers? Obstacles? Who to approach? Who might already be working on this issue?

    1. A few months ago, I contacted Latham about a free replacement (not the 95-gallon size) for my worn out green recycling bin. They delivered it within a couple of weeks. I think they can also give you a 2nd bin, if you ask.

    2. The Environmental Sustainability Board has been working with the city for a while on increasing the number of public recycling containers. Stay tuned for progress on this very soon.

      In the meantime, if you have specific suggestions/questions, you can contact Lena Stevens at the city. Her contact info should be on the city website.

  6. I love the 95-gallon cart I purchased when I moved here. I followed the instructions from the CoD recycling website: “Residents have access to free 18-gallon recycling bins (standard green bins) through the City’s contract with Latham Home Sanitation. If your current bin is damaged, you may also request a replacement. To request a bin call (678) 858-5407. For those customers who prefer a larger container, 95-gallon blue carts may be purchased upon request from Latham Home Sanitation for $68.00. These carts will hold nearly five and a half times that of a regular recycling bin. These carts may also now be purchased at the Intown Ace Hardware store on Scott Boulevard. Prices vary.”

    1. Thank you for this!! Our city bin cracked and broke a few months ago. I have looked and looked but can’t find where I can buy bins – I only found the giant wheeled containers at Intown Ace. My husband stopped by Public Works to see about picking up a bin (which is what we did when we moved here years ago) and was only told “We don’t give them out here any more.” He wasn’t told to contact Latham. So he will be happy to know how he can get a replacement bin.

      1. When the duct tape on our beat-up Decatur recycling bins began to fall apart we simply bought a couple of larger generic plastic bins. No logo, and they are a grayish blue. We fill ’em up and the recycling truck empties them out every week, no problem. (But now we have the problem of how to dispose of the old bins.)

        1. Don eye protection and bust them into pieces (demolition is FUN) and place in new recycling bins. Or find somebody who can re-purpose them somehow. (A few years ago, I gave a bunch of kitty litter buckets to someone who lived on a lake and was going to use them for feeding stations to get fish stocks established.)

  7. Today is the last day to submit comments on the UDO/Unified Development Ordinance draft. After comments are taken into account from this first feedback gathering period, another draft of the UDO will be shared with residents for comment. Don’t wait until then- get your comments in now. Go to the City website, look under the Spotlight column to the right for the UDO info.

    1. Your presumption is that comments would affect the outcome. That presumption is arguable at best.

      To the extent that comments support the favored outcome from the rulers, the comments will be used to justify the outcome.

      To the extent that they don’t, they will be ignored and/or scorned – see the Tree Ordinance.

      1. This has crossed my mind, but I’m hopeful the commissioners don’t want a repeat of the public feeing ignored again…

        1. I think the commissioners want us to feel defeated and just shut the hell up. Pretty much describes where I am, at least until election time.

  8. Watching the TV images of local police in Ferguson MO decked out with military gear, sniper weapons and armored vehicles — all supplied by the Dept. of Homeland Security in reaction to 9/11. Does anyone know if Decatur’s finest is similarly equipped?

    Or, if we had local unrest would our streets be overtaken by Atlanta/Dekalb SWAT teams?

    1. I know from COD presentations that we have definitely received some emergency preparedness funding but I think it’s been more disaster-focused than riot-focused. (It’s hard to prepare for a stroller rebellion.)

    2. I had exactly this question and even thought earlier that this would a forum for asking. Perhaps we could turn “Touch a Truck” into “Touch a Tank* “? Actually it might be more like “Don’t touch the tank, just keep your hands where we can see them and back away slowly.”

      *Yes, more like a Bearcat or MRAP but ‘tank’ sounded better.

    3. Decatur PD contracts with DeKalb for things that are only occasionally needed and would be too expensive to maintain themselves, like K9, helicopter, SWAT, etc.
      BTW, Decatur’s approach is so low-key that Decatur doesn’t have Tasers, either.

    4. There is a great youtube video out there that shows the police recruiting videos of two municipalities – one is Decatur, one is Huntington Beach, CA.
      The Decatur video is how we are a community-focused, cooperative police force that is very inclusive.
      The HB video is…like a SWAT team recruitment. Lots of jacked up white guys yelling, busting down doors, and drawing Homeland Security type weaponry.

      The contrast is amazing, and makes me glad I live in Decatur.

  9. I have a question for all the code experts. I was thrilled to see the new signs marking Clean Air Zones on the Square. The signs say that smoking is prohibited outside and around Decatur’s outdoor dining facilities. Saw a guy leaning up against one of them, smoking, but that is another matter. My questions are: 1.) does this code apply outside the area where the signs are posted at all outdoor dining areas? People smoke outside and near the patio at Victory, for example. But there are no Clean Air Zone signs on the sidewalk expressly prohibiting it. Same with Sapori. People smoke just outside of the Leon’s patio, and on the bocce court. 2.) And how far away is “outside and around” an outdoor dining area? 3.) Do the picnic tables on the MARTA plaza count as “outdoor dining areas”? 4.) Who is charged with enforcing? Thanks, y’all!

      1. Look at it this way – it’ll convince everyone to convert to eCigs and that’ll boost sales at Terrapin Station. So you’re really just supporting local business with this move.

        (eCigs are possibly more obnoxious, in that while it doesn’t smell as bad, the vapor looks like your lung just blew a head gasket.)

  10. Tonight is the first Decatur High School football scrimmage. Scrimmage begins at 7:30 pm and all tickets are $5. Would love to have a crowd come out and support our students! Band will be marching at half-time too.

  11. What steps must I take to get tree trimmings picked up by CoD? I took down a small tree (maybe 7″ in diameter at its largest point), hacked it up into pieces less that 4′ in length and made as neat a stack as I could by the curb. It has been ignored for over a week. Couldn’t find applicable info on the city sanitation pages.

    1. It is my understanding that yard trimmings will only be collected when placed in biodegradable (usually paper) yard bags. This will happen on your usual trash and recycling collection day. As a matter of fact, I took down a tree of similar size last week, processed it similarly, but placed all of it in yard bags and it was taken Tuesday morning.

      1. You can also bundle the trimmings, and I think 4′ is the max length. But, if it isn’t bagged or bundled, they will not pick it up unless you pay a $50 fee.

      2. You can also use yard cans– whatever way you end up batching it, keep it at 50 lbs max. (Yep, it’s 4′ or under.)

        And may I just say, the yard waste collection team ROCKS!! It takes a whole lotta muscle to process all the trimmings we put out there, and they do it quickly, tidily, and always with a pleasant attitude.

    2. You just need to bundle them so they are easy to pick up. If they don’t take them at that point, call the city and they will make sure someone comes out to get them.

    3. I hope your 7″ diameter at the largest point was at the root collar and not at breast height – if the latter, I hope you had a permit as any tree 6″ or greater in diameter within the city limits only looks like it is yours. It is actually a City of Decatur tree that requires, at a minimum the on-line filing of a “Tree Removal Permit Application” before removal under penalty of a fine and mandatory replacement and protection in perpetuity of the offending weed.

      No kidding.

      1. As much as the tree ordinance frustrates me, the above is not correct. Each homeowner can take down up to 3 protected trees in an 18 month period without obtaining a tree removal permit. However, it is requested that a tree information permit be submitted for any tree removal of protected trees, even if a removal permit was not required. Protected trees include those that are 6″ in diameter at breast height.
        Kevin, I don’t blame you for the misinterpretation- the tree ordinance is very poorly drafted. It would be great if it could be cleaned up/made more clear during the UDO drafting process.

        1. Thanks Macrolina, though I am not looking at it now to be dead certain, I believe you are mistaken.

          The (3) tree removal permits ARE free but they ARE NOT voluntary and there is a healthy penalty for not notifying the CIty in advance of causing a boo boo to a piece of vegetation that they have made their own.

          1. If tree removal is not being done in conjunction with construction or land disturbance, a homeowner can take down up to three trees per 18 month period for whatever reason. You are expected to file for an information permit but they are free and are not conditional.

            I don’t recall seeing any penalties associated with not filing for one but don’t know for certain.

          2. Note that there are 2 different kinds of tree permits- 1) tree removal permits (required, subject to the penalties) and 2) tree information permit, which is free, informational in nature and not required prior to removal of the 3 removable protected trees in an 18 month period – for the info permits, the city just wants homeowners to submit the info after the fact so as to better track canopy.

            1. The Tree Information Permit is required, not optional. “Section 86-84. A tree information permit SHALL BE FILED with the City to track the reasons for the tree removal, the amount of tree canopy removed and a plan for replanting if applicable. No recompense or replanting is required if only 3 trees are removed within the 18 month period.” Furthermore, if the trees are dead or hazardous, you must hire an arborist to certify they are dead.

              “Section 86-96 Violations and Penalties. Any person guilty of a violation of this tree ordinance shall be punished as provided in section 1-12 of the Code of Ordinances. In addition to such penalties or in lieu thereof, the Municipal Court may require mitigation in the form of tree replacement or payments to the tree bank for replacement tree canopy cover.”

                1. Thanks guys- I should have gone back and double checked before posting- I was focused on the difference between the info permits and the removal permits, as a lot of people don’t understand that yet (but not you!).

  12. The Oakhurst Community Choir will hold the first rehearsal of its fall 2014 session on Wednesday September 3rd at The Solarium, 321 West Hill St from 7pm-8.30pm, and all adults and teens are invited to come and join us. We are a very informal, welcoming group – there is no audition, and no experience of choral singing is necessary. Like all choirs, we find it easier to recruit high voices than low ones – so guys are especially encouraged to turn out and give it a go!

    Rehearsals will be held every Wednesday at 7pm, and this semester we will be learning a selection of traditional Christmas carols and other fun holiday songs to be performed a cappella at the tree lighting in Oakhurst Village in December. The choir is led by Holly Scarborough, music teacher and Decatur resident.

    The membership fee is $50 for the 12-week session, which includes all your sheet music. To register, or if you have any questions, please email [email protected]. The deadline to join the bulk music order is Friday August 22nd.

    Hope to see you at rehearsal!

    Alice Reeves
    Administrative Director, Oakhurst Community Choir

  13. Of the 40 or so people at the Decatur High expansion meeting last night, I noticed at least 3 Board members and the Superintendent. Their presence at the beginning of this process was much appreciated.

  14. Does anyone know where I can get custom cut glass for picture framing in Decatur? I know about Lowes, Home Depot and Michael’s but I was hoping for a more local option. Thanks

    1. Dixie Glasshoppers on East Ponce, just outside the city limits I believe, are the guys you need to see.

  15. TECH QUESTION

    Finally went back to MS Office yesterday, upon discovering how very reasonable the subscription price is now. (Apache Open Office became too painful to use collaborating w/ a client who’s all in with MS Word and has very complex and rigid style requirements.)

    Now seeking advice on optimizing email, contacts and calendar across a Win 8.1 notebook and an Android phone. Email accounts include Gmail, Mindspring, and an IMAP account through my website host. Have been using Thunderbird for the non-Google email, and Google for contacts and calendar. Would love to get everything back on one platform. Can that be done with Outlook these days?

  16. An accident on North Decatur has seriously backed up traffic between Clairemont and Scott Blvd. Take an alternate if you can!

    1. That accident was me and my son on our way home from Clairemont Elementary.

      Please watch your speed on N Decatur, neighbors. I know it’s tempting to go fast through there, but the minivan that ran the red at Superior and rolled our Forester, sending us skidding for several meters was going way too fast and paying way too little attention.

      Shout out to COD’s finest for their incredibly quick response time and to the neighbors who helped my son out of the back of the car while I crawled through the sunroof.

        1. Thanks Deb.

          It was incredibly frightening, but we are feeling very fortunate to have walked away with only cuts and bruises. It could have been SO MUCH worse.

  17. If anyone is in the market for a Big Green Egg….as a reminder, the annual Eggtoberfest is coming up on October 11. They sell demo eggs from this event that have been used once and come with a number of accessories. I found the price to be several hundred dollars less than buying new. It also comes with the lifetime warrantly which I was suprirsed to find is void if you don’t buy from an authorized dealer- so beware from Sam’s, Costco, etc. The demo eggs can be purchased on the BGE website in advance only.

    1. I had no idea the warranty was void if you bought them from anywhere but a dealer. Just two weeks ago they had a big display of them, with salespersons, at Costco in Brookhaven.

        1. Not so. It wasn’t necessarily a BGE rep. If you’re buying from anyone but an authorized dealer and they claim it warranteed, get that in WRITING and/or check with BGE HQ! And then register it immediately on the website after you buy it!

          To be fair, if it’s warranteed, BGE is awesome about replacing anything that ever breaks. And the mothership is just a few miles down the road in Tucker.

          1. my husband got one as a gift from his dad years ago so we don’t know where it was purchased and didn’t have any paperwork. He noticed a crack forming in the bottom and the guy out at the Tucker Egg store told him to just come up and pick up a replacement. Seriously good customer service! (As it should be for the price…)

    2. Big Green Egg? Now this is something I could talk on and on and on about! The demo Eggs are a great deal. If you’ve been waiting to buy an Egg, that’s the way to go. Different ACE Hardware stores have different deals at different times as well. The best bet is to get a package with the nest and a few other eggcessories. Of course, the best accessory you can have is a friend who has an Egg and can walk you through the basics before you blow the gasket or burn off all your arm and facial hair…

      1. Costco has “in-store” events that are staffed by the manufacturer or local distributor. They take a cut, but they are not involved with actually transacting the sale. My company has been approached to do this sort of thing, so my guess is that a sale would be made from an authorized dealer they have invited in.

  18. I would just like to take a moment an bask in the satisfaction of having prevailed. It took multiple calls over multiple weeks, but it turns out that AT&T’s greed and sneakiness are not quite a match for my stubbornness. All bogus charges have been adjusted.

  19. JOIN US: Cub Scout Pack 175, Ice Cream Social THIS Sunday @ 3PM @ Glennwood Elementary

    As school starts, the scouting season is not far behind. If your son is in first through fifth grade and one or both of you are remotely interested in scouting, this event is for you! Bring the family to join the fun and learn all about what scouting and Pack 175 has to offer the boys and their families. Cub Scouting is most definitely a family adventure and everyone is invited to participate, including sisters and brothers. Pack 175 draws scouts mostly from Winnona Park and Oakhurst, although we also have scouts from Glennwood, Clairemont, and the Museum School, among others. Each den is aligned by grade. The first graders are Tigers, second graders are Wolves, third graders are Bears and fourth and fifth graders are Webelos.

    In addition to ice cream and information, there will games, songs, awards, and welcome packets. Ice cream and game playing is thirsty work. Please bring a water bottle or canteen along. To learn more about our pack, go to http://www.pack175decatur.com or email our [email protected].

  20. New favorite flavor at Butter and Cream now that peach is out of season : Island Rum Coconut–incredibly refreshing and cool on a hot summer day, not heavy and cloying like some coconut desserts. I almost imagined a little paper drink umbrella in my cone!

  21. At a glance, the destination signs on newer #86 buses on Second Avenue look like they say “Breast Lake Station”.

  22. I’m having major problems getting across Georgia State Route 155 (S. Candler St.) @ E. Dougherty St/Winnona Dr since the repaving.

    What can a citizen do to get the crosswalk repainted besides putting in a request? (at dot.ga.gov/misc/Pages/ContactUs.aspx)

    Any other ideas?

    1. They have not repainted the crosswalks at S.Candler and Kirk either. I don’t know who to contact, but when I asked about this to a family member in the construction business he told me those things are staged and sometimes take a while. I don’t know what a reasonable time to wait is, but with school in session and many students using those crossings it would be nice to know who can speed things up!

      1. Second Avenue south of Glenwood was repaved about ten days ago and has not yet been re-striped. On top of that it seems to have become a drag strip for ATVs and crotch rockets.

  23. Just a quick note of “thanks” to Michael Vajda and all the volunteers, performers, vendors, etc. who put on a great BBQ Blues & Bluegrass Festival yesterday.

    Great job! Thank you all for making it another special weekend in Oakhurst!

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