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Dunwoody approves ethics ordinance, gets Project Renaissance update
by Noreen Cochran
ncochran@neighbornewspapers.com
April 02, 2013 12:26 AM | 1187 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dunwoody residents can feel free to submit their ethics complaints beginning April 15, the date the moratorium will be lifted now that the city council approved revisions to its ethics law.

The city council spent more than 90 minutes Monday night on the changes, which followed an orderly procedure in vast contrast to the outbursts of its previous attempt two weeks ago.

City Councilwoman Adrian Bonser presented several key points, although still maintaining that her earlier plan to have a committee review the changes first would have been more efficient.

"The committee would have saved time," she said.

Bonser went on to say the second read went much better than the first.

"This time is so much better. Other cities might want to use this," she said, holding a copy of the amended law.

Bonser disagreed with a 4-3 decision in which Mayor Mike Davis cast the deciding vote when the city council will vote on the ethics board's findings.

"I'm disappointed," she said, referring to 2012 ethics charges.

Changes include training for ethics board members and three-year, instead of two-year, terms.

As under the old ordinance, ethics board members will not be allowed to question witnesses. That job will be reserved for the hearing officer.

"We want to make the process shorter, not longer," said City Councilman Doug Thompson, an attorney. "I don't want them playing lawyer."

Hearing officers will not live or work in city limits.

They also clarified the office of the city clerk will keep records in the event the actual person in the position of city clerk is the subject of an ethics complaint.

The city coucil also tightened up the process to expedite complaints.

And complaints will no longer be able to be sent by email, only personal service, overnight delivery or certified mail.

During a public comment section, which Bonser reminded the council to hold, resident Robert Wolford said the council was doing "an outstanding job."

"You're doing a good job to right that ship," he said about a battle between Bonser, Davis and City Councilman John Heneghan.

But Tony Delmichi said the public "will not trust any self-regulating rewrite by city council."

In other actions, the board heard from City Manager Warren Hutmacher regarding progress on Project Renaissance, which is a park and residence project on North Shallowford Road, at one of the city's gateways.

A ground-breaking ceremony will be April 17 at 10 a.m., although its actual construction date will begin before that.

"Early next week, they'll be moving dirt," Hutmacher said about Georgia Development Partners.

Hutmacher said John Wieland Homes has applied for permits for the residences that will bring the city $600,000 in revenue when sold.

Bonser asked if the sale of the builder to avoid bankruptcy has an effect on the project.

"They're in a stronger position than ever," Hutmacher replied. "It's a great partnership."
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