DUNWOODY, Ga. — Work has resumed at Dunwoody High School two days after the city ordered construction halted until the school district obtained a land disturbance permit.
The city ordered the district to cease work on installing new trailers at Dunwoody High School on July 8.
The stop work order lasted until documents were approved by Dunwoody Director of Community Development Richard McLeod on July 10. Workers had also removed trees in the area, McLeod said, which was also a violation of the permit.
The trailers were placed at Dunwoody High School July 1-5, according to a statement from DeKalb Schools.
The stop work order was not on the agenda for the July 8 City Council meeting, but officials discussed the matter near the end of the meeting.
Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said it was clear the school board ignored a normal course of action for building trailers, which is to receive a land disturbance permit from the city.
“They’ve broken every rule they could practically,” Deutsch said. “They’re totally abusing this power.”
The city can exercise authority in two areas regarding school property: fire safety and sedimentation control, City Attorney Bill Riley said.
Two years ago, the city entered a memorandum of understanding with the school board giving Dunwoody permit control of these two areas, but the state Board of Education still has enforcement control that supersedes the city, Riley said. For example, the city could modify or approve the school’s site plan, but could not enforce what kind of heating or air conditioning that students would have, he said.
The board did eventually comply and received a land disturbance permit, but the council was still unhappy that trailers were being brought in at all, including one that was on a sidewalk until McLeod asked for it to be moved.
“I don’t care if they put them up right or not, nobody really likes them,” Mayor Denis Shortal said. “That is not something that we can control as far as them putting in trailers… There needs to be a long-term plan to plan for the student growth in this area, not just in Dunwoody but this northern metropolitan area as it pertains to DeKalb.”
Dunwoody has not yet heard a long term plan to deal with an increased student population at Dunwoody High School, Shortal said. As DeKalb adds trailers to accommodate new students, there is still only one sports field for more than 2,000 students this fall.
Deutsch said she wanted to do more to ensure the city has more control over site plans in the future. She asked Riley to make sure they could see a representative from the state school board soon.
Councilman Tom Lambert agreed.
“Sitting on the sidelines hasn’t been effective,” Lambert said. “We need to up our game.”