Meet the Candidates for District 3, Melissa Mular
Posted on Oct 25th, 2021
You see the yards signs, but let's hear what the candidates running for District 3 have to say about the issues of Riverside neighbors!
Candidate: Melissa Mular
photo provided by Melissa Mular
Safety on our surface streets is a major concern for residents. How will you respond to the growing and unique safety issues specific to our area, including the rise of golf cart traffic on city streets and speeding on Riverside Drive?
While walking the neighborhoods during campaigning, I observed the usage of golf carts in two instances and it caught me by surprise. One instance was at the busy intersection near the Abernathy Arts Center and the other one was on the streets of the Rivershore Estates neighborhood.
Curious about what I saw, I set out to learn about ordinances governing golf carts at the state and city levels.
The State of Georgia has Official Code governing the requirements and usage of golf carts and low speed vehicles and sets forth the power of cities to enact ordinances. The State code governs when a city does not have an ordinance in place. Sandy Springs does not have an ordinance to address the usage of golf carts or “personal transportation vehicles” (PVTs), however other cities do have ordinances in place.
Roswell, Milton, and Peachtree City all have PVT ordinances, with Peachtree City being the most robust and Roswell’s being a potential model for Sandy Springs to consider. The ordinances have vehicle requirements, driver requirements, operational rules, stipulations on where the PVTs can and cannot be driven, and penalties for non-compliance of the ordinance.
The Council and Mayor could have the City Attorney draft an ordinance for their review and approval. It should address the usage of PVTs with the input of the Sandy Springs Police Department, Public Works (roads and safety), and the public as needed to ensure the safety of all residents; pedestrians, drivers and passengers of personal vehicles, MARTA buses, delivery services, trash haulers and anyone or vehicles that has potential to come in contact with a PVT on a public roadway. The creation of a PVT ordinance must be prioritized with the City’s other legal work.
Riverside Drive and River Valley Road are both bad as far as speeders. These roads are high traffic and I do not think that they are candidates for traffic calming, although sidewalks along Riverside would be a safety improvement. Traffic studies and research on strategies successfully used by other cities could be used to propose solutions to improve safety and reduce speeding without increasing the City’s budget.
As the city grows, city infrastructure is at risk of becoming overburdened. What will the mayor’s office/city council do to improve street maintenance, better prepare our streets for winter storms and ensure post-storm clean-up is efficient?
I attended the Council meeting during the Summer where a presentation was made by a consultant on the condition of our roads, with the roads being color coded in typical ‘dashboard’ style fashion (red/yellow/green) for needed maintenance. The report also provided a recommended approach for ongoing maintenance. The City should act on the recommendations and put the plan in place or apply needed updates to their existing plan.
The Public Works department should already have a Master Infrastructure Plan that includes the maintenance for the roads and other infrastructure as well as planning ahead to address the infrastructure improvements needed to support growth of the City over time. If such an infrastructure plan does not exist, a plan should be developed using input sources like the Next Ten Comprehensive Plan from 2017, the Strategic Economic Development Plan from 2020, and the recently updated Transportation Master Plan (TMP) from April 2021. If there is no plan currently, there should be a management system put in place to ensure that there is a maintenance process for maintaining the current infrastructure, complete with proper review and update cycles.
There should be a plan in place to support emergency weather conditions, and if one does not exist, it needs to be created. I would think that the Public Works department has a plan to support inclement weather conditions and has the corresponding staff, equipment, and materials to execute the plan and respond when needed. Steps for monitoring storm conditions and preparation for the response should be included in the plan and the plan should be updated with ‘lessons learned’ after each emergency to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the next response. As with any support plan, there should be a regular review and update cadence of the emergency response plan to keep it both current and executable.
Power outages are a very regular occurrence in District 3. What can city council do – likely in partnership with Georgia Power – to ensure that pruning and maintenance keep outages to a minimum?
Trees and tree management have been of great interest when I have spoken to residents. I have firsthand experience with tree management as the community in which I live has hundreds of mature trees. While serving on our HOA Board we have spent up to $77,000 a year on managing (removal, pruning, fertilizing, planting) the trees in our community alone. Trees need to be properly managed so that they do not pose a danger to power lines, people or property.
The City Arborist can partner with Georgia Power to develop a heat map (visual chart or matrix of ‘hot spot’ problem areas) to document the locations on the power grid most susceptible to service disruption by trees falling/losing limbs. Then the City Arborist, working with GA Power, can evaluate the trees along the identified path, assigning a risk value for the health and powerline encroachment status of the trees, adding to the heat map. A Powerline Tree Management plan can be developed and executed, along with a management system put in place for the ongoing maintenance and update of both the Power Grid/Tree Heat Map and corresponding Powerline Tree Management plan. There must also be communication with homeowners regarding their impacted trees and an agreement reached on the specific actions to be taken for their trees per the Plan. While Georgia Power will trim trees along power lines, it has been my experience that indiscriminate trimming can harm the health of the trees. I encourage homeowners to have their trees properly maintained by tree experts.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions for the Riverside HOA.
To learn more about me and my campaign, please visit the website or Facebook page below, or send me an email with your questions: