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Dunwoody settles Adopt-A-Spot lawsuit
by Nicole Dow
December 18, 2012 05:55 PM | 1297 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dunwoody will pay more than $8,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against the city by long-time resident Joe Hirsch regarding the city’s denial of his requests to participate in the Adopt-A-Spot program.

Under the program, the public can adopt designated areas of city right-of-way and must keep the area landscaped and clear of litter in exchange for a sign posted bearing the name of the individual or group.

Hirsch first submitted an Adopt-A-Spot application in April on behalf of a group named “Dunwoody Public Works Director Michael Smith is an $#%@.” He resubmitted the same application in May after the first was denied without reason. He said the reason the city gave him for denying the second application was the program was not to be used for political purposes.

“The city chose to treat my Adopt-A-Spot sign differently than anyone else’s application,” Hirsch said.

He filed a federal court lawsuit against the city claiming infringement upon his rights to freedom of speech. Dunwoody City Council voted last week to approve a settlement agreement.

Hirsch said he is glad the city decided to settle. Public Works Director Michael Smith declined to comment on the matter.

According to the settlement, the city will pay Hirsch $551 and his lawyers $7,500.

“It does say in the settlement … I have to agree to the fact that they’re not acknowledging any wrongdoing,” Hirsch said.

Also as part of the settlement, the city will issue an Adopt-A-Spot permit to Hirsch’s group but the sign will not display the name the group formerly applied under. Instead the sign will bear the name “Reserved for Teacher Parking.” The location will be on Ashford Center Parkway near Ashford Dunwoody Road.

Hirsch said the new name is a nod to a former incident he had with the city a few years ago where he put up personal reserved parking signs by his house and around the city and ended up being fined $500. He explained he put the signs up in response to the city allowing reserved parking signs on his street by Dunwoody High School for teachers and construction workers while the school underwent renovations.

When he asked the public works director why a private construction company was allowed to get reserved parking signs, Hirsch said Smith did not produce any documents explaining how the city could authorize such an action.
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