Virginia Highland Civic Association Board of Directors Monthly Meeting
7:00 PM; Monday, January 14, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library
CALL TO ORDER
Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM.
The following Board members were present: Jack White, Lola Carlisle, Jenifer Keenan, Arturo Cruz-Tucker, John Becker, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Genny Ferrero, and Lauren Wilkes Fralick; Peggy Berg is teaching class and arrived subsequently, as did Pamela Papner. David Wolfson was absent with notice.
ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Mr. White made and Nicole Foerschler Horn seconded a motion to adopt the agenda attached hereto as Annex A. The motion was approved unanimously.
REPORTS FROM POLICE & FIRE REPRESENTATIVES
Lieutenant Klutzer reported on the crime levels in the neighborhood. He noted that property crimes are the main issue; he touched again on the ‘Clean Car’ campaign. Most vehicle break-ins involve the theft of computers and such, and he explained that a perpetrator will often break into a car that contains a gym bag hoping that it contains valuables. Upon questioning from the audience, he further advised that alarms, dogs, and high exterior visibility discourage home break-ins.
CITY OF ATLANTA OFFICIALS
Atlanta City Council District 6 member Alex Wan reported that he will remain on the Zoning Committee this year, and will also serve on the Finance/Budget committee and Utilities. Tomorrow the City will be voting on the recently revised ‘green infrastructure’ stormwater management ordinance; Mr. Wan complimented the neighborhood as being cited by the Department of Watershed Management for its persistent championing of methods that improve on-site stormwater collection and reduce impervious surfaces.
Mr. Wan also touched on the proposed attempts in the Cheshire Bridge corridor to phase out existing non-coming grandfathered uses. He explained that zoning was changed in 2005, and he believed that eight years has been sufficient time to recover investments. Negotiations about this matter will be ongoing for some time.
At the request of Ms. Horn, Mr. Wan also spoke about the proposed football stadium. The Atlanta Falcons ownership wants a stadium with a retractable dome, partly to assist in the pursuit of future Super Bowl events. A new stadium will require paying off the existing bonds, the approval of the Georgia legislature of the hotel/motel rental tax for construction, and an estimated $200-300M in infrastructure repairs by the City. Mr. Wan opposes the proposal, since the stadium was renovated only a few years ago; he would prefer that the legislature use hotel/motel taxes for other purposes.
An audience member asked about overhead power lines. Mr. Wan noted that it is generally very expensive to bury the lines and that Georgia Power has not been broadly supportive of such efforts.
An audience member questioned whether any attempts had been made to address loitering at Ponce City Market. Mr. Wan explained that the City recently passed a panhandling ordinance, which attempted to more clearly define what constitutes “panhandling” in the City. We are only 60 days into the new bill, and he expects that the APD is “ramping up its ability to deal with it.”
OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS & GUESTS
Piedmont Heights Master Plan. Mr. Bill Seay of Piedmont Heights presented that neighborhood’s Master Plan as part of its outreach to the other communities in NPU-F. He detailed the history of the Piedmont Heights area and how it has evolved to its present state. Experiencing greater traffic with limited ingress and egress points to the community, the Piedmont Heights community viewed the building of the Beltline and its associated changes as an opportunity to address major transportation problems in that community. Their proposed master plan contemplates a number of solutions to improve access and ameliorate traffic on Piedmont and Monroe, including their adoption of the Beltline recommendation to reduce the section of Monroe Drive from Montgomery Ferry to Piedmont from 4 lanes to 3, with separated bike lands and a middle turn lane. Mr. Seay specifically pointed out several potential roundabouts (including one at the intersection of Piedmont and Monroe) that might improve traffic movement. All surrounding neighborhoods have contributed to the revised master plan. After questioning from the audience, Mr. White noted that this plan would not address the segment of Monroe south of Piedmont Heights, and that this Board may want to consider a study that anticipates and addresses the already existing high volumes of traffic in that span, which includes Morningside and Virginia-Highland. He further noted that Mr. Wan supports our efforts to examine what possibilities for traffic studies may occur in the anticipated bond issue.
After thanking Mr. Seay for his presentation, Ms. Ferrero made a motion to express VHCA support of the Piedmont Heights Master Plan at the upcoming NPU meeting, in order that that neighborhood may use it as a basis for future studies and negotiations for improvements. Ms. Berg seconded it, and the motion passed unanimously.
Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon. Danielle Puckerin (firstname.lastname@example.org) spoke on behalf of US Road Sports regarding the upcoming Annual Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon on St. Patrick’s Day. Some road closures will be expected, and such closures will be noted at www.usroadsports.com. Ms. Berg asked Ms. Puckerin to make all road markings for the marathon in washable paint; some prior road races have failed to do. An audience member also suggested that in future years, the marathon could consider using the Beltline to avoid creating a ring around various neighborhoods that substantially impedes traffic flow. Another audience member also suggested that efforts be made to address traffic for safety reasons. Mr. White asked if the clean-up efforts will match those of previous years; Ms. Puckerin assured the group that they will.
VHCA COMMITTEE REPORTS
- Planning – Ms. Carlisle spoke on behalf of the Planning committee with respect to the following item:
- V-12-217; 842 Highland Terrace NE. –Architect Magdalena Bach spoke on behalf of the owner and co-applicant John Vertefeuille, who seek a variance from the zoning regulations to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ to 3’8”. The renovation will involve lifting the roof three feet and will not change the existing footprint of the home. Ms. Carlisle reported that the Planning Committee observed no tree issues or stormwater concerns at its site visit; lot coverage will remain at 15.2%. The Planning Committee requested that the owner plant some additional trees and shrubs at the low area at the rear, above a previously-piped stream; the applicant agreed to do so. The Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval of the application. Ms. Papner explained that the home next door to this site had recently been sold and asked whether this information had been sent to the new owner. The property records have not been updated, but Ms. Papner volunteered to do so and Ms. Bach said she’s be glad to speak to them. Ms. Carlisle moved to approve the variance request and Ms. Horn seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
- New Member of Planning Committee. Karen Feigh, who lives on St. Charles and teaches at George Tech, has volunteered to become a member of the Planning Committee, particularly to assist in its recordkeeping and outreach. Ms. Carlisle made and Ms. Ferrero seconded a motion that Ms. Feigh be appointed to that committee, and it passed unanimously.
Tour of Homes. Arturo Cruz-Tucker reported the financial outcomes of the 2012 Tour of Homes, as follows: Total Ticket Sales: $27,614; Total Sponsor Funds Collected to Date: $13,600, with $1000 still pending; Total Profits: $34,903. It was an outstanding performance by the Tour of Homes Committee, with a record net that exceeded last year’s previous record.
Summerfest. Ms. Papner provided an update on progress for the Summerfest 2013. To that end, she stated that almost all new contracts are in place, and that her committee has already made much progress (nearing $100,000) with respect to sponsorships. In particular, there has been a strong interest expressed with regard to beverage sponsorships for the event. Further, Ms. Papner noted that she has confirmed a media sponsorship with CBS Atlanta, and will be meeting with Creative Loafing to discuss other promotional materials.
- John Howell Park. VHCA has received a $50,000 grant from Park Pride to apply to park improvements. We are in the process of receiving bids from contractors to determine where the work will be done. We are also beginning fundraising efforts to match the funds. Any interested party can go to the VaHi.org website to purchase bricks for John Howell.
- VHCL / New Highland Park. We have received a contract proposal for monthly maintenance at New Highland Park from Evergreen. The maintenance proposal is for $40 per month, and includes cutting, edging, blowing, removing debris. Additionally, benches are now installed at New Highland Park, and only a few incremental planning items remain (all of which will be completed before the grand opening on March 16). Festivities will take place at noon.
- Budget Committee – The 2013 budget will strongly resemble the budget for 2012 and that information will be available online or at the next meeting.
- Safety Committee – Ms. Berg noted that she has been working to recruit street captains to fill the few gaps that exist, and has identified severral good cnadiates. She further noted that she recently had a meeting with FBAC, which has had a change in management, and she hopes to be working with them as time goes on. She also mentioned putting together a packet for new homeowners in the neighborhood. The cost will be approximately $500 per year, and will also address renters. The package will include coupons to businesses in the neighborhood (including some Morningside businesses as well). With regard to the sidewalk project, Ms. Berg reported that the City received a bid to complete the sidewalks at an amount equal to $13 per foot, which is much higher than was anticipated. Ms. Berg has asked the City to obtain a new quote that reflects a more realistic number. Additionally, Ms. Berg noted that the City now has an official sidewalk committee, of which she is a member.
David Rein has resigned as an alternate board member. Several people have expressed interest in replacing him.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 PM.