Voice – Winter 2001

Download as PDF (4.0 MB)

- Make holiday shopping fun in the Highlands
- Defining Virginia-Highland: urban, village, or urban village – by Chip Gallagher
- Think globally, shop locally, by Conne Ward-Cameron
- Help keep our neighborhood green, by Kevin Cronin
- Message from the President, Steven Kushner
- Ask Officer Dave
- PEDS, by billie joe
- Pushpush Theater, by Jenn Ballentine and Krista Miller
- Great gardening tips and ideas from the Highland Ho-er, by John Wolfinger
- Trees Atlanta, by billie joe
- Insert: A nostalgic history of John Howell Park by Tinka Green

Neighborhood Mayoral Forum

The Alliance for Intown Neighbors presents a Mayoral Forum focusing on neighborhood concerns featuring candidates Gloria Bromell-Tinubu, Shirley Franklin, and Robb Pitts. Moderated by Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Constitution.
Inman Middle School Auditorium at the corner of Virginia and Park Drive
Wednesday, September 19, 7:30-9:00 pm
The public is welcome!

2001 Annual Meeting

The Virginia Highland Civic Association held its Annual Meeting on September 5, 2001. The most important agenda items for this meeting have typically been the election of a New Board of Directors, recognizing contributions to the neighborhood and grants from the Civic Association to the various institutions and groups that help make our neighborhood a great place to live, shop and dine out.

Community Service Awards
Stephanie Coffin for her contributions and efforts to protect and preserve our neighborhood’s green spaces

Betty Baumann for creating the donation boxes for the entrances to Summerfest that resulted in donations to the neighborhood of over $1,000.

Kathy Barkley for her efforts in making the Summerfest Artist Market a wonderful success this year, and in the past

Chris Clark, our Summerfest Security Chief, for keeping the peace and maintaining order during what is always a hectic week. Chris and his crew successfully thwarted several thefts from artists and were instrumental in making key arrests of the perpetrators.

Each recipient of a Community Service Award was given a Gift Certificate to La Tavola Trattoria, which were graciously donated by its management company, The Fifth Group.

Grants by the Civic Association

  Atlanta Fire Department, Station 19 $    500
Trees Atlanta $ 1,500
PEDS $    500
Ponce de Leon Branch Library $ 2,000
Morningside Elementary School $ 2,000
Inman Middle School $ 2,000
Grady High School $ 2,000
YWCA, NE Intown Branch $    500
Virginia-Highland Baptist Church $    500
Project Open Hand $ 1,000
Council of Intown Schools $ 1,000
John Howell Park $ 3,500

Elections

The term for the new Board is October 1, 2001, to September 30, 2002. The list of candidates was as follows:

Betty Baumann*, Erin Chance*, Stephanie Coffin, Winnie Currie*, Patrick Flinn, Chip Gallagher*, Louise Glancy, Linda Guthrie, Mike Hastings, Jean Jordan, Steve Kushner*, Seth Lynn, Steve Luben, Kris Reinhard, Debbie Skopczynski* and Wiley Sommerville*

(*incumbent). Two Board members, Ruthie Penn-David and Ben Barkley, the Civic Association’s President and Vice-President for the past two years, chose not to run for re-election.

Prior to the election, the issue of whether voting by proxy was permissible was addressed to the Board. During a Board meeting, the consensus from a review of the Civic Association’s By-Laws and the Georgia Non-Profit Corporations Code was that proxies were permissible. The issue was discussed at length at the Annual Meeting, and conducting the elections with proxies was challenged. A motion was made from the floor to continue the meeting, which passed by a large majority of the members present.

The breakdown of votes, including votes by proxy, is listed below. The use of proxies had no impact on the election.

Nominee Votes in Person Votes by Proxy Total
Chip Gallagher 89 193 282
Seth Lynn 86 185 271
Wiley Sommerville 85 192 277
Kris Reinhard 83 186 269
Steve Kushner 81 177 258
Steve Luben 76 178 254
Louise Glancy 72 202 274
Jean Jordan 70 162 232
Kevin Cronin 68 137 205
Dave Ferguson 54 82 136
Stephanie Coffin 53 63 116
Patrick Flinn 50 44 94
Linda Guthrie 43 53 96
Betty Baumann 42 48 90
Winnie Currie 38 57 95
Erin Chance 33 60 93
Debbie Skopczynski 32 34 66
Mike Hastings 24 30 54

In addition to these elected members of the Board of Directors, two members are appointed, one each by the Atkins Park Neighborhood Association and the St. Charles/Greenwood Neighborhood Association. These appointed members are Conne Ward-Cameron for Atkins Park and John Craft for St. Charles/Greenwood.

The Civic Association’s new Board is as follows:

The following people were elected/re-elected to the Board of Directors:

Chip Gallagher
Seth Lynn
Wiley Sommerville
Kris Reinhard
Steve Kushner
Steve Luben
Louise Glancy
Jean Jordan
Kevin Cronin
Conne Ward-Cameron (Atkins Park)
John Craft (St. Charles/Greenwood)
Dave Ferguson (Alternate)

Officers

The new Board and a few members of the outgoing Board met during the Transitional Meeting required by the By-Laws on September 12. At this meeting, Officers were elected and committees formed. While each committee must include a Board member, committee membership is open to the entire neighborhood and we encourage you to join us on these committees. The new Officers and the initial members of each committee are as follows:

  President Steven Kushner
 
Vice President Steven Luben
 
Treasurer Wiley Sommerville
 
Secretary Louise Glancy
 
Membership Chip Gallagher, Jean Jordan, Kris Reinhard, Seth Lynn
 
Parenting & Education Louise Glancy, Jean Jordan
 
Parks Rob Glancy, David Ferguson, Louise Glancy
 
Public Safety David Ferguson, Steve Luben, Krista Miller, Billie Jo
 
Planning Kevin Cronin, Conne Ward-Cameron, John Craft, Chris Bailey
 
Communications Krista Miller, Seth Lynn, Chip Gallagher, Conne Ward-Cameron, Jean Jordan, Steve Luben
 
Summerfest Chair – Pam Trettle, Co-Chair – Steve Kushner
 
Summerfest Steering Wiley Sommerville, Kris Reinhard, Jana Wolkow, Aaron Gross
 
Summerfest fundraising Chip Gallagher, Jean Jordan

Proxy Voting Available

We have had several inquiries from residents who may be unable to attend the annual meeting whether they may let another resident vote for them at the meeting. Although we hope that residents will make every effort to attend the meeting in person, we recognize that this is not always possible. All residents over 18 years of age who live within the Virginia-Highland neighborhood may appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf in the 2001-2002 Annual Election of VHCA Board of Directors. To appoint a proxy, you must formally appoint an eligible resident who will be in attendance at the VHCA meeting by signing a statement and listing your full name, address, and phone number.

Click here to download a blank proxy statement.

Elections for VHCA Board of Directors will be held on Wednesday, September 5, 2001 at the Inman Middle School Auditorium.

The following is a list of candidates for the Virginia Highland Civic Association 2001 Board of Directors:

Betty Baumann*, Erin Chance*, Stephanie Coffin, Winnie Currie*, Patrick Flinn, Chip Gallagher*, Louise Glancy, Linda Guthrie, Mike Hastings, Jean Jordon, Steve Kushner*, Seth Lynn, Steve Luben, Kris Reinhard, Debbie Skopczynski*, Wiley Sommerville*

* indicates incumbent

Betty Baumann, Secretary,
Virginia-Highland Civic Association

Brookridge Tree Petition

UPDATE, 7.3.01

Joan Walters wrote a letter on 6/28 to Susan Miller thanking her for her responsiveness to many neighbor’ concerns about saving trees on 817 and 821 Brookridge and asking for clarification regarding her proposed changes to her tree plan for 821. It was unclear whether Ms. Miller had made any changes to the tree plan for 817 and Ms. Miller has not responded to several phone calls. Then on Friday 6/29, a FOR SALE sign was posted on the 817 Brookridge lot. Apparently Ms. Miller is asking $275,000 for that lot or $550,000 for both lots but she does not want to sell 821 separately.

On 6/30 the City installed sewer lines for both lots.

On 7/2, Frank Mobley, the Senior Arborist told Joan Walters that Susan Miller has not resubmitted a revised tree plan yet. If she does, the plan will be posted again and neighbors could review the changes to see if they are satisfied. At that point, a decision would be made about whether to go forward with an appeal or not.

Of course, the best outcome would be if the lots could be purchased and continue to be used as the greenspace that so many people have enjoyed for years, but that would be a big undertaking. We will continue to explore the options and keep everyone updated.

UPDATE, 6.21.01

Thanks to everyone who signed the Brookridge petition both online and off and wrote letters to Susan Miller, the developer. On 6/19/01, the day before the hearing of the appeal was scheduled, Ms. Miller asked the Tree Conservation Commission to cancel the appeal hearing because she was working to revise plans and would resubmit them to the City at a later date. We thank everyone who came to the hearing on 6/20/01; we were unable to notify everyone regarding the last minute cancellation and apologize for any inconvenience.

On 6/21/01, Joan Walters received a letter from Ms. Miller which responded to the concerns which had been raised by neighbors at a meeting with her on 6/8/01. In part, her letter reads: “I have revised my plans for 821 Brookridge Drive to address your concerns about trees. My revised plans result in saving all trees in the rear set back area, particularly the large water oak that everyone has been so concerned about and saving an additional tree in the front set back area. The changes have substantially reduced or I should say eliminated any meaningful backyard for the proposed houses. This for me, is a major compromise in an effort to address your concerns and move forward.”

We are in the process of trying to get more details from Ms. Miller, as well as a copy of her revised plans to review in order to understand more fully the specifics of her proposal. For example, the letter only addresses one lot: 821 Brookridge (the lot on the left); and says nothing about 817 Brookridge (the lot on the right). We will continue to keep everyone posted regarding developments.

TREES IN PERIL

The Virginia Highland Board of Directors has voted to support the appeal to the Tree Conservation Commission filed by neighbors on April 30, 2001, for property at 817 & 821 Brookridge Drive. The following is being posted on behalf of those neighbors filing the appeal:

The appeal regarding the clear cutting of the two lots has been scheduled for a hearing before the Tree Conservation Commission. It will be held at 6:00 pm on Wednesday June 20, 2001, in Committee Room 2, Second Floor, Atlanta City Hall (downtown) 55 Trinity Street, SW, Atlanta. The appeal is supported by the Virginia Highland Board of Directors as well as by Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) F. Attend the hearing if you can. Numbers can make a difference in showing a broad base of support.

Several neighbors have met with Susan Miller, the developer of the lots at 817 and 821 Brookridge Drive (overlooking Orme Park), who plans to build two 3,600 to 3,800 square foot houses. We do not dispute her right to build these houses, if they meet City Code, or her right to remove trees in the footprint of the buildings. However she is planning such extensive grading that she says it is impossible to save any trees. We believe that it is possible to modify the plans so that there is less extensive grading which would allow some trees, particularly those close to the rear and side property line, to be saved. As of 6/13/01, Susan Miller has not indicated any willingness to look at alternatives.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Fill out the petition below.

Write Susan Miller immediately and express your opinion about her removing all of the trees. Then fax or (e)mail a copy of your letter to Joan Walters who filed the appeal:

Ms. Susan Miller
1785 Johnson Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30306

cc: Joan Walters
677 Elkmont Drive, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306
fax: 404-872-5015

Attend the hearing of this appeal at 6:00 PM, Wednesday, June 20, 2001 in committee Room 2, Second Floor, Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Street, SW [downtown].

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please call Joan Walters at 404-872-5649 or Stephanie Coffin (who is co-chair of the VaHi Civic Association Parks Committee) at 404-874-0523 if you have any questions or ideas regarding this situation.
Check this page for updates: www.vahi.org/brookridge
Read the Tree Protection Ordinance online at the city of atlanta website: www.ci.atlanta.ga.us

PETITION:

“I feel that every effort should be made to protect the trees at 817 and 821 Brookridge Drive. I oppose the planned clear cutting of these lots and urge Susan Miller to work with the community to save as many trees as possible.”

Name:

Email:

Phone:

Comments * :

* We are seeking volunteers interested in contributing their talents / expertise / time toward this effort. If you have construction, legal, architectural, earth / environmental sciences experience – we need you. Please make a note in the comments field above. Thank you.

Voice – Fall 2001

Download PDF (981 kB)

  • Jules Burt, artist and creator of artwork for Summerfest incl. t-shirts
  • Planning update by Betty Baumann and Winnie Currie: Eats ‘n’ Sweets location, 830 Ponce (case to save the trees was lost)
  • PEDS
  • Summerfest 2001 was success
  • Park and tree news: GA Power line clearance, 817/821 Brookridge trees, Final defeat at 830 Ponce
  • Overview of VHCA committees

Lawsuit Dropped Against VHCA Board Member

As previously reported, VHCA Board Member and Planning Committee co-Chair Winnie Currie was sued in December 1999 in Fulton County Superior Court by various owners of The Dark Horse Tavern, Neighbor’s Pub and the Urban Market, including Douglas F. Landau. The lawsuit claimed that Ms. Currie made “false and disparaging statements about Mr. Landau and/or Mr. Landau’s Companies” that constituted libel and slander when she sent letters to the City of Atlanta police and zoning officials questioning compliance with the city’s alcoholic beverage and zoning ordinances. The lawsuit sought an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, costs and attorneys fees. The VHCA has fully supported Winnie and has paid a portion of her legal fees to help defend her against these unfounded claims, and Winnie convinced her homeowners insurer to absorb the balance of the costs. A copy of the complaint is on the VHCA website at http://www.vahi.org/about.htm .

Winnie Currie has raised a family of five and lived in Virginia-Highland since 1969 and she has been a board member of the VHCA since 1993. For years, Winnie has served as the VHCA’s watchdog for parking and zoning issues, and has served the neighborhood very well to help balance the interests of the commercial establishments we enjoy against the quality of life we demand in our neighborhood. Winnie was instrumental in protecting the neighborhood against the Cotton Club, the Colgate Mattress Company Warehouse mega entertainment complex on Ponce Place, and in pressuring the City to enforce City ordinances applicable to the building formerly known as “the Alley” on North Highland. She has also represented the neighborhood’s interests in countless other zoning, parking and alcohol license issues that don’t make the headlines but have a direct impact on our quality of life. As a result of her efforts, she is not always popular with commercial establishments in the neighborhood. Restaurant and bar owners have occasionally sought to quiet her to avoid questions about their compliance with parking and zoning requirements that cost them money but protect our quality of life.

In November 2000, Winnie’s homeowner insurance carrier, which has footed a significant portion of Winnie’s legal expenses, informed Winnie that it had agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying $20,000 to the plaintiffs. Although Winnie and the VHCA feel that Winnie would have been fully vindicated in a trial, the legal costs of continuing the case were too burdensome to our limited budget and to her insurance carrier’s willingness to proceed. In the settlement, Winnie admitted no guilt and did not release the plaintiff’s from her claims that the suit violates the Georgia anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) laws. Over the past year, the VHCA paid $18,496 to Winnie’s lawyers to defend her case. The plaintiff’s are believed to have spent almost $100,000 pursuing their claims against Winnie.

The VHCA continues to maintain that the lawsuit against Winnie Currie was frivolous and unfounded and is proud to have supported a tireless neighborhood watchdog against a well-funded bar owner. We encourage you to share your thoughts on this case with us at any neighborhood meeting (7:30 pm, first Wednesday of every month at the Ponce Library) or by e-mail to feedback@vahi.org. We will also continue to accept donations to the VHCA to help recover the funds spent to defend against this case.

Thank you for your continued support.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association
VHCA
www.vahi.org

PEDS Walk In Virginia-Highland – March 22

There will be a very important PEDS walk on Thursday, March 22 from 3:00-5:30 p.m.in the neighborhood.

Seven neighborhoods are participating during this time — it will be a very large event. Please meet in the CVS parking lot promptly at 3:00 p.m. to secure your signs and assignments. We are crossing 27 crosswalks en masse from Ponce de Leon to Los Angeles along Highland in an effort to slow traffic and make drivers aware of the crosswalks in the neighborhood. Please join us!

Volunteers are needed to make signs for the event. If you can help, please come to the PEDS office at 1447 Peachtree Street, Suite 801 on Saturday, March 17 at 10 a.m. Free underground parking is available. Please contact me if questions.

Thank You!
billie jo, Safety Chair catladybilliejo@mindspring.com

Good news! re: 830 Ponce

In the bond hearing on Friday, January 26, Judge Long ruled in the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s (VHCA) favor concerning the development of the property at 830 Ponce de Leon. After statements from both parties and testimony from the developer, she ruled that she would NOT require the VHCA to post a bond while there is a stay on the property and the VHCA appeals. The VHCA’s appeal has been transferred from the Georgia Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals. It has not been docketed yet, and there is still a stay preventing construction on the property pending the appeal hearing. We will keep you posted on further developments. Thank you to those of you who attended the hearing.