Longtime VaHi Resident billie jo Passes

in-memoriam-kaarsenMother, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Virginia-Highland Activist

July 31, 1936 – July 7, 2014

By: Jack White, VHCA President

Longtime Virginia-Highland resident billie jo – she spelled her name with all lowercase letters and had legally changed it years ago to just ‘billie jo’ – passed away early this month following a battle with cancer.

billie jo was a neighborhood activist and VHCA board member who tirelessly addressed quality of life issues in the neighborhood, especially along St. Charles and Greenwood avenues. Those streets had a very different look in the 80’s and 90’s than they do today; prostitution and drug dealing were not hard to spot. billie jo confronted the problems both personally – by challenging those engaged – and systematically, by pressuring APD. Today we take crime reporting and police cooperation with neighborhoods for granted; neither was a normal practice when billie jo arrived.  Her unyielding persistence on both issues had a lot to do with changing the culture between law enforcement and Atlanta’s intown communities.

When APD declined to provide statistical reports, billie jo repeatedly visited the Zone 6 offices and demanded to see them; then she compiled reports herself and distributed them to residents. An embarrassed police force finally took over the job and started providing them at VHCA meetings, a practice that is routine today. Inside the community, she rallied and organized residents to pressure mayors and zone commanders for more active and community-oriented policing, themes that also sound quite familiar now but were then new and different. The public safety framework she initiated is reflected throughout today’s approaches.

billie jo’s other passions were art – painting, drawing, and tile mosaics (a love she shared with her friend and fellow VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin and other current practitioners) and parks; billlie jo never met a tree she didn’t love and she fought hard for the city to take its green spaces seriously, a particular challenge as the city slashed its recreational funding in the 1990’s. The civic association recognized her wide-ranging contributions with a presentation at its 2006 annual general meeting.

billie jo had a lot of faith in people and a sense of optimism that did not fade or falter during her illness. That confidence and her own personal warmth ensured that even those with whom she disagreed about policies liked her very much, as we all did.

billie jo (seated) watches while finishing touches are put on Stephanie Coffin's 843 Virginia Circle tile piece.

billie jo (seated) watches while finishing touches are put on Stephanie Coffin’s 843 Virginia Circle tile piece. Photo credit: Tom Coffin.

Stephanie Coffin tells the following story that goes a long way in capturing billie jo’s essence:

“I did a tile piece called Three Sisters for the homeowners at 843 Virginia Circle (so named because of the three sisters who lived there). It was a chilly December day when I went to finish the piece, and I asked BJ if she wanted to come along, which she was thrilled to do. We were served sparkling apple cider in plastic champagne glasses. BJ and the girls absolutely loved being a part of the piece’s “official” installation. BJ was so willing to do anything which is one of the reasons she was so dear to me.”

billie jo will be greatly missed. There will be a more formal remembrance in her honor at John Howell Park this fall.

billie jo’s family provided the following information:

Born to Joe B. and Bertha Mae Scott in Americus, Georgia, billie jo grew up in the Jacksonville, Florida area and graduated from Duncan Fletcher High School in 1954. She went on to attend Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia where she graduated in 1958. At Brenau she held several student government positions in addition to the presidency of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority her senior year. There she met her husband of 18 years, Steven Blihovde of Passaic, New Jersey, an engineering student at Georgia Tech. When he transferred to Clemson University, the two settled in the Greenville area and had two children, Elizabeth Dawn and Steven Erik.

Coming from a long line of educators (her mother taught school with Miss Lillian Carter) billie jo taught elementary school for many years in Clemson and Greenville. Always an advocate for the neglected and underprivileged, she worked passionately and tirelessly for a long list of social and political causes that included Project Head Start, the George McGovern campaign, the Project Hope Drug Abuse Center and the Women’s Stockade.

After her husband’s premature death in 1976, billie jo retired from teaching to pursue a second career in interior design. A woman ahead of her time, she purchased an old warehouse in downtown Greenville’s artists’ district where her new business thrived for 8 years. During this period she also taught interior design at Greenville Technical College and performed in local theatre productions, supported the local ballet and became an early member of the coalition that began the revival of the city’s downtown area.

In 1984 she moved back to the Jacksonville Beach area to be closer to her aging parents; there she continued her artistic and design career. This led to a new career focused on meeting the needs of senior citizens and keeping their lives relevant and active, a turn that brought her back to the Atlanta area, where she became the director of the Duluth Senior Center for Activities. She settled in her beloved Virginia-Highland and became an active member of the VHCA.

From the doors of City Hall to local parks and meetings, billie jo was a relentless force pushing for new street lights, a stronger and more visible police presence, and improved pedestrian crossings and stop signs. During this period she discovered a new passion for creating folk art from reclaimed and abandoned object d’art. Her condominium on St. Charles Avenue offered an ever-changing sunny and inspiring display for passersby to admire. She always found great inspiration from her favorite aunt and longtime Virginia-Highland resident, the late Marguerite Bridges, who was instrumental in breathing life back into the languishing Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park as a Chamber of Commerce member in the sixties.

billie jo passed away last week after a struggle with cancer, one that she faced with her usual humor, determination, grace, and peace. She will be remembered as an unrelenting advocate for the quality of life of Virginia-Highland’s residents, and particularly for her tireless efforts with Trees Atlanta in helping to keep the community shady and green.

billie jo is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Riordan, her husband David of Hickory Flat, Georgia and her son Erik Blihovde and his wife Suzanne and two grandchildren Nathaniel and Ryan of Elk Grove, California.

Work Commences on John Howell Park Renovation

By: The VHCA Parks Committee (John Becker, David Brandenberger, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Colleen Lysen, and Jack White)

IMG_6321Contractor Hutcheson Horticultural has begun the renovation of the western end of John Howell Park. The project will substantially alter the look of the park along Arcadia Avenue opposite Inman Middle School; new granite sitting walls topped by black steel fencing that matches that at the school will replace the rusting galvanized chain link and sandbags (now, sadly, gone forever.) The walls will stop the migration of sand down the street and into the sewer system; smaller versions of them on the courts’ eastern edge will provide both seating and more formally separate the competition area from the playground. Entrance steps will offer access from Arcadia; on that street’s corner with Virginia, a new plaza will house the park’s sign and offer a gathering place for the Inman students who sometimes wait there for late pickup.

The westernmost court will be moved slightly toward Virginia, providing more room for additional landscaping, which will be installed on three sides of that court. The new fencing and landscaping along Virginia Avenue will run between the granite memorials that mark the sites of homes demolished in the Georgia Highway Department’s unsuccessful late 60’s attempt to run an interstate extension through the area. The memorial columns themselves will be raised slightly in the process.

DSC_0008The project will cost a little more than $100,000 overall, with about half paid by the VHCA and the other half by a matching grant from Park Pride, to whom we are deeply grateful. The City of Atlanta Parks Department and the volleyball association are also contributors; Trees Atlanta has pledged trees and planting assistance. Peter Frawley – John Howell Park’s original designer – did the landscape architecture and was a stalwart at every stage.

Only partly deterred by the sobering and exhausting firsthand experiences associated with acquiring a building permit on public property – which were eye-opening in a way that made you want to close them – the Parks Committee is really excited to see this work underway and looks forward to seeing it progress. If the weather and construction gods are kind, the granite walls will be substantially complete by the time school starts, and the remainder of the work will be done in time for some early dormant season planting.

Click here for a July 2012 Voice article that provides the vision for the current project. Click here for a firsthand look at the plans.

A Thank You for Summerfest 2014

By: Jack White, VHCA President

IMG_6215On behalf of Virginia-Highland Civic Association, I’d like to personally thank this year’s Summerfest leadership team, volunteers, artists, vendors and sponsors for serving up another outstanding festival. I can’t tell you how many positive comments I heard from attendees, exhibitors and residents that the 2014 edition was one of the best Summerfests ever. From what I witnessed personally, these comments were spot on.

DSC_0104Summerfest is the VHCA’s most important fund-raising event of the year. Success with the event ensures that the association can continue to provide important programs, services and grants for the betterment of VaHi and its residents. The incredible contributions of time and talent made by our dedicated volunteers, partners and vendors are a key part of this success and you all delivered this year in spades.

As has come to be expected from Summerfest, this year’s artist market was an impressive array of some of the most outstanding art in the southeast; our music stages were busy with talented, entertaining performers; and our generous sponsors helped us deliver a festival that, by all accounts, was enjoyed and appreciated by all.

DSC_0114Special thanks go to festival co-chairs Pamela Papner, Paige Hewell and John Becker for providing the vision and leadership for Summerfest 2014. There are more moving parts to organizing and executing a festival of this size and scope than most could imagine, and your attention to detail in the important areas of sponsorships, operations, volunteers, and communications positioned us well for success.

As usual, the co-chairs put an outstanding team together around them and the following folks should be thanked for their outstanding contributions in key areas:

DSC_0149VHCA Summerfest Store: Suzanne Scully and Steve Voichick

Neighborhood Parade: Kris Smith

Community Dinner and Movie: Charlie LeFort and John Peter Casey

Artists: Nancy Musser and Julie Tepp

Road Race: Ed Williams

Tot Trot: Nancy and Bob Coomes

DSC_0141On-Site Operations/Coordination of Vendors: Rob Frazer, Premier Events Management

Musical Entertainment: Josh Antenucci

Sponsorships: Rick Kern and Brooke Anglin, MixIt Marketing

Signage Design/Production: Cornelia Gregory

Promotion/Social Media: Kelsey Walker, Liz Lapidus PR

Finance/Cash Coordination: Frazier Dworet and Peggy Berg

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also personally thank the 200+ volunteers without which we would have no festival. You are truly the heart and soul of Summerfest and you stepped up to the plate big time this year.

Thanks again to everyone involved in this year’s Summerfest.

Atlanta City Council Utilities Committee Schedules Study Session on Changes to Sidewalk Policy

DSC_0009By: Jack White, VHCA Planning Committee

The City Utilities Committee began consideration this past Tuesday July 15th of a bill introduced by nine members that would place legal responsibility for sidewalk repairs and maintenance upon the city instead of adjoining property owners, as is currently the case.

The Department of Public Works asked that the legislation be held so that the Legal Department could complete a review of the effect of such legislation on any separate and disparate part of the code. A couple of members have concerns about raising citizen expectations of repairs, given that the topic is not addressed in the new budget adopted last month.

Other council members – including many of the sponsors – pointed out that the city has consistently been held liable in local courts for injuries on sidewalks, existing statutes notwithstanding. Mary Norwood reiterated her belief – and that of other council members – that only the city could manage this challenge on a large-scale basis, and that it was neither cost-effective nor practical for individual homeowners to meet the many legal and permitting burdens imposed by the city upon private contractors. This includes – among others – a very high bonding requirement for contractors and negotiating with the Parks Department about tree impacts in the adjacent sidewalk strips, for which the city is responsible.

Norwood further voiced her concern that the idea of using bond monies (should next year’s contemplated bond issue be adopted) to make sidewalk repairs in various places absent a city-wide plan and the city’s full acceptance of the responsibility would prove divisive and dilute support for the entire bond proposal.

A number of other council members voiced agreement for these specific and broad arguments, while also suggesting that a careful approach that considered any comments from the Legal Department was a good idea. After deliberation, the committee decided to hold an August work session on the topic and re-address the legislation at its scheduled meeting on August 29th.

VHCA intends to be at the work session, and we’ll report its date and other developments as they occur.

City Utilities Committee Holds Sidewalk Repair Price Increase

DSC_0009By: Peggy Berg

VHCA Safety Committee Chair Peggy Berg, VHCA President Jack White, and PEDS President Sally Flocks appeared at the Council Utilities Committee on June 24th asking that pending legislation 14-O-1240 be held. The proposed legislation reflected the Department of Public Work’s calculation that the actual cost of sidewalk repairs made by the city was $10.28 per square foot – the existing rate is $3.90 – and increased the charge to taxpayers accordingly.

While the Department’s methods of cost calculation were challenged (and left unexplained), that was not the only topic on the table. All three speakers pointed out that the key obstacle to successful sidewalk repair is that the city code makes each individual lot owner legally responsible for segments that abut their property, an approach that makes economies of repair and large-scale construction efficiencies impossible. The city also has stringent bonding requirements in place for individual contractors; that notion has merit, but it makes the cost of a contractor’s mobilizing for a small repair (like a lone sidewalk) extremely high. One of the results is that most of the legal sidewalk repairs undertaken by homeowners in VaHi are part of a larger renovation project.

Additionally, the city – through the Parks Department – has domain over the trees in the sidewalk strips (the area between the sidewalk and street). The city’s role in a healthy tree canopy is obvious and vital, but because those trees are not infrequently a factor in broken sidewalks, getting appropriate approvals for construction around them results in another administrative cost for private citizens.

All three speakers pointed out that there are huge efficiencies of scale available to municipalities that individual owners can never obtain, and that no large city in the nation has successfully maintained its sidewalks with such an approach. The speakers also noted that Georgia Tech professor Randy Guensler (himself a VaHi resident) and his grad students in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering are in the midst of a formal sidewalk evaluation project that could be used as a guide to an efficient and effective repair program.

The role of good sidewalks in a vibrant pedestrian community like Virginia-Highland is obvious; the importance of walking and biking were assets that many citizens cited through their input into the recently adopted VaHi Master Plan.

After the presentations, the Committee tabled the legislation in favor of a more comprehensive review of the entire issue. VHCA intends to be part of that ongoing discussion.

Thank you to our District 6 Council Member Alex Wan and our At-Large council member  Mary Norwood, who joined Committee Chair Natalyn Archibong, Howard Shook, Yolanda Adrean, and Andre Dickens in the unanimous vote.

Preview: 2014 Summerfest Store Merchandise

SummerfestLogo14Just to get you a little more in the mood for Summerfest – which, if you didn’t know, is this weekend – we thought we’d give you a glimpse at some of what will be for sale at this year’s Summerfest Store.

2014 Summerfest t-shirt logo

2014 Summerfest t-shirt logo (volunteers/staff)

In addition to the Men’s and Ladies Summerfest t-shirts featuring the 2014 logo, this year we’ll be featuring a collection of historic Virginia-Highland maps and photos suitable for framing. Our creative crew has also come up with a couple of fun posters featuring our new VHCA logo that we think you’ll enjoy. Signed copies of History of Virginia-Highland, written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle, will also be available.

For increased convenience, there will be two Summerfest store locations this year: Booth #505 (south side of Virginia Ave., across from Maryland) and Booth #336 (north side of Virginia near Greencove – where the store’s been located the past few years).

See you at Summerfest!!

11" x 14" sepia collage of historic VaHi images ($30 ea.)

11″ x 14″ sepia collage of historic VaHi plat maps and images.

6" x 24" art print of the Virginia/N. Highland intersection looking west. The land is being cleared by oxen for the development of the Virginia Highlands subdivision established by Ben R. Padgett, Jr. of L.W. Rogers Realty. Circa 1923. Courtesy of Tom Catron. ($40 ea.)

6″ x 24″ art print of the Virginia/N. Highland intersection looking west. The land is being cleared by oxen for the development of the Virginia Highlands subdivision established by Ben R. Padgett, Jr. of L.W. Rogers Realty. Circa 1923. Courtesy of Tom Catron.

6" x 24" art print  of the intersection of Virginia/N. Highland looking north. Unknown date. Courtesy of Larry Santiago and Bonny Valente. ($40 ea.)

6″ x 24″ art print of the intersection of Virginia/N. Highland looking north. Unknown date. Courtesy of Larry Santiago and Bonny Valente.

History of Virginia-Highland book written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. ($25 ea.)

History of Virginia-Highland book written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. ($25 ea.)

 

VaHi poster featuring new VHCA logo ($30). If you like this poster, be sure to stop by the store to see a very creative second poster that we're sure all VaHi aficionados will love.

VaHi poster featuring new VHCA logo. Be sure to stop by the store to see an awesome second poster our creatives came up with that we’re sure all hard-core VaHi aficionados will love.

Men's logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Men’s logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Ladies logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Ladies logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Virginia-Highland Master Plan Approved at NPU-F

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Master Plan was overwhelmingly approved in a resident vote at the Monday May 19 meeting of NPU-F at the Hillside Center. The final tally was 72 votes for and 5 votes against.

Adopted unanimously by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors at its April 17th meeting, the Plan will move next to the City Council Community Development Committee and then on to the full Council for adoption and inclusion in the City of Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan.

The Master Plan is the culmination of seven months of community outreach including a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. It provides a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta for such projects.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan.

The VHCA wants to thank those who attended Monday’s meeting and shared their thoughts on the Plan. Virginia-Highland residents care deeply about quality of life decisions made regarding their neighborhood, and that was never more evident than at last night’s meeting.

To learn more about and view a copy of the Plan, visit www.vahimasterplan.org.

VaHi Master Plan on Agenda of Monday NPU-F Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Master Plan – unanimously adopted by the VHCA board on April 17 – will be an agenda item at the next NPU-F meeting, to be held Monday May 19 at 7 PM at the Hillside Center, 790 Courtenay Dr. (just off Monroe Dr. across from the entrance to Piedmont Park).

The VHCA encourages VaHi residents to attend the meeting and participate in the process.

Residents who live within the boundaries of NPU-F are eligible to vote on all NPU issues.  Proof of residency is required for voting purposes – ideally a valid driver’s license indicating a home address within NPU-F boundaries.  A recent utility bill in your name mailed to an address within NPU-F boundaries may be accepted.

Access will be easier for those arriving early. Please allow some extra time – parking at the facility is limited. Our understanding is that the Master Plan will be early on the agenda, following presentations by local officials (which sometimes take a few minutes).

For residents attending the meeting, please consider carpooling or walking if you can; parking may be a challenge. The Hillside facility sits between Courtenay and Monroe Drives. Access is available from 1301 Monroe, opposite the CSO facility and the entry to the Piedmont Park parking deck. Some parking is available at that Monroe entrance, but those spaces often fill up early. Another option is parking along Courtenay Dr., near its intersection with Amsterdam, 150 yards off Monroe. The back gate to the facility will be open to allow entry from that side.

The Plan is a culmination of seven months of community outreach including online articles, VHCA newsletter articles, public postings, a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. The Plan provides the community with a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi, and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan, which was unanimously approved by the VHCA board at its April 17 meeting.

For more information and to view the Master Plan document, visit www.vahimasterplan.org.

Notice of Special VHCA Association Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-RGBIn response to a petition request from 50+ residents, the VHCA will host a Special Association Meeting on Tuesday, May 6 at 7 PM at the Virginia-Highland Church, 743 Virginia Ave. (opposite Inman Middle School). We will not be voting again on the Master Plan at this meeting, but – in response to the written request, properly made under VHCA bylaws – we will discuss why we decided to adopt the Plan at the April meeting and how this community has historically made such decisions. As part of the discussion, we will be happy to discuss the various ways citizens provided input to the Plan and how those comments were processed and are reflected in the Plan.

The specific notice follows:

VHCA Board of Directors

Notice of Special VHCA Association Meeting

Date:  Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time:  7:00 – 9:00 PM

Location:  Virginia-Highland Church (across Virginia Ave. from Inman Middle School)

Business to be transacted at meeting:

  1. VHCA board response to petition to have a special election on the Virginia-Highland Master Plan
  2. VHCA bylaw requirements for Special Association Meetings and Votes by Association Members
  3. Discussion of process used to develop the Virginia-Highland Master Plan

Pursuant to Article II, Section 2.2 of the VHCA Bylaws, no business shall be transacted at this Special Meeting, except as stated in this Notice.

Some Background On Development in Virginia-Highland and Q&A on the Master Plan

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBEditor’s Note: The Virginia-Highland Master Plan – as adopted by the VHCA board on April 14 – can be viewed here.

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

Aaron Fortner, the Market & Main consultant who led the Master Plan study, characterized this neighborhood a few years ago as being “in danger of being loved to death.”  His point was that our nearly ideal blend of home design, scale, small businesses, variety of residential options, and location had attracted so much attention and development pressure that maintaining the very features that distinguished VaHi could become a challenge. The rough model has been emulated throughout intown communities; our commercial aspects in particular now have real competition.

The adoption of Neighborhood Commercial (‘NC’) districts along N. Highland Ave. was an early response to that. These three districts allow flexible parking approaches in exchange for building height limits of 42’. Defining these districts was inspired by a proposal to build a much taller building opposite the American Roadhouse; such a building might still occur in that one location. Such redevelopment – when it occurs – is very likely to follow the modern intown models of ground floor commercial topped by 2nd and 3rd-floor residential. As that occurs, there will be still more auto traffic on N. Highland. Even sooner, there will be more auto traffic from the re-development of Druid Hills Baptist Church just south of Ponce.

We have mentioned several times this neighborhood’s historic and ongoing determination to maintain R-4 zoning along the BeltLine. That goal is important on its own merits, and also because there is the near-certainty of considerable new residential development along the BeltLine between Virginia and Ponce, behind the houses on Ponce Place. As that occurs, there will be much more auto traffic on Ponce Place, Virginia, and Monroe.

We will never return to the old volumes or speed of driving in Virginia-Highland. We can all work to keep cars moving, but as new traffic arrives, we are going to move at slower speeds – out of necessity (those other cars) and, because of safety (respecting other legal users).

Whether because of the traffic or in spite of it (or both), we now have many more citizens walking and biking. The importance of accommodating them safely and of keeping this neighborhood friendly to pedestrians were cited frequently during the Master Plan process. Keeping traffic moving is a goal we can all agree on, but it exists right beside the legal necessity of protecting other users.

Except on specified roads like interstate highways, cyclists have a perfect right to be on the road. And they are exercising that right in ever-increasing numbers. They don’t need anyone’s permission to do so and they haven’t asked; they’re just showing up and riding. That group includes many of our own residents. That those cyclists are a numerical minority is irrelevant and does not alter their legal right to be safe or our need to accommodate them.

Pedestrians – who every day include many residents of VaHi, some of them children – have a perfect right to cross the street in safety at marked crosswalks; cars have to stop for them and are more likely to do so when they are not speeding and the intersections are conspicuously marked. Any slight inconvenience that results to drivers from the slower speed is legally and morally secondary to protecting the rights of citizens to legally walk in our neighborhood.

Living in a civil atmosphere with an active street-side lifestyle that safely accommodates and encourages usages other than autos is a key characteristic of Virginia-Highland, and we all benefit from it.

*                                                      *                                                      *

While the Master Plan addresses many topics, a few seemed to come up time and time again. The amount of noise this discussion created likely caused confusion among some residents. Following is an attempt to clarify some of the more frequently discussed topics:

Cars, Bikes, and Walking

Resident Comment: This plan supports those who walk and bicycle at the expense of those who drive.

Virginia-Highland is the poster child for good intown living: a vibrant neighborhood with entertainment, restaurants, schools and park facilities. Residents have overwhelmingly said that safe, non-automotive ways of getting around are a distinguishing characteristic of this community that needs to be protected and enhanced. Being able to walk and bike safely were mentioned enough to cause the consultant to summarize the Plan’s entire theme under the rubric of ‘Healthy Living’.

Resident Comment: Have other studies identified the importance of improving the safety of walking and biking?

The independent consultants from Safe Routes to Schools have looked at the same challenges and made recommendations about pedestrian safety and access that are very similar to those in the Master Plan. For example, the Springdale Park plan focuses first on making Briarcliff Road safer; N. Highland and Ponce are the next priorities. Supported by the Springdale PTA, Poncey-Highland, and the Druid Hills Civic Association, the Springdale program is trying very hard to make pedestrian access safer, a particularly important topic for children and parents since APS school bus coverage has been reduced. The Inman Safe Route to Schools Program specifically noted accidents and concerns about pedestrian safety on Monroe Drive.

Resident Comment: All these cars and delays make our neighborhood seem suburban.

Nobody likes traffic, and we all may wish for less of it, but it doesn’t make us ‘suburban’.

The most obvious difference between intown and suburban living is the intown concentration of retail, commercial, and entertainment options that can be accessed in non-motorized ways. Most of us are very dependent on our cars, but we typically use them much less than suburbanites because at least some of our recreational and daily shopping needs are close to home and are sometimes walkable and bikeable. Protecting those options was a frequent comment by residents in this process.

VaHi residents have also been active advocates for walking and cycling over the last decade. This community has historically backed groups that champion these practices (PEDS, Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, the Atlanta Track Club) because they’re fun and healthy.

Resident Comment: The Plan calls for painting sharrows (graphic of bicycles and arrows) on roads. Those give cyclists the right-of-way over cars.

Sharrows are only a visual reminder that cyclists are on the road and that the law requires sharing  – hence, the name. They are equivalent to a “Slow – children at play” sign – a reminder that other users may be present; they change no laws.

For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_lane_marking.

Resident Comment: You can’t pass cyclists who are in bike lanes.

Yes, you can. In fact, it’s easier to pass cyclists who are riding in a dedicated lane.

Resident Comment: Bike lanes, sharrows, pedestrian signals, and bulb-outs are bad ideas.

These are all tools, and like all tools, they are value-neutral, neither good nor evil. Not every cyclist wants or uses bike lanes; some take the motor vehicle lane. A poorly designed or marked bulb-out can be hazardous or irritating; at intersections where cars speed through turns, a bulb-out improves pedestrian safety by slowing the turn. One can find examples of both in northeast Atlanta.

Monroe Drive

Resident Comment: Does the VHCA support the road diet piece of the Connect Atlanta Plan?

The VHCA supports the outcomes that the CAP is designed to produce – a reduction in speed on Monroe, improvements in traffic flow (fewer cars stuck behind folks waiting to make left turns and making abrupt lane changes), better pedestrian conditions for crossing and walking along the road, and an improvement in the quality of life for residents on the road.

Resident Comment: Even if we can’t change the Monroe Drive road diet, this plan goes too far. It takes away lanes from cars on other roads and gives them to cyclists.

The Master Plan does not take lanes away from cars. Perhaps it should have; a number of people have said they thought it should. But it doesn’t.

The road diet maintains 2 dedicated lanes – one in each direction – and a third shared lane for making left turns at any of the 17 opportunities to do so between Piedmont and 10th. In the short run, it proposes bike lanes in the remaining space; to be replaced when the BeltLine is extended by additional pedestrian components and plantings designed to shield walkers along Monroe from traffic.

Resident Comment: If the Master Plan isn’t the mechanism for opposing the road diet, what is?

Such plans are updated periodically, typically every few years. In our experience, City Planners will be glad to hear your arguments. They are usually quite capable of explaining their own rationales and data, and talking to them is certain to be enlightening, even if you disagree with them.

Resident Comment: The road diet reduces auto capacity on Monroe.

The City’s transportation planners don’t think it will. The most recent road counts for Monroe show traffic at about 18,000 cars a day.

Resident Comment: How does that compare to traffic counts there 6-8 years ago?

It is less, down from the low 20’s. Many traffic counts have gone down nationwide. Oft-cited reasons for this trend include the recession, working from home, folks making conscious decisions to live closer to their work, and impatience with time spent on the roads incentivizing a search for better routes or methods.

Resident Comment: Traffic levels on Monroe will go back up when Ponce City Market opens next year.

Yes, they very well might, but the traffic models show that the road diet can handle 10-20% more cars than are currently using the roadway.

Resident Comment: Every developer who proposes a huge new development provides a traffic study that shows everything will be fine.

Skepticism is understandable and healthy, particularly when a party that stands to benefit financially from it is paying for such a study. Our consultants looked at it independent of the city’s examination and saw no obvious flaws. Any study can be erroneous, but those who have done the Monroe traffic models have no monetary motive in being inaccurate.

Also, the road diet is already City policy and has been for several years.

Resident Comment: The traffic signals on Monroe can be better programmed to handle more traffic.

That would be great. We encourage sharing such ideas with the City traffic engineers. Perhaps there is a very simple fix that can be made somewhere on Monroe that will really help there – or maybe not.  Either way, there’s no reason to delay trying, and we’d be glad to help arrange such a meeting, if that would be of assistance. Helpful or not, this single point has little to do with the Master Plan.

Resident Comment: Why don’t you just leave out any reference to the road diet? That would be interpreted as being OK with it by default without having a big discussion.

Deliberately NOT informing citizens about any law or process – or carefully not mentioning information because someone might not like it – is the exact opposite of good planning and totally inconsistent with this community’s historic approach, which has been based on openness. The iterative process is based on learning, asking, and discussing. That process takes time and has real value; a better-informed citizenry is one of the benefits of those who go through it.

It is interesting to note that our process appears to have informed many more citizens about the road diet than the city did on either of the two occasions it passed the plans that included the feature.

By the way, how exactly would anyone responsibly involved in the Master Plan process reply to a resident who asked if important content had been omitted because it might upset someone?

Resident Comment: Are there parts of the Connect Atlanta Plan that the VHCA does not like?

Inevitably, there are – specifically the concept of a new road though the Ponce de Leon Kroger from North Avenue to Ponce de Leon Place. We are very concerned that such a connection would funnel what we fear would be new large volumes of traffic from North Ave. (especially once Ponce City Market opens) into our neighborhood.

Resident Comment: Why isn’t that opposition part of the Master Plan?

Master plans start with and are based on existing policies and do not assume that that they will change.   No individual or group waives their right to try to change polices in the future by learning and acknowledging what existing policy is.

Resident Comment: Why didn’t the Master Plan seek to prohibit retail chain stores?

As with the road diet, the Master Plan approached commercial topics through existing law and policy.  Even if the commercial areas in VaHi were prospering, and even if city code contained a definition of what a chain store is (which is not as straightforward as it may seem), there is no basis in law for limiting them.

While the VHCA is a resident-based organization, the health of the commercial districts received a a good bit of focus in the Plan. Some proposals will have to await the expiration of or changes to the Park Atlanta contract (because that is law and no matter how much we wish we could change it with a master plan, we cannot), but there are some specific infrastructure recommendations for the Atkins Park NC district that are intended to improve the street-side atmosphere and make the area more attractive.

Board Process and By-Laws

Resident Comment: Why didnt the Steering Committee and the Board participate in the social media debates?

They did. Members of those groups made approximately fifty comments on various social media sites, providing a large amount of input on issues, process, and schedules. We also commented to ensure that resident concerns and comments were directed to the proper channels (www.vahimasterplan.org and specific board members) where they could be observed and recorded.

Resident Comment: No neighborhood votes are needed on one-foot variances; they’re not very important. But we should vote on the Master Plan, like Candler Park did.

Candler Park followed its by-laws and rules, as it should have. They vote neighborhood-wide on all requests: one-inch variances, one-foot variances, two-foot variances, and any and every other detail.

Virginia-Highland has very successfully used a representative model to engage on a wide and sophisticated range of processes (including running a very successful Tour of Homes and Summerfest that raise large amounts of money that is spent on – among other things – schools, parks, planning, and sidewalks.

We followed our by-laws throughout this process, as we should have.

It is worth noting that the distinction cited – variance review versus formal planning – is not nearly as broad as it might seem. While some variance requests are routine, others are not and their content and the manner in which they are handled have a great deal more neighborhood-wide significance than might be obvious at a glance.

Resident Comment: The Boards support of the Master Plan was pre-ordained; there are Board members on the Steering Committee who weren’t impartial.

We certainly were not impartial on the value of a Master Plan, or we would not have studied them, gone to other neighborhoods that were meeting on the topic, talked to the City of Atlanta’s Planning Office, sought out the opinion of several city council members, or asked two of them for financial support to defray the cost of developing the Plan.

No citizen – certainly not any board member or volunteer on a master plan – starts with a tabula rasa, a blank slate. But there were no pre-ordained conclusions about any specific content, where input arrived from a variety of sources – residents, the consultants, and other planners.

*                                                      *                                                      *

The VHCA thanks the many residents who have engaged in the Master Plan process, providing valuable insight into current experiences in VaHi and goals for the future of our neighborhood. Please reach out to board@vahi.org for further information and continue to comment on the plan at www.vahimasterplan.org.

Master Plan Promotes Vision of Healthy Living

DSC_0037Editor’s Note: Jett Marks is a Virginia-Highland resident and non-VHCA board member who serves on the Master Plan Steering Committee.

Since October of this past year, Virginia-Highland residents have been enthusiastically participating in a blueprint for our future, a Master Plan that defines not only who we are, but what we want to become.  At the April meeting, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association formally adopted a Master Plan that reflects how we view ourselves, what we value, and – as a practical matter – specific recommendations to build for our community’s future.

The process started with an on-line survey. The survey guided us to share what we love about our neighborhood, what we wanted to keep, and also what needed improvement. By listening to what Virginia-Highland residents value, the planning team could establish what it was capable of becoming.  Through focus groups and public forums, the team of urban planners from Market + Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided us through the process.

The City requires certain elements in a Master Plan: mobility, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development, and education. Assembly of the Master Plan incorporated input for all of these elements. The City’s existing plans and zoning code provided the starting point for the neighborhood’s planning.

For decades, Virginia-Highland has represented a lifestyle other Atlanta neighborhoods have desired to embody, but what exactly were they trying to embody? What is the essence of Virginia-Highland? The planning process sought out this essence.

Across the many responses that came in, there were numerous threads: walkability, the human-scaled streets, the green spaces, the “street-car pattern” that shaped the ratios and placement of commercial, residential and rental, the old and new, the urban and retro-suburban, the outdoorsy / active / running / dog-walking / front-porch living, the funky / edgy, and some history too — the VHCA got its start by swimming against the stream of white-flight while challenging the construction of an interstate highway. Basically, we’re a bunch of non-conformists, but happy ones.

Out of many threads, we did find one. Healthy Living is the unifying pattern in the complex tapestry that reflects our community.

Despite this common thread, it’s been a challenge finding consensus. Anyone following the Master Planning process knows there have been a few conflicts. (Why couldn’t we have happy conformists living here?!)

The process was guided by a Steering Committee whose role was first to listen, then to help all the non-conformists get along. There has been a healthy amount of conflict resolution.

An early conflict was the initial recommendation to include bike lanes on N. Highland to accommodate the growing cycling population. After meeting with the business community and the residents who depend on on-street parking, the recommendations were adjusted to balance between the loss of on-street spaces and providing for the safe travel from the BeltLine into our business nodes.

Many recommendations did not survive a review of immediate challenges and concerns voiced by City of Atlanta Planners whose input was carefully considered. Whereas the larger set of recommendations may not all work at this time, the plan captures those valuable discussions and they can still be considered for future approaches to problems we will continue to address.

The plan – befitting a thriving community – will evolve. And that’s healthy too.

~ Jett Marks

VHCA Votes to Adopt Master Plan

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Civic Association voted unanimously at its Monday night meeting to adopt the Master Plan as currently posted on www.vahimasterplan.org. Click here to view a video of the board meeting in its entirety.

The Plan is a culmination of seven months of community outreach including a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. The Plan provides the community with a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi, and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan.

The Plan will next be presented at the NPU-F meeting to be held Monday, May 19, at 7 PM at Hillside School, 690 Courtenay Drive. Interested residents are invited to attend.

On June 9 the Plan will be presented to the City Council Community Development Committee. On June 16th the full City Council will consider and vote on adopting the Plan as a recognized document by the City of Atlanta and incorporating it into the City Comprehensive Plan.

A group of residents has requested a special meeting of the VHCA to discuss issues related to the Master Plan. The VHCA intends to convene such a meeting at a TBD time and place. Details of the meeting will be announced as soon as they are available.

The VHCA would like to thank the Master Plan Steering Committee (see member list below) for the many hours of hard work they invested in working with Market+Main and residents to develop the Plan; Market+Main for their invaluable assistance in guiding the neighborhood through the process; and most importantly, the residents of VaHi who stepped up and took advantage of the many opportunities to provide valuable input into the creation of the Plan. We are a community of residents who care passionately about their neighborhood, and this project has been a true reflection of that reality.

Master Plan Steering Committee Members

Lola Carlisle

Frazier Dworet

Michael Elliott

Frank Fralick

Jenifer Keenan

Jett Marks

Stuart Meddin

Jack White

Jess Windham

 

 

 

 

 

Historic Hex Pavers Available for Purchase from VHCA

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBIt’s time for Spring gardening and outdoor improvements and, if fixing historic hex pavers in your sidewalk is on your to-do list, the VHCA has what you need.

The civic association has a good supply of historic Virginia-Highland hexagonal pavers for sale at $6 each. If you’re interested, email Peggy Berg at pberg1111@gmail.com and she’ll call you to set up your order.

If the pavers in front of your home are in bad shape and you’ve been thinking about fixing them up, now would be an excellent time to tackle the project. Not only will you improve the curb value of your home, but your pedestrian neighbors will thank you, as well.

photo 2 photo 1

 

 

 

 

Initial Draft of VaHi Master Plan Available for Review; Open House Scheduled

DSC_0037The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is pleased to announce that, after six months of community input, the initial draft of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan is available. Click here to review the Plan draft. The VHCA will host an Open House on Sunday, March 23rd from 2:30 – 4:30 at the old Aurora Coffee location on N. Highland near Virginia (across from Yeah Burger) to answer questions from residents about the Plan.

The 142-page Plan draft is divided into the following sections:

Background (pgs. 5 – 32) Includes neighborhood demographics and summaries of other City Plans, including the North Highland Avenue Study, the Ponce-Moreland LCI Study, the Beltline Subarea 6 Master Plan, the City of Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan, and the Connect Atlanta Plan.  All of these plans have sections that address areas in VaHi and all have already been adopted by City Council.

Neighborhood Engagement (pgs. 49 – 79) Includes detailed information on all comments that were received via the Master Plan website, the public meetings and focus groups.

Neighborhood Vision (pgs. 95 – 142) Contains the Plan’s proposed projects/proposals for VaHi.  These are the proposals that came out of the six-month public input process leading up to the Draft Plan.

Aaron Fortner, the professional planning consultant who prepared the Master Plan, gave an excellent presentation on the Plan at the March 10th VHCA board meeting.  Here is a link to a three-video YouTube playlist of Aaron’s presentation: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ8Bju7IpCXqaf5HLSElch68uzQaTmbxy. Following are start/stop times for key portions of his presentation.

 

  1. Aaron’s Entire Presentation Including Q/A: This excerpt starts at 15:43 of Part 1 and ends at 16:18 of Part 3.
  2. Aaron’s Monroe Dr. Presentation: This excerpt starts at 33:48 of Part 1 and ends at 41:05 of Part 1.
  3. Aaron’s Accessory Dwelling Presentation: This excerpt starts at 54:11 of Part 1 and ends at 58:07 of Part 1.
  4. The Q/A Session Only: This excerpt starts at 10:23 of Part 2 and ends at 16:18 of Part 3.

 

If you have questions specifically about the Monroe Dr. Road Diet, the excerpt of Aaron’s presentation on Monroe is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8vga9fvBWI.

At 140+ pages, the document provides detailed information on all the public input that has been received over the past six months. As with all other phases of the Master Plan process, residents and business owners will continue to have an opportunity to provide input on the Plan through the Master Plan website.  We encourage everyone to submit comments on what they like and don’t like about the draft Plan on the “Feedback” page of the Master Plan websitehttp://www.vahimasterplan.org/master-plan-first-draft.html. A revised draft of the Plan reflecting the input received through the Website and at the Open House will be posted on April 4.

Tentative Agenda for Tonight’s VHCA Monthly Board/General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, March 10, 2014; Virginia-Highland Church 

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

Budget Committee – Peggy Berg

Planning Committee

V-13-265 – 976 Adair Ave NE

Applicant Patti Hinkle has amended her variance application to and now seeks to reduce the setback to 5’ from the rear property line,  a distance that will end any question as to whether her (already existing) accessory structure is appropriately distanced from the boundary.  (The measurement is difficult to make, as the line is behind a tall fence.)  The Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval and waived the applicant’s appearance.

Toscano @ Sons Italian Market Alcohol License Transfer – 1050 N. Highland Ave. NE

Applicant Kathy Boehmer of Toscano & Sons Italian Market is transferring this business’ alcohol license from its previous location. The application has not come to us from the NPU; the applicant furnished a copy of the application.  The applicants had no liquor violations at their previous location and conduct their own training program, carding everyone.  The Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval, contingent upon city’s paperwork reaching the NPU by its meeting on 3-17-14.

V-14-031 – 669 Elmwood Drive NE

Applicant Jennifer Hansen seeks a variance to reduce the front yard setback from required 35’ to 18’ 4” (existing) and the east side yard setback from required 7’ to 1’ 7” (existing) for a 2nd story addition.  The addition is entirely within the existing setbacks; a site visit on 3-2-14 revealed no tree or runoff issues; the applicant is nonetheless considering adding stormwater retention capacity.  The Planning Committee recommends approval conditioned on a site plan dated 2-14-14.

V-14-012 – 959 Todd Road NE

Applicant Marsha Scott seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the required rear yard setback from 15’ to 3’ (using half of the 10’ rear alley for credit toward setback).  The application required a re-platting of the (north) side yard property line, previously shown as an alley; the applicant’s request to that end was approved by the City of Atlanta Planning Department on 1-23-14, a decision that has been appealed by an adjacent neighbor.  The case will be heard by the BZA on 5-1-14.  The applicants wish to continue the variance process, averring that construction will not commence until the appeal is resolved.  At its meeting on 3-5, the Planning Committee solely addressed the variance issue and the applicant’s revised plan; at the applicant’s request, the application was deferred until the April Planning meeting.

Parks Committee – Lauren Wilkes Fralick, David Brandenburger

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle: New permanent site for VHCA Planning mtgs: Garrison Hall, Church of Our Saviour

Master Plan Presentation – Jenifer Keenan, Jess Windham, & Aaron Fortner of Market + Main

Adjournment

Understanding How the Virginia-Highland Master Plan Was Drafted

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadBy: Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board Member & Co-Chair, Master Plan Steering Committee

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is pleased to announce that, after six months of community input, the initial draft of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan is being released today on the Master Plan website: http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.  At 140+ pages, the document provides detailed information on all the public input that has been received over the past six months.  As with all other phases of the Master Plan process, residents and business owners will continue to have an opportunity to provide input on the Plan through the Master Plan website.

Overview of the Community Input and Drafting Process

There seems to be confusion among some residents about how the VaHi Master Plan has been developed and drafted.  Some people assume that the VHCA Board has drafted the Plan.  That assumption, however, is incorrect.  The Plan was not drafted by the VHCA, and the VHCA has in no way dictated the Plan’s content.

To develop the Plan, the VHCA hired Aaron Fortner of Market + Main.  Aaron is a former City Planner and has served as the Planning Committee’s consultant on zoning and municipal issues for many years. He has led the Master Plan processes for a number of neighborhoods, including Edgewood, Brookwood Hills and Candler Park. To read Aaron’s biography, visit http://www.marketandmain.net/aaron.html.

Aaron and his team used the following process to develop the draft VaHi Master Plan:

  • Phase 1:   A Master Plan website was developed to allow residents to review concepts and provide input 24 hours a day.  The first phase of the website had a Survey and an Interactive Map where people could identify what they like most (and least) about VaHi.  The Interactive Map allowed people to make specific comments about specific locations in the neighborhood.
  • Phase 2:  Input from the Survey and Interactive Map was used to develop some Preliminary Planning Concepts for the neighborhood.  The Preliminary Concepts were presented at a public meeting and all-day design charette where people had an opportunity to talk to Aaron and his team and provide in-person input on the Preliminary Concepts.  The Preliminary Concepts were also presented on the Master Plan website so residents could provide input and comment on the Preliminary Concepts via the website as well.
  • Phase 3:  The Preliminary Concepts were modified based on the comments in Phase 2 and refined into some Proposed Concepts.  The Preliminary Concepts were presented at a January 22 public meeting and again on the website.  As in Phase 2, people had an opportunity to provide input both in person and on-line on the Preliminary Concepts.
  • Phase 4:  The Proposed Concepts were again modified based on public input and used to develop the initial draft of the Master Plan.  This draft of the Master Plan will be presented at the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board meeting on Monday, March 10th.  As with all stages of this process, people will continue to have an opportunity to provide comments on the concepts in the Plan.  The draft plan concepts will continue to be modified based on public input until the Final Master Plan is published.

In addition to the four phases noted above, five focus groups – consisting of residents and business owners in VaHi – were conducted throughout this process to obtain input on specific issues.  Aaron and his team also met with officials of the City of Atlanta’s Planning Department to provide updates on the Plan and discuss the feasibility of the concepts that were evolving from the public input process.

Examples of the Process in Action

In order to fully understand the process, it is helpful to look at a couple of small-scale examples of specific concepts and how they evolved during the Plan development process.  In Phase 1, residents of Cooledge, and several other streets, indicated that they would like to reduce cut-through traffic and speeding on their street.  In Phase 2, “bulb outs” were proposed for several streets that expressed these concerns, including Cooledge.  During the public input part of Phase 2, the residents of that street almost unanimously indicated they did not want bulb-outs on Cooledge, deciding that they were inconsistent with the historic character of their brick street.  Residents of other streets, however, embraced bulb-outs and other traffic calming measures for their specific streets.  In Phase 3, based on the input provided in Phase 2, bulb-outs were part of the Preliminary Concepts for some streets, but were no longer proposed for Cooledge. Also, bike lanes on North Highland Avenue were proposed and considered in the opening stages.  Based on an array of public comments – many supportive – and identified challenges, the Draft Master Plan does not recommend bike lanes for North Highland.

Where varying and multiple shades of opinions were expressed – which is in a number of areas – Aaron’s team looked first for overall impacts on the community, the goals and reasoning used in existing plans (where they applied – the city’s Connect Atlanta Transpiration Plan is such an example) and offered its best judgment of how to proceed for each subject.  In some cases – changing the code to allow accessory residential structures or design guidelines, for example – the plan recommends further study of the topic and monitoring the City’s anticipated revisions.  All transportation recommendations are based on existing municipal and state laws and standards, and none conflict with city policy; many ideas reflect insights gleaned from city staff about the municipality’s evolving approaches on many topics.

Moving Forward 

As with other phases of this process, there will be ongoing opportunities to provide input, including 24 hours a day at the Master Plan website.  Our residents and neighbors have made an extraordinary number of suggestions on both broad and specific topics, and Aaron and his team have expended a huge amount of work trying to filter and synthesize everyone’s comments and aspirations for this community. Many diverse ideas have been expressed, but there are a significant number of well-identified challenges and strongly expressed wishes.

I hope everyone will review all the draft’s concepts and recommendations and provide specific comments through the website.

Best regards,

Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board Member & VHCA Master Plan Steering Committee Co-Chair

 

 

Initial Draft of VaHi Master Plan To Be Presented at Tonight’s VHCA Board Meeting

VaHi CornerFor the past six months, Virginia-Highland residents have provided tremendous insight into the creation of the neighborhood’s first Master Plan. An initial draft of the Master Plan will be presented at tonight’s regular monthly VHCA board/general meeting. Again, this is a presentation of the Plan’s initial draft – there will still be ample time to review, reflect and comment on the Plan in the weeks to come. The initial draft of the Plan should be available for review sometime this afternoon at http://www.vahimasterplan.org/.

The meeting will be held in the downstairs meeting area of the Virginia-Highland Church located at 743 Virginia Ave. (across from Inman Middle School). The meeting will start at 7 PM with regular business expected to take 30-45 minutes, after which the Master Plan presentation will begin. Residents are invited to attend the full meeting, or come only for the Master Plan portion. There will be an opportunity for residents to ask questions about the Plan.

Click here to read an article from VHCA board member and Master Plan steering committee co-chair Jenifer Keenan that provides valuable insight into the process of creating a Master Plan for our neighborhood.

Tentative Agenda for February 10 VHCA Board/General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, February 10, 2014; Church of Our Saviour, 1068 N. Highland Ave.

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

  • Dr. Gerry Neumark, President, President, APAB
  • Presentation on Open Door Residential Community (sometimes referred to as a Protestant Catholic Worker House), 910 Ponce de Leon Ave.; Mary Catherine Johnson

Planning Committee

V-14-005; 1055 Amsterdam Ave. NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicant Dan Hanlon (on behalf of owner Stephen Roach) proposes an extension of the existing home to the rear of the house and seeks variances to (1) reduce the eastern side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’ in line with the existing structure on that side; (2) reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) to 28’ (existing is ); and (3) reduce the half-depth front yard setback on the west side (abutting Humphrey St.) from 17’6” (required) to 3’5” (existing).   One tree in the buildable area will be removed; two 2.5’ trees will be planted.  The lot coverage remains well under 50%.  The appropriate neighbors have been notified. The date on the city’s stamped plans was not clear. At the VHCA Planning Comm., the applicant agreed he would furnish that date (and bring a copy to the VHCA meeting) and file a more specific plan to address the new stormwater created by the addition, specifically demonstrating that it would not flow downhill onto the eastern neighbor.  Subject to those conditions, the Committee voted unanimously to support the application.

Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE

Applicant Erik Kronberg  presents a proposal to rezone and redevelop the Druid Hills Baptist Church Activities Building and parking lot.  The proposal preserves the sanctuary and contemplates a new mixed-use residential/retail/commercial development with parking.  Though the development is in Poncey/Highland [NPU-N]) – not in Virginia-Highland – this informational presentation is mandated by the re-zoning process due to its proximity to and potential impacts on our neighborhood. (Link to the rezoning application:  Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE.   Link to a previously released article about it: http://atlanta.curbed.com/archives/2014/01/14/ponceyhighland-church-land-could-be-destined-for-mixeduse.php)

City of Atlanta Alley Re-platting Policy

Remand of V-13-099 from Fulton county Superior Court to BZA

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

2014 Goals & Budgets – Jack White & Peggy Berg

Parks Committee – Lauren Wilkes Fralick, David Brandenburger

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Tentative Agenda for VHCA January 2014 Board and General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, January 13, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library 

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

  • Angelika Taylor, Tour of Homes
  • Alex Beasley, Trees Atlanta

Planning Committee

V-13-264 Glen Arden Way NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicants  Ashley Peck seeks a variance to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required0 to the existing 23’ to add heated space in the attic within the existing footprint.   A Planning Comm visit on observed no tree or runoff issues.  The applicant has notified the appropriate neighbors. The Planning com recommends approval conditioned on a site plan dated Nov 25, 2013.

V-13-265 976 Adair Ave. NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicant Lisa Pringle seeks a variance to (1-A) reduce the east side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 5’ and (1-B) to reduce the rear yard setback from 15’ required) to 6’ (credit given for half of a 10’ alley) to build an accessory structure (storage shed begun w/o permit and already substantially complete); and (2) a variance to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ to 5’ to allow an extension in line with the existing structure on that side.  A Planning Com site visit indicated that notation of one tree was needed; ti has been made.  A 55-gallon (minimum) rain barrel is being added to the west side addition to prevent additional stormwater from reaching the adjacent neighbors..  The removal of an existing deck in the rear will reduce lot coverage from to 57%  49.29%.  The appropriate neighbors have been notified.

The Planning Comm recommended approval based on the filing of a revised site plan that matches the one displayed and signed off on at the Planning Comm meeting, which adds a requested rain barrel.

V-13-284 1038 St. Charles Ave.; zoning is RG-2.

Applicants Ben and Melissa Redwine request (1() a variance to0 reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 2’ (already existing) and (2) a requust to add heated a space to a proposed new finished basement. No external changes will be made.  The FAR is going from 3102 to 3908 (31%->38%), well within the permitted limits for this zoning.  The existing lot coverage of  50.84% will not change. An exhausting number of neighbors have been notified.

The Planning Committee recommended approval conditioned on the site plan dated Dec 18, 2013.

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

Committee Reports –

Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Budget – Jack White & Peggy Berg

Communication – Revised VHCA logo – Lola Carlisle and John Becker

2014 Goals & Budgets – Jack White

Calendar Items

Adjournment

Agenda Set for December 9 VHCA Monthly Board/General Meeting

Following is the tentative agenda for tonight’s monthly VHCA board/general meeting:

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, December 11, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Proposed Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

Planning Committee – Jess Windham

Variances:

  • V-13-238;  990 Bellevue Drive NE
  • V-13-243;  670 Park Drive. NE
  • V-13-247;  906 Highland Terrace NE
  • V-13-256;  932 Highland View NE
  • V-13-257; 926 Highland View NE

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan / Jess Windham

Tour of Homes – Suzanne Buck / Angelika Taylor

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Recycled Hexagonal Pavers Available From VHCA

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadHave you been waiting for the cooler fall weather to take on that project of repairing your sidewalk of broken hexagonal pavers? If so, the VHCA has a deal for you.

Paver pileThe civic association has a healthy inventory of the historic pavers that have been recycled from sections of VaHi sidewalk previously repaired by the city. Pavers are 18″ x 18″, six-sided (what else would you expect from a hexagonal paver, right?), and vary in color due to age. See accompanying photos of the stored inventory and what a repaired hexagonal paver sidewalk can look like.

pavers installedPrices are $6 ea. for Virginia-Highland residents, $8 ea. for non-residents with all funds going to the VHCA general fund. If you’re interested, contact VHCA safety/sidewalk committee chair Peggy Berg at pegberg1111@gmail.com or 404-236-9064.

Agenda Set for October 14, 2013 VHCA Monthly Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, October 14, 2013; Church of Our Saviour

Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials -

Other elected officials & guests

Planning Committee

Variances – Lola Carlisle

V-13-151; 1145 Briarcliff Place; zoning is R4

Applicant Scott Reale on behalf of owner Alice Washington seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the east side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’1” for a new accessory building.   Planning Committee recommends approval w. conditions.

V-13-139; 765 Highland Terrace NE; zoning is R4

Applicant April Ingraham on behalf of owner Jenna Angst seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) to 34’ and the west side yard setback from 7’ to 4.2’ to construct a two-story residence.

(2) notification to the neighbors of new plans, (3) added note of no modifications to existing garage or water addition to the proposed studio, and (4) notification to city arborist and (5) notification CoA DWM of pending stormwater issues and proposed retention solutions. Passed unanimously.

V-13-139; 960 Highland Terrace NE; zoning is R-4

Applicant David Ogram seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ to 3’ for a new garage.  Lot coverage is now under 50%. Planning Committee recommends approval with conditions.

V-13-179, 1077 Lanier Blvd NE ; zoning is R-4

Applicant “Pfeil Family Partnership LLC” request a variance from the southwest side yard setback from  7’ required to 4’ (already existing) to add a 2nd floor addition.  Planning Committee recommends approval.

V-13- V-13-180, 962 Rosedale Road; zoning is R-4

Applicant Mark Arnold (on behalf of owners and residents Sarah McCormack)David Ogram seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) and the north side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 5’ to add a 2nd floor addition.  Planning Committee recommends approval.

Request for support for waiver of distance requirement (250′ minimum from church required) for liquor retail sales – Toscano and Sons Specialty Food Market, N. Highland Ave. (next to Paper Source); owner is Kathy Boehmer

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

Committee Assignments & Reports

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Input Needed for Virginia-Highland Master Plan

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By: Jess Windham and Jenifer Keenan

As detailed over the last few months, a Master Plan for Virginia-Highland is being developed to address a wide range of issues in our neighborhood – from traffic and parking, to historic preservation, and everything in between.  In order to make the Plan a success, and reflect the hopes and wants of the neighborhood, we’d like to know all about your neighborhood experiences. One of the most visible and active tools in the Master Planning process is the website (www.vahimasterplan.org) and its accompanying tool box of features that will gather input directly from you and enable people with all kinds of schedules to participate.

From today through Friday November 8th, you can share your experiences, opinions, and unique perspective on Virginia-Highland through a brief online survey: http://www.vahimasterplan.org/survey.html. Having your feedback will be key to shaping the questions to be addressed in the Master Plan. What do you think are the most important issues that will be facing Virginia-Highland in the next five years? How would you rate parking or the cost of housing?

At the bottom of the survey, you’ll find another tool we are excited about: an online map where you can pinpoint and note exactly what you have observed, love, hate, or want improved in Virginia-Highland.  You can add your input directly to the map at http://vhmp-civicworks.dotcloud.com/. The map will allow you to place a “dot” on a specific area on the map and add comments tied to that map location.  This will enable the community to address specific issues – like whether a stop sign is needed for a particular intersection – to more general issues, like the impact of large events and festivals on our community.

For all you Instagram fans, send us pictures of what you love (or hate!) about Virginia-Highland to @VaHi_ATL with the hashtag #welovevahi. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest updates and reminders for events.

On top of feedback from all of these tools – the website, survey, interactive map, and social media – we will also be holding focus groups on specific topics, a Design Workshop, and a Plan Presentation in the coming months. The Design Workshop and Plan Presentation will be open to the public. Details on dates, times and locations will be announced soon.

2013 VHCA Annual General Meeting Recap

Music was provided by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus

Music was provided by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus.

The 2013 Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held September 19 at the Inman Middle School cafeteria. Approximately 75 residents were in attendance.

The meeting opened with a performance by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus under the direction of Brianne Turgeon. Accompanied by SPARK music teacher Jon Marvel on guitar, the chorus performed four songs that were warmly received by those in attendance.

District 6 City Councilmember Alex Wan

District 6 City Councilmember Alex Wan

The following elected officials were recognized and made comments at the meeting:

  • Atlanta Police Department Captain J.B. Shaw (second in command in Zone 6)
  • Georgia House of Representatives District 57 Rep. Pat Gardner
  • Atlanta City Council District 6 Councilmember Alex Wan
  • Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Board of Education (BOE) District 3 Rep. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane
  • APS BOE Member-Elect Matt Westmoreland.

Several candidates for seats on the APS BOE and Atlanta City Council were also introduced and made brief comments.

APS Board of Education member-elect Matt Westmoreland

APS Board of Education member-elect Matt Westmoreland

Election of Officers

The VHCA Nominating Committee formally introduced the following candidates for seats on the 2013-14 VHCA Board of Directors. All candidates were confirmed in the election that followed and will serve for the upcoming board year.

  • John Becker (incumbent)
  • Peggy Berg (incumbent)
  • David Brandenberger (new board member)
  • Suzanne Buck (new board member)
  • Lola Carlisle (incumbent)
  • Genny Ferrero (incumbent)
  • Paige Hewell (new board member)
  • Jenifer Keenan (incumbent)
  • Colleen Lysen (Atkins Park representative, new board member)
  • Jack White (incumbent)
  • Lauren Wilkes Fralick (incumbent)
  • Jess Windham (new board member)

Retiring board members Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner and David Wolfson were recognized and thanked for their service.

Committee Reports

Attendees were provided with a printed report detailing accomplishments made this year by the various VHCA committees. Click here to view the report.

VHCA board members (left to right) Lola Carlisle, Peggy Berg and Jack White presenting grant awards.

VHCA board members (left to right) Lola Carlisle, Peggy Berg and Jack White presenting grant awards.

Grants Awarded

The VHCA announced the awarding of the following charitable grants for 2013. A total of $15,000 in grants was awarded.

  • Grady High PTA
    • $500 in support of the Teacher Grant Program
  • Grady High College and Career Connection
    • $800 in support of college/career counseling for all Grady students
  • Inman Middle School PTA
    • $2,500 in support of teacher training in behavior reinforcement and to support all Inman students having the opportunity attend the 7th grade Jekyll Island field trip
  • Springdale Park Elementary School PTO
    • $3,000 to purchase new science kits (8) for grades K-5.
  • Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
    • $500 in appreciation and support of Atlanta Streets Alive
  • Church of Our Saviour
    • $500 in gratitude for the church’s support of the community and willingness to host multiple VHCA meetings
  • Hillside, Inc.
    • $250 in gratitude for their longstanding support of NPU-F
  • Ponce de Leon Public Library
    • $2,950 in recognition and support of the vital role public libraries play in supporting education and cultural literacy in all communities
  • PEDS
    • $500 in support of promotion of pedestrian rights and infrastructure
  • Trees Atlanta
    • $3,500 in support of their tree planting programs and advocacy for trees in our neighborhood and across the city
VHCA Board President Jack White (r) introduces Aaron Gross Award recpient Pamela Papner while former board members John Wolfinger and Winnie Currie look on.

VHCA Board President Jack White (right) introduces Aaron Gross Award recipient Pamela Papner while former board members John Wolfinger and Winnie Currie look on.

Aaron Gross Award Presented

The evening’s final order of business was a presentation of the Aaron Gross Award which was created in 2001 in honor of its namesake, a VHCA President and NPU Chair who gave many years of service to the community. The award recognizes exceptional dedication and enduring excellence in the performance of duties to both the Virginia-Highland neighborhood and to the VHCA. It is not given annually, but when the Board believes that the width and breadth of a resident’s contributions merit special recognition.

Joining VHCA Board President Jack White in presenting this year’s Aaron Gross Award to long-time board member Pamela Papner were previous recipients Winnie Currie – who developed and shaped the association’s processes and approaches to planning and zoning and remains a walking authority on the topic – and John Wolfinger, who campaigned for and gave life to a practical and effective neighborhood safety movement that is based on both newsletter outreach and a street captain system.

In presenting the award to Papner, White made the following comments:

“This year we are delighted to honor a resident who was elected to the board in 2006, served one year as Secretary, and 5 years as President. Such tenure in those jobs alone is itself meritorious, but today we recognize some very special and particular achievements. Six years ago she became the chair of Summerfest, inheriting a model that was widely regarded as satisfactory and successful. Our honoree saw an opportunity to expand the festival’s scope and reach, to engage more citizens and have more fun, and to markedly increase revenues in the process. And she had ideas of what this community could do with those revenues – prominent among them, the purchase of two lots and creation of a brand new public green space, a task that was very much beyond the capacity of the city.

Retiring VHCA board member Pamela Papner receiving the Aaron Gross Award.

Retiring VHCA board member Pamela Papner receiving the Aaron Gross Award.

Like Ms. Currie and Mr. Wolfinger, this year’s honoree will truthfully report that she had a ton of help along the way, and she did. But it was her vision and her will that inspired both the remaking of Summerfest into the event we enjoy today and the purchase and creation of the new park. The added revenues she generated have not only financed the park; they have supported renovations in Orme Park and the pending improvement project in John Howell Park, fueled community grants to all our schools and non-profits, and made possible a level of planning sophistication that included – among many other parts – the creation of Neighborhood Commercial zoning along North Highland Avenue and the Master Plan we will undertake this fall.

It’s a remarkable list of accomplishments, all done with her trademark combination of hard work, diligence, humor, back-patting, volunteer arm-twisting, and – most importantly – an ability to create and share a vision of how this community can expand and protect what has made it special for so many years. We are all much the better for what she has done.

The VHCA is honored to present the Aaron Gross Award to Pamela Papner.”

“I am so honored to have received this award,” Papner commented. “I have such tremendous respect for the Civic Association; keeping it strong is vital.  The willingness of so many citizens to band together and “give back” is what makes our community so special.”

The award comes with a $1,000 stipend that, true to form, Papner chose to apply to the outstanding debt on the new park she was instrumental in creating. Papner was also presented with a commemorative tribute card and a framed photograph of an historic Virginia-Highland street scene.

Click here to view a video of this year’s annual general meeting.

Sally Flocks of PEDS accepts a $500 grant.

Sally Flocks of PEDS accepts a $500 grant.

Madison McGillicuddy from the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. accepts a $2,950 grant.

Madigan McGillicuddy from the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. accepts a $2,950 grant.

VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Board Members: Thursday, Sept. 19th, Inman Cafeteria, 6:30 PM

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadThe Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s annual meeting and election of board of directors will be held Thursday September 19th in the Inman Middle School cafeteria, starting at 6:30 PM.

The VHCA board consists of ten members and one alternate who are elected to one-year terms by residents at the annual meeting. There’s also an ‘Atkins Park designee’ board member who is chosen by the Atkins Park Homeowners Association prior to the annual meeting.

The alternate member has historically functioned as a full board member, but formally votes only if another member is not present. The VaHi resident getting the fewest votes of the top eleven residents receiving votes in the election serves as the alternate member.

DSC06465Our neighborhood thrives because of a high level of volunteer involvement by residents in a variety of areas. The framework for much of this volunteerism is provided through VHCA’s committees: Budget, Fundraising (Summerfest, Tour of Homes), Planning, Preservation and History, Parks, Safety, Education and Communications.  Please visit  http://vahi.org/inside-vhca/committees-and-chairs/ for a complete list of the association’s committees, their areas of responsibility and their current chairs/members.

A list of those serving on the 2012-13 VHCA board and their contact information is at http://vahi.org/inside-vhca/board-members/. Any of these board members would be glad to talk with you about the responsibilities and time commitments associated with board service and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Many citizens reach the board after serving on a committee, but this is not a specific requirement for running.  If you’d like to run for a seat on the board, please send an email to communications@vahi.org with your name, contact info, a short bio, and a few comments on how and why you’d like to get involved.  A list of all residents running for the board with brief bios will be published on vahi.org and included in The Voice e-newsletter prior to the September 19 annual meeting.

We encourage all VaHi residents to attend the annual meeting and make your voice heard.  (Please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency). The more residents we have at the meeting, the more the VHCA’s 2013-14 leadership will reflect the collective thoughts and goals of our community.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our annual meeting in September.

Agenda Set for 2013 VHCA Annual/General Meeting

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadFollowing is the tentative agenda for tonight’s annual/general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual General Meeting

6:30 PM;  Thursday, September 19, 2013; Inman Middle School Cafeteria                       

Agenda

Call to Order and Welcome

Intro of Choir

  • Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus –– Chorus Director, Brianne Turgeon

Opening Remarks

Recognition of City and Elected Representatives

  • APD
  • Georgia House of Representatives District 57: Rep. Pat Gardner
  • City of Atlanta District 6: Councilmember Alex Wan
  • APS Board of Education District 3:  Rep. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane
  • APS School Board Member-Elect Matt Westmoreland
  • Other elected representatives

Recognition of Guests

  • Candidates for At-Large seats on the APS Board of Education
  • Candidates for Atlanta City Council District 6
  • Candidates for At-Large City Council seats

Nomination Committee Report and Election of Board Members

Presentation of Committee Reports

Recognition of Retiring VHCA Board Members (Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Nicole Forschler Horn, Pam Papner, David Wolfson)

VHCA Grant Awards  for 2013

Announcement of Election Results

New Business

Closing & Adjournment

2012-13 VHCA Committee Accomplishments

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadFollowing are lists of accomplishments of the various committees of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association as reported by the respective committee chairs.

Communications Committee (reported by John Becker)

  • Published 312 original articles to the VHCA website in 12 months, ensuring that all content was in support of VHCA activities, goals and objectives.
    • Actively engaged other board members and non-board members as appropriate to provide content.
    • Personally wrote or edited most articles.
    • Actively supported Summerfest and Tour of Homes committees in developing their communication plans, as well as content for their respective websites and/or pages on the VHCA site.
  • Based primarily on content posted to the website, published 27 issues of The Voice e-newsletter in 12 months, (meeting goal of publishing at least 2 issues per month).
    • Grew Voice subscriber base from 2,966 email addresses in October 2012 to 3,051 in September 2013 (3% increase).
    • Generated $5,300 in revenue from Voice advertisers. Signed The Intowners up for new ‘skyscraper’ premium ad space for six months; another advertiser has committed to leasing the space when Intowners’ agreement is up in November. Grew number of sidebar square advertisers from 3 to 7 (currently).
    • Revised/updated The Voice masthead. Masthead revision included creation of new ‘skyscraper’ premium ad space and moving premium ad space from masthead to sidebar (providing greater focus on the fact that the newsletter comes from the VHCA).
  • Served as admin for three VHCA Facebook pages (VHCA, Summerfest and Tour of Homes) and VHCA’s Twitter account. Actively used social media to promote neighborhood events, promote The Voice newsletter and other website content and provide timely alerts as needed. Posted content as appropriate to neighborhood message boards like Nextdoor VaHi and VHLIST. Also created a blog account on VaHi Patch and posted neighborhood-related content to it as appropriate.
  • Took hundreds of photos of numerous neighborhood events and activities. Created 13 online Google albums with photos from different events that are archived through the VHCA website for future reference.
  • Managed our two primary communications committee volunteers: Ida Centner (website), and Mary Johnson (website, e-newsletter). Solicited additional committee involvement and have talked to a few people who are interested in helping.
  • Along with safety chair Peggy Berg, implemented WelcomeMat service where each month new VaHi residents receive a welcome flyer from the VHCA that includes instructions to visit a welcome page on the VHCA website to learn more about the neighborhood, sign-up for The Voice e-newsletter, safety updates and more. Also designed and built the new welcome page to support the service. Flyer is delivered to roughly 200 addresses each month and we get 20-30 hits per month on the welcome page in the days following the mailing.
  • Established positive relationships with editors at VaHi Patch and Atlanta INTown resulting in those sites picking up VHCA website content on several occasions.
  • As part of initiative to establish relationships with other civic association communication chairs, met and talked with counterparts from Inman Park and Piedmont Heights and now have reciprocal arrangement to share information and ideas as appropriate.

Safety Committee (reported by Peggy Berg)

Safety

  • Hold an annual Street Captain’s meeting and Safety public meeting. The meeting was held on September 14, 2013
  • Maintain a working relationship with FBAC and encourage that group to be highly visible, effective at outreach, integrated with the community on a daily basis, financially viable, responsive to quality of life issues, and viewed as a neighborhood asset. FBAC has been submitting regular reports to its members and operating consistently.
  • Provide opportunistic support (holiday dinners, e.g.) to local Public Safety personnel. John Wolfinger organized this for our first responders at the end of 2012.

Sidewalks

  • Advocate for public policy changes in the city that both encourage the city to assume formal responsibility for and fund sidewalk repairs and greatly simplify the capacity of citizens to make their own repairs as desired. We chaired a sub-committee on sidewalks for City Council, researched red tape and neighborhood initiatives for Atlanta and provided comparison to other communities, developed detailed recommendations which were presented to City Council and DPW, met with DPW and Parks about the recommendations. Some changes have already been implemented.
  • Continue to participate on the City Council Sidewalk Committee and advocate for safer pedestrian and cycling measures.
  • Continued to monitor the anticipated CoA bond issue that contemplates funding for sidewalk repair.
  • Push the city to fulfill its commitment to complete the sidewalk repairs on St. Charles Avenue identified and funded in 2012 by residents and VHCA. Repairs completed.
  • As practical, develop a similar program in a second section of the neighborhood. Second bundle delivered to the City; a supplement is complete and will be delivered by August 21, 2014.
  • Using the methodology developed by VaHi resident Dr. Randy Guensler and his grad students at Georgia Tech, inventory the neighborhood’s sidewalks and provide that data to the city’s Public Works department. This is in progress. Participated in volunteer initiative to inventory sidewalks and will again.

Traffic & Transportation

  • With the Planning Committee, develop a formal transportation plan for VaHi. This is in progress.
  • With the Education Committee, work to improve pedestrian safety along Briarcliff near Spark. This is in progress. We extended the sidewalk bundle to improve sidewalks along Briarcliff and hope to have significant improvement between St. Charles and Ponce on the VAHI side of Briarcliff.
  • Work with the CoA to restore and enforce the directional signage at the Triangle. Worked with the CoA to restore multiple street signs and traffic indicators around the neighborhood.

Planning Committee (reported by Lola Carlisle)

Committee Members: Mark Arnold, Chip Bullock, Lola Carlisle, Karen Feigh, Genny Ferrero, Jenifer Keenan, Jess Windham, Jack White

  • Reviewed applications for variances, special exceptions and liquor licenses and made recommendations to the board.
  • Represented VHCA at NPU-F, BZA meetings.
  • Monitored the development of public policies in the city that might impact VH – including Beltline related activities, CDP updates and other transportation and development initiatives.
  • Monitored developments in NC zones.
  • Began compilation of NC zone database of business types and contacts and allocated parking for each business.
  • Responded to citizen concerns about building code violations.
  • Notified City of hazards in the neighborhood such as broken sewer drains, hazardous trees, etc.
  • Reviewed public education policy and planning that effect VH. Advocated for inclusion of the VH Planning committee in planning meeting for Inman expansion and will continue to monitor and be involved .
  • Approved plans and engaged Market + Main to develop a master plan for VH and formed a steering committee – called out for focus group participation.
  • Continued to address traffic implications resulting from overcrowding at Inman.
  • Identified original subdivisions of VH with intent to support historic efforts by subdivision.
  • Maintained updated vahi.org site with planning reports and database of information.
  • Met with new director of Callanwolde and director of Laurel Heights to ensure transfer of history regarding stormwater issues from Callanwolde and potential issues with expansion of Laurel Heights.

History & Preservation Committee (reported by Lola Carlisle)

Committee Members: Paul Burks, Rachel Blacher, Lola Carlisle, Karri Hobson-Pape, Judy Potter,  Jack White,  Jess Windham

  • Continued to add to VH historic archives.
  • Met with an archivist to discuss best practices for archiving images and documents.
  • Added historic maps to archives and development map online.
  • Served as a resource as needed for those concerned about preservation in VH.
  • Encouraged creation of and provided preservation content on vahi.org relevant to VH.
  • Called out to community to identify subdivision champions to gather history and promote preservation by subdivision. Resulted in the identification of several research projects which will result in content creation. Also resulted in the creation of a Historic Designation Steering Committee for “F.A. Ames Property / Virginia Highlands.” This committee will pursue HD for that area.

VHCA Co-Sponsoring APS BOE At-Large Candidates’ Forum This Week

110713063635_NewAPS-LogoThe Virginia Highland Civic Association and Inman Park Neighborhood Association are sponsoring an Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education At-Large Candidates’ Forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Inman Middle School auditorium, 774 Virginia Avenue NE.

Candidates in attendance are running for at-large seats Districts 7, 8 and 9. Confirmed attendees to date include: Courtney English (At-Large Seat 7); Cynthia Briscoe-Brown, Reuben McDaniel, Mark Riley and Tom Tidwell (At-Large Seat 8); Jason Esteves and Lori James (At-Large Seat 9). The event will be moderated by past CNN and WABE journalist, Susanna Capelouto.

All are welcome to attend. Please submit questions in advance to IPedevents@gmail.com.

Progress on Ponce!

Ponce-City-Market-Logo-221x300The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors wishes to sincerely thank Jodi Mansbach, Vice President of Development, Construction and Sustainability for Jamestown Properties, for hosting members of our board and that of the Poncey Highland Neighborhood Association at Ponce City Market this past weekend. We were thrilled to see the tremendous progress being made on this important redevelopment along the Atlanta BeltLine and look forward to the day when a stroll down the Eastside Trail can include a stopover at your wonderful property.

Jodi Mansback with Jamestown Properties is our host.

Jodi Mansbach with Jamestown Properties is our host.

Before the tour starts she gives use the 50,000 foot view via the model.

Before the tour starts Jodi gives us the 50,000 foot view via the model.

Hard hats donned, we begin our tour.

Hard hats donned, the tour begins.

We walk from the building where the leasing center will be, past the newly laid surface parking lot and into the west side of the building.

We walk from the building where the leasing center will be, past the newly laid surface parking lot and into the west side of the building.

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This shot shows how endless the space appears when you're inside. The restored original columns are awe-inspiring.

This shot shows how endless the space appears when you’re inside. The restored original columns are awe-inspiring.

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Jodi was very knowledgable and provided great insight into the status of the project and its importance to Jamestown Properties.

Jodi was very knowledgable and provided great insight into the status of the project and its importance to Jamestown Properties.

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VHCA Board President Jack White makes a point.

VHCA Board President Jack White makes a point.

That's a view down 8 floors...made my stomach a little queasy.

That’s a view down eight floors of stairwell…made my stomach a little queasy.

It was very hazy and the light was less than ideal, but here's a shot of the Midtown skyline.

It was hazy and the light was less than ideal, but here’s a shot of the Midtown skyline from one of the best views in the city.

This south-looking view from the roof shows just a glimpse of the development that's taking place along the BeltLine Eastside Trail.

This south-looking view from the roof shows just a glimpse of the development that’s taking place in the Old Fourth Ward along the BeltLine Eastside Trail.

The iconic water tower and flag that can be seen from just about anywhere. The water tower will actually serve a purpose by containing gray water that will provide gravity-fed cooling for the HVAC system.

The iconic water tower and flag that can be seen from just about anywhere. The water tower will actually serve a purpose by storing water that will provide gravity-fed cooling for the HVAC system.

The luck tour-goers.

The lucky tour-goers.

Click here to view the full album of photos from the group’s tour.

 

 

2013-14 VHCA Board of Directors Bios

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadFollowing are bios for members of the 2013-14 VHCA Board of Directors.

IMG_6945 - Version 2John Becker 

I’ve lived on Rosedale Rd. in VaHi for 12 years and have been an active volunteer in the neighborhood since 2005. My initial volunteer roles were at Summerfest and I also served as editor of the hard-copy Voice newsletter from 2006 until 2010. In 2012 and again this year I served as volunteer coordinator for Summerfest, successfully recruiting and managing over 300 volunteers to support the neighborhood’s largest annual fund-raising event.

I was elected to the VHCA board last year and during this term I served as chair of the communications committee. In this role I’m responsible for the vahi.org website, serve as editor and business manager for The Voice e-newsletter, and generally promote the VaHi brand and raise awareness of association and neighborhood issues through various print and digital media (i.e., I am admin for three different VaHi FB pages). I also served this past year on the Summerfest and parks committees.

I hope to continue helping out with the neighborhood’s communication needs in 2013-14. We have a very active, involved neighborhood and it’s important that we tell our story right and in all the right places.  I’d also like to continue to help provide leadership for Summerfest through involvement in that committee and to do what I can to preserve and improve VaHi’s three tremendous parks by continuing to serve on that committee.

board_peggyPeggy Berg

I moved to Virginia Highland in 1984 and have a home, rental property and had a business in the neighborhood. My husband and I raised our two sons here and I served on PTAs for Morningside Elementary, Inman Middle and Grady High Schools. We have always been active in our neighborhood.

Our family is in the hotel business (we own the Hampton Inn Northlake Mall) and I have also been a partner in a consulting firm and an international CPA firm. I have a strong business background. I have chaired several industry and professional organizations. I recently completed a Masters degree from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.

I believe that our individual involvement is what makes our neighborhood such a good place to live so I served on the VHCA Board in 2012 and 2013. I work on sidewalks and streets. This year, the City has responded to requests from us with regard to pedestrian signs, street signs, traffic lights and other maintenance items on the streets. We have also been working on a program to improve sidewalks in Virginia Highland and expect to have 29 sidewalk segments replaced by year-end with collaborative funding from VHCA, the City and property owners.

LinkedIn BrandenbergerDavid Brandenberger

I have been a homeowner on Rosedale Road for nearly fourteen years where I now live with my wife of ten years, Dana and our 6-year old son, Eric. Since playing sports and earning a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, I have been employed in various sales and sales leadership roles in the technology and now ‘cloud’ computing space, presently managing Southeast enterprise sales for a leading marketing automation company based out of Northern California.

Since living in the neighborhood, I have been fairly active with more ‘street-centric’ community activities, including helping to organize block parties, street yard sales, and at various times working with the City, DeKalb County and other adjoining non-residential neighbors to the East of Rosedale Road to try to remedy various rainwater and sewer-related runoff issues of concern to several homeowners on the street. I have a keen interest in preserving our unique intown neighborhood and the quality of life for all residents it provides.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family, gardening, cooking, coaching my son’s soccer team and enjoying our awesome neighborhood and surrounding communities. I am eager to expand my leadership and ‘community’ involvement beyond the work I have done on our street and expand this to the broader Virginia-Highland community. While I have interests in potentially working with the Parks, Planning, Communications and/or Safety committees, I feel my skills and enthusiasm would be a good fit anywhere and I am eager to be of service wherever needed most upon being elected to the Board.

IMG_1577Suzanne Buck

Though I’m a Georgia native, I’ve lived in most regions of the country as an adult. I moved back to the Atlanta area in 2005 and moved into the VaHi community in 2008. I love our neighborhood and feel proud to call it my home. It is lovely to live in an in-town, walkable, thriving community and I am happy to be part of a neighborhood that values education, the arts, health and commerce.

I have two elementary aged children; my son Cooper is 9 and is a 4th grader at Springdale Park Elementary and my daughter Della is 7 and is in 2nd grade at SPARK. Cooper and Della both love being out and about around the neighborhood, visiting friends and local parks, and eating out at one of our many fine neighborhood restaurants. Most importantly, they love being able to walk or ride something that has wheels to all these places we go week to week!

I am a CPA and I work in corporate accounting focusing primarily on the area of revenue recognition. In addition to my day job as an accountant and my full time job as a parent, I am an active athlete (boxing, kickboxing, boot camp, biking, yoga), a lover of great beer and wine, someone who appreciates laughter every day, and I try to give back to the community in whatever way I can. For all of us, some years we are able to do more and some years we aren’t able to do as much. I am a former VHMPA board member and now, after a few very hectic years at work and focusing on my kid’s early elementary years, I am excited to get more involved in community affairs once again.

board_lolaLola Carlisle 

I am currently on the VHCA board. I have volunteered with various organizations in Virginia-Highland since 1997. My husband, Tom Beisel, and I have lived in Virginia-Highland at 1030 N. Virginia Ave. since 1993, and are the second family to live at this address! We have a daughter who is 17 years old and has taken advantage of the amazing quality of life we all enjoy here in Virginia-Highland.

Over the years I’ve volunteered with VHMPA, VHCA History & Preservation efforts, PLAN – reporting to the City of Atlanta from Virginia-Highland as the zoning code was revised, the VHCA Planning Committee and various fundraising efforts of VHCA. Having a passion for preservation, I co-authored Images of America – Virginia–Highland history book with Karri Hobson-Pape. The Virginia-Highland History Center, while looking for a better permanent home, is housed at my offices – Tailfin Marketing. Feel free to stop by and talk history.

I hope to continue working with the planning and preservation committees helping to ensure that development in the area supports the neighborhood’s vision. Through proper planning and oversight, Virginia-Highland can represent the best Atlanta has to offer in a vibrant intown neighborhood.

DSC_0293_2Genny Ferrero 

Genny is a returning Board member of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, having served as Board secretary in since 2011. She is a member of the Planning and Tour of Homes committees. By way of background, Genny and her husband purchased their home in Virginia-Highland in 2011. She is relatively new to Atlanta, having relocated to Atlanta from Chicago with her family in 2009. In Chicago, Genny was a commercial real estate and finance attorney with the law firm of Baker & McKenzie. She also devoted time to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. She is now a stay-at-home mother to her three-year-old son and devotes her time to the community.

PicCivicAssocPaige Hewell

I have lived in the neighborhood on Virginia Circle for over a decade. A native Atlantan, I grew up in Buckhead and had little exposure to Va-Hi. I truly love our community and sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of it. Leon, my puppy, is loving the neighborhood as well.

My professional background is marketing. I worked primarily in telecom for 10 years before following an old boss to healthcare. I’ve loved the challenges and education I’ve gained from the switch.

Though a latecomer to neighborhood volunteerism, I have really enjoyed working on the Summerfest organization committee. I became involved in many activities that I had never imagined I would, such as appearing in a TV promo and even fence building. I’ve gotten to know some great people whom I might not have met otherwise. I’ve loved every minute of it.

I look forward to continuing my involvement with Summerfest and serving on the board of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

Keenan-jeniferJenifer Keenan 

I am a mom, wife, lawyer, and community activist who has lived in Virginia Highland for 10 years. I take great pride in our neighborhood and have been an active neighborhood advocate on the BeltLine and important neighborhood issues. Many may remember me from the “Flowers Not Towers” grass roots campaign opposing the 40-story towers that a developer wanted to build at Piedmont Park near 10th & Monroe.

I have served as the Secretary of NPU-F for the past several years and in that capacity have formed strong relationships with community leaders. My service as NPU Secretary has also allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the issues facing our neighborhoods and the most effective ways to deal with those challenges. My neighbors, friends, work colleagues and fellow NPU board members would all describe me as a “go-getter” – when I see something that needs to be improved or changed, I work hard to make it happen!

I was elected to the VHCA board last year and served on the Planning and Education Committees.  I was recently selected as the co-chair of the VHCA Master Plan submcommittee. The comprehensive Master Plan will address many of the most important topics facing our community, including zoning and development, historic preservation, traffic, parks and open space, environmental issues. I look forward to serving on the Board for 2013 – 2014 and plan to focus on the Master Plan over the next year.

ViHi headshot clColleen Lysen

I’m a new resident of Atkins Park/Virginia-Highland, my husband and I bought our house in May of 2013. Originally I’m from the Philadelphia area, two years ago when we visited Atlanta for the first time we knew that the Virginia-Highland area would be where we would want to live.  We loved all the great restaurants, historic homes, and walking though the neighborhoods parks.

I work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a molecular epidemiology team that focuses on water borne parasitic diseases.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling and food related endeavors including cooking, tending to my vegetable garden (fending off the squirrels), and trying new foods and restaurants. I have a 4-year-old Australian Shepherd that loves to go for long walks throughout the neighborhood and exploring the great parks that Atlanta has to offer.

Jack White 

When my (then four-year old) daughter and I moved from Midtown to Virginia-Highland in 1984, we were the two youngest people on the half-block.  If I am not now the oldest, I’m pretty darn close. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly water use and stream issues, a field in which I’ve worked for several decades. Our neighborhood schools that both my kids attended are pretty high on the list too.

I’m grateful for the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s role in helping shape the history of the community.  If the residents of the late 60’s and early 70’s hadn’t organized and stood together with their allies to the north and south, it’s very likely that most of us wouldn’t be living in – and might not even recognize – this neighborhood today.  The idea of a huge interstate highway cleaving the Old Fourth Ward, clipping the Inman School parking lot, splitting Orme Park, and blasting through our neighborhood and Morningside seems even more preposterous in retrospect than it did then, but I believe it’s accurate to say that the successful struggle to prevent that road’s construction represented the first defeat of its scope for the (then) Georgia Highway Department.  (Thankfully, there would be more, the original huge Presidential Parkway among them.)

It took endless energy and an almost illogical faith in the potential of citizen movements to stop that road.   The lasting gifts of that period include are a tradition of openness and a belief in the power of organization that are as important  today as they were then.  The challenges of our decade are not as obvious nor as dramatic, but the need for a strong and democratic community organization that capably advocates for the neighborhood remains very clear.

I’ve enjoyed serving on the board these last two years.  The experience has made me even more appreciative of the Association’s wide range of activities and the volume of effort that our volunteers expend.   The challenges and occasional frustrations have been more than counterbalanced by the chance to work with large numbers of energetic, humorous, and hardworking optimists who like to get things done.  I’d be pleased to serve another year.

Lauren Wilkes FralickLauren Wilkes Fralick 

Lauren and her husband Frank moved to the neighborhood in 2011. They live on Highland View with their dog Abner. Lauren works in Government Relations for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. On the weekends, you may find her working on one of the many “do it yourself” projects they have going on at their home.

Lauren has been a board member for two years and has been a driving force on the Parks Committee. Lauren looks forward to another year serving the neighborhood.

Jess at 4th and SwiftJess Windham

I recently moved to Virginia-Highland with my boyfriend after living in three other parts of Atlanta. This area is certainly the best. A transplant from Charleston, SC, I studied Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston and soon after earned an MBA at The Citadel. Now I’m working as a commercial account manager on an energy efficiency program across the state. I’ve always enjoyed volunteering, either with Lifecycle Building Center, ULI’s Sustainability Committee, or organizing Earth Day for my Green Team at work.

Since day one of moving to Virginia-Highland, I have been active with the neighborhood through the VHCA Planning and Historic Preservation Committees. I joined the committees earlier this year and have reviewed variances, gathered feedback from neighbors on issues, presented on behalf of VHCA at the NPU, and provided input at Board meetings.

In my free time, I like to walk to our great VaHi restaurants or over to Inman Park, Poncey-Highland, or Little Five. I keep my eyes peeled for free art Fridays around town and enjoy crafting, reading Atlanta news, and planning adventures. I have a diplomatic approach, a desire to contribute, and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the neighborhood.

I’d like to be involved on the board so that I can support the neighborhood with broad initiatives, from master planning to fundraising for our parks. Having served on the Planning and Preservation committees, I understand the time, patience, and dedication needed to create positive changes that keep the neighborhood vibrant. Change is inevitable and the desirability of VaHi is only going to grow. I’d like to be on the board to ensure the character and quality of life in Virginia-Highland continues to get better each year.

VHCA Announces Candidates for 2013-14 Board of Directors; Absentee Ballot Available

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadThe nominating committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy. Click on the candidate’s name to go to a page with candidate bio’s.

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual General Meeting to be held September 19, 2013 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting at 6:30 PM. In order to vote, please bring a copy of a valid ID (GA driver’s license, e.g.) or a utility bill issued within 60 days of the meeting and showing your name and address.

Absentee Ballot

Members may also vote by absentee ballot. Your ballot along with a copy of one of the forms of identification mentioned above may be delivered to the offices of Tailfin Marketing (1246 Virginia Ave.) by noon on Thursday, September 19th or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 6:30 PM. Please put your ballot in a sealed envelope with the identification documents separately sealed inside or stapled to the outside. (Please cross out specific account or driver license numbers.) After your residency is verified, the identification documents will be removed and destroyed. Your ballot will remain anonymous.

Click here for a copy of the absentee ballot.

VHCA Announces Process to Develop Neighborhood Master Plan

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadIn July of this year, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association announced the formation of a Task Force to guide the creation of a transportation plan for Virginia-Highland. This plan contemplated combining public input and review of existing factors with professional planning guidance to create an effective set of goals based on an overall vision. We asked for volunteers; the number of citizens who responded represented an impressive cross-section of VaHi residents.

As we tried to define the scope of such a plan, many closely related topics emerged that are fundamental to the community’s future, though not directly related to transportation. In order to make the most efficient use of the feedback processes and resources needed for any such public effort, it became clear to the Board that it makes more sense to broaden the planning scope beyond transportation to key topics like open space, urban design characteristics, historic resources, public services, demographic issues, development variables, environmental challenges, and educational concerns. The result will be a Master Plan for Virginia-Highland.

The advantages of a formal master plan are considerable. One is obvious: it’s a formal chance for citizens to examine alternatives and create goals in the context of existing development plans, policy and research. Visions that are formed absent such contexts have very limited chances of being implemented. Additionally, most governments – including the City of Atlanta – are far more likely to approve and fund projects that are broadly consistent with their own approaches and have been formally adopted through a recognized master plan process. Once just a very good idea, community-based master plans are now a practical necessity in large urban areas. Neighborhoods that have such plans are far better situated than those that do not.

Our neighbors in Poncey-Highland and Candler Park have recently completed master plans; they may be viewed at http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=767 and  http://www.candlerparkmasterplan.com, respectively.

The timeline and method for creating this plan is approximately 8 to 12 months, with public engagement and meetings throughout the process. The process will be led by our longtime planning consultant and partner, Market +Main, under the guidance of Aaron Fortner, who played such a key role in the adoption of the Neighborhood Commercial Zoning along North Highland Avenue.

Market + Main will facilitate a variety of focus groups on broad topics such as:

  • Neighborhood businesses and market conditions
  • School site analysis and planning
  • Historic preservation, zoning, and land use
  • Parks, green space, and environmental resources
  • Traffic and transportation

There will be many opportunities to contribute to this effort, and we would like to hear from you. Please keep an eye out for announcements throughout the fall season for public engagement, both in-person and online. Throughout the process, we will be compiling information on this website: http://www.vahimasterplan.org/. While no requirement other than residency is needed to be part of this process, you can let us know if you are particularly interested in serving on a focus group by providing this form to Jenifer Keenan at jkeenanvahi@yahoo.com by Sept. 9.

  • Name, address, and time as VaHi resident or business owner
  • Why are you interested in serving on the Focus Group?
  • What expertise/experience do you have in the area that will be covered by the Focus Group?
  • Focus Group (choose one):  1) Neighborhood Businesses 2) Schools 3) Historic Preservation, Zoning, & Land Use 4) Parks, Green Space, & Environmental Resources, 5) Traffic and Transportation

Agenda Set for August 12 VHCA Board and General Meeting

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadHere’s the tentative agenda for tonight’s monthly board and general meeting of the VHCA. The public is invited to attend the meeting which will be held at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. and start at 7:00 PM.

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda (with permission for chair to rearrange order as needed) & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire Department representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other Elected Officials & Guests

  • Joan Garner, Fulton County Zone 6 Commissioner
  • Kate Baltzell, Trees Atlanta education coordinator (Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum)

Planning Committee – Lola Carlisle

Variances – Lola Carlisle

VaHi Master Plan – Jenifer Keenan and Jess Windham

Fundraising

  • Summerfest – Pam Papner
  • Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

  • Sidewalks update
  • Streets Alive – Sunday, October 6, 2013

Parks -  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park update

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Tentative Agenda Set for July 8 VHCA Board and General Meeting

Here’s the tentative agenda for tonight’s meeting which will be held at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. starting at 7 PM. The public is invited.

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda (with permission for chair to rearrange order as needed) and Minutes

Reports from Police and Fire Dept. representatives

  • Special report by Lt. Jeff Baxter of APD’s new Path Force BeltLine Patrol

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials and guests

Planning Committee – Lola Carlisle

Change of agent and change of corporate ownership for liquor license:

  • Erik Maier, Yeah Burger, 1017 North Highland Ave. NE.  (No LRB filing number provided by NPU-F; requested for this meeting from applicant.)  Applicant reports no history of liquor code violations or charges; in-house training program to continue. Subject to provision of application in a timely manner, Planning Committee unanimously recommends forwarding to NPU-F with no objection.

Variances:

  • V-13-021;  960 Highland Terrace NE  - withdrawn by applicant.  Planning Committee recommends denial without prejudice.
  • V-13-077;  770 Greenwood Ave. NE.; RG2 zoning; revised application for a reduction in the side yard setback from 7’ required to 3’ for the construction of a new garage and 2nd floor office.  Requested setback minimizes impact on 30”+ slash pine in NW corner of yard that si believed to be the largest such tree in the neighborhood. Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval, subject to provision of all letters of notification and standard VaHi accessory building conditions (60A maximum electrical service and plumbing restricted to hose bib connection only with no connection to sewer system), and applicant’s promise – in light of reduced buffer) to be mindful of construction impacts on east-side neighbor.
  • V-13-099;  1062 Maryland Ave NE; R-4 zoning.   Applicant requests a reduction in the rear yard setback to 5’ to expand the southwest corner of an existing garage being rebuilt on an otherwise existing foundation.  The application includes a toilet and sink inside the garage.  The applicant has appropriately notified the neighbors.  Noting the historic potential and practice of some such structures being converted to illegal residences, the Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval of the expanded rear setback with standard VaHi accessory building conditions (60A maximum electrical service and plumbing restricted to hose bib connection only with no connection to sewer system.)
  • V-13-101; 1050 Ponce de Leon Ave (Briarcliff Summit);  R-4 zoning.  Deferred at request of the applicant.
  • V-13-116; 848  Highland Terrace NE; R-4 zoning.  Appeal of property owners at 854 Highland Terrace NE of a City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management riparian buffer delineation at 848 Highland Terrace and the subsequent issuance of a building permit based on that decision.  Planning Committee unanimously recommends support of the appeal and the use of a standard and typical buffer delineation.

VaHi Transportation Plan – Jenifer Keenan and Jess Windham

Fundraising

  • Summerfest – Pam Papner
  • Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

  • Sidewalks update
  • Streets Alive – Sunday, October 6, 2013

Parks –  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park update

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Agenda for March 11, 2013 VHCA Board and General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM, Monday March 11 2013; Ponce de Leon Ave. Library

Meeting Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda and Approval of Minutes  

Reports from Police and Fire Representatives

City of Atlanta Officials  

Other Elected Officials and Guests

Planning Committee: Lola Carlisle

> Addition of new member Jess Windham

Variances

V-13-017, 617 Cresthill Ave NE

V-13-019, 1049 North Virginia Avenue NE

V-13-027, 988 Lanier Blvd NE

V-13-028, 750 Drewry Street NE

V-13-033, 994 Lanier Blvd NE

VHCA Goals and Budget for 2013

Fundraising

> Summerfest update – Pamela Papner

Parks:  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

> John Howell Park report

> New Highland Park grand opening event – Pamela Papner

Safety

> Sidewalks Update – Peggy Berg

New Business

Calendar Items: Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Agenda Set for VHCA Meeting – February 11, 2013

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, February 11, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Agenda

  • Call to Order
  • Adoption of Agenda & Approval of Minutes
  • Reports from Public Safety representatives
  • City of Atlanta officials
  • Other elected officials & guests
  • Randy Guensler, Ga. Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Committee Reports:
    • Fundraising
      • Summerfest update – Pam Papner
      • Planning  – Lola Carlisle
        • V-13-002, 1026 Bellevue Drive NE.  Homeowner and applicant Celia O’Keefe seek a special exception to relocate a bedroom inside the existing footprint of a legal non-conforming duplex with a grandfathered apartment in an accessory structure in the rear.  The room currently being used for a bedroom for their small child was not designed for that purpose. A site visit revealed no other issues.  At the Planning Committee meeting on 2-5-13, the applicant had proof of notification of the relevant neighbors.  There were no objections or other relevant comments, and the committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned on site plans stamped and dated 1-8-13.
        • LRB _____ . Applicant and owner Emile Blau seeks a license to sell spirituous liquors at the American Roadhouse, 842 N. Highland Avenue NE.  The applicant’s application was mysteriously undated despite its trip through the City, an unusual (but not unheard of) result. The applicant attended the Planning Committee meeting on 2-5-13 and avers as follows: He has 23 years of experience in the restaurant management at Bones and related businesses; his proposed manager has similar experience. Neither has been personally cited or represented a business cited for underage service of alcohol. He will do in-house training for staff on alcohol service, recognition of boisterous behavior, and identification of conditions that dictate the refusal of service.  The Planning Committee recommended that the application go forward without opposition.
        • Aaron Fortner, Market & Main
          • Analysis of Middle School expansion impacts on traffic, land use, and neighborhood balance
  • Adjournment

VHCA Board Members Meet With APS Superintendent; Discuss Overcrowding Task Force Recommendations

Inman Middle School

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

In December, the Inman Task Force formed by school board representative Cecily Harsch-Kinnane issued a report on the two issues it was asked to consider: (1) whether a 6th or 8th grade academy would be a better short-term solution for the Grady Cluster’s overcrowding, and (2) potential sites for such an academy. The Task Force preferred a 6th grade academy and named three possible sites, two of them in Virginia-Highland (one next to the existing Inman building, and the other being the block south of Cresthill Avenue and west of Monroe now occupied by about eight private homes that would be torn down.)

The VHCA Planning Committee asked Aaron Fortner – the principal at Market & Main and our municipal consultant for several years – to analyze a number of important factors outside the purview of the Task Force, particularly the traffic, policy, and planning implications and impacts of construction at the two VaHi locations. His firm compared such outcomes at those two sites to a third location also recommended (less enthusiastically) by the Task Force: the Howard School located in the Old Fourth Ward.

The Market & Main analysis is available here.

Well aware that APS will consider many factors in reaching this decision and facing an announced end-of-January deadline, we very much wanted this information and these concerns to be in front of APS Superintendent Erroll Davis before he acted. Accordingly, members of the VHCA Planning Committee met with Superintendent Davis and other APS officials last week to present the findings contained in the Market & Main report.

Our discussion with Superintendent Davis was cordial, detailed, and thorough; he specifically asked about the history of the neighborhood, the Civic Association, and its historic support of public education. Davis spoke carefully, as he always does, making several key points: (1) His anticipated January deadline for a decision will not be met; (2) He is looking for a site that could accommodate a middle school in the future, though he did not say that one would be built; (3) None of the locations recommended by the Task Force is ideal, and APS is reviewing many options, including the original three sites.

The Market & Main report makes no recommendation as to what location should be picked, but we are aware that the conclusions in it may not be welcomed by anyone who believes that expansion at the Inman or Monroe sites is the only acceptable outcome to the attendance challenges facing the Grady cluster. The report focuses on the overall impacts of building in VaHi – increased traffic, non-conforming land use, congestion – and the implications that flow from them, specifically those that might contribute over the long run to permanently altering the residential character of the neighborhood.

Such challenges exist in many contexts independent of possible new school construction. The popularity of the Beltline has heightened traffic/pedestrian conflicts on an already-stressed Monroe (where both the Piedmont Heights Master Plan and the Beltline Plan suggest changes), and pedestrian safety on Briarcliff is a very real concern for those walking to SPARK. A separate public meeting next week at Inman Middle School will hear about pending traffic changes intended to relieve congestion on Ponce.  The neighborhood has existing un-built commercial and residential capacity, the eventual utilization of which is very likely to exacerbate today’s traffic challenges.

The permanent impacts of unplanned construction in our neighborhood outside the Comprehensive Development Plan require especially thorough consideration. Our primary goal – as it is frequently is in such matters – was to examine the traffic and policy issues in a professional context with an independent planner, and that is what Market and Main provided.

As always, please let us know your thoughts about the report. Aaron Fortner will be at our next VHCA meeting (February 11th, 7 PM, Ponce library) to amplify on his work.

Agenda Set for January 14, 2013 VHCA Board Meeting

The VHCA has posted the following agenda for tonight’s regular monthly board meeting. This agenda is tentative and subject to change.

Virginia Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, January 14, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order     

Adoption of Agenda & Approval of Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire Representatives

City of Atlanta Officials

Other Elected Officials & Guests

  • Bill Seay, Piedmont Heights Master Plan

VHCA Committee Reports and Proposed Goals and Budgets for 2013 

Fundraising

Tour of Homes -  Financial Summary: Arturo Cruz-Tucker

Summerfest Update – Pamela Papner

Planning  - Lola Carlisle

  • V – 12- 217   Ponce de Leon Terrace NE.  Applicant Magdalena Bach (on behalf of owner John Vertefeuille) seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’8”.  A Planning Committee site visit on 1-7-13 revealed no concerns regarding the setback allowance or tree or runoff issues of concern. The Committee unanimously recommended approval at its meeting on 1-9-13, conditioned on site plans stamped and dated 12-19-12 and proof of notification of the standard eight adjacent owners. The committee recommended native plantings to absorb water from the area at the rear of the property above an intermittent stream; the stream enters an underground in a pipe immediately upstream (to the east), but the area is predictably wet. The applicant agreed to research and provide appropriate options to the owner.

Parks –  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park report
  • VHCL – Pamela Papner
  • New Highland Park opening

Budget Committee – Arturo Cruz-Tucker

Safety Committee

  • Sidewalks Update – Peggy Berg

New Business

Calendar Items

  • Lola Carlisle

Adjournment

Piedmont Heights Master Plan To Be Presented at January VHCA Board Meeting

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

Bill Seay from the Piedmont Heights Civic Association (PHCA) will make a brief presentation on that group’s proposed new master plan at this month’s regular VHCA board meeting. The meeting is scheduled for Monday January 14 at 7 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Piedmont Heights, Virginia-Highland, Morningside/Lenox Park, and Lindridge/Martin Manor are the neighborhoods that comprise NPU-F. The PHCA defines Piedmont Heights’ boundaries as being roughly I-85 on the north, the (future) BeltLine on the southwest, and Piedmont Road on the south and east. The association is seeking NPU approval for their master plan, and part of that process involves giving adjacent neighborhoods the chance to hear about the plan first-hand.

The plan merits our attention, partly because the VHCA Planning Committee has been examining the planning implications of traffic issues on our major streets for some time, and specifically because the PHCA’s plan supports the BeltLine-adopted future recommendation of reducing Monroe Drive from 4 to 3 lanes north of Piedmont. The PHCA has had to contend with Monroe as a choke point for decades. Their thinking is shifting away from expanding that street’s capacity and toward trying to making it more pedestrian and cycling-compatible, characteristics it emphatically does not possess at this point anywhere along its length.

Given the new pedestrian/bike usage and increased crowds at the new BeltLine connection with Monroe in VaHi, this challenge is increasingly front and center for us as well. BeltLine usage is likely to increase dramatically this spring. As Monroe is currently the only formal entrance point the BeltLine trail from our neighborhood, pedestrian safety is a real concern.

Click here for more details on Piedmont Height’s proposed master plan.

 

The VHCA Needs Your Help

By: Lola Carlisle, VHCA Board Vice-President

Interested in investing some time giving back to this wonderful in-town community that means so much to all of us? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) has much work to do and volunteers are needed! If you’re not familiar with the VHCA please visit our website at vahi.org to learn more about our neighborhood, the association and the many ways you can get involved.

Following are two current immediate needs but volunteers of all interests are always welcome. For more information or to volunteer, email board@vahi.org.

The Historic & Preservation Committee is currently searching through old civic association documents, organizing them and digitizing as much as we can. We’d love an organized, tech savvy volunteer to take on this task. If you’d like to learn more about the committee and its goals look us up at http://vahi.org/planning/preservation/ or email us at preservation@vahi.org.

• Also, the Planning Committee is busy year round and the work this committee does is very important. The committee reviews zoning variance applications and monitors a range of development activities in our area and surrounding neighborhoods. As a start, we need an organized and somewhat tech savvy volunteer to help set up and attend meetings and create and post reports. Serving in this position will be a good way to begin to learn all about the Planning Committee, city zoning approval processes and more. To learn more go to http://vahi.org/planning/ or mail us at planing@vahi.org

I can say from personal experience that working with the association and its board and committee members of the VHCA is a rewarding experience. As a group, those who volunteer are fun to be with and inspiring, and the organization’s goals and achievements are worthy.

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from eager volunteers.

Minutes: October 8, 2012 VHCA Board Meeting

Monday, October 8, 2012; the Church of Our Saviour 

CALL TO ORDER

Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM.   The following board members were present:   John Becker, Lola Carlisle,  Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Genny Ferrero, Pamela Papner, David Rein, and Jack White.  Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Nicole Foerschler Horn,  Jennifer Keenan, and David Wolfson and were absent with notice.  Peggy Berg had provided notice of a conflict and arrived subsequently.

WELCOME FROM  FATHER JOHN BOLTON

Father John Bolton extended a warm welcome to the Association, guests, and community members.

ADOPTION OF AGENDA

Mr. White moved to approve the agenda, the motion was seconded by Ms. Carlisle, and the motion passed unanimously.

REPORTS FROM POLICE & FIRE REPRESENTATIVES

The evening shift commander for Zone 6, Neil Klotzer, spoke.   He noted that while he he did not have any statistical data available, the neighborhood’s crime statistics are available online.  He further welcomed any questions from the audience.

It was reported by an audience member that there were three robberies last month in the neighborhood, and that there is an unofficial discussion is ongoing as to whether the people who recently committed similar robberies in Midtown were the same.   Mr. Klotzer advised that he would look into the matter and invited further inquiries by providing his contact information ( NKlotzer@atlantaga.gov; 404-617-8157.    Following additional questioning, Mr. Klotzer further indicated that there were no reported incidents from the recent Streets Alive event.

Other elected officials & guests

None

VHCA Committee reports

Organizational Board Meeting.   Ms. Carlisle reported that the Board had its Organizational Board Meeting on September 23 and that Board officers were elected at that time as follows:   Jack White, President; Lola Carlisle, Vice President; Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Treasurer; Genny Ferrero, Secretary.   Ms. Carlise further commented on the appointment of committee chairs, all of which will be available on the VHCA website.

Planning

V-12-070;  1041 Greencove Ave. NE.   Applicant Mark Arnold spoke on behalf of owners Karrie Furman and Jeffrey Glover, who have requested a reduction in side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3.5’.   Ms. Carlisle reported that during a site visit, no tree issue or runoff issues were observed and that the Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval.  Mr. White moved that the Board recommend approval to the NPU, conditioned upon the site plan dated 9/19/12 and proof of mailing to adjacent neighbors; the motion passed unanimously.

Parks

Mr. White spoke on behalf of Lauren Wilkes Fralick.  He reported that the application for a grant in support of the Association’s recently-approved John Howell Park Conceptual Plan had been submitted to Park Pride and that a decision was expected in the next month.  He further acknowledged and thanked all of the volunteers who made the October 7th Triangle Planting a success.   Ms. Papner spoke regarding New Highland Park, noting that construction of the park was proceeding  apace and should be substantially complete by the next meeting.   An audience member questioned whether Mr. Glancy has provided the funds raised from his race to the VHCA yet for the construction of New Highland Park.   He has not, Ms. Papner reported on behalf of VHCL.

Fundraising

Tour of Homes.   Angelika Taylor provided an update to the Board, stating that the TOH committee already has $10,000 in sponsorships. There will be six homes and one B&B on the Tour this year, and several magazines have also agreed to publish articles on the event.

Summerfest / New Highland Park.   Ms. Papner informed the Board that this was the best year ever – netting approximately $195,000 in Summerfest proceeds.

Safety/ Sidewalks  Ms. Berg spoke regarding ongoing and proposed sidewalk projects.   She noted that many crosswalks in the neighborhood have been recently improved at her request, and that she is investigating the possibility of adding ADA curbs on various sites.   She also presented a check to the Board for the amount received from the recycling and sale of pavers removed from old sidewalks during replacement.  She explained that the St. Charles bundle will be installed in the next couple of months and, moving forward, she moved for Board permission to investigate three possible bundles in the future and make necessary repairs that fall within the allotted budget.   Mr. White seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Communications.   Mr. Becker spoke regarding the communications committee, and noted that all communications projects are proceeding smoothly.

There was no new business.

Calendar Items

Lola Carlisle commented that the next board meeting will also be held at the Church of our Saviour on November 12.

John Wolfinger reported that there is a graffiti clean-up scheduled for Saturday, October 20, at 9:00 am, to address the remaining graffiti at the back of the Highland Theater.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 7:50 PM.

Minutes: September 10, 2012 VHCA Board Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, September 10, 2012; Ponce de Leon Library

Call to Order

Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7:01. The following board members were present:  Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Brian Gross, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner, Jack White, John Wolfinger, and David Wolfson.  Lauren Wilkes Fralick was absent with notice. Mr. Glancy did not attend.

Adoption of Agenda &  Approval of Minutes

Ms. Foerschler Horn made and Mr. White seconded a motion to adopt the attached agenda, which was approved without objection.

Reports from Police & Fire representatives

None.

City of Atlanta officials

None.

Other Elected officials & guests

None.

VHCA Committee reports

Planning

V-12-134 – 870 Adair Ave.   Applicant Charles Toti (architect Jeffrey Griffin) seeks variances to: (1) reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required ) to 20’, and (2) reduce the half-depth front yard (along Barnett St.) from 17.5’ (required) to 7’ to allow a second story addition. Architect Jeffrey Griffin spoke on behalf of the applicant.   He noted that the application did not increase the existing lot coverage and only went upward.   He reported that letters of notification have been sent to all neighbors; no concerns have been expressed. Ms. Carlisle noted that the Planning Committee performed a site visit on August 17th and that no tree or runoff issues were observed.  The Planning Committee  unanimously recommends VHCA approval based on site plans dated and stamped August 8, 2012 and proof of mailing to notification of specified adjacent property owners.  Ms. Carlisle moved to approve per the Committee’s recommendations; Ms. Foerschler Horn seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

V-12-135 – 880 Virginia Circle. Ms. Carlisle reported that applicant Matt Perrine has requested deferral for one month, and this item was not heard.

V-12-138 – 1100 Rosewood Dr. Applicant Jason Douget seeks a variance to (1) reduce the required front yard setback from 35’ to 25’ feet (existing) and to (2) reduce the required side yard setback on the south from 7’ to 2.6’ (existing) to allow a 2nd-story addition.

Builder Tony Tripoli spoke on behalf of the applicant and stated that the existing roof line will remain virtually unchanged; proof of mailings to all neighbors have been supplied.  Mr. Tripoli noted that three of the neighbors have supplied written approval of the plans, and that a fourth neighbor has indicated verbal approval.

Ms. Carlisle noted that at the Planning Committee site visit of August 30, 2012, no apparent runoff or tree issues were noted. The Planning Committee therefore unanimously recommends approval conditioned on site plans stamped and dated August 21, 2012 and proof of appropriate notification of specified adjacent property owners. Mr. White moved to approve the Planning committee recommendations; Ms. Carlisle seconded, and it was unanimously approved.

V-12-140 – 700 Park Drive. Applicant Barry Wright seeks a variance to reduce the required half-depth front yard setback from 17.5’ to 8.3’ (existing) to allow for a 2nd-story addition and to construct a new driveway 23’ wide (20’ allowed.)  Mr. Wright presented the variance request.   He has three of eight signatures from the neighbors, and he is attempting to reach the remaining neighbors individually, but all proofs of mailing have been sent out.

A discussion ensued regarding the width of the driveway entancec and the slope of the lot upon which it sits. After a site visit on August 28, 2012, the Planning Committee asked for new stamped elevations attached to the site plan showing that the slope of the hill and height of the wall adjacent to the proposed new driveway  will conform to the existing grade in the half-depth front yard, to ensure proper visibility of and from cars backing from the driveway. Two public trees – one which was deemed hazardous by the Parks arborist – will be removed.  One public tree will be removed; the applicant will pay recompense as calculated. Ms. Carlisle requested that Mr. Wright provide an update on trees. Due to the removal of several trees on the site, the applicant is seeking to add four trees along their property at Elkmont, and four more at John Howell Park.

Ms. Carlisle reported that the Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned as amended and proof of appropriate notification of specified adjacent property owners. She therefore moved to approve the application based upon the site plans dated August 22, 2012, and the amended driveway sketches dated September 9, 2012 (which address the sight lines). Mr. White seconded the motion, and it was approved unanimously.

Nominating Committee and Annual General Meeting – Lola Carlisle

Ms. Carlisle spoke on behalf of the nominating committee and listed the individuals who have agreed to run as Board candidates on the upcoming Annual General Meeting – John Becker, Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Genny Ferrero, Lauren Wilkes Fralick,  Nicole Foerschler Horn , Jenifer Keenan, Pamela Papner, David Rein,  Jack White, and David Wolfson – all of whom it recommended for election.

Mr. White thanked the Committee for its work and moved to approve the committee’s recommendations; Ms. Ferrero seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Mr. White further mentioned that a few members will be leaving the board and that we will take a moment to thank them for their service at the general meeting on September 13.

Other Committee Reports 

Mr. Wolfinger spoke regarding $171 that was previously supplied to the Association by the street captain on St. Charles for the removal of graffiti.  The intent was to use the money for the reimbursement of those community members who expended funds in removal efforts. However, because their reimbursement has been done in another fashion, the donor would like the funds returned. Mr. White asked Mr. Dworet if the Association can simply refund the money, and he affirmed that it can.

Ms. Foerschler Horn provided an update regarding school issues, noting that additional neighborhood children are using APS buses based on the extended routes. The City has a set up a meeting with GDOT to discuss better signage along Briarcliff road for children crossing on their way to school.

Mr. White discussed the Parks Committee’s preparation of an application to Park Pride for funding support for the renovations at John Howell Park outlined and specified in the Association’s recently-adopted conceptual plan. If successful, such an application will require support from the Association in a combination of in-kind and cash match on a dollar-for-dollar basis, predominantly cash.  He asked that the board approve and support such an application; Ms. Carlisle seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

New Business

None.

Calendar Items

None.

Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 PM.

VOICE to go all digital

In the August 2012 VHCA Board meeting, the Board voted to immediately discontinue publication of the VOICE as a printed magazine, although special editions may be published in the future as warranted. This decision came after audience discussion as well as a notice on the cover of May's printed edition of the VOICE. VHCA will realize cost savings of over $10,000 a year, money that will now be available to benefit the community in other ways. Since moving to our new e-newsletter format in December 2011, we have received much positive feedback about them, which provide residents more timely information.  Remember to tell your neighbors to sign up for the e-newsletters on this site and to look for the red box. If you have neighbors without email access that would like to receive printouts of the e-newsletters, please let us know at communications@vahi.org.

PDF copies of VOICE 1990-1995

Thanks to Nan Hunter for providing us with most back issues of the VOICE from 1990 through 1995. We've scanned them and uploaded them to this website. You can find them by going to News/Events and selecting VOICE (Print Edition) Archive, or by following this direct link. We have provided a summary listing of most articles in each VOICE. You can also use the topic index on the right side of the page to find editions with articles on topics of interest to you.  Nan Hunter worked on the newsletter and for the VHCA for many years, and you can find her recycling and environmental columns in these issues.

Proposed revisions to VHCA bylaws

Here are links to:

(1) the existing bylaws

(2) the proposed new bylaws, for the membership’s consideration (and potential adoption) at our Annual General Meeting on September 13th at Inman Middle School; and

(3) some explanations and commentary on the changes by their primary authors, board members Genny Ferrero and Jack White.

We suggest starting with the Commentary and proceeding from there.

Your comments and suggestions are requested and welcomed:: planning@vahi.org

Voice – Summer 2011

Download PDF here (7.5 MB)

- Summerfest
- Recent accomplishments of VHCA
- Maintaining curb appeal
- Funding received to benefit Orme and New Highland parks
- Rosedale Dr./N. Virginia intersection improvements made
- New businesses (Catalyst, Genki)
- History Part XI

Voice – Fall 2010

Download PDF (1.5 MB)

- Summerfest success
- President’s Corner: VHCA achievements of past 12 months
- Historic designation interest survey results to be presented
- Atlanta’s oldest fire station seeks funds for renovation
- Green Dream – New Highland Park fundraising
- Osteria 832
- Gas main replacement project nears completion
- History part VIII
- Public safety update: city codes and code violators
- Java Jive
- 2010 Tour of Homes with Design Forum
- Membership

Voice – Fall 2009

Download PDF (2.8 MB)

- Summerfest success
- Safety: our neighborhood connection VHList with 331 members
- President’s corner: past year’s achievements
- Streetscape Phase II (Triangle area) update
- Neighborhood arboretum coming to VaHi
- History part IV
- School news: MES, Inman
- New Highland Park fundraising update
- Join the New Highland Park Conservancy
- Neighborhood feels impact of Callanwolde construction
- New afterschool program (Garrison)
- City Storage
- Col. Mustard reviews D.B.A. Barbeque

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