VHCA Monthly Planning Meeting

The VHCA Planning Committee meets with residents seeking zoning variance requests to discuss the impact of the variance on neighboring properties. Approval or denial recommendations are then made for consideration by the VHCA’s full board of directors.

Meetings are held at 7 PM on the Wednesday before the second Monday of every month at the Church of Our Saviour, 1068 N. Highland Ave. (across from the fire station).

VHCA Hosts BeltLine Overlay Information Session

DSC_0024By: Jess Windham

Over the past year, the city has been revisiting each section – or subarea – of the BeltLine overlay district to review and update the underlying zoning. Virginia-Highland is in subarea 6, which – along with subareas 2 and 9 – is next on the list for this public review process.  To prepare for the discussion, Virginia-Highland Civic Association hosted a public meeting at Church of Our Savior on Wednesday July 30.

At this meeting, we learned from planner Aaron Fortner of Market+ Main that a primary goal of the process is to better define and identify reasonable and appropriate heights, land uses and densities within the Beltline overlay district. For example, our neighboring subarea 5 identified tracts where buildings should not be above 102’ tall, or where truck stops, park-for-hire decks and lots, and mixed-use storage would be inappropriate within the context of the surrounding tracts. It is important to note that all residential parcels for single or two-family homes (R-1 to R-5) are exempt and won’t change in this process.

Another consideration in the review process entails creating the groundwork for a vibrant, walkable retail space. Storefront streets and land tracts will be identified in the process where this kind of development will be encouraged. For example, once a building is 60% or more removed or destroyed, the proposed guidelines would provide that new buildings use higher quality building materials (i.e. not vinyl), install windows to comprise 65% or more of the building’s façade, and employ other design guidelines that result in pedestrian-friendly retail.

Through this review process, we are being provided an opportunity to shape the future of Virginia-Highland. This fall the Beltline will be hosting public meetings for input on our subarea 6 and we will do our best to publish the details of those meetings. In the meantime, if you are interested in participating in discussions relevant to this topic, please contact planning@vahi.org.

For additional background on this topic, please read our July 10th article.

Click here for a copy of the BeltLine’s Subarea 6 plan.

Click here for current zoning designation maps for Virginia-Highland.

Sunset Legislation Proposed for Adult Entertainment Businesses on Cheshire Bridge Road

By: Jack White and Lola Carlisle

The operation of adult entertainment on Cheshire Bridge Road has been a topic of concern for many residents, property owners, and business owners in this area for years. In 1999, the Cheshire Bridge Road Study was published. It was the result of a year’s worth of work and input from surrounding area residents, property owners and City of Atlanta staff. Among many findings, the study concluded that the presence of adult businesses on the street was hindering positive redevelopment appropriate for a street surrounded by single-family residences.

As a result of the study and its conclusions, a Neighborhood Commercial (NC) Zoning district was proposed to address the future development of Cheshire Bridge Road.  Supported by most residents and businesses and adopted by Council, the new NC zoning prohibited new adult businesses and “grandfathered” existing ones on the supposition that they would disappear in the foreseeable future.

Some did; most did not. The new proposed legislation’s primary change to the original NC zoning is to “sunset” the grandfathered adult businesses. It gives non-conforming adult businesses five more years to operate and requires them to relocate by June 30, 2018.  The three neighborhood associations that abut Cheshire Bridge Road – Morningside-Lenox Park Association, Piedmont Heights Civic Association, and Lindridge Martin Manor Neighborhood Association – have voted to support the sunset legislation, as has NPU-F.

The legislation was considered at the May 9, 2013 Zoning Review Board (ZRB) meeting. Many residents spoke in favor of the proposed legislation, making the well-established arguments about the challenges associated with zoning uses traditionally viewed as incompatible. Many non-residents (business and property owners, employees of the Cheshire Bridge adult businesses, and special interest groups) spoke in opposition, arguing that requiring businesses to move elsewhere – even after 20 years – was unconstitutional or might increase unemployment.

The City of Atlanta Legal Department testified that the proposed ordinance is consistent with Georgia law and the US Constitution, and the Planning Department recommended approval.

The citizens on the ZRB appeared to be baffled and paralyzed by the presentations and the attendant theater; after several stretches of dead silence, it eventually opposed the ordinance 2-1, with two members abstaining from the discussion and vote.  The ordinance then went to the City Council’s Zoning Committee, where it passed 3-2, with one abstention. Its next stop is the full City Council on June 3rd. A favorable council vote will send the legislation to Mayor Reed for his approval.

Direct public input on legislation is not permitted at Atlanta City Council meetings, but Virginia-Highland residents are encouraged to review the proposed legislation and contact city council members to voice your opinion. There are several petitions available online on this topic as well, should you choose to seek them out.

Here are links to a fact sheet and details of the legislation:

Learn about Commercial Zoning Wed. 3/7

Join the VHCA Planning Committee this Wednesday for an informative presentation on Neighborhood Commercial Ordinances. These ordinances guide the commercial development in the three key commercial nodes in Virginia-Highland. Aaron Fortner, who was involved in the process to develop these ordinances, will present.

The presentation will follow variance application reviews on the general Virginia-Highland Planning agenda so the presentation would likely begin around 7:30PM on March 8. The general Planning meeting begins at 7PM. All are welcome for both.

Note alternate location for this meeting:
Wednesday, March 8, 7PM
Offices of Tailfin Marketing
1246 Virginia Ave., NE

Parking is available in front of the building and on street.

Voice – Spring 2002

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- VHCA unveils new web site for the new year and years to come, by Gina Davis
- PEDS update, by billie jo
- Summerfest committee introduces new chair of the Summerfest Artists’ Market, by P.K. Trettel
- President’s Address
- Ask Officer Dave
- Intown Women’s Group to host charity fundraiser, by Laurie Dugoniths
- Taking care of the trees in your neighborhood, by Kenyetta Lindsey
- Fire Station #19 dedicated new state of the art engine, by Jenn Ballentine
- THe history and future of John Howell Park, by Stephanie Coffin
- Taste great, less filling: population density and Virginia Highland in context, by Chip Gallagher
- The Highland Ho-er by John Wolfinger
- Fight Back Against Crime, by Beth Marks

Lawsuit Dropped Against VHCA Board Member

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your continued support.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association
VHCA
www.vahi.org

Good news! re: 830 Ponce

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

Local Business Owner Files Lawsuit Against VHCA Board Member

A lawsuit has been filed by INTOWN RESTAURANT CORP. d/b/a THE DARK HORSE TAVERN, VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS ASSOCIATES, INC. d/b/a NEIGHBOR’S PUB, URBAN MARKET, INC. and DOUGLAS F. LANDAU against VHCA board member WINNIE CURRIE. A copy of the lawsuit is available for review. The VHCA board of directors met to discuss this matter and is in full support of Ms. Currie. The VHCA will support a vigorous defense of Ms. Currie.

The defense money will come from the VHCA budget which is funded largely by Summerfest proceeds. To preserve these proceeds as much as possible we will accept donations to defray legal costs. Please send your donations to support the defense of VHCA board member Winnie Currie to:

Virginia-Highland Civic Association
P.O. Box 8401, Station F
Atlanta GA 31106

Please make checks payable to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and indicate “Legal Fees” on the memo portion of your check.

Thank you for your support.

Voice – Fall 1995


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- Summerfest ’95
- President’s Corner: city Zoning board did not issue exceptions to Cartel Properties to build a 27,000 ft2, 2000-patron restaurant/entertainment complex, the largest in the city, on the site of the Colgate Mattress warehouse at 712 Ponce de Leon Place. Access was only via 2-lane Ponce Place and parking would be all-valet with only 3 spaces on-site.
- Tips from the trade (review of Kliphph Where? clothing store)
- John Howell Park Project: playground is finished! Outwrite Bookstore donates $3000 earned from Greg Louganis book signing event.
- Tree news: new tree ordinance protecting trees takes effect
- School roundup
- Finally, an intown farmer’s market
- Environmental potpourri
- Col. Mustard reviews St. Charles Deli
- Green with energy (weatherization tips), by Sarah Tomaka
- Summerfest 1995 photos (2 pages)

Voice – Winter 1994

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- Board members each answer 6 interview questions (J.D. Christy, Debbie Skopczynski, Winnie Currie, Tom Austin, Bruce Taylor, Arnold Gross, Amy Waterman, Steve Jaggers, Mary Jo Peed, Melanie Davenport, Paul Concannon)
- Everything you wanted to know about zoning but were afraid to ask, by Stephen Jagger and Debbie Skopczynski
- President’s Corner, by J.D. Christy
- Annual meeting seats new board, by Beth Marks
- Photos from annual meeting
- Bike Stuff
- Environmental potpourri, by Nan Hunter
- Col. Mustard reviews Camille’s
- Happy (1st) birthday, Virginia-Highland Business Association
- Art supports A.I.D.S., by Shelley Scher
- Local group (CAUTION) makes a difference, by Shelley Scher
- School news
- Tips from the trade: Review of The Common Pond, which sold environmentally friendly products
- John Howell Park project, by Tinka Green
- Greening up for the gold, by Stephanie Coffin, co-chair Parks
- Letters of thanks from recipients of VHCA grants

Voice – Spring 1992


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- Atkins Park traces its past, by Tinka Green
- Murphy’s Law #92: more parking. Finding parking for Murphy’s new location at Virginia and Todd. By Jeni Evans
- Rep rap: Easy access to guns is killing us, by David Scott, State Senator
- Heart Strings: volunteers needed for Atlanta’s largest AIDS fundraiser
- A tale of two neighbors and a wild boar, Wild Boar beer at George’s, by Yvette Weatherly
- Making music in VaHi, a profile of Michael Moore (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) and Paula Peace-Moore by Alison Nelson
- The zoning and variance review process, by Ed Neal and Nyna Gentry
- Finally, Virginia-Highlanders can build snowmen (photos)
- Ponce Task Force update
- Many residents perturbed over parking, by Vicky Favorite
- Schools update
- Recycling: we need more VaHi curbside recyclers in ’92, by Nan Hunter

Voice – May 1973

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  • May 8 meeting
  • VHCA’s first birthday party to be held in June
  • Working together with Morningside to fight I-485
  • Home Improvements Committee
  • Planned neighborhood garage sale and art fair
  • Zoning help from GA Tech
  • Banners for restored homes
  • 1973 Tour of Homes
  • Groundbreaking for “Virginia Park 485″
  • Zoning committee
  • Enforcement of housing codes