Preventing Package Theft At Your Home

In 2017, online shopping sales grew 17% and accounted for 49% of the retail economy. The obvious result to this is the number of packages left on porches in Virginia-Highland. With this increasing trend comes a higher rate of package theft in our intown neighborhood. There is an actual term for someone who follows package delivery trucks and looks for a pile of packages to steal; “package pirates.”

Here are a few tips that could help prevent packages pirates from taking your online purchase as their treasure.

Have packages sent to your workplace 

I have a tech junkie coworker who sends his online purchases to the office so his wife doesn’t know about them. He also does this because he doesn’t want his high tech/high dollar purchases sitting on the front porch all day. Most offices have a mail room that is staffed during the day. One thing to keep in mind is if the packages arrives after your office mail room closes, you may not get your needed item until the next business day.

Consider mail box service

For frequent online shoppers or for people who work out of their homes and have work related parcels and documents coming to their home office, look into a PO Box or Amazon locker. The UPS Store, USPS and Kinko’s offer delivery boxes for monthly rates.

Sign up for delivery notification, rerouting and rescheduling ability

Both UPS and FedEx offer web apps to help reroute parcels to another address and reschedule your package delivery (UPS My Choice and FedEx’s Delivery Manager). These apps also give you delivery tracking, delay notifications and package status.

While on vacation…
If you are away from your home during the holidays or on vacation, look into rerouting or rescheduling delivery. You can also request a delivery hold from the USPS: You can do this on their website with the option of pick up at the post office or deliver all mail once you return. Also, if you ask a neighbor to look out for your home, remind them to check for packages as well.

To quote Julie Andrews, “Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things.” A few simple precautions can help ensure that you get your favorite things.

Submitted by: Troy Murray

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Make Safety On Monroe The Top Priority!

At the RENEW ATLANTA public meeting on June 28th , the Renew Atlanta team failed to present any substantive safety improvements for the stretch of Monroe between Dutch Valley and 10th Street. Although they proposed a new traffic signal at Westminster Drive, the only proposed improvements south of this new light and just north of the 10th street intersection were “signal improvements.” Since the June 28th meeting, there have been at least three wrecks at Park and Monroe – all involving injuries – and at least one wreck on Monroe between Cresthill and Elmwood where a car went onto the sidewalk and crashed into a house’s retaining wall. “Traffic signal improvements” are clearly not enough to deal with the dangerous conditions on
this stretch of Monroe.

VHCA’s City Planning and Transportation consultants met with Renew Atlanta to review their traffic data and discuss the desperately needed safety improvements for Monroe. During that meeting, they learned that the Road Diet itself would actually function very well in the areas where it would be implemented. (See VHCA’s articles here for information on how road diets work). The result is exactly what road diet supporters have long envisioned for Monroe Drive – a slower and safer roadway that greatly reduces pedestrian and vehicular accidents. The outstanding issue identified by RENEW ATLANTA is that the traffic model predicts traffic congestion could increase at the intersections on either end of the Road Diet at peak rush hour times.

Based on VHCA’s City Planning and Transportation consultants’ discussions with Renew Atlanta, as well as the work on the VaHi Master Plan, which called for a Road Diet on Monroe, we believe that there is reason to at the very least advocate for the implementation of a testing period for the Monroe Drive Road Diet concept.

First, the RENEW traffic model confirms that even if we do nothing and Monroe Drive does not change in any way, traffic during peak hours will remain bad and will in fact get worse. There is no scenario that will reduce traffic during peak hours. Without the Road Diet, travel time delay during rush hour is estimated to be approximately 30 minutes in the future without the Road Diet and is estimated to be approximately 40 minutes in the future with the Road Diet.

There are no options for the future of Monroe Drive that reduces travel time delay during peak hours. But there is an option for the future of Monroe Drive that reduces accidents and fatalities – and that is the Road Diet concept. We believe that any scenario that makes it safer for our community and that will avoid future tragedies is worth it and should be pursued.

Secondly, we believe that is it possible that some of the assumptions made and some of the outcomes produced by the traffic model may in fact turn out to be incorrect. The BeltLine Eastside Trail will eventually be built and when it is that could become a viable alternative to driving on Monroe for some commuters. The use of the Eastside Trail in Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward has shown that the trail, when completed, can in fact provide an attractive and popular mode of travel for commuters. The RENEW model assumes that all drivers that drive today will continue to do so in the future and this is an assumption that could be invalid.

Finally, we believe that we must make decisions on the future of Monroe Drive based on our desired outcome for the roadway and our community every day of the year and not just during work day rush hours. Monroe Drive impacts us all – and not just during rush hour. It’s the road we live on, walk on, push strollers on, walk to school on, walk to the park on, and get to the BeltLine on. It is imperative that we have a roadway designed for all of us to live with and live on every day of the year and not a roadway designed for the maximum number of commuters to drive as fast as possible for a few hours of the work day.

We know that there is no option for the future that will reduce traffic congestion during peak hours. But we can chose a future for Monroe Drive that will make it safer for everybody who uses it no matter what they use it for and no matter how often they use it.

For these reasons, we are recommending that the community advocate for the testing of the Road Diet to allow residents to experience the benefits of a road diet and to test assumptions in order that as a City we might have more information to make a better long-term decision for our city and our neighborhoods. You can make your voice heard by submitted comments to Renew Atlanta that emphasize the following:

1) The City must make safety on Monroe the #1 priority. Excessive speeds, blind left turns, and the unsafe design of Monroe have made this one of the most dangerous streets in the city. During a one week period, there were three injury wrecks and Park and Monroe. This is unacceptable

2) The dangerous conditions on Monroe demand serious changes to the road design. The best way to improve safety for all users of the street – drivers, cyclists, pedestrians,
BeltLine users, and students – is to implement a road diet.

3) We support the implementation of a road diet and ask that, at a minimum, Renew
Atlanta implement a 6 – 12 month interim road diet so that the real impacts of the road
diet on safety and travel times can be determined.

Comments should be submitted to:
jnide@atlantaga.gov
lrorchid@atlantaga.gov
RenewAtlanta@atlantaga.gov
Regan.Hammonds@jabcobs.com
toweyandt@atlantaga.gov
renewatl-bbolick@atlantaga.gov

Submitted by Jenifer Keenan and Aaron Fortner

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Nominations for 2018/2019 Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors and Annual Grants

Your VHCA is powered by the many volunteers who organize fundraisers such as Summerfest, the Tour of Homes and the Highland Mile, participate on the Safety Committee, Budget Committee, Parks Committee, Communications Committee, Grants Committee, Planning Committee and much, much more.

Each fall, the neighborhood elects the VHCA’s Board of Directors (10 members and 1 alternate) to oversee the work of the many committees and identify issues, concerns and opportunities for improving Virginia-Highland. Any resident over 18 years old and willing to invest their time and talents is eligible to be on the ballot and run for the Board.

The Election Committee (now forming) will be accepting bios from those interested in running for the Board. Please review the activities and the mission of the association on vahi.org if you are interested.

To be included on the printed and published ballot, please email a short bio to board@vahi.org, no later than September 5. Please include the following information in your bio:

– a brief statement on what you would like to accomplish as a member on the 2018/2019 VHCA Board, and
– a paragraph on your experiences in the neighborhood, including but not limited to VHCA committees in which you currently participate or have an interest in being active in.

The Committees page (here), Annual Goals from 2018 and prior years (here) and bios of current board members on vahi.org are particularly informative. The Association’s work is also directed by our Master Plan which may be viewed on the website, as well.

Bios for all candidates will be posted on the VaHi.org website. The Election Committee will accept all nominations of those qualified to serve whose nominations are received more than fifteen (15) days prior to the Annual Association Meeting, which will be held on September 20 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria from 6:30 – 9:00pm. Grants will be awarded and the 2018/2019 Board of Directors will be elected. The Springdale Park\ Elementary Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon, has been invited to perform at the meeting, so be sure to arrive early to hear them! Stay tuned for more details.

Grant applications are due by August 24. Visit the Grants section of this site for more information and to complete an online application.

Submitted by David Brandenberger, VHCA President

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Introducing: Beautify VaHi

Below is an introductory letter from a new group in the neighborhood, Beautify Va-Hi.

Hello Neighbor!

We are Beautify VaHi – a new entity, comprised of VaHi community members, dedicated to the prosperity of local business and the beautification & maintenance of our precious neighborhood sidewalk life. Beautify VaHi is especially focused on the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue.

Our mission is to reinvigorate the vibe of one of Atlanta’s most desirable neighborhoods and to ultimately improve the shopping experience in Virginia-Highland.  This organization was formed with intentions of community improvement for all, to better compete with adjacent markets like Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market, Midtown and Inman Park. It is our heart’s desire to support OUR local business climate by raising customers’ experiences via beautification, exclusive discounts, artisan events and a rebirth of our neighborhood’s marketplace. Look for us in the coming months with the launch of our exclusive neighborhood discount card!

Katie Voelpel
President, Beautify Va-Hi
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Cresthill & Monroe: Special Project Update

Through District 6 Councilwoman Jennifer Ide, the Virginia-Highland Board of Directors and Planning Committee has learned that the City of Atlanta has made the decision to withdraw the RFP for the 10th and Monroe (Cresthill & Monroe) project. This means that the proposed development will no longer be moving forward.

While this doesn’t eliminate the option for the land to be offered again and another development to be presented, it does give more time for public engagement and appropriate land use discussions. We trust that the City, Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta BeltLine will involve all parts of the city in these discussions and find the best path forward.

We will relay more information as it becomes available but if you have any questions in the interim, please email planning@vahi.org.

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Thank you for our best Summerfest yet!

Thanks to our amazing Summerfest Committee for putting on the best Summerfest yet.  The numbers our still coming in, but it looks like Summerfest 2018 raised over $110,000 for our neighborhood!

 Summerfest would not be possible without the hundreds of hours of hard work of the Summerfest Committee:   

    • Directors:  Jenifer Keenan and Pamela Papner
    • Operations & Logistics:  Rob Frazer, Premier Events Management
    • Operations Support:  Paige Hewell and Steve Messner
    • Artist and Local Market:  Julie Tepp and Nancy Musser
    • KidsFest: Stefanie Roberts, Lisa Ladds and Leah Matthews
    • Volunteers:  Steve Voichick and Troy Murray
    • Community Dinner: Charlie LeFort and Atkins Park
    • Music:  George Zirkel and Kristen Sheehan/Chrissy Culver of On Point Creative
    • Parade:  Leah Matthews and Mary Peck
    • Road Race:  Ed Williams, Kay Stephenson
    • Tot Trot:  Allison Delmedico and Ann Carter
    • Summerfest T-Shirts:  David Brandenberger, Steve Voichick, and Suzanne Simkin/PeaceLoveMom
    • Festival Sponsorships: Rick Kern, Mix-It Marketing
    • Public Relations:  Andi Frey, Launch! Marketing and John Becker
    • Summerfest Survey:  Mary Peck
    • Parking:  Jack White
    • Financials:  George Zirkel and Steve Voichick

 Each of these committee members were instrumental in planning and executing Summerfest.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to the hard working members of the Committee and the hundreds of volunteers who worked during the festival.    

I would like to extend a special thank you to Pamela Papner.  Pamela’s leadership of Summerfest for over a decade has been invaluable.  During Pamela’s tenure, Summerfest has raised over $1 million dollars for our neighborhood.  Thanks to those tremendous fundraising efforts, there is less than $40,000 remaining on the $850,000 mortgage for North Highland Park.

 I would also like to extend a personal note of gratitude to the entire Summerfest Committee.  It was an honor and privilege to work with each and every member of the Committee.  Thanks to everyone for helping to make Summerfest such a great success!

 

Article Submitted by Jenifer Keenan

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“Don’t Get the Boot” Program – June 1-15

The City of Atlanta and ATLPlus will sponsor the “Don’t Get the Boot” program to promote parking education and assist in the resolution of unpaid parking citations.  This program will waive late penalties added to citations issued before March 24, 2017. The “Don’t Get the Boot” program will only last 15 calendar days ( Friday, June 1, 2018 through Friday, June 15, 2018) and will be limited to citations issued before the ATLPlus program began. Citations rates will be reduced to the original fine amount.  At the end of the late penalty waiver program, all outstanding citation amounts will go back to their previous amount and include the previously added late fees.

For addition information on Don’t Get the Boot program visit: https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/public-works/office-of-transportation/parking-services/don-t-get-the-boot-program

To pay outstanding citations visit: www.ATLPLUSmobility.com

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Virginia- Highland Summerfest – 2018 Highlights

It’s our 35th year of Art, Music and Fun!

Art: Did you know that Sunshine Artist Magazine recognized Summerfest 2017 as one of the top 100 Classic and Contemporary Craft Shows in the U.S.? This year, the juried Artist Market again welcomes more than 200 fine artists working in a wide variety of media – painting, sculpture, clay, photography, jewelry, textiles/fiber, wood, metal, graphics and mixed media. Come check it out and find that perfect addition to your home!

Local Market: Summerfest is also pleased to bring back the popular Local Market, begun in 2016. This area features Georgia artisans who craft a variety of gourmet food and home products like honey, seasonings, soaps, dog treats and candles. With 30 vendors selling tasty and unique items that ignite the senses, the Local Market offers plenty of temptation.

New this Year:

  • On Saturday from 10am – 6pm, race your friends down Barnett Street (adjacent to John Howell Park) on adult-sized big wheels. Just $5 and the winners get a prize!
  • Come visit “Va-Hi House”, a shaded sports bar located on Virginia/Park Drive.

Free Music Weekend: This year’s music lineup will have you dancing all weekend, kicking off Friday night with Moontower, expertly covering your favorite rock hits from the Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin and more at the N. Highland Stage. The Main Stage at John Howell Park features a variety of indie music acts headlined on Saturday night by explosive electro-jazz-funk-rock group Kung Fu. Supporting acts include Gurufish, a soulful blend of pop-funk and Voodoo Visionary, a rock & roll group who draws from elements of jazz, funk and disco. Come back on Sunday and jive to the high-energy southern gothic swing sounds (and daring feats of sword-swallowing) from Mayhayley’s Grave & Bonafide Sideshow, followed by the Georgia Music Awards 2015 Americana Artist of the Year Alex Guthrie and his soulful, blues-tinged rock band.

Check out the rest of our talent-packed lineup at www.vahisummerfest.com/music

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VaHi House Premiers at Summerfest 2018

Virginia-Highland’s Summerfest is rapidly approaching and the excitement in the
neighborhood is heating up.

People are talking about the incredible music line-up, fantastic artwork for sale and, of course, how hot it will be outside! We’ve noticed the sweat beading up on your brows just thinking about this, and we’ve come up with a solution to combat the sizzling pavement of Virginia Ave.

This year’s Summerfest will have something that is extremely cool for everyone, VaHi House! This shipping container-turned bar is more than just a lounge, it’s a full-fledged party in a box! Tailgatehouse, the #1 Atlanta start-up in 2018, will be opening the doors of their luxury suite in front of Inman Middle School for all to enjoy.

Inside the container, get refreshed with an ice-cold beer, cocktail or soft drink at the bar. With your beverage in-hand, chill in one of the comfy chairs out front. Take in some amazing people-watching while keeping up-to-date on the latest games on 4 large-screen TV’s. No party is complete without music so DJ Tron will spinning from the roof to ensure VaHi House keeps it cool.

VaHi House is open to all during Summerfest so join us to unwind, chill out and get refreshed.

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Expanded Kidsfest Area for Summerfest!

Introducing a new and improved Kidsfest area for Summerfest 2018

On Saturday, Xtreme Air Balls (human “hamster balls”) will be in the sand volleyball court, and on both Saturday and Sunday we’ll have a petting zoo in the grass area behind the courts!

We’ll also have all of your favorites including face painting, crazy hair, free arts and crafts, The Sand Art Cart and a few other surprises including DJ Tron, the best DJ in Atlanta.  APD will also be back this year with a squad car and a special appearance by the mounted police horses!

The Kidsfest Committee would like to thank this year’s Kidsfest Presenting Sponsor, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as well as Gusto! for serving as a Kidsfest sponsor for the second year in a row. The expanded Kidsfest area would not be possible without CHOA’s and Gusto’s generous support.

We look forward to seeing your kids at Kidsfest!

 

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The BEST 5K and Tot Trot in Atlanta

Every year serious runners and walkers alike participate in one of the best races in Atlanta – the Summerfest 5K.

Just a few reasons to sign up:

  • Chip-timed race and an official AJC Peachtree Road Race qualifier
  • Runners receive a premium t-shirt
  • Winners will receive awards for first, second and third place by age group, and for overall and masters male and female winners.
  • The route winds through the neighborhood starting at the intersection of Virginia and Lanier and ending on Barnett near John Howell Park and the festival.
  • Cheerleaders all along the route

Early packet pick-up will be available at Phidippides (Ansley Mall) on Saturday June 2nd, and Monday through Thursday June 4th – 7th from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. You may also pick up your bib and shirt at Virginia-Highland Church on Friday June 8 from 4:30 – 7:30 PM).

Early packet pick-up is required for all local runners. Out of town participants only may pick up prior to the race on Saturday morning.

Register now on Active.com – CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Tot Trot
For children seven & under, a Tot Trot will be held in John Howell Park immediately following the award ceremony for the 5K (around 9:30 AM).

Sign-ups ($10 per child) are available at John Howell Park starting at 8:00 AM on the day of the race. PLEASE ARRIVE NO LATER THAN 9:15 AM!

Each child participating in the Tot Trot receives a race number, ribbon and T-shirt.

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Self-Defense Training – Virginia Highland Church

Join us at Virginia-Highland Church on May 19th at 10:00 am for a self-defense training, co-sponsored by Neighbors Organizing for Equity and Progress (N.O.P. E.).

This class is an introductory self-defense class for women learning to improve confidence, self-awareness, and strategies for personal safety.

While not excessively physical, participants should come ready to move. Be sure to wear everyday clothing.

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Cresthill & Monroe – Neighborhood Engagement Update

Neighbors,

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association has heard loud and clear our neighbor’s input regarding the proposed Fuqua development at Cresthill/10th and Monroe. We are continually sharing those concerns and comments with the developer, Atlanta Beltline, Invest Atlanta, and City officials, including City Council. It is incredibly encouraging that there has been such a vocal and unified response – we ask everyone to keep up the energy and stay engaged in this process.

Over the next few weeks, we will outline a plan for citizens to lobby City Council and express concerns about the proposed Fuqua development. The plan will include yard signs, flyers, stickers and “talking points” for communications with City Council members, who will ultimately vote on the rezoning needed for the development. While we are all eager to get started, we’ve been advised that it will be most effective to wait to contact City Council until we see a definitive plan from the developer and an application for rezoning.

Rest assured, there is a great deal already happening in the wings, and when the time comes to contact City Council members and other city officials, we will let you know — and keep in mind that hard copy letters are more effective than emails.

VHCA will schedule another Community Update meeting in the near future (which will be different from the developer’s required community meetings). The Community Update meeting welcomes people from all neighborhoods to learn more about the community’s concerns about the project and discuss the best path to address those concerns.

In the meantime, there are several things you can do to stay informed and engaged with this issue:

1)      Contribute to the GoFundMe Campaign www.gofundme.com/vahicef

Funds will help pay for VHCA’s professional consultants (city planning, land-use lawyer, traffic, affordable housing and media relations).

2)      Volunteer for Summerfest https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2229418/false#/invitation

Money raised from Summerfest supports all of VHCA’s initiatives, including efforts related to the proposed Fuqua Development.

3)      Stay Informed — Review Materials on the VHCA Website Related to the Project     

Cresthill & Monroe Meeting Materials is the VHCA PowerPoint by Planning Consultant Aaron Fortner.

As noted in the PowerPoint, there are ~1.2 million square feet of land in Virginia-Highland along the BeltLine that are zoned for increased density. Higher density development should occur at those parcels and include real affordable housing, not the bare minimum affordable housing that is proposed in the Fuqua project.

Public Meeting – 10th & Monroe Development -Update is an overview article on the proposed project, the community input process organized by the development team, and explains the process for City Council to vote on rezoning.

4)      Start Conversations! Spread the Word to Neighbors in VHCA and Nearby Neighborhoods

Have a neighbor you haven’t spoken to in a while? Ask them about the development and if they’ve been active in the discussion. Ask friends in nearby neighborhoods to contact their civic association leadership to express their opinion(s) about the development and ensure their civic association, too, is taking a vocal position. Talk to neighborhood businesses and visitors to the neighborhood about the project and the materials the neighborhood has prepared (#3 above). Better still, host an informational meeting on the topic on your street and let us help facilitate the discussion. Reach out to us at planning@vahi.org and we would be happy to attend, talk about the project as it currently stands, discuss our stance as a neighborhood, and answer questions about further engagement on the issue.

What should you say about this issue? The VHCA stands in support of:

  • Preservation of existing single family zoning in National Register Historic Districts
  • Development of properties already zoned for increased density with effective traffic solutions
  • Real Affordable Housing on all parcels currently zoned for increased density along the Beltline
  • Safer, Slower and Less-Congested Streets

Rezoning issues are at the heart of this project and impact all neighborhoods along the BeltLine! The Fuqua development is proposing the rezoning of 9 single family homes on Cresthill and Monroe that is contrary to all city planning, including the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan, the BeltLine Subarea 6 Plan, City’s Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), and current zoning.

Thank you for your continued energy and participation in this process. With your help, we will continue to fight effectively for growth and development that is thoughtful and well-planned. We must stay engaged and unified as we navigate this Atlanta-changing issue.

– Virginia-Highland Civic Association

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May 17 Cresthill & Monroe Meeting – CANCELED

The Fuqua Development Team announced this afternoon that the Thursday, May 17, meeting on 10th and Monroe is canceled and that future Working Group and Technical Group meetings are canceled as well.   

During today’s working group meeting with the development team, neighborhood representatives reiterated the importance of maintaining the zoning of existing single-family R-4 parcels and our longstanding support for affordable housing and development on the parcels that have been designated for increased density in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan.

We are surprised and disappointed by the cancellation of the meetings. We remain open to participating in future meetings when they occur.

Further information, as it is available, will be posted on vahi.org.

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Public Hearing Notice – Proposed MARTA Changes/Eliminations

MARTA bus routes 16 and 36 connect Virginia-Highland with several other neighborhoods in Atlanta as well as the entire MARTA bus and rail system. Recently, eliminations and changes to both of these routes have been proposed. Below is a information about the public hearings associated with the changes as well as other ways to have your voice heard if you are unable to attend the meetings in person.

A change.org petition has also been established for those interested:

https://www.change.org/p/metropolitan-atlanta-maintain-marta-through-virginia-highlands-and-morningside-buses-36-and-16

 

———–

ATLANTA—The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will hold three public hearings on proposed bus service modifications and proposed fiscal year 2019 operating and capital budgets. The hearings are scheduled for Monday, May 14 in the Clayton County Board Room, Tuesday, May 15 in the Fulton County Government Assembly Hall, and Wednesday, May 16 in the DeKalb Maloof Auditorium for the following routes:

Route 6: Clifton Rd./Emory; Route 9: E. Atlanta/Tilson Rd./Candler Rd.; Route 15: Candler Rd./S. DeKalb; Route 16: N. Highland Ave.; Route 21: Memorial Dr.; Route 25: Peachtree Ind. Blvd./Johnson Ferry Rd.; Route 27: Cheshire Bridge Rd.; Route 30: LaVista Rd.; Route 32: Bouldercrest; Route 36: N. Decatur Rd./Virginia Highland; Route 49: McDonough Blvd.; Route 74: Flat Shoals; Route 107:Glenwood; Route 110: Peachtree Rd./Buckhead; Route 133 (formerly Route 33): Shallowford Rd.; Route 195: Forest Pkwy.; Route 809 (formerly Route 109): Monroe Dr./Boulevard; New Route 825: Johnson Ferry Rd.; New Route 832: Grant Park; Route 899 (formerly Route 99): Old Fourth Ward

MARTA representatives will be on hand for a community exchange session beginning at 6 p.m. followed by public hearings at 7 p.m. 

MARTA regularly evaluates bus route performance including scheduling, on-time performance, ridership, and safety. Modifications were recommended based on feedback received from customers and the Authority’s service analysis.

MARTA representatives will present the proposed FY19 capital and operating budgets. These budgets will guide the Authority’s investments in customer services over the next fiscal year.

All changes accepted by the MARTA Board of Directors will become effective August 18, 2018.

 

PUBLIC HEARING DETAILS:

Monday, May 14

Clayton County Board Room

112 Smith Street

Jonesboro, GA  30236

Community Exchange: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Public Hearing: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Route 193

 

Tuesday, May 15

Fulton County Gov’t. Center Assembly Hall

141 Pryor Street

Atlanta, GA  30303

Community Exchange: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Public Hearing: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Routes 32, 42, 55

 

Wednesday, May 16

DeKalb Maloof Auditorium

1300 Commerce Drive

Decatur, GA  30030

Community Exchange: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Public Hearing: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: West of Decatur Rail Station

 

A sign language interpreter will be available at the hearing. If you cannot attend and would like to share comments, you may: (1) leave a message at 404-848-5299; (2) write to MARTA’s Department of Planning at the address below; (3) complete an online comment card at www.itsmarta.com; (4) or fax your comments to 404-848-4179.

 

Copies of the proposed bus service modifications and FY19 operating and capital budgets will be available at MARTA headquarters, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E., Atlanta, Ga. 30324, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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VaHi Neighbors organize for Progress and Equity

Article submitted by Shannon G., Co-Founder of N.O.P.E

Virginia-Highland, like so many neighborhoods across Atlanta and the country, has a racial profiling problem, particularly on our online community forums. On Nextdoor, a social media site that purports to connect neighbors, people of color are criminalized regularly for offenses such as walking with a camera around their neck, circling the block in their vehicle, or as VHCA board member, Stefanie Roberts, experienced last summer, strolling through our neighborhood with an out of town guest. (For a deeper understanding of the effects of racial profiling, check out this article written by a local Atlanta teen)

After Stefanie bravely shared her disturbing encounter on Nextdoor, nine neighbors came together that very night to offer Stefanie, her husband and her 10-year-old son support. We heard her account first hand, and the group, the majority of whom were people of color, shared their own experiences of racism living in our predominantly white neighborhood.

From this spontaneous community meeting, Neighbors Organizing for Progress and Equity (N.O.P.E.) was born. N.O.P.E is a multi-racial group of neighbors whose mission is to promote and build authentic community in Virginia-Highland through the centering of equity and justice.

Our vision is to build towards a Virginia-Highland that seeks out and amplifies underrepresented voices in our community. To date, we have hosted a Get Out the Vote community event that helped elect two people of color to the VHCA for the first time in the board’s history, we’ve hosted an anti-bias training with the Anti-Defamation League and there is much more to come.

If you are interested in engaging with neighbors around issues of equity and justice in Virginia-Highland, please join us! You can find us on Facebook here or you can email us at nope.vahi@gmail.com.

 

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City Announces Placemaking Program at N Highland and Amsterdam Ave

Representatives from the City of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning, Office of Mobility Planning have informed the Virginia-Highland Civic Association along with the landlord and business owners along the business node at Amsterdam and N Highland regarding a placemaking project at this intersection. For those unfamiliar, placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to planning, design and management of a space with the intention of creating more usable public spaces (and intersections, in this case) that are attractive to people because they are ideally both more pleasurable and often times more interesting. This is a conscious design principle that involves designing streets as comfortable and safe places for everyone—for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as drivers. Placemaking projects and parklets have sprung up in cities like Phoenix, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle and San Diego, among others.

A draft rendition of the City’s current plan is here. The last drawing includes the latest contemplated design with callouts and dimensions. As seen in the imagery, design elements under consideration include the installation of several new painted ‘bulb-outs’ for traffic calming purposes, a 3D-painted crosswalk and a decorative crosswalk for enhanced visibility and safety, and a parklet along N Highland with amenities such as movable furniture, outdoor lighting, planters and an umbrella.

The City selected this location as one of the first to deploy in the city because it is a part of a thriving neighborhood retail corridor that has foot traffic, has transit adjacency, is easily usable (because of the amount of concrete/width of the intersection), and has no metered parking.

The implementation of placemaking generally can be broken down into three essential parts:

  • The first element is creating safe, visible crosswalks. Under consideration is installation of a 3D-painted crosswalk south of Mali restaurant on Amsterdam and a restriping of the western north-south crosswalk on N Highland with decorative painting,
  • The second element of placemaking here would highly contribute to the safety and ease of pedestrian crossing. Under consideration are painted bulb-outs on both western-side corners of the intersection. Bulb-outs are a curb-extension that serves as a traffic calming measure, primarily used to extend the sidewalk, reduce the crossing distance and allow for both pedestrians about to cross and approaching vehicular drivers to see each other better (when vehicles parked in a parking lane would otherwise block visibility, as exists today).
  • The third element of placemaking here provides the passerby and users of surrounding commercial districts a place of refuge and social engagement. Under consideration is a parklet (a sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people using the street) along N Highland with amenities like movable furniture, outdoor lighting, planters and an umbrella.

An overall timeline for commencement is forthcoming but is anticipated to occur in the March/April timeframe.

The Department of City Planning invites you to attend our Placemaking Program Question and Answer Meeting.

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

6:00pm

Downtown Central Library

(One Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta, GA 30303).

Snacks will be provided! This meeting is an opportunity to learn more and ask questions about the Placemaking Program and the upcoming application.

Article submitted by David Brandenberger, VHCA Board of Director Chair

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Virginia-Highland Church supports Homeless Neighbors

Do you like hiking? How do you feel about taking a 7-mile hike? How do feel about adding 5-15 pounds in your backpack with toiletries, a sleeping bag, and a couple changes of clothes? How do you feel about doing that hike every single day?

This hike is, for many of our neighbors, a reality as they walk from place to place seeking shelter from the ever-changing Atlanta weather, trying to find a place to clean up, or trying to find a place to rest. Many of our neighbors experiencing homelessness have lived in this area for many years, some for even decades, and yet, we don’t know their names, refuse to see their faces, and prefer to fear them and further alienate them. The challenges of living in the streets are many – some of them obvious, and some of them not-so-obvious – and compassion is hardly ever found.

Virginia-Highland Church has a rich history, rooted in the pursuit of justice and the love for all those who walk and don’t walk through our doors. We are proud of this history regardless of the many times it has caused tension with the larger community. We are committed to love all and we believe there can be no love without justice.

The River, a ministry of Virginia-Highland Church seeks to address both the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness and the systemic causes of homelessness through a clothing closet, education, volunteer opportunities, and advocacy. Week after week, I am amazed by the work of our congregation and our partner organizations: men and women gather to make sleeping mats out of reused grocery bags, put together hygiene kits, make meals for women in a transitional home, write letters to city council members, visit lawmakers at the capitol during the legislative session to discuss the topic, volunteer in a myriad of non-profits, and seek to continuously learn from our brothers and sisters living in the streets of Atlanta. We offer educational and volunteer opportunities for all who seek to walk side by side with our friends experiencing homelessness and we are delighted to welcome Rev. Matt Laney, whose ministry has been characterized by an incessant work for justice, as our senior pastor.

In a city and a country that seem more and more polarized over political and economic views, Virginia-Highland Church members are trying to love all and serve all as we follow our mission to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” with God.

I invite you to get to know your neighbors. All your neighbors. Hear their stories, their struggles, and hopes. There is much life and wisdom and laughter to share. And if that is too much to ask, I invite you to take a moment and share a good thought, full of love and compassion, with anyone who crosses your path. That can make all the difference in the world for someone.

Submitted by Rev. Claudia Aguilar Rubalcava, Pastor for Justice and Witness, Virginia-Highland Church

 

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From Rockets to Robots: Grady’s Robotics Team

“We envision a world where STEM leaders are heroes and role models.” That’s the start of the shared vision of the Grady High robotics team, also known as G3. Folks talk a lot about the incredible Speech and Debate team, or the great Journalism program, but did you know that Grady’s G3 is one of the best robotics programs in the state?

Now in their 14th year, the program has grown from 10 students to over 50 with volunteer mentors from Georgia Tech, MailChimp, local engineering firms, and beyond. The team is more diverse than you might imagine with over 25% of the team being young women and almost 35% minority involvement. Glancing at the photo, you’ll probably recognize many of the kids as Mary Lin alums. If you think robotics is a “boys club,” know that this year’s team captain is Hannah Prausnitz-Weinbaum from Inman Park.

So what exactly does a robotics team do? The primary goal is to design, engineer, and build a robot that can perform specific required tasks. In the past, the tasks have included scooping up items from the field, shooting items from an air cannon into a target, unloading gears from its own deck onto hooks and even climbing a rope! This takes many dedicated hours from teammates creating CAD drawings, using shop tools to create the robot, and programming the mainframe so that the robot can be “driven” by someone.

What about kids who aren’t so technically inclined? Well, there’s a NEO crew of students who represent the Non-Engineering Operations. This group manages the marketing of the team, maintains the website, handles social media, creates newsletters, scouts other teams at the competition, and develops the very important Team Spirit documents. A competition isn’t just about having robots battle robots. Judges receive presentations from each team about how and why they operate, as well as what each robotics team does to serve their community. These are some of the most prestigious awards given at local, regional, and national competition.

Not only do they travel to competitions (at least 3 a year), but G3 does a HUGE amount of community service each year. Through hosting the First Lego League competition at Grady, the G3 team brings together over 50 area elementary school Lego robotics teams for a day of challenges.

For the middle school students, G3 created Drones for Good. This is another day-long competition where students work with their mentors and teachers to develop an innovative drone-based solution to a problem in their community, state, or the world. Over 60 teams from across metro Atlanta build and fly their own K’Nex based drones. G3 students support and guide these teams as they put their drones through their paces at Grady.

G3 Robotics believes that it’s not enough to promote STEM education alone. As they focus on building programs in each APS elementary, middle, and high school, they keep equity in mind. They continue to promote females, minorities, and the socio-economically disadvantaged in all their work. G3 hopes to build a stronger, healthier STEM community in Atlanta, and the world.

As part of the Atlanta Science Festival, held at Piedmont Park this year, G3 will be hosting a Drones for Good event in the Grady High School cafeteria on Saturday, March 10th from 9am – 2pm. The event is free and family-friendly, so come build your own drone and get a glimpse into this exciting STEM based program. Find the full #ATLSciFest schedule and event details here: http://bit.ly/AtlSciFest. To learn more about Grady Robotics visit the team website at www.G3robotics.com.

Team Members – 51
Drones For Good Teams – 60
Lego Robotics Events Hosted – 14
Female Team Members – 28%
Minority Team Members – 35%
College Graduation Rate – 99%
Community Service Hours – 6,263
Habitat for Humanity Builds – 4
Elementary Science Nights – 20


Past Mary Lin elementary students pictured are L to R: Diego Gonzalez, Forest Dynes, Swagatam Das, Deacon Baker, Karl Haddock, Cate Crutcher, Jack Labadia, Hannah Prausnitz-Weinbaum, Sam Castellano, Jake Willoughby, Owen Hawke

Article submitted byBoyd Baker

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Inman Middle School Supply Drive

Inman Homeless/Transitional Kids School Supply Drive

There are 50+ Inman Middle School students currently living in temporary housing/shelters – not to mention many who are living below the poverty line. Their backpacks get stolen from shelters; they’re hungry, they need your help. Inman is able to provide these lower-income students with essential school supplies throughout the year thanks to the generous contributions of our community.  Right now we have some key supplies needed to support these kids as well as a special after school study program.  Anything you can do to support these kids is a huge help, freeing up the school to use funding to support SCHOOL needs.

Please drop off or ship directly to Inman, attention “SUPPLY DRIVE”

Samuel M. Inman Middle School

774 Virginia Avenue, NE

Atlanta, GA 30306

404-802-3200

In addition, if you have books you want to donate, no need to sign up — just drop them off and know that your kindness is truly appreciated!

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0a4aa8a62da20-inman3

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Safety Committee Meeting Scheduled for March 3

The VHCA Safety Committee will hold a meeting on Saturday, March 3rd at 10 am at Church of Our Saviour Pettway Hall. The agenda will include a review of our Street Captains responsibilities, upcoming Safety Committee events and a guest speaker; Lee Reid, who will speak about the new Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB) mediation program.  All are welcome to attend.

Samuel L. Reid is Executive Director of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board (ACRB).  The ACRB is an independent investigative agency of the City of Atlanta. The agency is charged with receiving, investigating, mediating, and adjudicating citizen complaints against Atlanta police and corrections officers. Our aim is fairness, objectivity, and transparency.

Recently, the ACRB began operation of a mediation program that provides an opportunity for citizens and officers to meet face-to-face and discuss the citizen’s concerns regarding a recent incident that occurred between them in a supportive, safe and neutral environment.

Safety Committee Meeting

When: Saturday, March 3rd at 10 am

Where:  Church of Our Saviour Pettway Hall (church is at N. Highland and Los Angeles and the Pettway Hall entrance is on Los Angeles).

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Shape Up for Spring & Improve North Highland

With warmer weather around the corner, swimsuit season can’t be far behind. This year there is no better way to prepare than by getting in shape for the Morningside Mile, Sunday, March 25 at 2:00 PM. This year’s race is bigger and better than ever, so register now to ensure your spot and t-shirt!

The exceptional one-mile race features cash prizes, drawing competitors from across the region. For 2018, we’re adding chip timing to deliver more precise results and a new ‘Just for Fun’ Half-Mile to launch the after party. If you’re not a competitive runner, there is still something for you. The race features several waves:

  • Competitive Runner—under 7-minute mile
  • Recreational Runner—more than 7-minute mile
  • Families & Walkers—more casual striders, families with strollers, kids under 15, and walkers
  • Just for Fun Half-Mile—this new category, created especially for kids and families will follow the police motorcycle after the last racers. Open to kids accompanied by an adult guardian, pets and bikes/scooters/strollers.

MLPA has joined with VHCA on the race and party that will raise funds to reinvigorate the North Highland Corridor through our historic neighborhoods. The race course has changed so that it follows North Highland from the start near the YWCA at 957 N. Highland to Morningside Village—times should be even more competitive over this gently rolling course with minimal elevation gain.

Not into fitness—no problem! The Morningside Mile has something for you too–immediately after the race we’ll gather in the Morningside Village (1424 N. Highland) parking lot near Doc Chey’s for an awesome ROCK THE BLOCK PARTY! Just follow the runners, decorated bikes, and strollers or meet us at Morningside Village for an awesome party to raise funds. There will be beer from our sponsors, Sweetwater Brewing, along with a Doc Chey’s Noodle Eating contest, live music from My Friend Ian’s Band, and activities for the entire family.

Volunteers are needed—in exchange for a two hour shift, all volunteers receive a free t-shirt so sign up now for the best slots!

MLPA and VHCA thanks the presenting sponsors, Engel & Voelkers and Homegrown Restaurants (Doc Chey’s, Dragon Bowl, & Osteria); hosts Neighbor’s Pub and Sweetwater Brewing; benefactors Fifth Group/El Taco, FIT Learning, JW Ayers Plumbing, Nightcap Food & Spirits (Fontaine’s & Highland Tap) Pierce Chiropractic Center, Replenish, Sprouts Farmers Market, and The Great Frame Up; and contributors Atkins Park Tavern, Highland Real Estate, and Warren City Club. Please thank the businesses that support our neighborhood by visiting them often.

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Save the date for Summerfest

Summerfest 2018 is right around the corner!  All of your favorites – including wonderful artists, great music, the 5k race, and the Friday community dinner, movie and kids parade – will all be back for our 35th Annual Summerfest.  In addition to all of your returning favorites, we have some new and exciting things up our sleeve.  

Summerfest will be on the second weekend of June (June 9 and 10), which provides time to enjoy Memorial Day/end of school year vacations before rushing back to VaHi to experience one of the best festivals in Atlanta!  

As new information becomes available, we’ll post it to vahisummerfest.org, so be sure to check there for more details.  In the meantime, if you would like help with the Summerfest organizing committee, you can email us at:  summerfestinfo@vahi.org

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Morningside Mile Returns for 2018 at 2:00 PM, Sunday, March 25

If you’re among the faithful that perennially run the Morningside Mile, there’s good news.  After attaining their fundraising goal to renovate Fire Station 19, Rich Chey who founded the race has turned over the reins to the Morningside Lenox Park Associations (MLPA) and Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA).

While Rich Chey will stay involved, the two neighborhood associations are organizing the race with a new focus. Plans are to use the funds raised to make improvements to the commercial corridor along North Highland spanning both neighborhoods. To highlight the change in focus, the course will follow N. Highland from the YWCA to Morningside Village—but don’t worry, it’s still only a mile. It’s the only competitive one-mile race that has cash prizes and great SWAG, so go to morningsidemile.com to learn more and sign up.

Runners will be followed by walkers, strollers and a bicycle procession that ends up at a block party in the Morningside Village parking lot.  Get creative and plan your decoration for your bike or stroller.  There will be prizes for the best designs.

Everyone is invited to the block party featuring a live band, dancing, beer, drinks, and activities for all ages.  Food will be available from local restaurants.  So make plans now to attend the best party of the Spring with the best neighbors in Atlanta, Sunday, March 25, after the race-7:00 PM.

Volunteers are needed to help with the event!

By Marti Breen, MLPA Board Member

 

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Update on Proposed Development at 10th and Monroe

Invest Atlanta voted on December 21, 2017 to support the sale of BeltLine land near 10th and Monroe. The $166 million proposed development from Fuqua Development LP that was submitted with the bid to purchase the land consists of:

  • 11 story hotel (150 rooms)
  • 351 residential units (with 30% affordable units)
  • 1 story grocery store (20,000 sq ft)
  • Restaurant space (15,000 sq ft)
  • 745 parking spaces

The development would encompass the land sold by the BeltLine as well as land on Monroe and Cresthill that is zoned single-family and has a land use designation of single-family.

A summary of the Invest Atlanta meeting, VHCA’s letter to Invest Atlanta, and letters from then Councilmember Elect Jennifer Ide and then Councilmember Alex Wan are included below.

VHCA is closely monitoring this project and is working with all interested stakeholders to insist that any proposed development reflect the concerns and input of Virginia-Highland and surrounding neighborhoods. These efforts are being coordinated through VHCA’s Planning Committee (email: planning@vahi.org) and will involve not only members of the VHCA Planning Committee, but input and guidance from both the professional planner and the land-use attorney who have advised VHCA over the years. We will continue to provide updates as things evolve and progress.

 

Submitted by Lola Carlisle, VHCA Planning Committee

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2017 Tour of Homes – Another Great Celebration of VaHi

What a stellar celebration of VaHi  this year’s Tour of Homes was! The weather was perfect and eight wonderful homeowners offered us their heartfelt hospitality.  We hope everyone discovered a new favorite restaurant or two after sampling this year’s tasty food offerings. Over 250 volunteers pitched in to help make it the most successful Tour to date, with approximately $82,000 in gross proceeds. The Tour’s popularity has grown consistently; it has raised over $350,000 for the neighborhood over the last five years.

Of course, when you have a successful effort like this, there are a great number people who need to be thanked, starting with, the homeowners for being hosts and hostesses to us – what’s a home tour without homes?   The SPARK Choir provided great holiday music during the event. We are also very grateful to our advertising and restaurant sponsors who continue to be so generous each year. Many thanks to all those who volunteered throughout the weekend and to the House Captains who managed the volunteers in each home. We also want to specifically thank Alon’s Bakery & Market, who donated their scrumptious cookies when we had a last minute restaurant vacancy occur.  Many of you knew at the first bite who baked those cookies!

The Tour of Homes Committee works throughout the year in order to organize the Tour. I would like to thank them for all their efforts.

 

  • Home Selection: Kara Stringer, Jeannie Lightsey, Mary Hallenberg, Pam Bullock, and Rebekah Loveless
  • PR:  Kitsy Rose PR
  • Restaurants: JoAnn Zyla, Alison Hutton, and Peter Harrell
  • Volunteers: Eleanor Barrineau and Karen Murphree
  • Graphic Design: Lori Z Joslyn
  • Website: Centner Consulting
  • Tour Operations:  Sean Davey, Cherry Frederick, Holle Gilbert and Kevin Esch
  • Signage and Flocking: Holle Gilbert, Rebekah Loveless, Jenifer Keenan and Kevin Esch
  • Sponsorship: Jenifer Keenan

 

Once again, our shuttle service featured trolleys that were a throwback to the 9-Mile Trolley days of a century ago. Finally, some of you gained insight about what made each home unique through audio podcasts that were available as part of the Tour for the first time. 

Looking ahead to the 2018 Tour of Homes

If you really enjoyed the Tour this year or would like to be part of an effort that raises needed funding for our neighborhood, you may want to note that our 25th Tour will be on December 1-2, 2018. We’d love to have you join our Tour of Homes team!

Or, maybe you’d like to feature your home on next year’s tour!  Believe it or not, we start our search for next year’s participants in February.  Here’s what one of our homeowners said about participating in this year’s event.  “It was such a great experience. I’m so glad I did it. I met so many wonderful neighbors, and I finally got some stuff finished around the house that I had been wanting to do.  There was so much support from everyone involved.”

Contact next year’s Tour Chair, Chase Johnson at chasevhca@gmail.com if you have an interest.

Submitted by Robin Ragland, Tour of Homes Chair

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Atlanta City Council passes Monumental Affordable Housing Policy

On November 20, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved legislation championed by Councilmember Andre Dickens that will require developers building new residential rental units near the BeltLine to set aside a portion of those apartments for low and moderate-income renters. The policy specifically requires that either 10% of the apartments be affordable to renters earning up to 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) or that 15% of the apartments be affordable to renters earning up to 80% of that number. Developers also have the option to pay a fee in-lieu of providing affordable apartments in their development—the cost of the fee varies depending on the location along the BeltLine (and the funds collected will be used to develop affordable housing within the same area). Under federal guidelines, affordability is defined as 30% of a household’s monthly income. For example, an apartment affordable to a 2-person household earning 60% of Area Median Income would need to rent for $930 or less.  (See Income Limit table below for more detail).

Inclusionary Zoning policies can be complex and technical, but they are one of the many tools that city governments can use to create affordable housing options in high-cost areas. As all Virginia-Highland residents know, the BeltLine has been an impetus of change across the city and has invited new investments into our communities. While these changes are exciting and offer residents new amenities and opportunities for recreation, they cause an upward pressure on housing prices and rental rates, making it difficult for everyone to benefit from this public amenity. The Atlanta BeltLine is a public investment that all neighborhoods bought into, and all neighborhoods and neighbors have a right to live along it.  Councilmember Andre Dickens’ legislation is the first step towards ensuring that affordable housing options remain available in these communities.

This legislation will impact Virginia-Highland directly particularly as new development comes to the Ponce de Leon Place corridor. All residential developments in the “BeltLine Overlay District”—a corridor extending about a half-mile in each direction from the trail—that comply with the affordability requirement are entitled to a 15% density bonus, are exempt from minimum parking requirements for residential development, and receive priority review of their permit applications, among other incentives.

Atlanta is one of hundreds of cities that has implemented Inclusionary Zoning across the country, but is one of the first in the Southeast to successfully pass such an ordinance. This is a significant achievement for our changing city, but it is only the first step to ensuring a neighborhood and city that are affordable to all.

Atlanta’s Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning ordinance was recommended unanimously by all Neighborhood Planning Units (NPU) in the city, including NPU-F. For more information about this ordinance see: http://andredickens.com/atlanta-city-council-approves-landmark-mandatory-inclusionary-zoning-legislation/ or http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2017/11/21/atlanta-city-council-passes-beltline-inclusionary-

Submitted by Emma Tinsley, VHCA Board Member

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Santa and Snow in North Highland Park!

When we originally made plans for the Holiday Extravaganza event on December 9 in North Highland Park, we didn’t think it would turn out to be an event that featured SNOW! It was unexpected, but it contributed to a truly special day for about 100 residents who came by to take photos with Santa and get into the holiday spirit. Thanks to Stefanie Roberts for organizing this year’s event.

Snow brings out the kid in all of us, so it’s not surprising that both the big and small kids that made the trek to the park had a blast playing in the snow. Even their fury friends got in on the fun. All were careful to avoid hitting Santa with snowballs, though. No one wanted to get on the naughty list that close to the big day!

Everyone also enjoyed making ornaments and hanging them on the Christmas tree donated by Barefoot Mountain Trees at Inman Middle School. The neighbors stayed warm by drinking hot apple cider donated by Atkins Park, warm cocoa donated by Ten Thousand Villages, and cookies from Alon’s Bakery.

We hope you’ll join us next year at what is sure to become an annual favorite!  

Submitted by: Robin Ragland

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Park Pride Community Building Grant Project Update

We appreciate the remarks from of our neighbors about the significant improvements over the past two months at John Howell Memorial Park. This project was based on a matching grant that the Parks Committee successfully submitted to Park Pride that was approved by City of Atlanta Parks Design Committee. The Virginia-Highland Civic Association provided half the funding, and the results are quite visible.

Like Nu Construction (photos below) worked diligently (with guidance from original park landscape architect Peter Frawley of Frawley Associates) to execute and deliver on several key deliverables. In addition to completing the original brick paver pathway from the Barnett eastern entrance to the park to the path exit on Virginia (more than 1,230 square foot of pavers, some of them engraved by donors), Eddie Sumlin and the Like Nu team built a 300-linear foot granite seat wall along Virginia Avenue to tie in with the I-485 homestead markers that represent the homes in that area taken down by the old Georgia Highway Department. Otherwork has included repainting 5 utility electrical boxes and also re-grading multiple non-ADA compliant cement walkways near the Phoenix sculpture to make those both safer and consistent with today’s standards.

Six new trees—the park’s first pine trees in many years—are in place. Additional landscaping work and perennial plantings have also been installed by Walter Bland of Rock Springs Farm. The plant choices and the installation’s design will significantly reduce erosion onto the streets and sidewalks and simplify and reduce the area’s routine maintenance.

Submitted by David Brandenberger, President and Parks Committee Chair

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Virginia-Highland Resident Provides Gift to Plant Yard Trees

Our friends at Trees Atlanta have let us know that a generous neighbor, who would like to remain anonymous, has provided a gift of trees for the neighborhood—free trees that can be planted in your yard! What a wonderful gift for all of us.

Many of us are familiar with the NeighborWoods program through tree plantings here in Virginia-Highland. Supporting Trees Atlanta’s primary mission, the program seeks to replenish and sustain the tree canopy in our neighborhoods by planting street trees in the public right-of-way between the sidewalk and the curb.

The Yard Tree Program is an extension of that initiative, which provides for planting trees in front yards across the city. These trees are made available through a partnership between the City of Atlanta and the NeighborWoods program, and are a way to plant new native trees as we lose some of our more mature hardwoods to age and weather.

Our anonymous donor’s gift extends that opportunity even further. Alex Beasley, NeighborWoods Program Manager for Trees Atlanta and an I.S.A. Certified Arborist, said, “The only difference with this gift from the standard yard tree program is that the trees are not limited to front yards. We’re of course happy to come consult with folks if they are unsure of placement, or species selection.”

Follow this link to learn more about the program and to request your trees. Trees Atlanta staff will identify requests from Virginia-Highland and know that more flexibility in placement is permitted due to the generous gift.

Submitted by Kay Stephenson, VHCA Board Member

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UPDATE: VHCA Board Meeting 1/8 CANCELLED

VHCA 1/8  BOARD MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, TRAFFIC, AND THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS. 

General Board Meeting

Monday, January 8, 2018; 7:00 PM

Grace Lutheran Church

1155 N. Highland Avenue

Agenda

VHCA Directors:  David Brandenberger, Chase Johnson, Jenifer Keenan, Simon Lee, Barry Loudis, Steve Messner, Troy Murray, Stefanie Roberts, Kay Stephenson, George Zirkel, Emma Tinsley (alternate)

Call to order: 7:00 p.m. – David Brandenberger

Adoption of agenda

Approval of minutes from November Board Meeting as distributed

Atlanta Police Department – Recognized Upon Arrival

Elected Public Officials & Municipal Representatives

Other Guests:

Old Business

Planning Committee

  • Variances – None
  • 10th and Monroe– Jenifer & Barry

Sidewalk and Transportation Committee  – Troy

Budget Committee/Treasurer’s Report  – George

  • $20,000 donation to the VHCL to be used as a Principal Paydown on the loan for NHP

Parks Committee – David

Fundraising Committee

  • Tour of Homes- volunteer recap jan 29
  • Summerfest – Jenifer & George
  • Morningside Mile – George, Steve, Kay, Stefanie
  • Lantern Parade – George, Steve, Kay
  • Other Events – Stefanie

Safety Committee– Kay

Communications Committee – Emma

Old Business

  • David to draft proposed changes to the bylaws or a new policy statement to address contractual, financial or legal obligation approval requirements for items both in and out of the approved and adopted budget of the VHCA.
  • District 6 funds
    • $15,000 for NHP
    • $2,500 for Master Plan
    • $55,000 for Other Projects [when are we going to talk about how we vote on what gets funded]

New Business

Announcements/Calendar: (All meetings are public)

  • NPU-F Monthly Meeting at Hillside: January 15, 2018
  • VHCA Planning Committee at Ponce de Leon Branch Library:  February 7, 2018 7 pm
  • VHCA General and Board Meeting at Grace Lutheran: February 12, 2018  7 pm

 

Adjourn

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UPDATE: VHCA Official Response to Proposed Development at 10th and Monroe

Invest Atlanta voted today (December 21, 2017) to support the sale of BeltLine land near 10th and Monroe.  The $166 million proposed development from Fuqua that was submitted with the bid to purchase the land consists of:
11 story hotel (150 rooms)
351 residential units (with 30% affordable units)
1 story grocery store (20,000 sq ft)
Restaurant space (15,000 sq ft)
745 parking spaces
The development would encompass the land sold by the BeltLine as well as land on Monroe and Cresthill that is zoned single-family and has a land use designation of single-family.
Invest Atlanta did not allow public comment before their vote.  All but two Invest Atlanta board members – Julian Bene and Bill Bozarth – supported the matter. Bene noted that he and previous IA Board member Kirk Rich had campaigned to have IA approve development goals for the parcel before the RFP went out to bid, and to make compliance with those goals part of the approval criteria.  That did not happen, though some IA board members subsequently agreed in open discussion that the idea had merit. 
IA made public comments the very last agenda item, after the vote.  Mayor Reed left the meeting before the public comments.  When comments were allowed, Councilwoman-Elect Jennifer Ide, members of the VHCA Planning Committee and VHCA Board, and residents from Virginia-Highland and Midtown emphasized disappointment with the lack of community input before the vote and the need for robust community engagement moving forward.  Councilmember-Elect Jennifer Ide and Councilmember Wan also submitted a letter to Invest Atlanta requesting that the vote be delayed until there was an opportunity for community input.  Councilmember-Elect Matt Westmoreland also attended the meeting.   
Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong, who is on the Invest Atlanta board, noted that this is the start of what is envisioned as a nine-month process and that proposed rezoning and land use changes will ultimately be voted upon by City Council. She and other members of Council expect a “robust community engagement process.” She was joined by several other members of the IA Board in emphasizing that the specifics of this development were “not set in stone” and could change dramatically. BeltLine CEO Brian McGowan agreed; the developer, Jeff Fuqua, and Jim Kegley, the owner of the single family homes on Cresthill and Monroe that are contemplated as part of the development,  said they were willing to consider many options and uses.
The drawings the developer submitted, which were noted to be “renderings only,” may be seen at IA’s website.  (https://www.boarddocs.com/ga/investatlanta/Board.nsf/files/AU9MR75C6628/$file/1016%20Monroe%20Award%20Fact%20Sheet%20v8%2012.20.17.pdf)  Given the assurances offered following the vote by Invest Atlanta, we accept the ‘rendering only’ concept’ at face value and will therefore not comment now about the absence of single-family residential and along Cresthill or the failure to take into account the single family home on Cresthill that is  not owned by Kegley. 
The letter that VHCA submitted to Invest Atlanta is included below.  VHCA will continue to partner with NPU-F and surrounding neighborhoods to insist on a meaningful public input process and will keep the community updated on the dates of community input meetings and the status of this project. 
______________________________ ___
Dear Dr. Klementich and Invest Atlanta Board Members,
With zero public notice and zero public input on content, the Invest Atlanta board is about to become a partner in a contract conditioned on replacing single-family land use designations and single-family zoning classifications with high density commercial and multi-family development in the Virginia-Highland National Register Historic District. These proposed changes are inconsistent with the city’s adopted CDP, the neighborhood’s City Council-adopted Master Plan, and the City Council-adopted BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan for this area. All of these public policy documents have supported the preservation of the historic single-family fabric of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood, which this contract proposal clearly disregards.
The consequences of this proposed development have not been examined and are not yet known.   In this circumstance, IA’s most minimal obligations are to educate itself about what existing City policies are in place in this neighborhood and what challenges its own proposal will cause.  IA should hear the recommendations and concerns of the city’s Planning Department, the Atlanta Public School System, and municipal agencies like Renew Atlanta who have active plans in this corridor.  It should also inform and consult with the impacted neighborhoods.
I.   Inconsistencies with the BeltLine Subarea 6 Plan and Redevelopment Plan
 
There has not been any analysis on whether this proposed development is consistent with the policies and goals articulated in the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan and BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan.
The BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan has the following statements about this area:
“Due to the wide variety of opinions regarding use and density in this area, and the fact that any redevelopment proposals seeking a change in the current zoning must engage the community via the standard public process, this master plan solely focuses on safety, transit, and open space considerations and reflects current in-place zoning.”  (p. 9)
“Design in Subarea 6 should reflect the goal of blending with existing neighborhoods, each of which has a distinctive character.  To achieve context sensitivity, design should follow a series of guiding principles that reflect the diverse character of study area surroundings.  Design efforts in historic settings should also be carefully coordinated with the City’s BeltLine planners and Atlanta Urban Design Commission to uphold standards of appropriateness.”  (p. 17).
The Atlanta BeltLine Redevelopment Plan also contains important statements about this area: “…  a majority of participants favoring the retention of this site as greenspace linking the 10th Street transit stop and plaza with Piedmont Park” and “low-density residential use supported by neighborhood retail.”  (p. 64).
The neighborhoods and NPU-F participated in good faith in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan.  The neighborhoods’ input during the process resulted in no suggested changes to the land use at 10th and Monroe.  The significant development and land use changes contemplated in IA’s contract are contrary to the representations that were made to the neighborhoods and City Council when they voted to adopt the Subarea 6 Plan.  Development that has not been discussed with any of the surrounding neighborhoods flies in the face of the neighborhoods’ participation and support for the Subarea 6 plan.
II.     Affordable Housing and Planned Growth
  
We are advocates of affordable housing and we welcome planned growth. We formally inventoried the neighborhood’s multi-family housing in 2012 and protected it in the 2014 Master Plan.  Parts of Virginia-Highland are already zoned for more density, and we embrace such planned outcomes.
At this exact site, we worked very cooperatively for three months in 2014 with the property owner and his then-development partner Carter.  The final concepts of that effort – which was abandoned because the very land under consideration was not awarded to the Carter team – preserved the single-family status of Cresthill on the northern boundary and would today produce far more affordable units than the non-residential uses now being put forth.
III.   Preservation of existing single-family zoning
 
The preservation of existing single-family zoning boundaries is a major topic here and in many Atlanta neighborhoods.
The proposed land use and zoning changes have the obvious capacity to further erode the single-family regulations that are in place for the remaining areas of the neighborhood next to and around this site. Any agreement that allows replacing existing single-family homes with multi-family housing should provide stringent new zoning regulations to prevent such a pattern from repeating itself on the next block.
Endangering nearby single-family housing may not be the intention here, but it certainly could be the outcome. This question needs to be answered for every neighborhood in Atlanta, not just historic ones.  The IA Board should not be indifferent to or turn a blind eye to this topic.
IV.   Formal City Planning
For a decade VHCA has been guided in such matters by Aaron Fortner of Canvas Planning and attorney Bob Zoeckler.  They have three combined decades of experience at the City’s Planning Department and are leading the City’s rewrite of its own zoning code.  A central maxim that we have learned from them is embodied in the slogan, “Plan first, build second.” In this instance, IA is proposing the exact opposite  –  launching this project first and leaving it to others to try to sort out on the fly.   

It is highly inappropriate, and it is unfair to citizens and organizations that have acted in good faith and have consistently advocated for affordable housing and planned growth.   Major changes deserve proportional process; they should be reflective and not conducted under the pressures on nearby citizens that go with the deadlines created by filing for land use and zoning changes.  This is especially relevant for attempts to create high density development within the single-family fabric of a neighborhood.
We are willing – as we always have been – to consider the future of this site and this portion of the community in logical and collegial setting.
 
V. Impacts on Traffic
 
IA needs to evaluate whether or not the traffic produced by a grocery store and hotel will confound the already infamous traffic on Monroe and what the impacts of this development will be on the viability of the traffic mitigation strategies that Renew Atlanta has already formally presented.  But the Board hasn’t studied those issues.  

Will the increase in traffic that the hotel and grocery bring imperil the safety of existing Grady students at the dangerous Monroe/10th intersection?  This is a site where a Grady student was hit by a car and killed  just two years ago, and the usual method of evaluating only the percentage of increased traffic associated with a given project may not be sufficient.  Grady High School has a scheduled expansion on the books and will be growing steadily over the next decade. Citywide athletic events will continue to occur at the adjacent stadium.
This is anything but a routine setting and will require a very sophisticated traffic study.
The Virginia-Highland Civic Association joins in NPU-F’s request that the final decision by Invest Atlanta be postponed until the public has an opportunity to provide input on this matter.
Sincerely,
David Brandenberger                                           Jenifer Keenan
VHCA President                                                     VHCA Director, Co-Chair VHCA Planning Committee
david_brandenberger@yahoo.com                    jkeenanvahi@yahoo.com
cc:        Councilmember-Elect Jennifer Ide
            Councilmember Andre Dickens
            Councilmember Michael Julian Bond
            Councilmember-Elect Matt Westmoreland
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December 11, 2017 Board Meeting Agenda and VHCA Budget

General and Board Meeting

Monday, December 11, 2017; 7:00 PM

Grace Lutheran Church  1155 N. Highland Avenue

Agenda

VHCA Directors:  David Brandenberger, Chase Johnson, Jenifer Keenan, Simon Lee, Barry Loudis, Steve Messner, Troy Murray, Stefanie Roberts, Kay Stephenson, George Zirkel, Emma Tinsley (alternate)

Call to order: 7:00 p.m. – David Brandenberger

  • Adoption of agenda

  • Approval of minutes from November Board Meeting as distributed

  • Atlanta Police Department – Recognized Upon Arrival

  • Elected Public Officials & Municipal Representatives

  • Councilwoman Elect Jennifer Ide

  • Councilman Elect Matt Westmoreland

  • Other Guests:

Old Business

Planning Committee (Planning Committee Goals)

  • Variances – Barry Loudis

V-17-317; 801 Adair Ave. NE; R-4 – DEFERRED FROM NOVEMBER CYCLE

The house faces northward on Adair just west of De Leon.

Applicant has been updated to Andy Steele of Park Atlanta Homes (on behalf of homeowner William Knight) requests variances to:

  1. reduce the front yard setback from 35 feet to 34 feet (existing) to build a 2nd floor addition above and along the existing dimension

  2. REMOVED FROM ORIGINAL APPLICATION

  3. reduce the west side yard setback from 7 feet to 2.7 feet (existing at rear of home) to build a 2nd floor addition atop the existing dimension and extend the existing structure along the same dimension

  4. reduce the east side yard setback from 7 feet to 3 feet  to build a detached garage structure

  5. reduce the rear yard setback from 15 feet to 3 feet to build a detached garage structure

  • Master Plan Update – Jenifer

  • $2,500 grant from Councilman Alex Wan

Sidewalk and Transportation Committee  – Troy/Jenifer

Budget Committee/Treasurer’s Report (Budget Committee Goals) – George

Parks Committee (Parks Committee Goals)  – David

  • $15,000 Grant from Councilman Alex Wan for John Howell Park Project

Fundraising Committee (Fundraising Committee Goals)

  • Tour of Homes – Robin

    • Estimated Financial Results:

      • Total Net Revenue: $79,319 (2016 was $78,596)

      • $38,133 ticket sales, which was an increase of $4,730 over 2016

      • $40,906 in sponsorships, which was $4,287 decrease from 2016

      • Final Expenses Estimated to be  $23,000 – $24,000

      • Estimated Net Income  $54,000 – $56,000  (2016:  $56,160)

  • Holiday Extravaganza in North Highland Park – Stefanie

  • Other Fundraising – George, Steve, Kay, Stefanie

  • Vote on Morningside Mile MOU

Safety Committee (Safety Committee Goals) – Kay

  • Update on current initiatives

Communications Committee (Communication Committee Goals)

New Business

  • $55,000 Grant from Councilman Alex Wan

  • Discussion and Adoption of 2018 Budget 

  • Discussion and Adoption of 2018 Committee Goals

  • Announcements/Calendar: (All meetings are public)

    • NPU-F Monthly Meeting at Hillside: December 18, 2017

    • VHCA Planning Committee at Ponce de Leon Branch Library:  January 3, 2018 7 pm

    • VHCA General and Board Meeting at Grace Lutheran: January 8, 2018  7 pm

Adjourn

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