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

 

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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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Public Meeting – 10th & Monroe Development -Update

The proposed development at 10th Street and Monroe has generated significant concern from the community. This article provides an overview of the proposal, the public input process published by the developer and Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI), and key issues related to the proposed development. The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) will be hosting a public meeting at 7:00PM on Thursday, April 19th at The Virginia-Highland Church (743 Virginia Avenue) regarding this proposed development and next steps.

I. OVERVIEW OF DEVELOPMENT AND PROCESS
The area for the proposed development is the southwest block at Monroe and Cresthill (see map below). Jim Kegley, a partner in 10th and Monroe, LLC, is part of a joint venture that  owns the commercial properties marked C1 below and all single family homes marked R4 below other than 565 Cresthill.

Aerial sketch of proposed project area 

Concept from proposal to Invest Atlanta

Jim Kegley, as part of 10th and Monroe, LLC has partnered with Fuqua Development to develop this area. They submitted a bid to purchase a small section of BeltLine land adjacent to their commercial properties and single family homes (marked “Atlanta BeltLine” above). The fact sheet on their bid to purchase the BeltLine land and develop this area can be found at the following link:  Invest Atlanta – Fact Sheet 

Invest Atlanta (IA), the City of Atlanta’s Development Authority, voted to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the purchase of the BeltLine land with Kegley/Fuqua at the December 19, 2017 IA meeting. Little notice was provided about the IA vote, and the actual vote was conducted in Executive Session and not open to the public. Although VHCA only received 48 hours’ notice of the impending vote, several VHCA Board and Planning Committee members, as well as NPU officers, attended the Invest Atlanta meeting to object to the vote and the proposed development. VHCA also submitted a letter objecting to the Invest Atlanta vote and proposed development (see VHCA article and letter to Invest Atlanta).

Under the MOU with IA, the developers were required to engage in a “robust community input” process. Their “public input process,” which was approved by ABI, includes the following “Community Wide Meetings,” “Community Working Group Meetings,” and “Technical Advisory Group Meetings”:

Following the community engagement process, the development team will go through the formal rezoning process.  The process is outlined below.

NPU-F requires that rezonings go to the NPU-F Zoning Committee first, then to the neighborhood where the project is located, and then to the full NPU-F meeting.

The following link provides additional information on the City’s website related to zoning changes:
City of Atlanta Zoning Changes

Additional information on the ZRB and Office of Zoning and Development:

Zoning Review Board (ZRB) – This body consists of nine members, appointed by the Mayor and City Council, who meet twice a month to consider property rezonings and special use permits. The Zoning Review Board takes into consideration the recommendations of the relevant Neighborhood Planning Unit and the Office of Planning staff and makes recommendations on rezonings to the Zoning Committee of City Council.

Office of Zoning and Development – This office is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the zoning ordinance. The Zoning Division checks all building permits for compliance with the zoning ordinance and conducts research to verify the zoning classification for a given property.

II. KEY ISSUES RELATED TO THE DEVELOPMENT
There are many critical components with this proposed development.  A partial list of the key issues includes:

  • Maintaining Single-Family Land Use and Zoning to Prevent “Creep” of Rezoning of Single-Family Land Along Monroe and the BeltLine and elsewhere in the city

This proposed development would require both a land use and zoning change to the parcels that are R4/single family, including the 9 existing single-family homes on Monroe and Cresthill.  Any planning ‘logic’ that accepts tearing down single-family homes in one area can be applied just as easily to other areas in Virginia-Highland and along the BeltLine as a whole. If the west side of Monroe and the south side of Cresthill are rezoned, it will set a precedent for rezoning other single-family land in Virginia-Highland and along other parts of the BeltLine.  Keeping existing single-family streets (and Monroe itself) as single-family housing is a critical goal. Both VHCA and NPU-F have devoted significant formal planning efforts on these topics in the city’s official plan for the area (the Comprehensive Development Plan, or CDP.) In addition, the BeltLine Subarea Plans says that “protecting existing single family neighborhoods” adjacent to the BeltLine is a critical goal of the BeltLine (see pg. 3/pdf pg. 21).  
 

  • Increased Density Designations in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan and City’s CPD Are Called for In Other Sections Along the BeltLine

Unlike the Kegley/Fuqua land at 10th and Monroe, which has not been designated for increased density in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Plan or any other City plan, increased density has been planned for other parcels along the BeltLine in Virginia-Highland and Morningside. The BeltLine Subarea 6 Master Plan shows the areas along the BeltLine from Ponce to the Interstate (Subarea 6) that have been designated for increased density. The map on pg. 6 shows all of the areas along the Subarea 6 portion of the BeltLine that have land use and zoning already in place to allow for increased density (in Virginia-Highland, it’s the Ponce Place corridor and the area where the storage facility is located on the east side of 10th and Monroe).


https://BeltLineorg-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ABI-Subarea-6-Master-Plan.pdf

In addition to the Subarea 6 Master Plan Map, this map shows the land use categories for all of Virginia-Highland:

The areas in brown along the BeltLine have been designated for Medium Density and High Density residential.  The area in bright yellow has a land use designation of “low density residential” and is zoned “RG-2,” so this area will accommodate increased density without any changes to land use and zoning.

  • Affordable Housing Component

The proposal submitted by Kegley/Fuqua to Invest Atlanta includes 30% affordable housing. Not only is affordable housing an important goal and welcomed by VHCA and the City of Atlanta, all rental developments as of January 1, 2018 in the BeltLine overlay district are required to have affordable housing.  Key components of affordable housing include the length of the term of the affordable housing and the income level used to measure the affordable cost of the unit. According to the AJC, Invest Atlanta “said it wanted a project that created long-term affordability, in excess of 50 years; the Fuqua plan calls for those affordable units to be available for 15 years, the minimum term.”

In accordance with Atlanta BeltLine policy – reaffirmed again in a meeting with the developer in February, 2018 – affordable housing can be built at the area of 10th and Monroe without removing any existing single-family housing at this or any other site along the BeltLine.

  • Traffic and Safety Issues at 10th and Monroe

10th and Monroe is one of the most dangerous intersections in the City of Atlanta. Two people were killed in a single quarter-mile section of the street in Virginia-Highland in the last few years and countless auto accidents have occured in a short half-mile stretch of Monroe.  10th and Monroe serves the BeltLine, Piedmont Park and Grady High School and has significant bike, pedestrian and car traffic. This extraordinarily complicated intersection poses significant challenges; increasing the volume of traffic in all types (pedestrian, cyclist, vehicular) is extremely problematic without significant modifications.  

  • Adhere to the design principles of the BeltLine Overlay and Redevelopment Plan

The BeltLine Redevelopment Plan states the following:

  • “preservation of existing single-family neighborhoods by providing appropriate transitions to higher-density uses” (p. 2)
  • “a majority of participants favoring the retention of this site (10th and Monroe) as greenspace” (p. 64)
  • “Buildings should also defer to the scale of adjacent single-family neighborhoods by decreasing in height and mass as the proximity increases.  A transitional height plane is recommended for all places where new development on the BeltLine approaches existing neighborhoods.”  Chapter 6, pg. 13).
  • “Buildings should not exceed 52 feet in height within 150 feet of single-family neighborhoods, and should step down in height corresponding to a 45 degree plan extending from 15 feet above the adjacent property line.”  (Chapter 7, pg. 16).


The proposed Kegley/Fuqua development contradicts all of these principles.

  • Other issues

There are many other issues raised related to this development that were raised at the Community Engagement meeting at Grady High School on April 10, 2018: green space, preservation of trees, route of future transit, capacity issues in the Grady cluster, location of transit stops, overshadowing Piedmont Park and comparison of other land purchases along the BeltLine and surrounding Piedmont Park to name a few.  

III. NEXT STEPS
VHCA has been working with a professional planning consultant and a land use/zoning attorney for years on the potential development of 10th Street and Monroe.  These professionals have over 40 years combined experience on land use and zoning issues and will be a critical component of challenging the proposed rezoning of single-family land and this out-of-scale development.

VHCA will review these issues and the most effective way to respond to them in a meeting open to all at the Virginia-Highland Church on Thursday, April 19, at 7:00PM. We will provide an update on plans, listen to concerns and alternate approaches and will speak about process, strategy, next steps and how the neighborhood can assist and engage, both financially and in other ways.

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PARENTS: Rising Kindergartener Information

Article submitted by Virginia-Highland Communications Committee

Information available for Kindergarten registration at both Springdale Park and Morningside

Are you are the parent of a rising kindergartener (starting school this fall)? Check out the links below for registration and information on getting your child enrolled at either Springdale Park or Morningside Elementary.

Springdale Park Elementary

Morningside 

For additional information on current school zones:

Morningside Elementary

Springdale Park Elementary 

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Trees Atlanta: Yard Tree Program

Article submitted by Virginia-Highland Communications Committee

Free trees available for front, side and back yards to Va-Hi residents

Virginia-Highland is known for its tree-lined streets. But we’re losing the old growth quickly due
to the loss of old trees and so much new construction. Trees planted by residents in their yards are important in helping maintain our tree canopy, creating a healthier environment for all of us including the wildlife that calls Virginia-Highland home.

As a result of a supplement grant to the partnership between the City of Atlanta and Trees
Atlanta NeighborWoods program, Trees Atlanta can now, for the Virginia Highland
neighborhood, provide free trees for residents to plant in front, side and/or in the back yard of
their property. Typically Trees Atlanta provides trees for the right-of- ways/city property and the
front yards of homes.

Trees Atlanta staff will also come to your home and advise you on the best trees to plant,
placement and care. You can place your order at any time and Trees Atlanta will help decide the appropriate time to plant. Note the current Trees Atlanta application does not identify the
Virginia Highlands program so when contacted by Trees Atlanta, mention you are interested in
side and/or back yard trees.

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Homeless/Unhoused Residents Public Session

District 6 Council Member Jennifer Ide has informed the Virginia-Highland Civic Association that she and her staff are organizing a community meeting open to all interested parties on the topic of homelessness/unhoused residents. Representatives from the City’s Office of Continuum of Care, Intown Collaborative Ministries, the Atlanta Police Department, the Solicitor and Public Defenders Office, The River at Virginia-Highland Church, mental health resources and other resources have been invited to an educational discussion to learn the facts about the laws, what the City is doing/has done since the closure of the Peachtree-Pine shelter, and what resources there are from the city as well as from non-profit groups to provide assistance.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 24th at 6pm at the Virginia-Highland Church, 743 Virginia Avenue NE.

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Call for Volunteers – Summerfest

Article submitted by Steve Voichick, Summerfest Volunteer Coordinator

Be a part of the biggest event of the year!

As a resident of Virginia-Highland, you no doubt know that Summerfest is the largest fundraiser benefiting our neighborhood. Proceeds from the festival go directly to maintain, beautify and improve the safety of our community. Summerfest is also one of Atlanta’s oldest and most prestigious art and music festivals. We need your help to keep it that way. With the growing popularity of neighboring communities and the oversaturation of festivals and weekly road races, it gets tougher and tougher to stand out from the crowd. It’s essential that we do and it’s our volunteers that can make that happen.

Please consider giving back to your community by volunteering for one or more shifts (2-3 hours) and help make this year’s Summerfest one of the best ever. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, supporting nearly all aspects of Summerfest including:

Summerfest Parade – it’s going to be SUPER!
Community Dinner and a Movie
5K Road Race and Tot-Trot
The Artist Market
Commemorative T-shirt Sales
Kidsfest – it’s not just for kids anymore.
Music
Festival Set-up and Teardown
Parking
Surveying Attendees

Double the fun by signing up to volunteer with friends and family. Volunteers do not need to be residents of our neighborhood…the more the merrier. And don’t forget, all volunteers receive one of the coveted commemorative Summerfest t-shirts.

Don’t wait… sign up today using this link

Thank you for volunteering and being a part of an Atlanta tradition.

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Best Summerfest Ever

Article submitted by Jenifer Keenan and Pamela Papner, Summerfest Co-Chairs

The countdown is on to Summerfest 2018; June 8-10

Summerfest is right around the corner and this year is shaping up to be the best Summerfest yet! We’ve brought back all of the favorites like top artists and fun cover bands for the music stage at the triangle, and lots of new things, including an expanded local market, adult big wheel races, a petting zoo and Xtreme Airballs for Kidsfest, and a few other surprises as well.

Everything kicks off Friday, June 8th with the Summerfest parade. This year’s theme is Super Heroes so kids (and adults!) can show off their super hero powers in their favorite super hero costumes. After the parade, we’ll have the Community Dinner for VaHi residents in John Howell Park followed by a showing of Guardians of the Galaxy 2!

The festivities continue bright and early on Saturday, June 9th with the Summerfest 5K race and tot trot. Sign-ups for the 5K, which is chip timed and a certified Peachtree Road Race qualifier, are available at https://endurancecui.active.com/event-reg/select-race?e=52227251and sign-ups for tot trot will be available at the Friday parade and community dinner and Saturday morning before the trot. Following the 5k and tot trot, we’ll have two full days of great artists and music on the stage at the triangle and the main stage at John Howell Park.

Come out and celebrate our amazing neighborhood on June 8 (community events), 9, & 10 at the best Summerfest yet! For more details, visit vahisummerfest.org

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Peachtree State Champs!

Article submitted by Virginia-Highland Communications Committee

The Grady High School G3 Robotics team wins the Peachtree State Championship!

For the first time, Grady High School’s G3 Robotics Team won The Peachtree State Championship. The team ends state competition season with four blue banners including two qualifying tournaments wins and a qualifying Chairman’s Award. In addition, the team was honored twice with the Gracious Professionalism Award.

Grady travels to Houston April 18 – 21 to compete at the FIRST World Championship.

Congratulations, Grady!

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Dude, its STILL only a mile!

The 8th annual running of the Morningside Mile on Sunday, March 25 attracted more than 600 registrants.  The day started out cold and rainy, but almost 500 intrepid souls finished the race, which is in fact, only a mile.

This year’s race marked the first year that MLPA and VHCA joined to raise funds and draw attention to the North Highland Commercial Corridor through our two historic neighborhoods.  To highlight the focus, this year’s race took place on N. Highland beginning at the YWCA with the finish line in front of Morningside Village.  As expected, thes gently sloping course lead to some lightning fast times.  The men’s overall winner came in under 5 minutes and the women’s overall was just over that mark!  Here’s a summary of the results:
Category Winner Time
Men’s Overall Doug Doblar 4:59
Women’s Overall Hannah Chappell-Dick 5:06
Men’s Masters Simon Angove 5:13
Women’s Masters Karin Dusenbury 7.06
Men’s < 6 Dylan Clarence 8:34
Women’s < 6 Eloise Nichols 8:31
Men’s 7-9 Lincoln Finley 8:05
Women’s 7-9 Chloe Dolas 7:36
Men’s 10-14 Will Hunter 6:43
Women’s 10-14 Ellie Spears 6:51
Men’s 15-19 Mathieu Kaufmann 5:51
Women’s 15-19 Kate Guensler 8:06
Men’s 20-29 Bryan Nonni 5:45
Women’s 20-29 Heather Yates 7:30
Men’s 30-39 Naveen Ramachandrappa 5:25
Women’s 30-39 Alison James 6:37
Men’s 40-49 Tim Langan 5:27
Women’s 40-49 Jen Heller 7:40
Men’s 50-59 Rob Pollock 5:49
Women’s 50-59 Kathleen McDavid Harrison 8:08
Men’s >60 John Bacon 7:23
Women’s >60 Sue Sawyer 11:52

Additional results are posted on the website, morningsidemile.com.  Runners were surprised by the t-shirts that sported the new name for the race—while the logo featured the iconic tag line, “Dude, it’s only a mile,” the name has been changed to the N. Highland Mile to draw attention to the race’s purpose.
Racers, spectators, and volunteers all enjoyed the activities at the Block Party. Face painting and balloon animals from Bubbles the clown, corn hole and giant soap bubbles from The Wish List, and making leashes from re-purposed climbing rope and learning about pet rescue from the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe. The most spectacular activity was racing adult big wheels, thanks to Atlanta’s Adult Big Wheel Club. Live music, DJ Tron, and Doc Chey’s noodle eating contest also entertained the crowd. The addition of a live band was a big hit with My Friend Ian’s Band taking the crowd on a walk through the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Historically the commercial corridor along N. Highland was the lifeblood of our neighborhoods with vibrant restaurants, retail, and services catering to both residents and visitors from all over the city.  In recent years, as new landmarks have been created along the beltline, N. Highland’s popularity has been eclipsed—MLPA and VHCA are working to bring resources and attention back to the heart of our communities.  This first race and block party put us well on our way, raising funds that will go back into our neighborhood.

Besides the runners, the volunteers that gave so generously of their time were also recognized for their efforts.  Besides receiving some of the coveted t-shirts, they were entered into a drawing for door prizes.  Congratulations to Gigi, Anguelyca, and Devon, the winners of the door prizes!

Our thanks also go out to our generous sponsors for the race and block party– presenting sponsors,
Engel & Voelkers and Homegrown Restaurants (Doc Chey’s, Dragon Bowl, & Osteria); hosts Neighbor’s
Pub and Sweetwater Brewing; benefactors El Taco, FIT Learning, JW Ayers Plumbing,  Morningside
Pediatric Dentistry, Fontaine’s, Highland Tap, Phidippides, Pierce Chiropractic Center, Replenish, Sprouts
Farmers Market, and The Great Frame Up; and contributors Alon’s, Atkins Park Tavern, Highland Real
Estate, Homestead Realtors, Kale Me Crazy, Midtown Butcher Shoppe, Morningstar Storage, and Warren
City Club.  Please thank the businesses that support our neighborhood by visiting them often.

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City of Atlanta to Offer Loans for Home Repairs

Invest Atlanta and the City of Atlanta Department of City Planning have launched a deferred forgivable loan program that provides up to $30,000 to eligible homeowners for health and safety repairs on their home. Find more information in this flyer.

Meet with City representatives on Monday, March 26th from 11:30 until 4:00 pm at the Ponce de Leon Library or on Tuesday, March 27th from 10:00 until 3:30. Representatives will also make an appointment to meet individually at home.

Update:

We have learned that there is a public meeting on April 14th about the program. Please note that applications are accepted as early as 4/4/18 and will be time-stamped...the meeting is much later than that date, so please consider meeting with a representative next week at the library.

4/14/2018
9am-11am
Peachtree Hills Recreation Center
308 Peachtree Hills Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

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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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Looking for an Article Seen in the VOICE?

Check the Archive!

Publishing of articles from the VOICE on the website news feed has been temporarily suspended. However, you can find the current and all back issues of the VOICE in the archive located here.

As mentioned in the last issue of the VOICE, we are looking for some help with the newsletter and website. If you are interested, please send a message to communications@vahi.org.

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BeltLine Northside & Northeast Study Group Meeting

Northside + Northeast Study Group – Thursday, July 13, 2017

6:30-8:00 pm
Rock Spring Presbyterian Church
1824 Piedmont Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30324

Join BeltLine representatives to learn about the design of the Northeast Trail! Meet the team behind the design and construction of the Northeast Trail taking shape between Ansley Mall and Mayson Street NE. ABI will unveil timelines and other key details about the project, and gather insights from the community that will help shape the trail’s design.

 

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Park Pride Hosts Annual “Pints for Parks” on May 2


David Brandenberger, VHCA Board Member and Parks Committee Chair

Longtime metro Atlanta parks advocates Park Pride will hold their annual spring social and fundraiser Tuesday, May 2nd from 6 PM to 9 PM. This year’s event brings together park (and beer!) enthusiasts at Orpheus Brewing for an evening of drinks, games and good company, all in the spirit of celebrating green space.

Your $45 ticketed donation will include a limited edition Park Pride tasting glass, seven complimentary beer tastings, food, a brewery tour, an opportunity to participate in a silent auction, and the ability to participate in several games. In addition to a enjoying a fun evening, you will be supporting an organization that works tirelessly to preserve, maintain and build parks and green spaces in the City of Atlanta, creating a more sustainable, equitable, ecologically-stable and beautiful city to live in. Park Pride specifically has made multiple generous grants to every one of Virginia-Highland’s parks over many years.

They are expecting around 350 attendees at this year’s Pints for Parks, so register early. For more information, click here.

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Tips from a New VaHi Business Owner for Building Spring Fitness

By Collin Eggebrecht, owner of OnePoint Physical Therapy

Virginia-Highland continues to be one of the busiest neighborhoods in Atlanta when it comes to outdoor activities.  With endless sidewalks, foot and bike accessible restaurants and shops, numerous beltline entrances and parks, physical activity is a part of life in the neighborhood.

Spring is here, and with that comes increased opportunity for outdoor activity. We are most sedentary in the winter months while spring brings more frequent neighborhood walks, runs and sports participation. Many of us, however, forget to prepare, leading to unwanted injuries, so now is a great time to prepare to prevent them.

How to build strength and endurance

A simple way I like to teach individuals to build their strength and endurance is the 10% rule.  Add 10% of volume per week to your routine to safely progress and to minimize your risk for injury.  This is especially true this time of year as many of us have had limited physical activity over the past few months. The 10% rule is commonly used by runners to safely add miles week over week.  We are not all runners, though, so why not apply this rule to other activities?  All you need to do is pick a measurable aspect of your workout (for example. distance, time, repetitions, and weight).

Here are three examples of ways you can use this principle with your workout routine.

1. Goal: 30 minutes of walking, 3 times per week (90 total minutes)

  • Week 1: 10 minutes of walking, 3 times (30 total minutes)
  • Week 2: 11 minutes of walking, 3 times (33 total minutes)
  • Week 3: 12 minutes of walking, 3 times (36 total minutes)

2. Goal: Lift 20 lbs for 30 repetitions

  • Week 1: Lift 10 lbs for 30 repetitions
  • Week 2: Lift 11 lbs for 30 repetitions
  • Week 3: Lift 12 lbs for 30 repetitions

Reaching out to local businesses for help

Virginia-Highland also houses many fitness instructors and therapists, so if you need assistance, now is a good time to reach out for support. Look around local businesses and gyms or ask your neighbor for a recommendation. Good l
uck, stay hydrated, and keep moving.

Collin Eggebrecht is a new business owner in the Virginia Highland neighborhood. He recently opened the doors to OnePoint Physical Therapy on the corner of Barnett and Greenwood. He has years of experience in injury prevention, sports-related rehabilitation and orthopedics. For more information visit www.onepointpt.com

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Volunteer Now for Summerfest 2017!

By John Becker

In 1983, MASH ended an 11-year, 251-episode TV run, Vanessa Williams became the first African-American crowned Miss America and McDonald’s introduced the Chicken McNugget.

Did you know ‘83 was also the year a group of Virginia-Highland merchants – led by late Atkins Park owner Warren Bruno – got together and threw a block party that would eventually become Summerfest?

Yes, it’s really been 34 years since the first Summerfest, and organizers are hard at work planning this year’s festival set for the weekend of June 3. Featuring a 5K Road Race and Tot Trot, one of the largest juried artist markets in the South and a variety of local, regional and national acts performing on the music Summerfest stage, our festival has become one of Atlanta’s most eagerly anticipated seasonal events.

Aside from simply attending the event, how can you get the most out of your Summerfest experience? Why, volunteering, of course! Summerfest volunteer shifts are generally 2-3 hours long and you can choose to help with:

Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones, and also help ensure the success of VHCA’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Volunteering can be a great way for high school or middle school students to get service hours. You can even sign up for multiple shifts if you like (and many do). Encourage your friends and neighbors to volunteer. Come join in the fun and go home with the coveted volunteer t-shirt!

We’re using SignUp.Com (formerly VolunteerSpot) again this year for volunteer registration and management. The tool is great at helping us organize our various tasks and shifts and is very easy to use. (Note: SignUp.com does not share your email address with anyone.)

Here’s how it works in three easy steps:

  1. Click here to access the Summerfest area on VolunteerSpot.
  2. Review the different tasks and shifts listed and identify the tasks/shifts that work for you.
  3. Sign up – it’s easy and you won’t have to register or leave a password on SignUp.com.

Have questions or need more information? Contact volunteer coordinator John Becker at jnbecker@me.com. Please don’t delay – volunteer today! We look forward to seeing you in June!

John Becker is a past VHCA board member and serves as Summerfest volunteer coordinator.

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How Money Raised by VHCA Helps Support Our Community

VHCA supports our community in many ways, partly through volunteering and partly through financial support.

Following is an overview of the events that bring in the money to support the community and where that money goes.

How we raise the money
Quite simply, the June Summerfest and the December Tour of Homes generate almost all of the funds that we raise.

Since 2005, we have funded over $245,000 in grants for education, partnering nonprofits and community organizations. This includes almost $115,000 in grants to our neighborhood schools, just under $40,000 to our public library, and over $35,000 to Trees Atlanta.

Our funding also supports other neighborhood projects, including the acquisition of N Highland Park, park improvements, safety, sidewalk and traffic concerns, planning and preservation efforts, and communication.

Some specific allocations
Here are just some of the funds that the civic association allocated in 2016:

VHCA Grant Awards – 2016

  • $19.500 to install three APD video cameras, in response to an offer of matching funds from Alex Wan’s council fund.
  • $4000 to Trees Atlanta
  • $3250 to Springdale Elementary PTO
  • $3100 to Inman Middle School
  • $2825 to Ponce de Leon Library
  • $2500 to Inman Middle School Technology Foundation
  • $1750 to Grady High School College and Career Center
  • $1500 Grady Athletic Boosters
  • $1500 to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

Volunteering

We are able to raise that money through the efforts of our volunteers. Without them, these initiatives would collapse. So please volunteer for our upcoming Summerfest 2017 in June, as explained in the accompanying article, and know how much you are helping all of us when you do that—not to mention the enjoyment and neighborhood camaraderie you will get out of it.

Remember, without our volunteers, Summerfest simply could not happen.

Thank you for your support, and enjoy Summerfest.

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Police Reveal Cool Camera Features at VHCA Safety Meeting

And body cameras modify behavior on both sides of the lens

On Saturday, March 4th at Church of Our Saviour, a good turnout of VaHi safety captains and other interested residents gathered for the annual Safety Captains’ meeting. In attendance were police experts to explain how they are using cameras to fight crime. There was also a discussion led by the VHCA Safety Committee about what residents and businesses can do within our neighborhood to reduce crime.

Street Cameras and Tag Readers

There are now 9 street cameras installed in VaHi, including 3 purchased by VHCA with financial support from Alex Wan. These cameras are the ones that show the blue lights, and they run all the time. There is also a plan to have cameras and lighting all up and down the Beltline.

The Police Foundation’s Video Integration Center has computer monitors that pull up streaming video from street cameras. The purpose is to support first responders and investigations. When there is a 911 call, the 4 closest street cameras are instantly activated. Two can be rewound 5 minutes to help begin an investigation. The real-time ones show what is happening right now—for example, a victim on the ground.

The Atlanta Police Foundation’s Video Integration Center

There are also 200 tag readers city-wide. They ping if a suspect car passes them, so police can head over there. These have been very successful and are pretty cool: they snap pictures of tags, transform them to data, upload them to the cloud, and check to see if the owner is wanted. According to the police experts in attendance, there has been a 40% reduction in crime where cameras and tag readers are installed. Blue lights and signs serve to warn would-be criminals that they are under surveillance.

Business and resident cameras

In addition to using the police street cameras, the police Video Integration Center (VIC) can take advantage of business cameras if they are integrated into the system. (This has already happened at Lenox Mall.) Therefore:

  • VHCA plans to do a survey of all businesses in the neighborhood to see who has cameras, and what type, to see if they are compatible with the VIC. If not compatible with the VIC, they would be eligible for our registry (see below).
  • We will also reach out to residents to see if they are willing to identify theirs—those would not be integrated because of privacy and because home cameras have lower quality than police cameras. But they could be a useful resource, and in some cases already have been.
  • Accordingly, VHCA has started a registry (both residential and business) of who already has cameras in the neighborhood. This is a voluntary program: You are not obligated to turn video to police. But they may contact you using the registry if there is an incident near your location.

Anyone interested in helping with this project, or who has a camera, can get in touch with Safety Committee Members Kay Stephenson and Eleanor Barrineau by emailing safety@vahi.org.

Body Cameras

Officer Joseph Mercado of the APD gave a demo of police body cameras

Officer Joseph Mercado of the APD led a discussion and demo of police body cameras, which have now been rolled out in Zone 6. Body cams not only provide transparency, but they serve as a behavior modifier for both ends. Police are able to see how they interact with the public and learn how they could have interacted differently. Also when a person realizes they’re being recorded, it tends to improve the tone of that person when talking to the police.

Zone 6 has had their cameras since the beginning of January. By summer, all officers who answer 911 calls will have body cameras. Officers wear them their entire shift and if they are working off duty (like FBAC) they wear them then as well.

How the body cam video is used. If there is an incident, officers can later enter information into the recording about the incident, which goes into a database that can be part of a wider query later. The hope is to get better prosecution. Video can show the judge that the person has done something multiple times. The judge can see the actual video, not just a report, and this has more impact. Footage cannot be deleted by the officer. The recordings are also encrypted—they only work on supervisors’ docks. So no one can download to their computer. There is an automatic audit trail of who viewed a video and that audit trail can’t be deleted.

A body cam records exactly what the officer sees, so his perspective is what can be demonstrated. If the officer is looking into headlight glare, then that’s what the camera sees, too. There are no filters, by design. It’s a critical part of fairness to show exactly what the officer was seeing. Officers have guidelines on when to turn the body cam on. When an officer activates a body cam, it automatically includes the prior 30 seconds in the recording. In addition, the Police Foundation is currently working with the manufacturer to possibly create a trigger—for example, turning on the police car blue lights could automatically start the camera.

Safety Committee Tips

In the second part of the meeting, the VHCA Safety Chair Eleanor Barrineau led a discussion on Safety Committee Initiatives that we want all residents to be aware of:

1. Lighting.  We want to be sure that bikers, pedestrians and people getting in and out of cars are safe. So we are looking to improve lighting in dark areas. On your own street, keep porch lights on. We recommend dusk-to-dawn light bulbs (Home Depot has them—they look like regular light bulbs and screw into a regular light fixture, but they automatically come on at dusk and off at dawn. No timers, no special wiring!).  We also encourage you to have driveway lights.

2. Graffiti. If you see any, send to graffiti@vahi.org. Include a picture if possible. Dept of Corrections crews work on those under the supervision of an APD officer. These crews can remove debris as well, such as sometimes appears on Maiden Lane.

3. Event impact. To let neighbors know when events are coming up that affect traffic and parking, the vahi.org calendar at the bottom right of the home page has been expanded to include many different events that could affect traffic. You might even want to participate, knowing an event is going on. In addition, the VHCA safety committee is working to make sure traffic and parking guidelines are enforced during events.

4. Homeowner cameras. Email safety@vahi.org to let them know you have a camera. The Safety Committee can then include these on a registry that police can use.

5. When to call 911 and when to call 311. For any crime, call 911. 311 is very effective for things about which you don’t need immediate police action, such as potholes, leaks in street, street services. You can get a ticket number and their follow-up seems to be good.

About the Police Foundation

Our meeting was attended both by APD and Police Foundation representatives. The Atlanta Police Foundation supports police. It’s a private-public relationship, like the Piedmont Park Conservancy and City of Atlanta- owned Piedmont Park. The Police Foundation runs the Video Integration Center described above, among other initiatives like the Crime Stoppers Program. One of its initiatives is to evaluate police cameras before they are purchased, and help determine how they are used.

Thank You

Our thanks to Michael Faughnan, Sgt. Julio Reyes, and Officers Mercado and Evans of the  Atlanta Police Department, and to Marlon Trone, VP of Programs for the Atlanta Police Foundation, who helped make the meeting a success.

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Planning Your Spring Break Staycation Right Here, Intown

By Kay Stephenson, VHCA Vice President

Spring break may have originated with college students flocking to Ft. Lauderdale in the 1930s, but today families with children of all ages make special plans for this time. For colleges and universities, spring break is scheduled at different times throughout the month of March, but for the Atlanta Public Schools, April 3rd through the 7th is the time for families to kick back and have some fun this year.
For those who don’t plan to travel, there are a host of options for family fun in and near Virginia-Highland.

Kids’ Camps
Virginia-Highland resident Kim Steen Langan of Intown Tumbling is offering a half-day camp for kids three and up. Located right on the BeltLine at 828 Ralph McGill Blvd, the program runs from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm April 3 – 7, 2017. Full details may be found here.

Have a child who is more the outdoor type? Let them be a Junior TreeKeeper with the Trees Atlanta programs. April 3 – 7, 2017, the educational staff is offering two spring break camps – one for 1st to 3rd graders, and a 2nd for 4th to 6th graders. Each day begins and ends at the TreeHouse in the Stove Works Building, 112 Krog Street, but most activities will be out on the BeltLine and throughout nearby parks and neighborhoods. More information may be found here.

Tours
Get the whole family outdoors with a walking tour of the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum along the Eastside Trail. Scheduled every Friday and Saturday morning, trained docents will lead you on a 1 ? hour walk discussing the arboretum collection, other plantings, history, architecture and the future of the Atlanta BeltLine. Register for tours here.

Inman Park company Food Tours Atlanta offers family-friendly walking tours full of history, art, and great food. Tour Inman Park or Ponce City Market. The 2 ? hour tours are offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Use the code EATLIKEALOCAL to receive a 10% discount for the whole family. More information may be found here.

Sales & Festivals
Saturday April 1st is Trees Atlanta’s 5th Annual Native Wildflower and Vine Sale at the Carter Center. It is a great place to pick up plants for your garden. Let the kids get in on the act and pick their favorites. Experts will help you to pick the right plant for any location and even give you advice on how to plant and care for your plants when you are home. More information may be found here.

Festival on Ponce takes place April 1st and 2nd in the historic Olmstead Linear Park, designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, Sr. The festival includes both fine art and crafts, acoustic music from local artists, a kid’s area, and of course food & beverages. More information may be found here.

The 81st annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival once again brings us all to Piedmont Park on the last weekend of spring break (April 7-9). This is Atlanta’s longest-running festival and includes the always entertaining Atlanta Dog & Disk Club Competition. Stroll through the artist market, eat gourmet and festival foods, enjoy rides and games, and listen to live music. From inflatables in the Meadow to crafts at the Mayor’s Grove, there is plenty to entertain children. Check it out here.

Gardens and Parks

The Atlanta Botanical Garden offers seasonal family activities throughout spring break both on the great lawn and in the Children’s Garden. Enjoy all-age exhibits, including Atlanta Blooms and Orchid Daze–both continuing throughout April. Check out a special itinerary for visiting with kids here and spring break programs here.

Did you know that Piedmont Park offers guided tours? The Atlanta Audubon Society leads bird tours on the first Saturday of the month at the park. Piedmont park also offers guided history tours on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Saturday from March to December.  More information may be found here.

Best of all, you can explore the park on your own by downloading a Piedmont Park scavenger hunt or a self-guided tree tour.

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Neighborhood Watch and Safety Meeting March 4th

By Eleanor Barrineau, VHCA Safety Chair

Atlanta Video Integration Center. Photo courtesy Aftermath News.

Public safety continues to be a high priority for Virginia-Highland residents. On Saturday, March 4th at 10 am at Church of Our Saviour (N. Highland at Los Angeles), come and hear from experts about how the Atlanta Police Department (APD) is using cameras to fight crime, and participate in a discussion about what we can do within our neighborhood to reduce crime.

Experts will describe how the city’s Video Integration Center (VIC) uses information from thousands of cameras to track potential crimes in progress and for subsequent investigations.  Then APD officers will demonstrate the bodycams that are now being used.

After these presentations, discussions will include:
1) Maximizing the effectiveness of our VaHi Neighborhood Watch Program, including discussion of best practices/challenges from our Street Leads/Street Captains;
2) Private security cameras and how they can assist the police with their investigations;
3) How lighting or other environmental factors that reduce crime can be improved.
All interested residents are encourage to attend!

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More Relay Bike Stations Coming to Our Neighborhood

By Stephen Cohen

We’ve seen them around, those bright blue bikes with the basket on front. I saw a young couple the other day, each wheeling their blue bike from the Trader Joe’s parking lot onto the BeltLine, and each with a Trader Joe grocery bag in their front basket. They lived in Midtown and told me they had rented a relay bike on Piedmont Road and ridden over to TJ to do their grocery shopping.

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of those bikes. From the one relay station near the corner of 10th and Piedmont, we are going to be seeing as many as eight more stations in Virginia-Highland, Atkins Park, and Poncey-Highland. (The attached flyer shows the upcoming locations. These are subject to approval and zoning review).

What is Bike Share?

Page 2 of the flyer shows proposed locations for new bike relay stations

Bike Share is touted as a fun, affordable way to get around Atlanta. Hundreds of public bikes are available to rent for short rides. You can lock a Relay Bike at one of their hub stations or at any public bike rack. Cost is $8 an hour, or $15 a month with 60 minutes’ daily usage, or $20 a month with 90 minutes’ daily usage, or $25 a semester with 60 minutes’ daily usage for students. Unused minutes roll over. So if you rent for an hour and only use 40 minutes, you have 20 minutes left to use another time.

You can use them for commuting, for errands, or to enable visiting friends and family to join you in toodling through Piedmont Park, onto the BeltLine, and around our pretty streets.

For more information, visit www.relaybikeshare.com.

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For Primed Performance Training, Beltline Means More Than Fitness: It’s About Community

When David Mauer opened his first gym back in 1999, he knew he wanted to contribute to the community but he had no idea where that journey might take him. After 18 years of building on the successes of the fitness businesses he’s founded such as P.E. Midtown, Urban Body Fitness, and Urban Body Studios, he’s applying his fine-tuned approach to create a special spot named Primed Performance Training.

Primed Performance Training (PPT) is a personalized fitness studio located on the Atlanta Beltine, just off Ponce de Leon Place. David Mauer and his staff of trainers provide small-group and personal training serving clients of all abilities. The PPT team is dedicated to helping each client achieve his or her individual fitness goals, whether it’s recovering from an injury, setting an example for one’s children, excelling in a particular sport, or pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Mauer’s approach is science based and focuses on sport-specific and functional fitness. The atmosphere is laid-back, friendly and refreshingly attitude-free.

Mauer laughs, “From a location perspective, the journey has not been very far. I’ve been on the Beltline or the old train tracks my entire career!”

David says he loves being part of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. “It’s such an amazingly supportive community. Owning a business on the Beltline is really incredible and it’s been awesome to witness the tremendous impact that it has made on bringing the community together and inspiring people to exercise. At Primed, a big part of the beauty of what we do is the community we create through encouragement, commitment and mutual respect. This location makes perfect sense on so many levels.“

Primed is located in Urban Body Studios (which Mauer co-founded) at 730 Ponce de Leon Place. Primed welcomes new clients and encourages them to try a free introductory session. Currently there is a special introductory offer — 3 small group sessions for $20. Visit their website at primedpt.com, call 404-216-8601 or email david@primedpt.com for more information.

Photos courtesy Primed Performance Training

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Parties Reach Settlement in Todd Memorial Litigation

By Jenifer Keenan

I am very happy to report that the parties have reached a settlement in the Todd Memorial Litigation.  A copy of the settlement agreement can be viewed here.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the defendants will pay $25,000 and VHCA’s insurers will contribute an additional $5,000.  The settlement proceeds will be used for “the re-construction of the Monument on property located off and separate from the Property [defendants’ residence], reimbursement of Plaintiffs’ legal expenses related to the Lawsuit, as well as an application for construction of a Georgia Historical Society historical marker or other sign for the Property [defendant’s residence].”

The Todd/Liddell family are taking the lead on the design of the new memorial and application for an official Georgia Historical Society marker on the property where the original monument was located.  Additional information on the location of the new memorial will be provided in the coming months.

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Make Monroe Safe – Come to the 2/28 Meeting and Support the Monroe Road Diet

by Jenifer Keenan, VHCA President

The dangerous conditions on Monroe have led to two fatalities on the quarter mile section of the street in VaHi the last year. That is two deaths too many. The best way for each of us to improve the safety on Monroe is to attend the February 28th Renew Atlanta Meeting on the Monroe Complete Streets Project and demand that a road diet be implemented on Monroe from 10th to Piedmont.  (Tuesday, 2/28 6:00 – 8:00 Big Bethel AME Church, 220 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303).

What is a Road Diet?

To be clear, a road diet does not mean fewer cars. It’s a restriping done in such a way that traffic flow is improved, with cars moving more evenly, and it therefore makes the road safer and more efficient. In a nutshell, the “road diet” on Monroe will restripe the lanes and reduce it from 4 lanes (two in each direction) to three lanes (one in each direction with a dedicated turn lane). These diagrams from the Virginia-Highland Master Plan illustrate the concept:

How will a Road Diet improve conditions on Monroe?

It may seem counter-intuitive that reducing lanes could make a street better, but there are real-life examples from throughout the country that show that road diets not only reduce crashes by up to 47%, but also improve traffic flow.  Indeed, a study on the Ponce de Leon road diet found that after the road diet was implemented, there was a 25% decrease in overall crashes, with morning travel times decreasing by almost a minute and afternoon travel times increasing by only a bit more than a minute.

A road diet for Monroe isn’t a new concept – it has been part of the BeltLine Plan, the Connect Atlanta Plan, and the Virginia-Highland Master Plan. And although the Monroe Road Diet has been a part of these comprehensive plans, and is a proven way to improve safety and traffic flow, there are still skeptics. Some are fearful that it will lead to cut-through traffic. Cut-through traffic, however, is a problem now. Keeping Monroe as-is will not improve cut-through traffic. Improving traffic flow on Monroe and eliminating the conditions that have led to fatal crashes should actually help with cut-through traffic, not make it worse.

Others have insisted that temporary measures such as increased police enforcement, or measures that may reduce speed such as speed humps, will be sufficient. That is simply not the case, because even if speed is reduced, the weaving in and out to avoid the left-turn queue still creates dangerous conditions for both vehicles and pedestrians. The road diet is the best and only solution that will provide 24-hour-a-day improvements to safety on Monroe by slowing traffic, eliminating weaving in and out to avoid the left turn queue (and thereby improve traffic flow), eliminating the left-turn blind spot caused by the lack of a dedicated left-turn lane, allowing pedestrians to safely cross three lanes of traffic instead of four with a “safe haven” in the middle provided by the dedicated turn lane, allowing bikes to travel in dedicated bike lanes away from traffic, and making sidewalks safer by having them bordered by bike lanes instead of speeding cars. Neither increased police ticketing nor speed humps can provide 24-hour-a-day improvements to all these safety issues.

What if the Road Diet doesn’t work?

In December, the project manager for the Monroe Complete Streets Project attended the Virginia-Highland monthly meeting and announced that the traffic counts for Monroe were within the acceptable limits for a road diet. Thus, there is no reason for there not to be a road diet on Monroe. Nevertheless, if the Monroe road diet is somehow different from the hundreds of other successful road diets that have been implemented throughout the country and does not improve the dangerous conditions on the street, the “diet” can be undone by simply re-striping Monroe and converting it back to four lanes.

What Can I Do To Improve Safety on Monroe?

The best way to improve conditions on Monroe is come to the February 28th meeting and show your strong support a road diet on Monroe.  We must stand together and demand the proven and permanent safety improvements of road diet for Monroe. We as a community cannot tolerate any more fatalities on this broken street. The Road Diet is a key component of the Complete Street project.

What Is a “Complete Street”?

The full name of the Monroe project is actually the Monroe/Boulevard Complete Streets Project.  The project is being funded by the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond that was approved by city voters in 2015.  “Complete Streets” are designed to enable safe access for all users – pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users. Complete Street projects implement comprehensive design changes including light synchronization, intersection realignments, and landscaping, lighting, and crosswalk improvements. They often also include traffic calming measures and design changes to make streets safer.

The Virginia-Highland Master Plan

The Master Plan contains more details, and pages 81 on are especially pertinent for the Road Diet. Note: This is a large file and may take a little while to load.

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Summerfest 2017 – June 3 & 4 – Save the Date!

By Pamela Papner, Summerfest Co-Chair

Mark your calendars and be sure to attend Summerfest 2017 on June 3rd and 4th!  The community dinner, movie and parade will be held Friday, June 2nd in John Howell Park.  Details will be posted online as plans are finalized, at vahi.org/summerfest.

Presented by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association and organized by neighborhood volunteers, Summerfest celebrates the arts with a juried Artist Market featuring more than 250 artists from the Southeast displaying works in an variety of traditional media and representing numerous price ranges to appeal to any level of collector.

For 2017, Summerfest will offer a re-vitalized Kidsfest, sure to please families with many fun, educational and artistic activities – many free! The Local Market, a popular new feature last year, will be expanded and will feature local Georgia vendors who produce hand-made products like soaps, honey, baked goods, gourmet food and other unique items. The 2017 music line-up promises to be the best ever, and the 5K road race is back (sign up today here). The tot trot will be held Saturday at John Howell Park, with all registrations on-site this year.

Best of all, proceeds from the event go directly back into our neighborhood, enabling the VHCA to lead and support planning and zoning initiatives, support/maintenance of North Highland Park, along with other neighborhood initiatives such as recent improvements to John Howell Park, sidewalks, safety, lighting and crime prevention programs. The VHCA also provides financial support to local schools, public library, historic firehouse and other organizations serving Virginia-Highland residents.

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Dude, It’s Only a Mile…

Run The Morningside Mile on Mar 26 – We’re So Close Now to Saving our Fire Station – Help Push Us Over the Finish Line!

By Robin Ragland, VHCA Board Member

Since we moved to Virginia-Highland in 2006, I’ve been hearing about the need to raise funds for critical improvements to our local Fire Station. Now, after many Breakfasts with Santa, Santathons, Morningside Miles, last year’s Firefest, selling Fire Station 19 t-shirts, and personal donations, we’re only ~$15,000 away from reaching the community’s $120,000 fundraising goal!!

For those of you who are new to Virginia-Highland, Fire Station 19 is Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating station. Located in the heart of Virginia-Highland, it has been a local landmark for more than 90 years.

The Race

Rick Chey (owner of the Osteria 832 and Doc Chey restaurants) is once again hosting this year’s 7th annual Morningside Mile on March 26–and it’s a lot of fun. In addition to being Atlanta’s only competitive one-mile run, it has cash prizes and a killer post-race party.  Runners of all levels, from competitive runners to moms with jog strollers and kids, are welcome.  Register here for this year’s race.

Here’s a sneak peak at the prizes:

  • Overall Top 3 Male & Female Winners: $200/$100/$50 cash & gift cards
  • Masters Top 3 Male & Female Winners: $100/$50/$25 cash & gift cards
  • Age Group Winners: $25 local merchant gift card to top male & female finisher in each age group: under 6, 7-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+.
  • SweetWater 420 Challenge: runner with closest time to 4:20 wins a deluxe SweetWater prize pack including 4 tickets to the brewery & tasting, SweetWater apparel & other goodies.

The first 500 registrants will receive a commemorative premium athletic T-shirt, a $60 value.  All runners can show their race number at the block party to get a free SweetWater beer at Doc Chey’s, OR a free treat at Alon’s.

Keep up-to-date during the countdown to the race on Facebook.

The Block Party: Noon – 2pm

Doc Chey’s Noodle Eating Contest!

Whether you run the race or not, plan to show up at the finish line for a neighborhood Block Party at Morningside Village (1424 N. Highland Ave). Invite your friends and family to cheer you on, meet your neighborhood firefighters, and enjoy the festivities planned for all ages!  Neighbors are encouraged to “go green” and walk or bike to the event.

There will be music, food by Doc Chey’s (don’t forget to bring cash!), and other festivities hosted by local firefighters and merchants. Sign up early to compete in the kids’ or adults’ Doc Chey’s Noodle Eating Contest that occurs at 1:30.  Fastest adult speed eater wins a $100 gift card, and the kid winner gets a $25 gift card.

Be sure to check the Morningside Mile website regularly for an updated list of festivities.

Fun Facts

“Dude–It’s only a mile!”  Some fun facts from the morningsidemile.com website.  How long is a mile?
* 1,760 yards
* 5,280 feet
* 63,360 inches
* 1,609 meters
* 1,609,344 millimeters
* 14,762,889 dollar bills stacked
* 5,280 Osteria pizzas laid side-by-side
* 7,920 Doc Chey’s noodle bowls
* 21,120 Doc Chey’s basil rolls laid end-to-end

Can’t make it to the race?  Donate here to help reach the $120,000 goal.

 

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The Training Room – “The Swiss Army Knife of Fitness”

The Atlanta Beltline has been coined a living, breathing part of the fabric of Atlanta. If you find yourself using the Beltline that cuts through Virginia-Highland and Piedmont Park, chances are you’ve seen people running, pushing, pulling, throwing, and lifting in the parking lot that leads up to the main gym of The Training Room ATL.

Owner and head trainer Amber Goppert (pictured) says the most interesting feature of the gym’s location in Virginia-Highland is the diversity the residents lend to the gym. “We have people from every walk of life, with an endless variety of goals,” she says.

Aspirations vary as widely as competitive powerlifting, to ultra-marathons, to the weekend warrior just looking for a leg-up, or someone new to fitness beginning their wellness journey.

“I wanted to create a gym where, whether you’ve been an athlete since birth or you’ve never broken a sweat in your life, you have a place here. “

The facility, which Amber established in 2013, has two levels totaling 15,000 square feet of training space filled with every piece of practical training equipment one could ever need.  Amber has gone to great lengths to recruit some of the best and brightest minds Atlanta has to offer, while constantly innovating the training methodology.

She believes that this multi-faceted facility is unlike any other. “My philosophy from the start,” she says, “was that I wanted to field a team of competent trainers and coaches from all backgrounds. There are no two trainers alike and, as a result, I feel we can exceed the needs of any individual who walks through the door.”

That team includes former collegiate athletes, a Pilates instructor, a former NBA strength coach, and a certified Physical Therapist. Certifications range from kettlebells to Olympic lifting to postural restoration.

“My team is the Swiss Army Knife of the fitness industry, adept for all of our clienteles’ needs,” says Amber proudly.

The Training Room, located at 742 Ponce de Leon Place, offers group classes, with varying focuses and skill levels, and personal/small group training for more specific needs and goals.

Visit The Training Room’s website here: http://www.thetrainingroomatl.com

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Joint VaHi-Morningside Security Forum with APD Coming Up on Feb 6

By Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board President

APD Command staff from Zone 2 and Zone 6 and the office of the Chief of Police will give brief presentations and answer questions at a Security Forum hosted by MLPA and VHCA on February 6th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Haygood Memorial United Methodist Church 1015 East Rock Springs Road.

Originally organized by MLPA for residents of Morningside and Lenox Park,  upon the suggestion of Councilman Alex Wan, I contacted MLPA President Sally Bayless about VHCA joining in the forum, and she graciously agreed.  With two neighborhoods participating in the forum, Councilman Wan has been able to secure the attendance of Police Chief Shields and Deputy Chief Glazier.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear from APD leadership and express concerns about crime in our neighborhood.  Thanks to MLPA for organizing this event and Councilman Wan for his continued leadership and advocacy for District 6.

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Monroe Complete Street Meeting – Note Location Change

The second community engagement meeting on the Monroe/Boulevard Complete Street project will be held on Tuesday February 28th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Big Bethel AME Church, 220 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 (previously announced at Ebenezer Baptist Church). The meeting is hosted by Renew Atlanta along with Council Representatives Alex Wan and Kwanza Hall. The outcome of the complete streets project will have a profound impact on the safety of all residents using the Monroe corridor. Please make time to attend and make your voice heard. More information is available in Alex Wan’s monthly newsletter.

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Inman Middle School Frosty 5K Set for December 10

Are you ready for the Yeti??  

The 2016 Inman Middle School Frosty 5K is open for registration!  The Frosty 5K is set for 9:00 am, Saturday, December 10 and is always tons of fun!  Come join us for some running, strolling, jumpin’-jackin’ fun for the 2016 Inman Frosty 5K supporting the teachers and kids at your favorite intown middle school!

frost-5k

Same route as last year – along the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail – and we’re hoping for the same wonderful weather.

You can sign up here: http://www.active.com/…/distance-runni…/inman-frosty-5k-2016. Students run for just $10, and teachers for FREE!

This is also a super fun event to volunteer, you can sign-up here: http://signup.com/go/MTdi6N.

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Take Your Leftover Halloween Candy to Worthmore Jewelers

The name Worthmore Jewelers may be familiar to you after their recent anniversary celebration a few months ago that resulted in a $1,000 donation to the Fire Station 19 restoration project. They are also a repeat sponsor this year of our annual Tour of Homes.

candy-crawl_paper_sourceEach November, Worthmore Jewelers also supports Operation Stars and Stripes with its Halloween candy drive. OSS is a not for profit organization that supplies care packages to deployed service men and women who will be away from their homes and families during the holiday season.  Please take your leftover Halloween candy to their Midtown location, where it will be sorted it out and sent to OSS. For the last five years, Worthmore’s midtown and Decatur locations have been competing to see which neighborhood can donate the most candy. MIDTOWN is the undisputed five-time heavyweight champion.

Last year, between the two stores over 1,000 pounds of candy were collected!

candy_crawl_outside_fire_stationWorthmore Jewelers’ involvement with Operation Stars and Stripes started 8 years ago when Harris and Geri’s daughter Molli needed a service project and wanted to focus on an organization that works with our deployed troops. After a search to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for their young daughter the family decided on OSS and have supported the organization ever since.

Everyone who drops off candy in either location can register to win a $50 Worthmore gift card. One winner from each store will be chosen at the close of business on Sunday, November 8.  You can drop off candy starting Sunday, November 1 (they are closed Monday and Tuesday) and Wednesday the 4th through Sunday the 8thWorthmore Jewelers is located at 500-L3 Amsterdam Walk.

If you would like to help OSS but candy isn’t your thing, you can visit them online at www.operationstarsandstripes.org where they regularly post a list of items they currently need.

By the way, Worthmore Jewelers is also a 2016 Tour of Homes sponsor and will be giving away a $25 gift card in a drawing as part of their sponsorship. Stop by the store anytime after November 1 to enter.

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First-Ever Candy Crawl – “This is What a Neighborhood Should Feel Like”

By Stephen Cohen, VHCA Communications Committee Member

candy_crawl_flyerIt was a wonderful family experience. On October 26, the Virginia-Highland business district had its first-ever Candy Crawl. Families gathered at the Fire Station at 5:30 and set out to trick-or-treat, walking all the way down Virginia-Highland to St. Charles, stopping at businesses marked by orange balloons. Over 35 businesses participated.

The idea originated with Doria Roberts from Tipple and Rose, who had done something similar at her sandwich shop in East Atlanta. She was excited about its first-year success here in VaHi.

“Based on my past experience, this was a great turnout for the first year!” said Doria. “I heard several parents say something to the effect that this is what a neighborhood should feel like.”

candy_crawl_outside_fire_station

There were a lot of unknowns coming in. How many would come? How could all the pedestrians be kept safe in rush hour?  To that end, the Virginia-Highland Business Association asked the VaHi Civic Association to organize 6 crossing guards. The guards used safety vests and stop signs kindly provided by Joel Markwell, an Inman Middle School parent who coordinates their crossing guard program.

One of our crossing guards was Kay Stephenson. “I noticed several kids who were mesmerized by our big hand-held stop signs. They appeared to be pondering how that thing that is usually on a post ended up in a person’s hand!

candy_crawl_setting_off“And there were smiles on the faces of many drivers, perhaps charmed by the children into not minding that their commute was being delayed. Several parents mentioned that this made a great dry run for Monday night to see what was working with costumes. One adorable told me, “I’m a raccoon, but I couldn’t wear the mask because it’s too itchy”!

Every participating business had two bags of candy donated by Sysco.  And kids in costume even got to eat free at Atkins Park restaurant.

Truly, not only was this an evening of family fun, but it was an opportunity for parents to visit local stores they may never previously have been aware of.

candy-crawl_paper_source“Everyone was so upbeat and the beautiful weather was definitely a plus,” said crossing guard volunteer Margaret Ross, who was stationed in Atkins Park. “Kristi, from The Warren, interacted with all the kids at her stop; they loved having their character recognized, and were quite polite. All in all, a wonderful neighborhood experience for the participants and onlookers alike. “

candy_crawl_wolfIn fact, many business owners enjoyed it and talked with the parents & kids at their stops. Commented business owner Lynn DeWitt: “EVERYONE enjoyed this event!  Kids loved the candy.  Parents had a terrific time walking with their families, browsing the shops and restaurants.  Stores were buzzing with business. Streets were crowded but safe. Atkins Park Tavern had happy and hungry customers for dinner. Let’s repeat this next Halloween.”

Concluded a very happy Doria: “Next year we hope to add costume contests (for kids, adults and pets) and maybe a pumpkin-carving contest.”

So if you missed the first-ever Virginia-Highland Candy Crawl, be on the lookout for the second one next year!

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Agenda Posted for Tomorrow Night’s VHCA Monthly Board and General Meeting

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECHThe agenda for tomorrow night’s monthly general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association is posted below.

As a reminder, tomorrow night’s meeting will be held at Church of our Saviour, corner of N. Highland and Los Angeles Avenues, starting at 7 PM. The meeting will be held in Pettway Hall which is accessed off of Los Angeles. We hope to see many residents at the meeting, which will be the first held under the newly elected board of directors.

Here is the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting:

  • Election of VHCA Board Officers – Kevin Cronin
  • Reports from City Department Representatives
  • Comments from Elected Officials
  • Guest Presentations
  • Secretary Report
  • Treasurer Report
  • Committee Reports
  • Planning – Jess Windham
  • Variance Application(s)
    • V-16-260; 797 Greenwood Ave. NE. RG-2; BL OL
    • Applicant Kelly Reilly of Wright Gardner Architect (on behalf of owner Michael Jenkins) seeks variances to (A) reduce the required front yard setback from 40 feet to 18 feet 10 inches (pre-existing); (B) reduce the required half-depth front yard (on Bonaventure) from 20 feet to 7 feet 11 inches; and (C) reduce the
    • V-16-266; 560 Cresthill Ave. NE; R-4
    • Applicants Earl Jackson and Susan Johnson of Metro Atlanta Permits (for owner David Taylor-Klaus) seek a variance to reduce the required western side yard setback from 7 feet to 2.9 feet (existing on rear deck) to add second story addition in the existing footprint to a single-family dwelling and to expand the rear deck entirely over an existing patio.
    • V-16-224. 695 Cooledge Ave. NE; R-4 – Withdrawn
    • V-16-232; 834 Clemont Dr. NE; R-4 – Deferred until November
    • V-16-239; 1079 North Highland Ave. NE; R-4 – Deferred until November
    • V-16-242; 866 Arlington Pl. NE; R-4 – Deferred until January
  • Monroe Drive Complete Streets Update
  • Fire Station 19 Update
  • Fundraising
  • Summerfest – Paige Hewell
  • Tour of Homes – Robin Ragland
  • Parks – David Brandenberger
  • Safety – Eleanor Barrineau
  • President Report
  • Unfinished Business
  • Todd Memorial and Lawsuit
  • New Business
  • Proposal for Survey of Association Members – Kay Stephenson
  • Adjournment
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Shine a Light on Homelessness

Shine a Light on HomelessnessGrab your lantern, your flashlight, or your blinking hat – if it lights up, it qualifies – and join Journey Men’s Shelter on Sunday, October 2 from 7:00-9:30 p.m. for a kick-off event to their year-long campaign, “Shine a Light on Homelessness.”  The kick-off event includes a 1-mile lighted walk starting at the shelter and ends with a reception at the historic Highland Inn ballroom for drinks, coffee, and dessert.

You can participate in the walk only, the reception only, or both. The goal is to come together to show support for reducing the homeless population within our community by raising money for the critical programs offered by Journey.

Journey Men’s Shelter is located in Virginia-Highland at 1026 Ponce de Leon Ave, NE, behind Druid Hills Presbyterian Church and has been providing services to homeless men for more than 30 years.

You can learn more or register for the event on our website.

And please share with your friends and neighbors. We hope to see many lights shining for this worthy cause.

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Community Grants Awarded at VHCA 2016 Annual General Meeting

The annual general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held September 22 at Inman Middle School. As always, the Spark Choir – led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon – warmed our hearts with a few songs to kick off the meeting.

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Along with electing a new slate of board members, VHCA awarded $25,525 in grants to local schools and non-profits who serve our Virginia-Highland residents. Included in our grant awards was Open Door Community who will be leaving Virginia-Highland after 35 years of service to the homeless community in our area. They will be missed.

Scroll down to review a list of this year’s grant recipients.  You can view a video of the entire meeting here.

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Atlanta Streets Alive Returns to VaHi

Atlanta-Streets-Alive-200x200Atlanta Streets Alive welcomes you to walk, bike, roll, run and play in the streets from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, September 25, on N Highland Ave., Highland Ave. and Boulevard! This event is organized by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. For more information, please visit AtlantaStreetsAlive.com/sept_25_route .

The street closure for the September 25 Atlanta Streets Alive on N Highland, Highland and Boulevard will begin at 12:30pm and streets will reopen by 7:30pm. Atlanta Streets Alive welcomes you to walk, bike, roll, run and play in the streets from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. 

Volunteers are still needed to support the event. To volunteer in advance or on the day of the September 25 Atlanta Streets route, please visit AtlantaStreetsAlive.com/volunteer_opportunities_sep_2016_route.

Scroll down to view a few photos from last year’s Atlanta Streets Alive in VaHi.

Here are some additional links you may find useful if you wish to follow this event.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/156656048076943/

Facebook page: @ATLStreetsAlive

Twitter: @ATLStreetsAlive

Instagram: @AtlantaBike #AtlantaStreetsAlive

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Briarcliff Terrace Apartments Redevelopment Plans on Hold

Briarcliff Ter Apt signThe developerrs at Briarcliff Terrace Apartments Place have communicated (attorney to attorney) that they will not be introducing ‘at this time’ a proposal to redevelop their site from its existing designation of RG2 to either RG3 or to a PDH (Planned Development Housing) zoning category.

(This site is located downhill below the Highland CVS, bounded by Rosedale Drive on the north, Rosedale Road on the east, Briarcliff Place on the south, and Arlington Place on the west. It contains about 145 one, two, and three-bedroom units, plus two small homes, all built in the 1960’s. One small street bisects the property north-south, which for many years has been a quiet and stable home to a group of mostly Latino residents, including many children.)

This decision does not mean that the owners or developers won’t change their mind in the future, even the near future. One can always ask to change the zoning or land use, as they were contemplating. Or they might choose to redevelop it within existing density guidelines, which was and is a readily available option. (More on that in a moment.)

Some form of redevelopment here has seemed certain for years, and the zoning and land use were reviewed during our Master Plan Process. No changes in either category were suggested then, and no compelling reasons for new ones have been identified since.

Looking at how this process played out offers a chance to see how the VHCA Board and Planning Committee have approached issues of this type over the last few years.

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The ownership and development group met several times with VHCA and its zoning and planning consultants. The VHCA Planning Committee has made such meetings standard in the last five years; they are a useful way to understand goals. After the first meeting, we immediately checked in with our councilmember to make sure that he had the same understanding that we did (many developers meet first with the local councilmember on issues like this), and we did the same with the NPU Planning Chair, who had also met with them. And we carefully looked at the physical features of the site.

The applicants emphasized that while their plans were not final, they anticipated increasing the amount of developed space – the density, defined in the code as FAR, Floor Area Ratio – by about 50%, even though the number of units would be about the same. (Obviously – and as one might expect – the new units were going to be a lot larger.) The use of Planned Development Housing as a design tool was mentioned.

PDH is a useful concept, and it can be employed in any zoning category. It offers architects the chance of creating unique and innovative plans that can protect natural resources (perhaps voluntarily save trees or protect riparian areas), maximize green spaces, and (conceivably) avoid boxlike designs.

But the City of Atlanta has a long-standing policy that controls PDH rezonings that limits the allowable density to the level already in place on a property. This property’s density was RG2; in this case, the City support of a rezoning to PDH would remain capped at the RG2 density, which is .348

Their proposal – at least as presented – had a much higher level: a FAR of about .57

As we examined this with our consultants, an even more fundamental concern with the proposed new density emerged. This particular site represents a small fraction of the total amount of property within the Virginia-Highland neighborhood that is zoned RG2. While many of them are smaller, these properties have much in common with Briarcliff Terrace: they are inside the neighborhood (not fronting along major thoroughfares), are surrounded by single-family residential, and are historically small-scale walk-up apartment types of buildings. There are over 60 acres of “other” RG2-zoned land in the neighborhood, in addition to this 7-acre site.

Briarcliff Ter Apt

The outcome of a rezoning application here would set a precedent for those remaining properties in the neighborhood. Planner Aaron Fortner summed it up thusly: What determinative arguments would support the re-zoning of this site from RG2 to RG3 that wouldn’t also apply to the other similarly zoned properties? He concluded that there were no standards or criteria utilized by the City of Atlanta that would meaningfully distinguish this site from the others.

And rezonings are not variances. We take variances seriously and visit every site in an effort to ensure that new proposals will not improperly diminish the value of adjacent properties, but variances are common and are not precedents. Zoning changes are, and they’re tracked carefully by those in the business.

Because what is done on this RG2 property (of 7 acres) would set a precedent for what can happen on the other RG2 properties (60+ acres), a rezoning here would be a powerful tool for supporting similar changes on the other properties.

Nor were there any persuasive arguments offered as to why this property should be rezoned, other than the desire to get more density on it. It certainly has value as an RG2 property. If the existing buildings were removed, the current RG2 zoning would allow about 108,000 s.f. of new development on the site (approximately 10% more than is there now), which could include one or more combinations of the following development types:

Approximately 100+ units of apartments (assumes 1,000 sq. ft/unit);

Approximately 50+ units of townhomes (assumes 2,000 sq. ft/unit);

Approximately 35+ units of single-family houses (assumes 3,000 sq. ft/unit).

There is one last consideration. The NPU-F Comprehensive Development Plan acknowledges that many nonconforming properties are in place and can remain (or be redeveloped at the existing density), but this site’s underlying land use is single-family – a designation that reflects the fact that 100% of the surrounding properties are just that: single-family. Increasing the density (as was being contemplated) would require a land-use challenge to the CDP, an issue that the NPU and all its neighborhoods – including VaHi – take very seriously. Two separate attempts of that type have been rebuffed in NPU-F the last two years. (We wrote about them in the Voice and hosted one large NPU meeting and vote at the VaHi Church.)

This NPU also successfully opposed a similar attempt at Monroe and 10th in 2009. Planning according to the tenets and themes of our Master Plan and the CDP has been a principle for us and NPU-F.

Among our consultants’ goals was investigating whether the City Planning Department was considering changing their own policy to allow a PDH use here that increased density. Once we were confident that the policy was firmly in place and knowing that Councilmember Wan was steadfast in his support of following the existing guidelines, we were hopeful that the developers might rethink their plans, even after they made an unusual private presentation to adjacent neighbors that omitted some key points.

Let’s be clear: Attempts can be made to rezone even in these conditions. But it’s easier for us to make an effective and strong case when we make plausible planning arguments year after year, are consistent and logical in our reasoning, synched with local and city plans, and supported by our local councilmember. Those aren’t guarantees, but those factors matter a lot.

It appears that – for at least the time being – this plan will not be pursued. Of course, that could change, and a new plan could be presented. We’ll be glad to work with the owners and help evaluate it if that happens.

Some of these theoretically public processes tend to be opaque. Hence this article, which aspires to make clearer the sorts of rationales and approaches we use to analyze significant changes in zoning or land use. Having the assistance of knowledgeable planners and land use attorneys costs money, but when it helps the neighborhood evaluate proposals in an orderly fashion according to known principles, it’s money well spent.

(The developers are spending a lot of money, too. Of course, they often stand to get a lot more back.)

A final thought: Employing the Master Plan and CDP and doing methodical systematic reviews of city processes benefits the whole community, not just the closest neighbors. Nearby citizens are often wisely engaged – they would bear the brunt of changes in traffic and noise, and we appreciate hearing from many of them here – but it’s everyone’s battle. The impacts of such projects extend way past the adjacent streets, just as will the outcomes at 10th & Monroe/Cresthill. These are issues that require unblinking attention and real vigilance.

We again salute and thank councilmember Wan for his consistent and supportive stand on issues like this. Many a community has had decent plans but only defended them in a crisis (“Here comes the Big Box Mart”), and many communities have not been consistently supported at the council level. Alex has been a stalwart and a strong advocate for public planning, and it has made his neighborhoods a much better place to live in and encouraged and rewarded citizen involvement.

It’s a long article, and if you’ve read this far, you may be ready to join the Planning Committee. But understanding and identifying the constituent parts have helped us understand this a lot better. It’s an issue (like many) that can for a long time seem like it doesn’t matter much – until suddenly it does, and then it matters a lot.

Your comments and questions are welcome. We frequently discuss these matters at the Planning Committee and Board meetings; those schedules are listed on our calendar at vahi.org.

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VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers

2016-17 BOD Candidates Announced, Candidate Bios and Absentee Ballot Available

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual General Meeting will be held September 22 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria from 7:00pm – 9:00pm. Please try to arrive at 6:30 to sign in. Grants will be awarded and the 2016-17 Board of Directors will be elected.

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The SPARK Advanced Chorus will perform before the annual general meeting, as they have the past few years.

The Springdale Park Elementary Advanced Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon, will kick off the meeting again this year, so be sure to arrive early to hear them! They will start at 7:00pm.

Candidates for the 2016-17 VHCA Board of Directors

The Nominating Committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy.

(I) indicates incumbent

Eleanor Barrineau
Peggy Berg (I)
David Brandenberger (I)
Lola Carlisle (I)
Emily Gilbert (I)
Paige Hewell (I)
Cindy Kaufman
Jenifer Keenan
Catherine Lewis (I)
Steve Messner
Robin Ragland (I)
Debbie Skopczynski
Kay Stephenson
Jack White (I)
Jess Windham (I)
George Zirkel

Brief biographies of candidates for this year’s BOD can be reviewed here.

Members of the association (18 years of age residing within the official boundaries of Virginia-Highland) may vote at the Annual General Meeting to be held September 22, 2016 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting at 6:30pm to allow time for signing in. In order to vote, please bring a copy of a valid ID (GA driver’s license, e.g.) or a utility bill issued within 60 days of the meeting and showing your name and address.

Absentee Ballot

Members may also vote by absentee ballot. Your ballot along with a copy of one of the forms of identification mentioned above may be delivered to the offices of Tailfin Marketing (1246 Virginia Ave.) by noon on September 22 or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 7:00pm. Please put your ballot in a sealed envelope with the identification documents separately sealed inside or stapled to the outside. (Please cross out specific account or driver license numbers.) After your residency is verified, the identification documents will be removed and destroyed. Your ballot will remain anonymous.

You can download a copy of the absentee ballot here.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the Annual Meeting!

Jess Windham, Kevin Cronin and Lola Carlisle serve on the Nominating Committee. Jess Windham and Lola Carlisle are current VHCA board members.

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VHCA Grant Application Deadline Approaching

By Peggy Berg, VHCA Board Member and Safety Chair

VHCA Grant & Community Gift Program

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s grant program supports not-for-profit organizations and public initiatives that benefit the Virginia-Highland community. 

Funding: In its annual budgeting process, VHCA establishes funding for the grant program. In addition, the Board may on occasion vote to provide a unique grant for a specific purpose.

Applying: Grant applications are available online at www.vahi.org and should be submitted to budget@vahi.org no later than the deadline established by the Board, which this year is August 26, 2016.

Process: VHCA grants are awarded at the discretion of the Board, which reviews all applications. Each year the budget for grants will vary based on the Board’s consideration of other VHCA commitments.

Selection Criteria: Proposed grant benefits and accomplishments should be accessible and beneficial to a wide range of citizens without regard to race, religious preference, gender, or sexual orientation. 

While exceptions may occur – permanent or long-lasting installations of publicly visible art, for example – funding is not typically considered for projects on residential or individually owned sites.

Successful applicants also meet all or some of the following criteria:

  • Promote Virginia-Highland or physically improve the public spaces of the neighborhood.
  • Support education, life-long learning, sustainability, healthy living, ecological health, art and aesthetics,  historic preservation, environment, recreation, or safety in Virginia-Highland
  • Include and demonstrate other sources of support.

Accountability and Restrictions: Unless other arrangements are made, grant and community gift recipients are expected to report on the use of the funding by May 1st of the year following the award is announced and provide specific results and (where applicable) photos.

You can view and download a copy of the VHCA grant application here.

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Inman, Grady Students Excel in Acedemics, Arts, Atheletics

By Susan Rose

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of The Candler Park Messenger and is reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization. 

As the 2015-2016 school year comes to a close, here are some highlights of student achievements since January. 

DSC_0003Inman Middle School 

The Georgia Department of Education proposed changes to the 6th grade Social Studies curriculum standards that included the elimination of the study of slavery and the Holocaust. Inman 6th grade students organized a campaign to oppose that proposal. They made posters, spoke with parents, and appeared on 11Alive news with reporter Donna Lowry. The 6th graders celebrated their efforts in April when it was announced that the study of slavery and the Holocaust would remain in the state standards.

In January, Inman Middle School principal Dr. Betsy Bockman reported that Inman was recognized for the best monthly student attendance of all APS middle schools for the previous four months.

Two 8th grade students, Jay Hammond and Issac Turner, joined Grady jazz musicians to record and release a jazz CD from which all proceeds from sales will go directly to the Inman Band program and Citizen Advocacy. The recording is available both digitally and as a physical CD.

The Inman Reading Bowl team won the APS District Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl Championship for the middle school division in February. Four students read 20 books (over 4,000 pages) and answered detailed questions to win.

Both the girls and boys basketball teams qualified for playoffs. The girls team finished the regular season with a 10 – 2 record and entered the playoffs as a top seed.  The boys squad finished the regular season 4 – 7 – 1. Both teams competed in the APS Middle School Championship at Corretta Scott King on February 6 and each team came in second place in the entire district.

The Inman Debate team won first place in the city tournament on March 5 at Emory University. The Inman Math team won the gold medal in the APS Middle School Math Competition held at King Middle School in March.

Inman 7th grader Lauren Silcock won first place in her age division in the National Carol Marsh Mystery Writing Contest for her story A Beautiful Scent which was recognized for creativity and exceptional writing.

The Inman girls track team placed 2nd in the city at a meet in early April. Nkoiva Dawson won 1st place in the long jump and the high jump.  Nikita Laye placed 2nd in the high jump. Lindsay Schroeder won 1st place in the mile and 2nd place in the 800m. Emily Sands placed 2nd in the mile, and Ameah Richardson won 2nd place in the 400m. The boys 4×4 team (Zaire Thornton, Jehdia Hosley, Jackson Sexton and Justin Wilborn) placed 2nd.  Justin Wilborn won 1st place in the 400m and the long jump.

The Inman Art team won the rain barrel art contest at the Dogwood Arts Festival in April. The Chattahoochee River Keepers who sponsored the contest awarded the team a trip on the Chattahoochee River Keepers floating classroom.

The Girls Lacrosse team finished the season with two wins against Marist and Pace, closing the season 8 – 2. The team is ranked 2nd in the South Division and is advancing to the playoffs on April 30.

The Boys Lacrosse team defeated St. Pius for the first time in almost 3 years.The Inman tennis team beat Carrollton Middle School on April 10 as the boys won 9-6 and the girls won 7-4. On April 13 the team split against Woodward Academy as the boys lost 2 – 10 and the girls won 6 – 5. The girls team won all matches against Paidea on April 14.

The Inman Golf team had a record number of players, 14, this season and included the first two girl players in recent memory. The team finished with 4 wins and 4 losses, including an 8th place finish in the Sutton Invitational, the unofficial State Middle School Golf Tournament, on April 23. The team was undefeated on its home course, Candler Park Golf Course, with tournament victories over Sutton Middle School and Drew Charter Middle School.

Henry_W_Grady_High_School_AtlantaGrady High School

Grady student Clarrissa Mullig’s play, In and Out, from last year’s Grady Writing Center playwriting workshop, was chosen out of thirty entries to be used at the Georgia Thespian Conference Playworks program.

In December, the Grady JROTC cadets won one 1st place, two 2nd place and two 3rd place trophies at the JROTC Christmas Invitational Drill Meet.

The Grady Knights swim team won the City Championship Title with a score of 1,421.6 to 1,221.5 as the regular season concluded. The girls team received the 1st place trophy with a score of 768 as they placed 1st in every event they entered. The boys team won the 2nd place trophy.

Grady sent 19 swimmers to the Georgia High School State Swimming Championships on February 5 at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.  Two swimmers qualified for finals. Melissa Brown placed 3rd in the 50 Free and 16th in the 100 Free. Justin Cucchi placed 15th in the 200IM and 12th in the 100 Back, which represents the highest placements in Grady history.

Congratulations to the Grady Mock Trial team on its 18th consecutive win at the Georgia State High School Mock Trial Regional Competition. Six team members won individual awards such as best witness and best attorney. The team proceeded to the state championship on March 19 and finished in the final four. Grady had not qualified for the state championship since 2013. Several team members won individual awards.

As of April 10, the Grady boys lacrosse team was undefeated with eight consecutive wins. The team has 30 players, which is the largest roster ever. Grady aims to be a “lacrosse powerhouse.” Grady Senior Mack Hodges will be recognized as one of four finalists for the 2016 Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize. The Governor, First Lady of Georgia and the Poet Laureate will officiate a ceremony at the State Capitol on May 12. 

Seventeen Grady High School juniors have met the requirements for the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program. These students will be recognized in the fall and have the opportunity to compete for 7,400 National Merit Scholarships to be offered in 2017. To qualify for this recognition, these students were among the 50,000 highest-scoring performers on the PSAT/NMSQT test among 1.5 million program entrants nationwide.

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Alex Wan’s Latest Newsletter Anticipates Piedmont Traffic Resolution at New Development in 2-3 Weeks

by Stephen Cohen

In his latest newsletter, Alex Wan notes that many of you have contacted his office regarding the lane configuration on Piedmont Road in front of the Modera Morningside/Sprouts development. He goes on to say, “I share everyone’s frustration with the traffic situation that the construction has created, and we have been in close contact with both the developer and the city’s Transportation Department throughout this project regarding this matter.”

Alex states that he is hopeful that once the construction is completed – which the developer anticipates will be within the next two to three weeks – the final Piedmont Road lane configuration will alleviate the congestion that is currently occurring in that section of Piedmont.

For more details, and for other articles in Alex’s newsletter, click here. These articles include:

  • City Council Approves New Intergovernmental Agreement with Atlanta Public Schools
  • ‘A CHaRMing Evening’ – Thursday, March 10th!
  • Modera Morningside / Sprouts Traffic Configuration
  • Curbside Glass Recycling Update
  • APD Hiring Police Officers

Stephen Cohen is Editor of the Voice.

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2015 VaHi Tour of Homes

The 2015 Tour of Homes is set for the first weekend in December, Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th.

Our line-up features six incredible homes and an historic tour of the neighborhood via an electric car. Each home is uniquely designed and decorated and represents the charming characteristics of our Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

One of the highlights of the Tour remains the delicious food tastings served in each home. Local favorites like Marlow’s Tavern, Murphy’s, Highland Tap, Fontaine’s, Atkins Park, and San Francisco Coffee are back. New this year: Savi Provisions and The Cook’s Warehouse.

To make the Tour more festive this year, we are very excited to have the Grady High School Chorus and Jazz Band, the SPARK choir, KNOCK Music House, the Virginia-Highland Church, City Church East, and Grace Lutheran performing live holiday music and carols throughout our community streets, restaurants and shops.

Each year the Tour just keeps getting bigger and better. So many people make this fundraising event possible in order to improve the quality of life in our community. The funds raised by the Tour of Homes go to support various projects in our neighborhood, including playground/park improvements, sidewalks, safety, traffic concerns, planning and preservation and other community efforts.

So far, 2015 ToH has raised $40,000 in sponsorships alone. This does not include tickets sales. Hopefully, Mother Nature will provide the clear skies and perfect temps to bring out tour goers. We know businesses and residents will give them a warm welcome.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. There’s a map of the tour and some “teaser” pictures of our featured homes. You can purchase tickets on the website, as well.  Also follow us on Facebook for many opportunities to win gift certificates and free tickets.

This is a great weekend to kick off the holidays. TOUR, EAT and SHOP in the charming neighborhood we all call home. Remember, ToH tickets make great gifts, day dates, girls’ trips and family memories!

Hope to see you all out & about!

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It’s Time for Caroling in Orme Park!

by Stephen Cohen

For several years now, neighbors have gathered around the “Christmas Critter Tree” in Orme Park on a Sunday evening to drink hot chocolate and sing carols. It’s especially magical for the children, who sit in a circle around the tree in the dusk while the adults stand behind them, and everyone sings.

The event is organized by Friends of Orme Park.

This year, the caroling is at 6:00 pm on Sunday, December 6 in Orme Park in the picnic/playground area. Bring a dessert to share. Friends of Orme Park will provide the hot chocolate.  After a short period of greeting neighbors and snacking on desserts, singing should start by 6:15.

Song Sheets
In previous years, printed song sheets have been used (which usually run out due to the growing number of attendees, and which require flashlights in the dusk). This year, however, the caroling event has gone digital! In the attached flyer, there is a link to a Google doc that will bring up the songs on your smartphone or tablet–which, of course, is backlit!

Here is a link to the flyer that contains the Google doc link and other information.

And here is a link for just the song sheet embedded in the flyer. Bring your smartphone, or, if you are really old-fashioned, print out the songsheet and bring it with you to read by flashlight–or to shine a light on it via a flashlight app on your smartphone.

Decorating the Critter Tree
Saturday we will decorate the Critter Tree – bring your little ones to decorate the tree with wildlife friendly ornaments from 10 to 11 am – fun crafts!

Stephen Cohen is the editor of the Voice.

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5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Sat, Dec 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership invites all fitness levels to participate in the 5th Annual Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on Saturday, December 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Proceeds from the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K will benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the nonprofit organization committed to raising funds to support the Atlanta BeltLine and working with neighborhoods, community organizations, faith organizations, businesses and other groups to raise general awareness and broad-based support for the Atlanta BeltLine.

The Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier and will also provide challenges to attendees showcasing the most spirit throughout the day. For the neighborhood challenge, register at BeltLine.org/races and form your neighborhood team or join the team if it already exists. Register for the race, communicate with your neighborhood and show your spirit! There are 3 ways to win cash prizes: be the fastest, the largest or the most spirited. Winning teams will be announced at the end of the race, must be present to win.

For full details: https://vahi.org/?p=13982

Photo courtesy beltline.org via Googke images.

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NPU Vote of Importance at VaHi Church this Monday Night, Nov 16

by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee

Tomorrow night (Monday, November 16th), our local Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU-F) will meet at the Virginia-Highland Church opposite Inman Middle School for a vote on a proposed rezoning off Cheshire Bridge road in the neighborhood of Lindridge/Martin Manor (LMM). The vote will be held between 8:00 and 8:30 PM.  (Try to get there at 7:30 to sign in.) We ask that you read and consider what follows and oppose this rezoning.  (Proof of residence – a government ID or local utility bill indicating your residence in Virginia-Highland – will be needed.)

WHY THIS MATTERS  (Please bear with the alphabet soup.)

What’s proposed?
This is an attempt by Pulte Homes to rezone 17 single-family residences they have under contract on Elizabeth Ann Lane, a small cul-de-sac a block off the Cheshire Bridge/Sheridan intersection. If their rezoning request is successful, they will tear those houses down and build 89 townhomes.

It’s not in our neighborhood; how can it matter?

This proposal conflicts massively with NPU-F’s Comprehensive Development Plan (the CDP), which each neighborhood creates and revises regularly.  (NPU-F’s next major review will occur next year.)

Why does the CDP matter?

NPU-F’s CDP is the city’s master zoning and land use document.  Our recently-passed Master Plan had no conflicts with the CDP. The CDP is approved by City Council and is part of the code.  It is the basic document that guides the City of Atlanta Planning Department.

Rezonings do occur from time to time; they’re typically small changes with minimal impacts and implications. This rezoning is a very large and will have large impacts well beyond this street.

Major rezoning should be accompanied by serious independent planning studies that allow the larger community to understand and prepare for overall impacts and results.

Why is the rezoning bad for Lindridge/Martin Manor?

Pulte met with the NPU-F Zoning Committee a month ago and promised to return to the NPU-F Zoning Committee with a revised proposal that addressed many of the challenges that Lindridge/Martin Manor identified.  Instead they did not return to the neighborhood and went forward in the process for approval of the existing plan.  We were at the meeting and heard their promises. This was not anticipated by anyone, and it caught Lindridge/Martin Manor by surprise.

Lindridge/Martin Manor has several very specific arguments, and they are listed in their position paper below.  The Virginia-Highland Civic Association has several other problems with the rezoning proposal.

Why is this rezoning problematic for VaHi?

This CDP has a macro component in its approach to planning issues.  It examines overall land use, transportation (automobile, cycling, walking) impacts and alternatives, development trends, and impacts on nearby neighbors – i.e., it tries to be comprehensive. No plan solves all these problems, but a good plan anticipates and minimizes them.

If the homeowners are willing to sell, why shouldn’t this go forward?

It may be a good financial deal for those homeowners. That is their decision, and anyone can appreciate a slightly higher price.  But the way this process is being handled sets a very bad precedent for this NPU and treats the CDP as a minor position paper rather than a major planning document.

We are not suggesting that major rezonings can never occur; we are saying that major rezonings require thorough independent planning evaluations that take into account the impacts to the entire neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Is there a recent parallel in the NPU?

Last fall NPU-F opposed a similar attempt to rezone the Oak Knoll Apartments, just south of Fat Matt’s on Piedmont.  Our position then was identical; major conflicts with the CDP needed to be preceded by an independent study of large issues and should not occur merely for the convenience of the developer.

(In that instance, the NPUs recommendation of denial was followed by a compromise that was acceptable to the developer and was not inconsistent with the CDP.)

Has it applied recently in VaHi?

Yes, empathically yes. The CDP was the anchor of the recent initial discussions about the contemplated re-development at Monroe and 10th.  At the landowners’ request, those discussions are on hold, but our approach there was exactly the same; large-scale changes should be accompanied by proportionate planning studies that anticipate and prepare for outcomes beyond the borders of the development.  That future discussion will be very different if the CDP is casually changed in NPU-F.  There is no precedent for that, and it is one of the most important reasons we need to recommend denial of this proposal.

Is this just blind opposition to higher-density development by a bunch of NIMBY neighbors?

It is not; higher density development is a part of the future for all.  But it should occur in the places where neighborhoods and NPU have carefully studied and approved it.  That’s because there are significant repercussions to consider with increased density. It should occur in places that have, or will have in the near future, the infrastructure to handle all that comes with density – increased traffic, stormwater concerns, implications for adjacent properties and more.

This is not an impractical or unreasonable expectation; it was the process used in the BeltLine Subarea 6 Plan.

We hope to see you at the VaHi Church tomorrow night, where this will be discussed (beginning at 7:30) and voted upon between 8 and 8:30 PM.

APPENDIX
Lindridge Martin Manor (LMM) Neighborhood Association Board of Directors statement about Z-15-050 (Sheridan Road/Elizabeth Ann Lane Rezoning):

It has been a longstanding policy of LMMNA and NPU-F to preserve and protect the single family R-4 zoned properties in our neighborhoods (4 houses to an acre).

The upzoning from the existing R-4 zoning category to MR-3 that Pulte is requesting has never occurred in LMM and NPU-F.

Equally troubling, is the assemblage of an entire single family neighborhood.  Allowing this to happen on Elizabeth Ann Lane/Sheridan Road creates enormous pressure on other areas in LMM, and NPU-F generally, and threatens the long term character and stability of our intown neighborhoods.

The City’s long term Comprehensive Development Plan calls for the Elizabeth Ann Lane area to remain at the current density ratio. It has never been contemplated that this area would be redeveloped at the higher densities proposed by Pulte.

The Sheridan Road/Cheshire Bridge Road area already suffers from extreme traffic congestion.  The redevelopment proposed by Pulte will make a bad situation far worse.

Although Pulte categorizes its proposal as “single family” because the 89 townhomes are intended to be occupied by individual families, the density of their proposal moves it far outside of the existing single-family density.

The existing Sheridan Road/Elizabeth Ann Lane neighborhood consists of 18 homes. Under the existing zoning the required minimum lot size is 9,000 square feet with a minimum street frontage of 70’ wide and a density ratio of .50 (50%).

Pulte’s proposal is for a multi-family zoning category (MR3) that permits 89 townhomes and a density ratio of .696 (approximately 70%)

There is a reasonable alternative, consistent with the existing single family density that would permit the residents of Elizabeth Ann Lane/Sheridan Road to sell, allow redevelopment of the existing housing stock and preserve the current single-family density ratio of .50 but allow up to 35 homes, nearly double the existing number.

This alternative would involve a rezoning to the PD-H category is consistent with other redevelopments and rezonings along Sheridan Road in the last several years and preserves the existing density of the neighborhood.

LMM is the most vulnerable of the four NPU-F neighborhoods to this type of assemblage and upzoning. If this proposal succeeds, it will be extremely difficult in the long term for LMM to prevent similar proposals in other areas of the neighborhood.  This will ultimately lead to the loss of significant parts of the Lindridge Martin Manor neighborhood.

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Don’t Miss the Santa Speedo Run

by Stephen Cohen

It’s the most hilarious run of the year – the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run, a charity event that began in 2009 and is now entering its 7th year. This year, the run is raising money for BlazeSports, and it has a goal of $100,000.

I stumbled upon it one December, a few years back, when I was walking along North Highland. I watched with delighted amazement, as did many others who happened to be walking by. It was absolutely priceless, both for the runners and the spectators. Not to be missed!

In 2015, the Atlanta Santa Speedo Run is excited not only to be back on North Highland, but also to be hosting the event at Manuel’s Tavern — just before it closes for renovations.

So please join them at 2:00 PM on Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Manuel’s at 602 N Highland Ave NE. The course is 1.5 miles, and runs along North Highland from Manuel’s to Highland View and back.

For registration information, event history, and a gallery of very amusing photos from past years, visit the Atlanta Speedo Run website.

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Volunteer Opportunity – Plant 150 Trees in VaHi and Morningside, Sat Nov 14

We have a volunteer opportunity to add 150 trees to our neighborhood on Saturday, November 14th (9-11am). 175 volunteers are needed to achieve this goal!

Boy Scouts of America Cub Scout Pack #17, along with the Morningside and Virginia-Highland communities and Trees Atlanta, will be planting and mulching over 150 trees in both neighborhoods. This is the 3rd consecutive year both communities have collaborated to plant & mulch new trees.

Three planting locations will be set up with tools, trees, and mulch on Saturday Nov. 14th from 9-11am. We need your hearts and muscles to make it happen!

Contact: Pierce Pape – Cub Master, Cub Scout Pack 17: pack17scouting@gmail.com

Click here for further information and to sign up online.

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Tour of Homes Giveaways from Local Businesses

by Robin Ragland

Do you follow the Tour of Homes on Facebook?  Many people have discovered a wonderful facet of the Tour that’s been growing in popularity since its inception last year–giveaways from many of our sponsors.

Free tickets for the tour as well as a number of gift certificates for local businesses will be given away via the Tour’s Facebook page up until the weekend of the tour.  For example, win tickets or a gift certificate from Fit: To Be and Bla Bla Kids within the next couple of weeks.

Other giveaways include gift certificates to restaurants such as Murphy’s, Marlow’s Tavern, Highland Tap, Fontaine’s, and Diesel Filling Station.  Don’t miss out on a chance to win certificates to local businesses such as 310 Rosemont, Dakota J’s, The Great Frame-Up, and more! Here’s a link to the entire giveaway schedule–the sooner you starting following along, the more chances you have to win!

Virginia-Highland History Tour

Remember we’ve added a docent-led historical tour of the neighborhood to this year’s tour. The authors of Images of America: Virginia-Highland have planned this special tour.  Virginia-Highland is on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with great architecture and stories. Don’t miss this special opportunity to learn about its development and those who made it such a treasure. Advance ticket purchase required to sign up for the tour.

Oh – and look who’s flocking to the neighborhood for the Tour of Homes! You may see some of these flocks in various gardens around the neighborhood! Hopefully you’ll enjoy our bit of whimsy as we remind everyone it’s tour time.

Please visit our special Tour of Homes website for more detailed information on the times, the homes, the sponsors and the restaurants. Click here for information on purchasing a ticket.

Robin Ragland is a VHCA Board Member and Co-Chair of the Tour of Homes Committee.

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Volunteers Needed for 2015 Tour of Homes

by Eleanor Barrineau

One of the most helpful things you can do for your neighborhood is to volunteer at the Tour of Homes. It benefits you, too – for the Tour of Homes, you get two free tickets for working one shift in one of our beautiful neighborhood homes. And it’s a great opportunity to meet other neighbors who will be working along with you.

Our Tour is coming up on December 5th and 6th. Thanks to those neighbors who have already signed up, but we still need more volunteers.

Signing up to volunteer is easy – go to vahitourofhomes.org/volunteer and click on the blue VolunteerSpot button.  We especially need volunteers for the afternoon shifts and for Sunday.  Volunteers who are working later shifts can pick up their tickets at John Howell Park any time during Tour hours Saturday and Sunday and can go on the Tour before their shift.

If you can’t volunteer, be sure to buy tickets and encourage your friends and neighbors to do so.  Our combination of wonderful homes and delicious food tastings is unique!  Tickets are available at www.vahitourofhomes.org.

Eleanor Barrineau is the VaHi Tour of Homes Volunteer Coordinator.

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Residential Overlay Zoning Exploration Continues

by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee

The exploration of Residential Overlay Zoning for Virginia-Highland came about as a direct result of the Master Plan process. One of the top concerns of residents expressed was the impact that teardowns and rebuilds present in the redevelopment of our residential areas. You can download a copy of the Master Plan. In particular, see sections (#4.6 on page 98).

What is residential overlay zoning?

Residential overlay zoning makes existing codes more neighborhood-specific.  It is very specifically not historic district regulation. It can apply to both new construction and renovation.

What types of things would overlay zoning regulate?

Among the most common factors residents have identified are what designers call mass and scale, issues that often arise due to the relatively small size of this neighborhood’s R-4 (residential) lots.  This city’s current zoning was written three and a half decades ago; it was an improvement over what preceded it, but (among many challenges) it does not acknowledge the vast differences in the size of R-4 lots.  Structures that average 35’ high with 50% lot coverage can feel very different on a small lot than on a large one.  Relatively straightforward features like front porches, door placement, and garage siting (for example) can be the type of elements considered when approaching overlay zoning.

How would overlay zoning be enforced?

The process for residential overlay zoning functions much like existing zoning processes.  In some cases, it might lead to less process than what we have now. For example, many residents currently go through a variance process to create a second floor within the footprint of their existing home. While these are routinely approved by the city, the process itself can be expensive and add two to three months to the renovation process.  The residential overlay zoning could be created in a way that allows certain routinely-approved renovations wholly within the existing footprint to proceed without a variance, saving a bunch of time.

There are other less obvious examples too.  Builders of brand new homes are today rather ironically incentivized to follow the setback rules precisely to avoid the variance process, even when the result is a structure whose dimensions and placement do not resemble those of nearby houses in any way.  The purpose and importance of setbacks are obvious, and they will not be abandoned.  But can the letter of the law be written in a fashion that rewards and incentivizes renovations or new homes that fit in with existing conditions far better than they often do today?  It’s worth a look.

A variance process will always exist (as it does now) to address unusual or specific needs or hardships.

Your opinions and ideas are needed

As was the case with the Master Plan process, there will be varied and numerous opportunities for residents to help fashion and evaluate any new ideas. We want to hear from as many of you as possible. We’ve all had experiences with redevelopment, and all those unique perspectives will help us come up with new ideas and decide if they have value. As ideas begin to take shape, we’ll share them in ways that are easy to evaluate – providing graphics and rationales.

What to expect next

We want to keep moving, but the busy holiday season is upon us.  The first round of input will probably be electronic. With the help of our consultants, we’re creating a website that provides explanations, examples and a method for initial reactions.  The ideas you’ll see online are the result of resident input and recent sessions with local architects and builders. We’ll also include ways for you to provide any and all your ideas and insights on the site. There will be a number of public meetings open to all as the process proceeds.

Thanks for your interest. As always, if you have questions about development in the neighborhood please reach out to the Virginia-Highland Planning Committee at planning@vahi.org

{For more information please see previous article about the ongoing Residential Overlay Zoning exploration. As the process develops, we’ll continue to update you through the Voice and through a website the consultants are slowly putting together.}

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2015 Inman Middle Frosty 5K returns on December 12

You’re invited to run – in Virginia-Highland and along the Beltline – to benefit Inman Middle School students and teachers. Experienced runners, beginners, and families are welcome.

Early registration is $25, ‘day of’ registration is $30. Check-in and number distribution begin at 8:00 AM at Inman on Virginia Avenue.

The race begins at 9 AM at the school and goes down the Beltline from Piedmont Park to the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park and back. Click here to view a map of the course route.

Click here for more information or to register.

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New Virginia-Highland House Number Signs

by Lola Carlisle and Peggy Berg

Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) announces custom house numbers designed for Virginia-Highland. Signs are available to order here.

You can see examples of two of the new sign models at 899 Arlington Place and 1105 Rosedale Drive. The signs use elements of the latest Virginia-Highland logo and are the result of artistic collaboration between the sign makers and the logo designers.

Identifying your house with its number is an important safety concern – it helps emergency services like Police, Fire Department and Emergency Medical find your house. It also helps your friends and colleagues arrive on time for dinner parties.

The signs are made to order and we place orders in batches. Payment is needed in advance, and we will have the signs made as soon as the minimum order is reached. Of course, if we don’t reach the minimum order, your money is refundable.

The signs were showcased at Summerfest and we even noticed interest from folks in other neighborhoods, which we welcome of course. Some are purchasing signs as gifts as well.

Several folks worked on the project, including Peggy Berg, Ernest Lessinger, Brandon Patterson, Angelika Taylor and Lola Carlisle.

Lola Carlisle and Peggy Berg are VHCA Board Members.

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Community Grants and Spark Choir Highlight 2015 VHCA Annual General Meeting

by Jack White

The 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held on Thursday, September 17 at the Inman Middle School cafeteria. A variety of messages and welcomes were furnished by elected officials and their representatives, Board members were elected (you may see them and a list of officers here) and community grants were presented (more on that in a moment).

For the fourth year in a row, the evening began with a lovely and moving performance by the Springdale Park Advanced Chorus, led by Music Director Brianne Turgeon. First on the agenda and first in our hearts, the choir did a lovely presentation of half-dozen songs.  You can hear them on the meeting video here, but nothing compares to hearing them in person.  Their presence alone makes the attending the meeting worthwhile.

The business portion of the meeting may be viewed here.

Over $27,000 in community grants were presented.  Each of our three public schools got $4100 for a variety of programs – PTO support at Spark, the Girls in Engineering, Science, Math program at Inman, college counseling and theater improvements at Grady, among others.  Nonprofits and public institutions who play a major role in improving the quality of life – Trees Atlanta, PEDS, and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition – got grants, along with a donation to the Ponce de Leon library (one of the system’s busiest), which has suffered funding cuts in the last few years.  It is a pleasure to be able to support so many people who are working for the public good in this community.

All these donations were raised through the efforts of citizens in projects organized by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, primarily Summerfest and Tour of Homes.   A full list of this year’s grants – and those of the last decade, totaling over a quarter-million dollars – may be found here.   They are a very tangible manifestation of the extraordinary volunteer efforts in this community, one that we can all be proud of.

Jack White is a Board Member and President of VHCA. 

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Latest Safety Report

by Peggy Berg and Jack White

Here is the latest snapshot of key statistics through August, 2015.

Reports for prior months are also available here.

APD Deputy Chief Joseph Spillane and Zone 6 Commander Timothy Peek spoke extensively about crime and APD responses to it at the October VHCA meeting. They were the evening’s first speakers; you may hear them here:

October 12, 2015: Monthly Meeting Minutes Part 1, Part 2.
Peggy Berg and Jack White are VHCA Board Members.

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SPARK Kids Preparing for October 30 Fun Run

by Sara Zeigler

Once a year, SPARK students solicit donations for the PTO as part of SPARK’s Fun Run. This year’s Fun Run will be held on October 30, 2015 on the Springdale Park Elementary campus. Funds raised through the Fun Run will support a number of programs and other learning enhancements, such as writing coaching, professional development opportunities for teachers, and numerous reading and math digital curriculum tools. These curriculum resources are essential to the SPARK faculty and without the PTO’s assistance, would not be available to the students. APS does not provide for the necessary curriculum resources.

There is no door-to-door selling or delivering of products with Fun Run. Students simply gather pledges from friends, family and neighbors. Sponsors will pledge a per-lap amount or a flat donation amount towards their student. Students will typically run 30 laps (2 miles) with a lap cap of 36 at the Fun Run. Per-lap pledges will be multiplied by the number of laps run by their sponsored student, typically 30 laps or $30 for each $1 pledged per-lap. SPARK is a school that focuses on Wellness.  Parents, teachers and the students love that the Fun Run promotes physical activity and makes it easy to raise critical funds for our school.

SPARK will kick off our fundraising effort seeking pledges or flat donations for the Fun Run on Friday, October 16th.  Students will be seeking pledges and we want to encourage openness/receptivity of the neighbors to students asking for their support. Maybe even a neighbor offering to sponsor their SPARK student next door!

Also, anyone who wants to just make a donation to SPARK  can click here to pledge donations for SPARK.

Please help us raise needed curriculum funds for SPARK and keep this neighborhood gem shining brightly!

Sara Zeigler is on the SPARK PTO and is leading the Fun Run event

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Trick-or-Treat in VaHi for UNICEF (Knock Music House)

by Amy Harward

As you make your Halloween plans, consider participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. It’s so easy and so rewarding, as this clip shows.

For the trick-or-treaters: Stop by Knock Music House before Halloween to pick up your Trick-or-Treat collection boxes. On Halloween, trick-or-treat for candy AND coins! Then you can either bring your donations back to Knock Music House to be submitted on your behalf, or you can submit your donation yourself. Easy!

For the candy givers: be prepared for our Intown kids by having your coins (and dollars!) waiting by your candy bowl.

Everyone: Spread the word! There will be plenty of boxes. The more kids participating, the better.

UNICEF is a great way for kids to help kids around the world. Trick-or-treating can be about more than just candy; it can be a time for us to teach our kids about charity and being good global citizens.

This Halloween, wouldn’t it be amazing if our Intown kids, armed with their UNICEF boxes, collected more than just candy? Can you imagine the good we could do?

Visit unicefusa.org/trick-or-treat for more information and resources.

Visit KnockMusicHouse.com for pick-up location and directions.

Amy Harward is a Virginia-Highland parent coordinating the UNICEF Trick-or-Treat drive for Knock Music House.

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VHCA Board and General Meeting

This is the monthly combined Board and General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. The public is invited to attend. Note: The October 12, 2015 meeting will be held at the Church of Our Saviour on N. Highland Ave. across from Fire Station #19 due to holiday closure of the public library.

Meetings are generally held on the second Monday of each month, 7:00 PM, at the public library located at 980 Ponce de Leon Ave. If the public library is not available, the meeting is generally relocated to the Church of Our Saviour on N. Highland Avenue, across the street from the fire house. Meeting relocations will be listed here and also communicated to the neighborhood via social media.

 

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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).

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Plant Swap on Elkmont Drive

Start Planning Your Spring Garden Now: Plant Swap on Oct 3

By Alice Gepp

My next door neighbor with whom I share a driveway, Sabrina Serafin, and I are hosting a plant swap on October 3rd from 11:00 to 4:00 at 684 Elkmont Drive NE, near the west end of Orme Park.

It will a fun day and we would love to have you come by at some point during the day!  It will just be a fun community gathering and we’d love see you.

We got this idea from a neighbor’s church bulletin that had a Midtown plant swap, so we thought we’d do one here for our area.

More details here.

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Inman Middle School LSC Meeting

The Local School Council (LSC) for Inman Middle School is a collaborative group of parents, teachers, and business partners, whose purpose is to advise and make recommendations to the principal, local board of education and local school superintendent on matters relating to school improvement and student achievement.

The establishment of school councils, under Georgia’s A+ Education Reform Act of 2000, is intended to help local boards of education by bringing parents and the community together with teachers and school administrators to create better understanding and mutual respect for each other’s concerns.

The Inman LSC generally meets on the third Monday of every month at 4:15 PM in the Media Center. Meetings are open to all members of the Inman community.
You may contact the Local School Council at LSC@inmanmiddleschool.org.

 

 

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VHCA Street Captain Meeting

The annual Virginia-Highland Street Captain meeting will be held Saturday morning September 19th from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon at Church of Our Savior church on N. Highland. Entrance to the hall is from Los Angeles. We will meet and greet from 9:40 and begin the meeting at 10:00.

This is an excellent opportunity for new street captains to learn from those who have been doing the job for many years, or for anyone interested in public safety to learn about our neighborhood watch program. All residents and businesses are welcome to attend. This year’s speakers will include Danielle Simpson to speak about Citizen’s CourtWatch, and Chad Gurley, APD detective to answer questions about his perspective on crime as a resident of the neighborhood.

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