Minutes – June 11, 2012

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Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board Meeting

Monday, June 11, 2012; Ponce de Leon Library


Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM. The following Board members were present: Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Brain Gross, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner, and Jack White. Rob Glancy and John Wolfinger arrived subsequently. David Wolfson was absent with notice.

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Ms. Foerschler Horn moved and Ms. Berg seconded a motion to adopt the agenda. The attached agenda (“Addendum 1”) was approved without objection.

Ms. Foerschler Horn moved and Mr. Dworet seconded a motion to adopt minutes for the May Board meeting. The minutes from the May 2012 Board meeting were likewise approved without objection.

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Two sergeants were present and reported that over the past couple of weeks, there has been an increase in armed robberies in the area generally surrounding Little Five Points. The officers noted that these robberies are partly attributed to the fact that schools were recently let out for the summer break. Nevertheless, the officers advised citizens to remove valuables from parked cars, and advised that more unmarked police cars will be patrolling the neighborhood to increase police visibility. Major Meadows also spoke and invited residents to discuss any issues with him.

Ms. Carlisle further questioned the officers with regard to whether any issues associated with the recent Soapbox Derby event. No issues were reported.

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Bill Munro, AFPL

Bill Munro, director of the Ponce de Leon library, thanked the Board for the support provided by VHCA to the library. Mr. Munro further reported that $2,000 donated by the VHCA to the library this year was used to great benefit. Among other things, he explained that the Ponce de Leon branch was able to convert its VHS movie collection to DVDs, and as a result now has the largest DVD collection in the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. He further noted that the donated VHCA funds are also being used to assist the library with the fulfillment of its children and young-adult summer reading programs.

Mr. White thanked Mr. Munro for his continued support of the VHCA and noted that Mr. Munro goes above and beyond to ensure that the library is available to the VHCA for Board and committee meetings.

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None were present.

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Tom McWilliams from Sylvan Hills attended on behalf of State Representative Ralph Long, a candidate for House District 57. He reminded everyone of the upcoming July 31 election, which will, among other things, call for a vote on the T-SPLOST transportation initiative

Mr. Earl Cooper introduced himself to the Board and to the audience. He is the current PTA president at Grady High School and is running as a Republican from House District 58.

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Budget Committee

Mr. Dworet reported that Melissa Kriest is the new bookkeeper for the Association, and that she has been instrumental in the further organization and streamlining of VHCA financial activities. After questioning from audience members, Mr. Dworet confirmed that all check-signing authority remains within the control of the Board.

Planning Committee

A. LRB-318; 1006 N. Highland Avenue (Taco Mac). The application relates to the change in ownership and resulting change of the designated liquor agent. Michael Sard from Sard & Leff spoke on behalf of the applicant. The new agent will be Susan Oddo. She explained that the application emanated solely from the change in ownership; with a new legal entity as owner, a new alcohol license is required. Ms. Carlisle noted that there have been no issues with Taco Mac in the past, that the Planning Committee unanimously approved the application at its previous meeting. Ms. Carlisle moved to approve the application, Mr. Glancy seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

B. V-12-070; 907 Highland View; Application for reduction of various setbacks. Mr. Mark Arnold appeared on behalf of the applicant, and explained that in connection with a second story addition within the existing footprint, the application involves the following setback reductions:

reduction of rear yard setback from 15’ (required) to 10’;
reduction in north side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’2”;
reduction of south side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 2’10”; and
reduction of front yard setback from 35‘ (required) to 19’.

Mr. Arnold further explained that he previously examined all original two-story homes in the neighborhood to determine why they are aesthetically appealing, and he attempted to implement many of these characteristics in the plans for the current home. Mr. Arnold stated that the owner is doing all this it can to preserve trees, but that two dogwoods will be removed in the front. He confirmed that the submitted plans otherwise comply with all other requirements and that they are actually reducing existing lot coverage to 48%, because they are removing an existing swimming pool. Ms. Carlisle noted that some of the neighbors (911 Highland View, to the east) had expressed concern about the height of the house. Mr. Arnold’s client met with this neighbor and offered to revise the plans to address their concerns. The neighbors have now approved the plans, and the plans received unanimous recommendation for approval from Planning. Ms. Carlisle therefore moved to approve the application, conditioned on the revised site plan dated 5/31/12. Ms. Ferrero seconded the motion. The motion was approved 9-1, with all in favor except Mr. Glancy, who opposed it without comment.

C. SAP 12-0060; Special Administrative Permit to Operate Food Trucks at 841 N. Highland. The application was presented by Victoria Meadows. She noted that all trash and restrooms will be provided by Mr. Landau. Ms. Carlisle moved and Ms. Foerschler Horn seconded a motion to approve SAP120060. The motion passed unanimously.

Parks Committee

A. John Howell Park. Mr. White reported that the committee is moving forward with the work and repairs discussed last month; all work is on schedule. The committee has met with the Parks Department and Park Pride. The park’s original landscape architect, Peter Frawley, has led discussions about potential modifications around the volleyball court and on connecting the two levels of the park. Ms. Wilkes has met extensively with representatives from Volleyball Atlanta, who are partners in this process. The committee will prepare an article for the Voice and will schedule public walk-throughs to solicit public comments.

B. VHCL & New Highland Park. Pamela Papner provided an update, citing July 1 as the target construction start date. She further noted that $150,000 has been raised thus far for New Highland. On the topic of fundraising, Ms. Papner asked Mr. Glancy when the proceeds promised to the VHCL from the road race he directed on March 4th “benefitting John Howell Park” would arrive. Mr. Glancy stated that he was unable to provide the financial data at this time; “one or two checks remain to be written.” Ms. Papner indicated that the topic could be on the next agenda.

Fundraising Committee

Pamela Papner spoke regarding Summerfest. Relying upon information received to date, she believes this is going to be the best year ever with regard to financial receipts. Although she does not have the final numbers in with regard to beverage revenue or operations costs, and her estimate for earnings is in excess of $150,000.

Education Committee

Ms. Foerschler Horn spoke regarding the progress of the new education committee, which among other things, have declared the following goals: (a) to inform the neighborhood on issues that impact local neighborhood schools; (b) to collaborate with schools to solve problems and support positive change; and (c) to work with other neighborhoods within the Grady cluster. Ms. Foerschler Horn moved to approve the stated committee goals, which was seconded by Mr. White. The motion passed unanimously.

Safety Committee

A. Sidewalks. Ms. Berg provided an update with respect to the proposed sidewalk improvements and the contribution required by the VHCA in this regard.
Ms. Papner expressed concerns regarding the expending of Board funds for, among other things, commercial owners of residential properties. Mr. Glancy suggested that we have a cap on the amount funded for each property, which Ms. Berg said was part of her concept . Several members expressed concerns as to whether the Board should spend funds on sidewalks when city law makes homeowners legally responsible for the tasks.

After extensive discussion, Mr. White moved to approve a maximum total allocation of $15,000, with the following limits and conditions: $500 per segment; total of $800 per property; but in no event ever greater than 50% of the property owners’ cost. Messrs. Gross and Glancy seconded the motion.

After further discussion, the motion was amended to state that Ms. Berg will make a good faith effort to offer participation in the bundle without financial incentive.

The motion was approved 7-2; Mr. Wolfinger, Ms. Berg, Mr. Dworet, Mr. Glancy, Ms. Foerschler Horn, and Ms. Carlisle voted in favor and Ms. Papner and Ms. Ferrero voted against. Both argue that it was unwise to spend association funds on what the law deems a private landowner’s responsibility, particularly when a structure is a commercial investment for a non-resident. Mr. White, who was moderating the discussion, did not vote on his own motion and provided no reason.

B. Mid-year Report on Goals. Mr. Wolfinger deferred the report to next meeting with regard to committee goals. However, he noted that there will be a meeting regarding cleanup proposals for the intersection of Virginia and Highland Avenues on Wednesday, June 13, to bridge the gap between VHCA and the business association. The meeting will be at 6:30 at Aurora. VHCA is trying to encourage the business owners to better maintain the area surrounding their businesses.

Communications Committee

Mr. Gross stated that the VHCA has a new website, a new system for emailing residents, and a good support team. He reminded Board members to provide content for the Voice. While our previous decision was to publish one more printed edition of the Voice in paper format (prior to this fall’s Tour), Mr. Gross noted that substantial cost savings would be available to us from switching permanently to electronic editions. Mr. White and Mr. Dworet agreed with that perspective. Mr. White requested that Mr. Gross agree to lead a thorough discussion of this point at next month’s meeting regarding the pros and cons of maintaining a paper version of the Voice.


To comply with technical requirements of the bylaws, Mr. White moved to confirm all current Budget, Parks, Planning, Safety, and Summerfest committee members. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Gross will bring a list of Communication Committee members next month.


Mr. White noted that the general meeting this year will be on Thursday, September 13, 2012.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:34 PM.

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