Minutes – October 1, 2003

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Virginia-Highland Civic Association

Monthly General Meeting, Ponce de Leon Library

Wednesday, October 1, 2003, 7:30 PM


Meeting was called to order by President Kevin Cronin at 7:30 p.m.

Guests were introduced: Cyrus Bhedward, Cathy Woolard’s office

New Business/Old Business:

  1. Energy – Report by Cyrus Bhedward
    • Bhedward spoke on how we can conserve energy in our homes and offices
      • Woolard has been involved in a sustainability project, focusing on air, land and energy use
      • There was a lot to information to decipher
      • No one at the City has been dealing with energy use
      • First question raised was how much does the City spend?
        • $21 million on electricity in City buildings alone
        • $3.1 million on waste and water
        • The goal is to reduce these figures by 10%
    • Support is coming from federal, state and non-profit agencies, at no cost to taxpayers. In 2003, the goal is to save $500,000 in energy costs. The group looked at errors in billings by utility companies
      • Started with City Hall and City Hall East to review usage patterns
      • Solutions were simple: Employees did what they could – turning off lights, PCs, etc. at night
      • This single efforts produced a huge dent in bills
      • City is ready to establish similar cost-reducing methods at other buildings and create sustainable energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings
    • What can citizens do?
      • Watch your THERMOSTATS!
      • Set them back – Ideally to 68° in winter; 78° in summer
      • When replacing appliances – look for “Energy Efficient” labels
    • Bedward also commented briefly on the city’s move to name the new terminal at airport, improvements in fire stations and park facilities
  2. Councilperson Anne Fauver
    • Fauver was in attendance and offered her assistance if any neighbors wanted to talk to her.
  3. Inspector Kinser
    • Introduced Officers Green and Rivers
    • Things going well in the sixth district
    • Have been several commercial burglaries on the morning watch; Major Banda is working on this issue
    • Question – have the burglarers been Caught? Not yet. Our officer in charge of burglaries passed away and other officers are following up.
    • Question – Linked to residential burglaries? Not known
    • When will the new beats be assigned? Beginning of 2004
  4. Tinka Green – Business Association: Reported 14 break-ins, one attempted break-in and one major shoplifting
    • Two officers working with the Business Association
    • Almost caught robber in American Roadhouse early Friday, Sept. 26. Police arrived in seven minutes; the robber didn’t get anything
    • Inspector Kinser: Shortened days are coming, as is the Christmas season. Be cautious and watch people in stores, take extra precautions
    • Officer Rivers: Many homeless people sit outside Publix and people making deposits to bank inside
    • Don’t carry an extreme amount of cash or handle your deposits more carefully
    • People have been seen knocking on doors, trying to figure out when people aren’t home. DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE POLICE WHEN YOU SEE THIS ACTIVITY!
    • Kinser said if you see people with bags as if they are stealing items or walking up on porches – call 911!
    • Anne Fauver asked what message we should give 911?
    • Kinser – “I see an attempted robbery and I have person in view.”
    • Call and stay on the line! Officers will go straight to address dispatched! Look what they are wearing, what direction the person goes, what type of car they might get into, etc.
    • The homeless are walking around the neighborhood, looking for work. Don’t hire someone off the streets.
    • People have been seen stealing bicycles off of front porches. Thieves are looking for easy pickings and large items for which they can get cash easily
    • Call about any homeless? No, only if they keep going to doors to see if residents are at home/walking around the back of a residence/looking in herby curbies. Don’t call if they are just walking down the street
    • If homeless are looking closely at a residence, the police call if casing a joint/looking for a future robbery scene. Call if it seems they are attemping to do something
    • Officer Kinser reiterated that 911 is emergency — and information. Use the number if you have some information to report
    • Question from neighborhood – what is happening with panhandlers?
      • Stewart from Atlanta Union Mission has been knocking on neighbors’ door asking for cash
    • Lot of requests to remove homeless from John Howell Park
      • Police are working on it and they have talked to Major Banda
    • Kinser introduced Phillip Pettus – chair of public safety; working on coordinated watch programs and email program
    • Cronin stated that we will buy something for the force with Summerfest funds
  5. Karen Handel
    • Cronin introduced her – Candidate for Chair, Fulton County Commission
      • Not an endorsement from the neighborhood
      • Handel encouraged residents to vote on Nov. 4
      • She offered to answer questions after the meeting
  6. Cynthia Gentry/Cunard Memorial Playground
    • City Parks Dept has really helped
    • Current playground will remain; will be pressure washed and dirt added around benches, etc.
    • New ground cover for playground area; won’t harm trees
    • Pieces made by KOMPAN; different pieces will be spread throughout the playground according to plan (photos were shown to the group)
    • Fire engine is the center piece – Max Cunard loved fire engines
    • Interactive for many ages and many or a few kids
    • Biggest piece – 9′ tall tower-like structure with components for younger, physically challenged and older kids
    • Playground doesn’t block out the sun – it is more open and see-through
    • Budget – Adding the recycled tires as the groundcover moves the budget from $60K to $130K
    • Recycled tires are permanent, won’t spread like mulch, is squishy and permeable
    • Volunteers raising moncy – raised $65,000 to date with matching $17K from VHCA
    • Oct. 21 – 27 restaurants from 5 p.m to close will donate 15% of all sales
    • Oct . 26 – Van Michael’s hair salon will offer $25 haircuts with 100% of money going to the playground
    • Nov. 15 – Build day (7 a.m. to dark) Equipment company will be on hand to direct the installation
    • Nov. 16 – Clean up
    • Nov. 22 – Rain date
    • On build day, volunteers will help with playground or other John Howell activities
    • Equipment has been ordered
    • City is doing all land prep work; all granite walls; all design, etc.
    • City will start work soon -last week of Oct.
  7. Summerfest
    • Applications available on line
    • Deadline is 1/30
    • Good artists want early notice
    • Grow artists down the street
    • Press releases across the Southeast promoting the event
  8. Anne Fauver
    • Self assigned task — to get bills collected that are owed to City
      • Water, sanitary fees
      • Complicated task
      • Will take some time
      • Anne will “keep going – like a bill in a china shop. “
      • Trying to get answers – City only has half the number of water meter readers
      • Next week – Anne hopes the number will be 100%
    • Noted the new parking meters in VaHi; Anne promised by next week the amount of time allowed on them will be longer than 30 minutes
    • Yard waste – hoping pick-up gets better , reorganizing department and beginning to see improvement
      • Adair, Ponce Terrace especially noted need for more frequent pick-ups
      • Some people are putting out stupid stuff – fences, bldg materials, etc.
      • One group of workers is focused on yard waste, one group focused on trash
    • Sidewalks
      • Long process; thanks for patience
      • Sandra Jennings promised cost estimates for sidewalks in VAHI by Oct. 15
      • City will evaluate what can be done
      • City cotractors are not scheduled to work until year end, but Anne is trying to get them to fit VAHI in schedule
      • Will be done in 1/04 if not now….
      • Cronin reiterated that the money from VHCA will come only when we get promise from city
      • Panhandling ordinance being redone
  9. New parks ordinance
    • Sleeping in Piedmont Park, but current ordinance doesn’t do all it should to keep people from sleeping there
    • Question from neighbors: What about sleeping in John Howell Park?
  10. Traffic
    • Third lane on N Highland is unnecessary
    • Anne suggests removing it and add more parking spots
  11. Question – airport name change?
    • No, Anne feels we should keep Hartsfield and name the new international terminal “Maynard Jackson”
    • However, Anne doesn’t think that approach will pass
    • Hartsfield’s name is in three-four place; Perhaps name the new street to the International Terminal as Jackson street; main entrance “Hartsfield-Jackson”
    • Other considerations – Cost of renaming? Possible statue of Hartsfield and Jackson at City Hall?
    • How will any of the initiatives be funded? Out of public art construction budget?
  12. Graffiti?
    • No answer
  13. Sizeable homeless population? Any master plan?
    • Mayor’s task force picked up
    • Old jail – transitional home for men
    • For drug programs, rehab programs, etc.
    • Encourage counties to provide shelters, etc.
    • Encourage churches to adopt families
    • Reunification project – get me connected with my family and get me off the street
  14. Crosswalk markers
    • VHCA would be willing to fund the city for more of them!
    • Need to set policy as to where they will go…..Schools, churches, fire station?
    • But if we put markers on very crosswalk, they will be meaningless. Don’t put on every corner!
    • Strategic positioning, but City determines where they go
    • How can VHCA get our sites marked?
    • Send recommendations to Anne and let city install them
    • Markers at Inman Middle School coming
    • The association asked if it would help to provide feedback/encouragement to get them installed?
    • Anne thinks the City has enough feedback
  15. Sidewalks
    • VHCA offers compensation, but John Craft and his wife walked North Highland to note which ones VHCA will take care of
    • If there is a bad sidewalk in front of a home, the City can cite the homeowner if it is reported.
    • Why can’t the City cite them? City doesn’t have the manpower….
    • Deputy program who can cite bldg code violations, including sidewalks
    • Example of Bay City – Homeowner’s responsibility! City cited you and if you did not repair the sidewalk, the city fixed it and billed the resident for sidewalk
    • Fauver – We don’t have city personnel to enforce that type of regulation.
    • VHCA — We can identify the problem but we can’t do anything about it.
    • Fauver — No personnel to supervise this type of project
    • VHCA — Why doesn’t the City hire contractors and just repair the sidewalks?
    • Fauver – City won’t touch it and there is no vehicle for enforcement
  16. New meeting date and time
    • First Mondays, beginning on Monday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Ponce Library



Planning and Zoning

  • V-03-260770 Ponce Terrace
    • Variance for porch 2′, 3″
    • Motion to approve
    • P&Z committee recommended approval conditioned on plans submitted
      Straw – 9 for; 0 against, 2 abstentions
    • Boards – Unanimous in approval
  • V-02-2701100 Virginia
    • Renovation and addition
    • Add second story to front
      Have two out or four letters from neighbors
    • P&Z committee recommended approval with all neighbors’ letters and site plan
    • Straw – 14/0/0
    • Board – unanimous in approval
  • V-03-278631 Park Drive
    • Second story addition
    • Coverage less than 50%
    • P&Z committee recommended approval based on site plan
      Straw – 13/0/0
    • Board-unanimous in approval
  • V-03-2871066 Maryland
    • Second story addition
    • Already over lot coverage, will work to reduce (120ft more)
      Gotten letters of approval from adjacent and other neighbors
    • Plan to renovate and resell
    • P&Z committee recommended approval based on site plan
    • Straw – 12/0/0
    • Board – unanimous in approval
  • Lot at Park Drive & ElmwoodOwner wishes to subdivide property at back of lot
    • Build second house as part of family compound; 1 house now, eventually two single-family houses
    • On its own lot so that in the future it could be sold as two lots
    • 13,900 main lot
    • Typically, take into consideration neighbor’s feelings
      Owner has planted trees, supported the antique rock wall
    • No variance on any new structure allowed for 1 year after subdivision
    • Driveway issues?
    • Will build in a year, look at those issues then
    • How many more houses/?
    • P&Z committee recommended approval of subdivision with neighbors’ OK
    • Straw – 11/0/0
    • Board – unanimous in approval


  • Hold until next mtg

Public Safety:

  • 4-yr. Lab shot by policeman by Village Market
  • Lab ran out of store
  • Didn’t use pepper spray, foot, etc, just shot the dog. No one saw the actual event
  • Didn’t use due diligence
  • Sgt. Pool investigating
  • Internal investigation
  • Fauver will look into it

Treasurer’s Report:

  • Great shape
  • Summerfest netted $150,000
  • Only outstanding is donation to Piedmont Park Conservancy — 2 for 1 match from donations VHCA residents make to Conservancy
  • Look to Park Drive entrance for improvements
  • Chip – bring plan to VHCA for funding projects
  • Tree plantings? Yes
  • $5,377 for sidewalk improvement
  • We’ll help ! Plus, it’s a city ordinance!
  • Total cost for 60-70 ft. $800-1,200 ($2.50 per sq ft)

Membership & Community Outreach:

  • Chip Gallagher announced that welcome packets were available for any new residents in the area.


  • Plantings, trees
  • Let Rob Clancy know if you have an area that needs more trees
  • Bottom of Cresthill – this Sat. 10/4 – Hands On Atlanta work day — 8:30 a.m or sign up at www.handsatlanta.org
  • Trees Atlanta annual tree sale is 10-/18 at Piedmont Park – come early at 8 a.m. to get the best choices
  • 11/1 – Clean up and planting at North Highland and Virginia island; we need to keep it fresh, it’s our showcase island
  • Parks committee is putting together a budget for JH Park
  • 830 Ponce – certification of occupancy is close, but developers must plant 50 trees in the neighborhood
  • 25 trees near Freedom Park by complex (2″ Chalk Maple)
  • 25 by Orme Park (larger beech trees, white oak, etc.)
  • Possibly give some to Park Drive for Piedmont Park entrance?
  • Anne: Shady Grove Park next to be renovated (Moreland & Oakdale on Ponce)
    • Playscape wasn’t safe
    • Olmstead Group wants no play equip there
    • Meeting to be held

Summerfest Committee:

  • 6/5 & 6/6
  • Artist apps already on the Web
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