Come to VHCA’s Open House at D.B.A BBQ on January 29

By Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board President

Want to become more involved in the neighborhood?  Interested in meeting more of your friendly VaHi neighbors?  Have you always wondered what VHCA does but were afraid to ask?  Now is your chance to learn the answers to these burning questions! 

VHCA is hosting a Committee Open House on Sunday, January 29 at DBA BBQ from 3:00-5:00 pm.  We’ll provide the snacks and stimulating conversation – all you have to do is show up.  We’ll have VHCA Board members and representatives from our Safety, Planning, Communications, Parks, Summerfest and Tour of Homes Committees to explain what these committees do and how you can get involved.  We’ll also be seeking volunteers for our new Business District Task Force, which will be comprised of commercial property owners, business owners and VaHi residents and will focus on revitalizing and improving our commercial district.

This is a great opportunity to become involved in the neighborhood.  Thanks to DBA, a frequent supporter of the neighborhood and a Tour of Homes sponsor, for hosting this event. 

Hope to see you on the 29th!


Survey Reveals VaHi Residents’ Key Concerns, Sources of Contentment

The recent survey of Virginia-Highland residents shows that public safety, the commercial district, public infrastructure, and neighborhood parks are the top policy issues we care about.  And while the commercial mix and safety are high on the list of activities that residents rated as important, there is room for improvement. Read the full report to learn more.


Two New Members Join VHCA Board of Directors

By Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board President

We had several strong candidates interview for two open positions on the board and last night confirmed Micah Stringer, Director and Troy Murray, Alternate Director to serve out the balance of the 2016/2017 term.

Micah Stringer

Micah Stringer and his family have been Virginia Highland residents for almost two years.  Micah is originally from Syracuse, New York and his wife Kara is an Atlanta native.  They live in Atkins Park and both daughters attend SPARK elementary.  Micah is currently President of Atkins Park Neighborhood Association, a Division Vice President for a regional bank and graduate of the College of Charleston, SC.  Since moving to the neighborhood, the Stringer family has been very involved in local volunteer initiatives, VH Tour of Homes, SPARK and youth sports.  Micah has a strong interest in parks, planning and helping to revitalize the VaHi business district.

Troy Murray

Troy Murray is a 19-year resident of Atlanta and a 13-year loft owner at Greenwood Lofts in Virginia-Highland.   Originally from Nashville, Troy moved to Atlanta after earning a bachelor’s degree in Logistics and Transportation with a minor in Geography from the University of Tennessee.  Troy is a project manager for United Parcel Service, Inc.  (UPS), and has a passion for transportation and a strong interest in infrastructure growth and sustainability.   With a balcony view overlooking the Beltline and Ponce City Market, Troy has seen many changes in the neighborhood.

Troy has been involved with several organizations in Atlanta including:  UPS LGBTA Business Resource Group (2014 – current); AIDS Walk Atlanta (Team UPS captain, 2015 & 2016); Out & Equal Atlanta (board member, 2008 – 2013); United Way (UPS team leader, 2006 – 2008); Greenwood Lofts HOA (secretary 2005 – 2008); and Open Hand volunteer (1998 – 2005).

As an avid runner and dog owner, Troy can be seen daily either walking Jesse along Greenwood Avenue or running on the beltline. When not out an about with Jesse, he will bring his extensive non-profit and transportation expertise to our transportation and safety issues.

As previously noted, these two positions became vacant due to the resignation in December of two Directors.  I am excited to welcome Micah and Troy to the Board and am confident that they will make many valuable contributions to the neighborhood. 


VHCA Tour of Homes Committee—Come Help Us Rebuild in 2017

By Robin Ragland, 2016 VHCA Tour of Homes Chair

Our neighborhood Tour of Homes is a weekend favorite for attendees and community volunteers each December.  Like other initiatives within VHCA, the tour occurs because a committee of volunteers spends their time throughout the year to create the experience that so many have come to enjoy.  This dedication has contributed to VHCA granting over $270,000 to our schools, partnering non-profits, and neighborhood partners over roughly the last decade.  This includes just under $130,000 for schools, almost $40,000 for Trees Atlanta, and almost $45,000 to our local public library.  The money raised also supports other neighborhood initiatives such as security cameras, the restoration of Fire Station 19, and parks projects.

There are several volunteers who have been on the committee for a number of years, whose work and commitment has enabled the Tour to significantly increase the amount of funds raised.   Each year, some members of the committee retire, and new folks join.  Such is the nature of volunteer efforts—it’s not known who will come forward each year to help accomplish our goals, but we depend on residents stepping forward as they are able. 

2017 will be an important rebuilding year for the Tour of Homes.  After co-chairing the committee in 2015, and chairing it in 2016, I am stepping down to join the ranks of a ‘regular’ committee member in 2017.  A few sub-committee chairs will return to plan the 2017 tour, but a number of critical positions must be filled with new volunteers. 

If you’re someone who loves our neighborhood and really enjoys the Tour of Homes, please strongly consider taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to meet new folks, and have such a positive impact on Va-Hi.  Recruit a friend to volunteer with you!

For the tour to occur as usual in December this year, it is critical to have folks raise their hand and volunteer to fill these roles.  I am happy to chat with anyone who is interested and needs more information before signing up for the task.  We are also planning a committee celebration for this past December’s tour.  Let me know if you’d like to join us to meet some of the committee members, and learn more about what’s involved.  You may contact me at  Committee members will also be present at the Volunteer Open House on January 29.


Virginia-Highland Supports Police Christmas Party for Kids

By Eleanor Barrineau, VHCA Board and Safety Committee Member

Generous Virginia-Highland residents donated four car-loads of toys to the annual Zone 6 Atlanta Police Department holiday party for kids held on December 17th.  This year Zone 6 doubled the number of children invited from 50 last year to 100 in order to provide toys for more children. VaHi resident John Wolfinger once again provided a drop-off point on his porch and transported toys to the precinct (see photo below).

John Wolfinger’s trunk filled with neighborhood donations for one of his trips to the precinct. Photo credit – John Wolfinger

Kay Stephenson and Eleanor Barrineau of the VHCA Board and Safety Committee volunteered at the event, which included a hot meal, activities including tours of various police and fire vehicles, games, and musical presentations by current and retired police department employees.  It was great to see the kids interacting with the many police and fire department officers who were participating – a great example of police-community relations.

Officer Felicia Dodson calls children up to receive their gifts. Photo credit – Kay Stephenson

Children play musical chairs with Santa. Photo credit – Eleanor Barrineau

There were enough toys to provide for all of the children – and any toys left over were to be donated to parties hosted by Zones 1 and 3.


President’s Message and Goals for 2017

By Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board President

Happy New Year!  Now that the holidays are over, I wanted to bring you up to date on some of the activities of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

2016 was a year of transition for VHCA.  At the Annual meeting in September, six new directors were elected to the VHCA board.  I was a bit of a hybrid – I had served on the board for several years, but was not a current board member at the time of the election in September.  Rounding out the board were four returning directors who had each been serving for several years.

As President, my top priority for 2016 was to bring together the old and new directors, many of whom did not previously know each other, and build a strong and effective board.  To that end, the first few months of our 2016/2017 term were focused on electing officers, defining and assigning committee roles and chair positions, and getting a complete handle on the Association’s finances, and legal and financial obligations.  The process has been difficult at times, but I feel we now have a strong foundation and structure from which to pursue the many important and exciting initiatives that inspired each director to run for the Board.  And in the midst of working to rebuild the Board, we have already achieved a lot, including posting agendas and written minutes for board meetings, publishing The Voice twice per month, executing a successful Tour of Homes, moving forward with the design phase of the Fire Station 19 preservation and renovation, and providing monthly updates on the Association’s finances.  In addition, negotiations continue to settle the lawsuit filed last year related to the Todd memorial. I will continue to provide updates on the litigation at our monthly general meetings.

The first order of business for 2017 will be replacing board members Paige Hewell and Jess Windham – two directors who resigned in December.  Both Paige and Jess had significant changes in their lives that made it difficult for them to dedicate the time and energy needed to serve on the board.  Paige, who was the Co-Chair of Summerfest, will continue to work on Summerfest.  Jess, who has been on the Planning Committee for several years and was the Co-Chair of the Master Plan Committee, will also continue to work on Planning issues.  We are fortunate that we will still have an opportunity to work with Paige and Jess and are thankful for their service to the Board and Virginia-Highland.

Other goals for 2017 include refreshing Summerfest, helping to revitalize the VaHi business district, improving transportation infrastructure, monitoring proposed commercial development, supporting the Monroe Complete Streets project, modernizing communications, increasing fundraising, and improving public safety.  In addition to all of these important initiatives, we will continue to meet our commitment to increase community participation in, and access to, VHCA.  To that end, we will be hosting periodic “Meet the VHCA Board” gatherings at local restaurants and will have a VHCA Committee Open House in the near future.  Details on all of these initiatives will be provided at upcoming General Meetings and in future editions of The Voice.  The 2017 Goals for each of our Committees, as well as the 2017 budget, will also be published on by mid-January.

We have an amazing neighborhood, but can make it even better with a robust and open civic association.  I look forward to working with VaHi volunteers old and new on the exciting initiatives happening in our neighborhood.


Don’t Miss Photos With Santa at Fire Station #19!

By Lola Carlisle, VHCA Planning and Preservation Committee member

2015-santathon-20Station #19 Firemen. Photos with Santa. Fire trucks. Crafts. Hot chocolate. What are we missing? … You.

Please come join us on December 10th from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. as we have fun and raise funds for Fire Station #19 renovations. You can sign up for pictures or walk up – we’ll do our best to work everyone in.

Santahon_2015_2Don’t miss the chance to decorate ornaments and have fun with your neighbors. Steve Spetz will be on hand again this year doing great caricatures. And if you just want to hang out and volunteer for the event, you can do that through the link above.

Along with the Fire Station’s great hats, t-shirts, and mugs, we’ll have prints of Steve Spetz Fire Station watercolors for sale.

Our sponsors so far this year include Tailfin and many others who are adding to the fun with activities, treats and specials including Virginia-Highland Civic Association, San Francisco Coffee, Avant Gardener and Barefoot Mountain Farms.



Agenda Posted for December VHCA Board of Directors Meeting

Monthly Meeting of the Board of Directors

Monday, December 12th 2016; 7:00 PM; Ponce de Leon Library

Proposed Agenda

Note: A PDF of the agenda can be found here.

Call to Order and Adoption of Agenda

APD – Recognized upon arrival

Other Public Officials & Municipal Representatives

Other guests (may be deferred at discretion of Chair to New Business)

Regan Hammond, Renew Atlanta

Update on Monroe Drive Complete Streets Project

Planning Committee

  • Variances
    • V-16-320 1165 Monroe Drive

Applicant seeks a variance to reduce the north sideyard setback to install a second-floor addition in the existing footprint.

  • Liquor Licenses – Jenifer Keenan
    • None
  • Recent Annexation by City of Atlanta  – Jenifer Keenan

History and Preservation Committee

  • History Tours – Robin Ragland
  • Old Voice Editions – Robin Ragland

Budget Committee/Treasurer’s Report

Parks Committee

  • Update on Triangle Maintenance – David Brandenberger
  • North Highland Park – David Brandenberger and Kay Stephenson

Fundraising Committee

  • Tour of Homes – Robin Ragland
  • Breakfast with Santa and Santathon – Robin Ragland
  • End of Year Donations – Robin Ragland
  • Summerfest – Jenifer Keenan

Safety Committee

Communications Committee:

  • Update on Online Survey – Kay Stephenson and Cindy Kaufman

Calendar: (All meetings are public)

  • NPU-F Monthly Meeting at Hillside: Mon., Dec. 19th at 7pm
  • VHCA Planning Committee at Garrison Hall, Church of Our Savior: Wed., Jan. 4th at 7pm
  • VHCA BoD at Ponce de Leon Library: Mon., Jan 9th at 7pm

New Business

  • Vote on Committee Goals 2016/2017
  • Motion to Defer Budget Vote



Virginia-Highland Civic Association Survey

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECHThe Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board, elected in September, is looking for input from association members as we make plans for 2017. Please follow the link below to complete a brief survey so that we can learn how to serve you better. 

All responses will remain anonymous, and the survey will remain open through Sunday, December 11th. Note that at this time we are only seeking responses from residents of Virginia-Highland who are 18 years of age or older. 

If you have questions please contact

Take the survey here: 


New VHCA Board Wants to Hear from You


By Kay Stephenson, VHCA Board Vice President and Cindy Kaufman, VHCA Communications Chair

As the newly-elected board is getting settled into our roles, we are anxious to connect with the residents of Virginia-Highland, and make ourselves available to you for all your questions, comments, concerns, or other ideas that you may have to share. With that in mind, please note that there is a new “ASK VHCA” button on the VHCA website home page where you can contact us about any such questions! Just click on the button and fill out the form that pops up. You may select the committee you wish to direct your question to, or if you are unsure about where to direct your question, that’s an option as well. An email will be sent with your contact information and message, and you will receive a note back as soon as the committee chair can respond.

The new board wants your engagement! We want to hear from you regularly and often, and want to know what’s on your mind. We also want to be available to answer questions and concerns that you have. Please feel free to use this handy tool to reach out. Hope to hear from you soon!

Also, the VHCA elves are hard at work preparing a survey that will be sent out to all association members (anyone over 18 who owns a home or rents in VaHi) to get your thoughts on a variety of topics, so stay tuned. As soon as we are ready we will make announcements on Nextdoor, VHList, VHCA website, Facebook page, Twitter and through the Voice with all the details.


Volunteers Needed for 2016 Tour of Homes

By Eleanor Barrineau, VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Volunteer Coordinator

Organizers man the volunteer check-in table during last year's Tour of Homes.

Organizers man the volunteer check-in table during a recent Tour of Homes.

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

This year’s Tour of Homes is coming up on December 3rd and 4th. Signing up to volunteer is easy. Just go to and click on the green “Click here to sign up” button. We especially need volunteers for the afternoon shifts and for Sunday. Volunteers working later shifts can pick up their tickets at John Howell Park anytime 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


It’s Almost Time to Tour!

By Robin Ragland, VHCA Board Member and Tour of Homes Chair

2016 TOHYES! It’s finally Autumn in VaHi and the air is cooler, the leaves are falling AND the Virginia-Highland Tour of Homes committee is in FULL SWING preparing for our neighborhood’s next big event. The 2016 Tour of Homes is set for the first weekend in December, Saturday and Sunday the 3rd and 4th. Our committee has been working hard all year to ensure the success of this year’s tour.

Eight beautiful properties will be featured on this year’s tour. Although different in style and design, they are all equally representative of the Neighborhood’s character. This year’s line-up includes a custom modern home with beautiful gardens and rooftop deck, a recently renovated California-style bungalow, a charming 1925 cottage with recent updates, a classic 1917 bungalow with beautiful indoor and outdoor living spaces, and a quintessential 1909 bungalow in which a recent renovation both restored original features and created modern living spaces for the current owners. The tour includes three other fabulous historic homes transformed for the modern world.

949 Virginia Circle is one of the homes on this year's tour.

949 Virginia Circle is one of the homes on this year’s tour.

Local restaurants will provide food tastings at each of the Tour homes. Local favorites Highland Tap, Atkins Park, The Cook’s Warehouse, Fontaine’s Oyster House, and Marlow’s Tavern will once again serve up delicious bites. We are thrilled to have the following restaurants new to the tour join in 2016: Highland Bakery, Press & Grind, Taco Cowboy, Tapa Tapa, Après Diem, Pea Ridge and DBA Barbecue.

Each year the Tour just keeps getting bigger and better. This year, we hope you will enjoy taking a docent history tour of the neighborhood. We are very fortunate to have a number of talented historians in the neighborhood who have crafted a delightful 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. Tours will depart hourly from John Howell Park beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The last tour departs at 2:00 p.m. Purchase bundled tickets for the home and history tours for $30 in advance.

660 Elkmont is one of the homes on this year's tour.

660 Elkmont is one of the homes on this year’s tour.

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. Hopefully, Mother Nature will provide 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 opportunities to win gift certificates and free tickets.

964 N. Highland Avenue is one of the homes on this year's tour.

964 N. Highland Avenue is one of the homes on this year’s tour.

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!


Looking Back – and Ahead – at the Todd Cemetery Memorial

By Jack White, outgoing VHCA Board President

The homeowners who destroyed the Todd Cemetery Memorial filed responses last week to the legal assertions that VHCA and the Todd family made in our lawsuit. You may read our filing here.

These responses are public and filed under oath; you may read them here. Their responses are numerical and do not show the assertions to which they are responding, so fans of this will have to open both and go one by one.

As you would expect, they have no comment on many assertions; others they contest or label irrelevant.  And they filed a motion for dismissal and an assertion that we had trespassed by walking up the driveway that has been in use since the house was first built there.  Neither claim has merit; some form of both were anticipated.


About the actual content of the suit – the easement, the fence, the destruction – there is no need to debate or wonder any longer about the following points:

VHCA asserted – and they acknowledge – that a public easement exists on the property.  (As our attorney pointed out and offered to share with them a year ago, it’s referenced on the signed plat in the Fulton County property records.)

VHCA asserted – and they do not contest – that the homeowners erected a new fence that blocked public access to the memorial.

VHCA asserted – and they acknowledge – that they made an agreement to place a sign on the fence inviting visitors to enter through their gate during daylight hours to visit the memorial and to be respectful of the property owners.

VHCA asserted – and they admit – that they hired a contractor who destroyed the monument in December of last year.

VHCA asserted – and they acknowledge – that they were not truthful when they claimed that “vandals” were responsible for the destruction.

The destruction of the memorial presented itself as a series of questions that had to be answered.

Let’s look at the how the 2015-16 VHCA board analyzed them.

  1. Was the monument worth preserving?  What was its place in the history of VaHi?
  2. Was there a significant underlying principle at play here that compelled our attention? 
  3. Was there another entity that realistically could have taken on the issue?
  4. Does being a resident of VaHi immunize you from legal action by VHCA?
  5. Did the Civic Association have the resources to make this legal objection?  Would the fight ruin existing programs or compromise our Associations’ ability to meet its legal obviations?
  6. Did we rush into this without trying every reasonable alternative before filing suit?

Was the monument worth preserving?

The monument honors the family of the settlers who moved here after the state bought the land from the Creek Indians and sold it in an 1821 lottery.  This monument’s lot and its adjacent one to the west were the last pieces of a much larger Todd tract that were historic family burial sites.  The monument was created as part of a court agreement that permitted the development of these last two lots in the late 1980’s.

The (now destroyed ) physical monument consisted of an historic marker placed on the cemetery site in the late 1920s to honor the original settlers, Richard and Martha Todd. That memorial marker was surrounded by a wrought iron fence set atop several courses of brick.

Both nearby neighbors and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association were participants in the process that created and accepted the agreement.  VaHi residents Craig Strain and Gail Nowak wrote about it in The Voice in 1980 and 1984 and organized a site cleanup in the latter years, before the monument’s establishment. Former Ponce de Leon Terrace resident Carl Hartrampf chaired a VHCA Todd Cemetery Committee in the spring of 1986; he, Jerry Bright, and other nearby residents advocated for very specific conditions and outcomes in detailed letters and reports they exchanged with Sam Dickson, who developed the easement.  Noted Atlanta historian Franklin Garrett visited the site.

It has a documented record of citizen and Association involvement from that period, and several local historians of the last two decades have written about it as well, including in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America: Virginia-Highland, which came out five years ago.

Whether one thinks history or preservation matters or not, it is clear that the 2105-16 Board was hardly alone in valuing the monument.


Other than the historic value, was there a significant underlying principle at play here that compelled out attention?

The deliberate destruction of the monument created a completely different issue.  The Board considered it an affront to the community and found it impossible to ignore or accept on many levels. Aside from the plain ugliness of the act, it places the question of the rule of law on the table. Condoning it would have made a mockery of our efforts to demand that other citizens – developers or residents – have to obey the law. The Civic Association is – and has to be – a group that believes in order, lawful process, and good will among our citizens.

Was there another entity that realistically should or could have credibly taken on the issue?

Given the unusual circumstances of this case – the destruction of a significant public monument on private property and absent a police report – APD saw no option other than a civil remedy. We asked several preservation nonprofits, all of whom were astonished at the act but also had full plates of their own.  We contacted and spoke with family members; as one would have expected, they were angry and disappointed and supported this battle in many ways – emotionally, financially, and by their presence at the mediation.

We would have loved someone to swoop in and take this on.  As no one could identify who that might be, the simple choice that this Board faced was to act or to walk away.

It was a monument in our neighborhood and with a history created by our citizens over three decades, and it was our battle.  We embraced it.

Does being a resident of VaHi immunize you from legal action by VHCA?

The Board has faced off with residents in court proceedings before. It hasn’t happened often, but the Board has been in court several times with local business owners – several of them quite familiar – who were residents.

It seems silly on its face to suggest that VHCA should vigilantly demand compliance with a formal agreement that a business basement be used only for storage or that a warming device be excluded from  a yogurt shop, but ignore the (admitted) destruction of a cemetery memorial.  (All examples are real, and VHCA has fought for all these points in the last five years.)


Did the Civic Association have the resources to mount a legal objection?  Can the Association meet its obligations?

We did and we are confident it can and will.  The Association has paid all its bills, matched Councilmember Wan’s matching offer of $19,000 for security cameras, handed out another year of supporting grants to community organizations, and ends the Board year with its customary six-figure reserve.  Record Tour of Homes revenues await only half-decent weather.

We have formally asserted a demand – and believe that simple justice, logic, and law compel – the recovery of our legal fees expended since the destruction of the monument.  If ever a set of facts and behaviors supported such an outcome, these are the ones.

Did we rush into this? Did we try every reasonable alternative before filing suit?

We took at face value their claim that no easement existed and paid for our own lawyer to verify its existence and offer his case material to them, along with evidence of court rulings validating such easements.  Our lawyer negotiated at our expense a good-faith solution that included our paying for a sign reminding visitors to be courteous and respectful. (No one has ever reported any other sorts of behaviors, as it happens.)  We considered that money well spent; these are our neighbors.

When we were faced with the memorial’s destruction and the homeowners’ denial of responsibility, we slowly gathered facts and reports and continued to try to negotiate.  When they asserted that we were harassing them (absent any evidence) and twice threatened to sue us personally, we countered with an offer of  mediation.

The legal and financial logic for their pursuing a settlement was overwhelming, as was pointed out to us repeatedly.  It took their walking away from the mediation process to convince us to sue.  Whatever this board was, it wasn’t rash or rushed.

Their persistent refusal to admit that they were responsible (until they had to write under oath) pushed our legal costs toward the maximums described by our attorney and mocked our assumption and belief that our acting in executive session would increase the probability of their settling privately rather than being embarrassed publicly. Whatever their motivations, they have delayed and stalled for six months.

Paying for this made us shake our heads; we can all think of great things to do with the money.  That’s why we are determined to see it returned by those who knew what they had done and ran the bills up; our lawyer will do everything possible toward that end.

But if it isn’t – and we like our chances – we believe the battle had to be fought.  This neighborhood association has acted on principle since its founding.  We love trees and green spaces but we don’t just plant them; we fight for policy that protects them. We appreciate improved homes, but we’re not afraid to take on improper development.  We love having new citizens in our neighborhood, but we also like to protect our historic structures.

We’ve always fought battles that were based on principle, and I hope we always will.  It’s a key part of what has made this neighborhood a unique place.


Firefest in the Park to Benefit FS #19

What: Firefest in the Park, an event to benefit Fire Station #19

When: Saturday, September 24, 2016, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Where: North Highland Park (corner of N. Highland and St. Charles)

Atlanta Fire Station #19 is an icon in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.  Dating back to 1925, it’s the oldest continuously operated fire station in the city. The Virginia-Highland Civic Association is taking the lead in renovating the station in partnership with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department, and Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects.  Firefest in the Park is a community event to help raise the needed dollars to preserve this beloved community treasure. 


Marco’s Pizza, recently opened on N. Highland near Greenwood, is partnering with the Virginia-Highland Civic Association to throw a party for us all, which will feature great food, entertainment, and activities involving the crew at Fire Station #19. The event will include:

  • Free Slices of Pizza
  • Firefighter Challenges, including a Dunk Tank!
  • Fire Truck Display
  • Caricaturists and Balloon Artists
  • Live Music
  • Enter to Win Free Pizza for Five Years

In addition, there will be a pizza eating contest between Atlanta Firefighters and our Zone 6 police officers – come show your support and cheer on all competitors! Google Fiber is another partner host, and will provide a face painter and complimentary water.

We hope to see everyone at the park next Saturday to enjoy a fun afternoon and raise as much money as we can for the Fire Station #19 restoration project.


VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers


The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual General Meeting will be held September 22 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria from 6:30 – 9:00pm. Grants will be awarded and the 2016/2017 Board of Directors will be elected. 

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.

Please submit your grant applications to Applications can be found here. The association has given out grants to local non-profits, schools and other organizations doing work that benefits our membership right here in Virginia-Highland.

The nominating committee (Lola Carlisle, Kevin Cronin and Jess Windham) will be accepting bios from those interested in running for the Board. Please reach out to the Board with questions and review the activities and the mission of the association on our website. The Committees page and Strategic Goals from prior years are particularly informative. 

To be included on the printed and published ballot, please email your bio to,, and by September 6. Please include a paragraph on your experiences in the neighborhood and goals for serving on the 2016/2017 VHCA Board. You can see bios of current board members here.


VHCA Responds to Questions Regarding Todd Cemetery Memorial

Following our initial article on the topic, several questions emerged regarding the VHCA’s effort to restore the Todd Cemetery Memorial. The following sequence of events seeks to answer many of these questions. Photos at the bottom of the article show the Todd Cemetery Memorial under construction in the late 1980s. The Memorial Stone shown in the images was placed on the site of the Todd Cemetery in the late 1920s

  • The Todd Cemetery Memorial marker (featuring a stone grave marker from the 1920’s) has been in place on private land with a public easement since 1989. The VHCA was part of a larger group that created it to honor the Todd family.  Prior owners had lived peacefully with the monument and honored the public easement without incident or conflict since its creation.
  • The current homeowners erected a fence blocking access to the memorial. Two separate visitors to the memorial stopped at the fence and later contacted the VHCA asking for help gaining access to the memorial. 
  • The VHCA spoke to the homeowners, who represented that they did not believe they had any legal obligation to allow public access. (Spring 2015)
  • VHCA asked our lawyer, a Virginia-Highland resident, to examine the legality of the easement. He verified it, informed the owners of his findings, recommended they secure an independent evaluation, and offered to share his information with another lawyer of their choosing.  (Summer 2015)
  • Our lawyer negotiated an agreement with them: the fence would stay, and VHCA would pay for a new sign that would welcome daytime visitors and remind them to be courteous and respectful of the homeowners. VHCA announced the agreement.  (Fall 2015)
  • Shortly after the agreement was reached, just before Christmas, neighbors reported that the homeowners hired a contractor to destroy and remove the monument and wrought iron fence surrounding it.
  • VHCA board members visited the site and confirmed the report of the damage.  (Christmas, 2015)
  • Contacted by our attorney, the homeowners attributed the damage to “vandals,” a claim they subsequently repeated.  Assuming that an invasion of private property by vandals would have generated a call to authorities, the VHCA searched for a police report and found none.  (January 2016)
  • The VHCA notified the Todd family, and our attorney formally asked the homeowners to rebuild the monument. We consulted with the Atlanta Police Department, who recommended a course of civil action.  (January 2106)
  • The VHCA Board reviewed the issue with a second attorney whose sole practice is property law.  His study and view of the relevant facts and law mirrored what we had already learned.   (Winter and Spring 2016)
  • Rather than negotiate, the homeowners twice threatened to sue members of the VHCA board personally if we did not “leave them alone.” (Spring 2016)
  • VHCA offered formal mediation as a solution to the dispute. The homeowners accepted and attended one mediation session with their attorney, the VHCA attorney, a Todd family member, and members of the VHCA board. At the mediation session, they did not deny responsibility for the destruction and suggested relocating a rebuilt monument to the front of their property, which was acceptable to the family and the VHCA. The VHCA, our attorney, and the Todd family member left optimistic that a solution might be forthcoming, and an additional mediation session was scheduled.  (April-June 2016)
  • The homeowners canceled the next mediation meeting and made no effort to reschedule it.  After VHCA’s lawyer made repeated unsuccessful attempts to reschedule, the VHCA board voted to take legal action with the Todd family against the homeowners.  A suit was filed, asking the court to order the monument’s restoration, affirm the easement, and have the owners pay our legal fees from the destruction forward. (July –August 2016)
  • The VHCA worked in good faith for over a year and a half to try to settle this issue in a neighborly fashion with respect for the privacy of all the parties responsible. At each stage, we believed a settlement was both logical and probable.
  • After these good-faith efforts failed – and with no alternative ever identified or proposed other than walking away from and accepting the memorial’s destruction –  the VHCA (along with members of the Todd Family), after great care and deliberation, moved forward with the lawsuit.
  • This historic monument was created with the support of this association, it honors the founders of our neighborhood, and its destruction is a public affront that diminishes the historic fabric of our community.
  • Ignoring the destruction of the monument would have been wrong on the merits and inconsistent with the history of this association and its response to such challenges. This association has always argued that no one is above the law, and no one can take it into their own hands without consequence. This is the logical basis of all our approaches to zoning, planning, safety, and preservation.  

memorial-stone memorial_2 memorial_3


Fire Station No. 19 Renovation About to Begin, Final Funds Needed

Community-wide collaboration should position one of VaHi’s most important historical treasures well for the future

By VHCA Board Member Dr. Catherine Lewis

After years of planning and fundraising and months of hard work vetting contracts, the VHCA is pleased to announce that the city is about to start the contracting process for the renovation of the No. 19 Fire Station.

Fire Station #19 illustration by Steve Spetz

Fire Station #19 illustration by Steve Spetz

Fire Station No. 19 is Atlanta’s oldest continuously operating station. Located at 1063 N. Highland Avenue in the heart of the historic Virginia-Highland neighborhood, the station has been a neighborhood landmark for more than 90 years. 

All preliminary inspections have found that No. 19’s building is structurally sound but needs repair and modernization to support a diverse firefighting force. The goal of this effort is to keep No. 19 operating in a safe and efficient manner for at least another 50 years, while addressing important issues related to historic preservation and stormwater.

The project team—comprised of members of the VHCA board, the Virginia-Highland Conservation League, the Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department, the City of Atlanta’s Office of Enterprise Management and Legal Department, Attorney’s Office, and the Urban Design Commission, and City Councilman Alex Wan’s office – vetted four architectural firms and selected Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects, best known for their work on Ponce City Market. Tom Little, the director of historic preservation for the firm, has been a very strong partner and will help ensure that the renovation meets all of the AFRD’s operational needs while attending to the unique challenges of renovating a historic building.

No. 19 with DogThis has been such a collaborative effort, there are almost too many people to thank. I begin with the men and women at No. 19 and the AFRD. They love the station and care for it each day. I also want to recognize local attorney Bob Zoeckler (who helped with the donor agreement), Chip Bullock (an architect in the neighborhood and member of the VHCA Planning Committee), Rich Chey (owner Doc Chey’s, Osteria, and Dragon Bowl who has been a stalwart fundraising partner), Harris Botnick (owner of Worthmore Jewelers), and Melanie and Robb Wallace (owners of Marco’s Pizza), Yeah! Burger, and Lola Carlisle and Greg Abel (owners of Tailfin Marketing). Countless individuals have contributed financially as have all the volunteers who are part of VHCA’s fundraising efforts which include the Tour of Homes and Summerfest.

This neighborhood-city partnership promises to serve as a model for other communities, and we are proud to do the heavy lifting to make that a reality.

The hard work is still ahead of us, but I wanted to commend the 2015-2016 VHCA board for their assistance, wisdom, and foresight. They have been very strong advocates for this and so many other neighborhood projects. I look forward to continuing this work with my fellow board members who have turned vision into reality.

The fundraising effort is not yet complete, so look out for additional fundraising efforts. On September 24, from 1-4 p.m. Marco’s Pizza will host a community festival to raise funds for No. 19. Please contact me at if you would like to volunteer to help with the project or make a financial contribution. We still have about $15,000 to raise, so any and all help is appreciated.


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 and should be submitted to 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.



at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECH-01A Call for Volunteers

By Lola Carlisle

I’m not sure if all who live in the neighborhood know how much the Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) does to help maintain the quality of life we all enjoy. That’s OK – we’re all busy and some are new to the area and have never heard of VHCA. We’re a group of volunteers and we could use your help. Actually it’s really rewarding but can be so much more so if the workload is distributed across more engaged and talented residents.

From the amount of comments one sees on social media channels for our neighborhood, there are many who care a lot about what’s happening around them. We’d sure like to see that positive energy and concern channeled into action!

VHCA Committees in Need of Additional Volunteers

Safety Committee 

Peggy Berg chairs it and in case you didn’t know, she is our sidewalk hero! But there are so many influences on safety and Peggy could use some help. There’s criminal activity, homelessness, appearances that may influence safety (keeping trash picked up and graffiti removed), VHCA’s support of the Neighborhood Watch Street Captain program, traffic/lighting/signage, communication with our elected officials and APD, and more. Reach out to

Communications Committee

This committee is very important and we’re losing one of the neighborhood’s most treasured volunteers (to Poncey-Highland and aren’t they lucky!): John Becker, who’s served as Communications Chair (among other things) for the past three years. As a result of the efforts of many including John, VHCA communications are a best-in-class example of how it should be done. Our website, newsletter and social media communications are effective and important. We’re looking for someone to act as committee chair and others to fill out the committee. These volunteers will need to help steer our communications strategy, update our WordPress website, write and edit articles, manage ad sales and placement, send out the newsletter, tape and upload the board meeting videos and other tasks. If you’re interested in helping with this committee, reach us at

Fundraising Committee (Summerfest / Tour of Homes)

DSC05121A key reason that our neighborhood is so effective at maintaining our culture is our funding. We are able to hire consultants on planning, traffic and development issues; we receive grants to match the funds we put into our parks (see recent JHP improvements); and we give grants to our schools and local non-profits. We plan and execute both the Tour of Homes in winter and Summerfest in the summer; this work is time-intensive but certainly rewarding both in terms of experience and monetary gains for the neighborhood. Both committees need help! Tour of Homes is looking for a volunteer graphics person and someone to help sell sponsorships. Summerfest will need many volunteers so sign up at To get more involved with Summerfest, email or for the Tour of Homes email or

Virginia-Highland Preservation & History Committee

DSC_0144This committee does a good bit of scanning and filing and could really use help from someone who has a passion for history. We have 100 gigs of historic images and documents and many physical items that need organizing and attention. When better managed this can become a resource for the entire city of Atlanta as we’ll share it with the Atlanta History Center. If you’re interested in helping, you can reach us at

Just for fun – and as proof that you’ll learn new things during your volunteer experience – these are things I thought I’d never know, but do because I volunteer with VHCA:

  • Many amazing neighbors!
  • Many city officials personally – lots of whom are professional and energetic and care a lot.
  • How many guns were stolen out of cars in our neighborhood this year so far – 7!
  • Where the Todd Cemetery is and its history – you can visit it, too.
  • What a “quatrefoil” is, and where it appears architecturally in our neighborhood.
  • That the state stream buffer protection line is 25’ and the city stream buffer protection line is 75’.
  • The subdivisions of VaHi.
  • Our neighborhood’s exact boundaries.
  • Many folks that have contributed to things I enjoy – John Howell, Jerry Bright, Tinka Green (who we sadly lost recently), the Coffins, Warren Bruno and so many more.
  • How nice the folks at Open Door Community are.
  • How many neighbors routinely do a lot of thankless tasks that produce a much more liveable community.
  • How city planning constantly evolves, and how hard it is to anticipate the impacts of land use decisions.
  • That there aren’t near enough fields left in VH for our kids to go play on, with or without adults present.
  • How diverse the knowledge base is in VaHi – from aerospace engineers to paleontologists to geologists to dog walkers to master gardeners to screenplay writers to cartographers to…
  • A little more about Robert’s Rules of Order.
  • That Winnie Currie is from the mountains of Appalachia and worked at Sears for years and bought a house in VaHi when many were afraid to and told her she was crazy to do so.
  • How many structures, addresses, and people there are in VH.
  • That there used to be an attack goose owned by one of two feuding neighbors – the goose attacked the neighbor almost daily.
  • Who started VHCA, why it was started, and what highways had to do with that.
  • That Nass Almeleh paid 50 cents for a beer at Atkins Park as long as he lived – no matter what the price of beer was at the time.
  • The difference between Green B. and George W. Adair.
  • That Rooster Foot Alley must have been really cool and I need to find descendants of people who lived there.
  • That the top of Atkin’s Park Tavern is the house that was on that lot but was raised a story when the bar (that started as a deli) was built below it.
  • That we should start a VaHi Trivia game as part of Trivia at George’s!

If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, reach out to and someone will get back to you. Better yet, attend a planning or board meeting and you’ll start to get a feel for what we all do. Meeting schedules can be found on


Fire Station #19 – Onward and Upward

No. 19 Fire Station c. 1920sBy Lola Carlisle

Since its opening in 1925, Fire Station 19 (FS19) has been a beloved institution in Virginia-Highland. The firefighters and the building have a unique place in this community. A lot of children in this neighborhood have climbed on its engines, and a good many of us have been treated by the EMT team housed there.

To no one’s surprise and everyone’s delight, FS19 – and its sister station FS27 in Piedmont Heights – have received a lot of attention and support from Councilmember Alex Wan since he took office in 2010.

No. 19 StationWhen the Councilmember and local resident Catherine Lewis discovered last fall that the station had been placed on the city’s 2016 replacement list, it caught everyone’s attention.  The first response was to organize a meeting to review the reasoning behind the announcement, the current status of fundraising, and the specific proposals and options for making needed changes to the building. The goal of that meeting was to develop a strategic plan to update and protect FS19.

Catherine assembled a diverse committee, and the meeting drew a lot of organizational support. The group agreed to schedule meetings with (then) Fire Chief Cochran, develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy, review the needed repairs, place funds raised by the community into a new 501(c)(3) conduit (the Virginia-Highland Conservation League, which has a very low administrative fee for donations), and add Catherine to that group’s board.

Ian Allum with DogCatherine has been involved in researching the subject from a lot of different angles; it is a task to which she is particularly well-suited.  Her resume includes being an Assistant Vice President for Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University, Special Projects Coordinator for the Atlanta History Center, and President of Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries. It’s everyone’s good luck that she also lives in VaHi and is a member of the VHCA Preservation Committee.

The meetings that followed with Councilmember Wan and (then) Chief Cochran were promising. Cochran indicated that the station’s replacement status was both a result of the station’s age and a perception that it needed to be expanded. The AFD confirmed that funds had not yet been designated to tear it down or replace it, but it would remain on the 2016 replacement list.  The AFD and City of Atlanta were open to listening to other alternatives and partnering with the Virginia-Highland Civic Association to consider preserving the station in its current location.

From his post as Chair of the Finance-Executive Committee, Councilmember Wan is well-positioned to keep abreast of the city’s budgeting particulars – such as funding for new fire stations – and safety planning in general. There seem to be a large number of capital needs more critical than FS19 (which is structurally sound), but there was still concern about FS19’s future.

No. 19 with DogThe firefighters themselves also pay close attention to internal developments within the Public Safety Department, and protecting the historic station became part of last year’s Virginia-Highland Master Plan.

These are not guarantees of the station’s permanence; they’re an opportunity to use the intervening time to good advantage, and that is our approach. Cochran’s unanticipated departure as chief will necessitate a new review with his eventual successor, whenever (s)he is named. Other communities have worked with the AFD and City to raise funds and help preserve older stations, effectively removing them from “replacement.”  We can do the same.

When Councilmember Wan asked VHCL to become the effort’s financial agent last year, we readily agreed. Establishing a long-range financial plan is a necessity, along with finalizing the review and costing of specific repair plans and increasing fundraising.  In the latter category are the Breakfast with Santa at Osteria 832 (organized by Rich Chey), the Santathon fundraiser (a joint effort of VHCA and Tailfin Marketing) at the station, and other upcoming events throughout the community.

As the fundraising plan develops with the new fire chief, we hope you will support it. FS19 is a landmark in Virginia-Highland, and our goal is to keep it functioning as a fire station for as long as it’s viable. To our knowledge, the Public Safety Department believes it has a lot of life left in it. Let’s make the station safe and sound for our current firefighters and for future generations.

If you’d like to help, please contact us at; we’d be glad to hear from you. You can also learn more and make a tax-deductible donation here.


Work Begins on Implementing Master Plan Recommendations

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECH-01By Jess Windham & Lola Carlisle, VHCA Board

As we raised our glasses this New Year’s Eve, we paused to remember – with appreciation and gratitude – the many contributions of neighbors and volunteers during 2013-2014 on the Virginia-Highland Master Plan, which is now an official part of the City of Atlanta’s Comprehensive Development Plan. As important as its adoption was the process that created it and its rich content. Close to 100 projects were recommended for our neighborhood.

Now that we’ve had a chance to catch our breath, we’re ready to dive into the hard part: implementation. The VHCA Planning and Master Plan Steering committees have been reviewing the recommended action items, identifying the processes and agencies that can move them forward. The projects can be distinguished in several ways. Some are dependent on City of Atlanta funding initiatives (a broad topic now on the table at City Hall); some are longer range and process-intensive and will take a while to come to fruition. Some projects are already underway or can be initiated here at the local level.

In the last category are some that could use volunteer help from the community; they include storm-drain stenciling (reminders not to dump paint or commercial liquids in street drains, which in both of our sub-watersheds lead to the streams), further research on the Eco District concept (already adopted by Georgia Tech), rain barrel promotion, and the search for space for a community garden (we’ve been looking for several years; any potential ideas are welcome).

We are monitoring the City of Atlanta infrastructure bond initiative with a close eye toward improvements in our own neighborhood. So, of course, are many other communities. That process is underway, and we appreciate Councilmember Wan’s advocacy and efforts on our behalf. We’ll share what we know as this develops. Topics like the study of an Urban Design District need – and are getting – further study by the Planning Committee, a process spurred a bit by the recent wave of new construction that is pushing the legal limits on height and size. Some topics in the Master Plan are being addressed by other entities than VHCA, including the latest pedestrian improvements at SPARK. Pedestrian safety and improvements to help students get safely to school were a clear priority in the Master Plan. The new signal on Briarcliff Road has been installed and is now functional, with much credit going to Mary Stouffer, one of several Virginia-Highland residents involved in the Safe Routes to School program. We applaud the result (which we supported) and credit all the partners (including GDOT and the City) for their work.

As you may have noticed, none of this happens – or will happen – quickly or without discussion. If you have questions or are interested in helping in a particular area, please contact us at The Planning Committee meeting is public and you are welcome to attend. Meetings are held at the Church of Our Saviour (on N. Highland across from the fire station) and start at 7 PM on the Wednesday before the monthly Board meeting (dates posted on our calendar). This month’s meeting is January 6th. February’s and March’s are on the 4th of each of those months.

Click here to review the entire Virginia-Highland Master Plan.


Tentative Agenda: December VHCA Board/General Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBFollowing is the tentative agenda for tonight’s general meeting of the VHCA Board of Directors. The meeting will be held at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. and will start at 7 PM. The meeting is open to the public and interested residents are encouraged to attend

  • Tentative Agenda
  • Call to Order
  • Adoption of Agenda
  • Police & Fire Dept. representatives- Zone 6
  • City of Atlanta officials; other public officials & municipal representatives
  • Planning Committee – Variances
  • Fire Station 19 Fundraising
  • Fundraising Committee – Tour of Homes report
  • Parks Committee – John Howell Park construction update
  • Calendar update
  • New Business
  • Adjournment



Agenda: October VHCA Monthly Board and General Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBFollowing is the tentative agenda for the Monday October 13 monthly Board/General meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association:

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Welcome from Reverend Zachary Thompson

Police & Fire Dept. representatives: Zone 6

City of Atlanta officials; other public officials & municipal representatives


V-14--200; 841 Virginia Circle (SW corner of De Leon Ave.); the zoning is R-4 in the BeltLine Overlay.

Applicant Cathie Magnan Power (on behalf of owners Allan & Lori Levy) seeks a variance to reduce the required half-depth front yard setback (along De Leon Ave.,  on the west) from 17.5’ (existing) to 8’ to allow for a rear addition (with a garage underneath) to an existing single-family dwelling.

The addition will be level with the main floor of the existing home; garage access will be from De Leon Avenue.   A new terrace will act as a rain garden to capture stormwater.  Unrelated to this project, concrete from an old parking pad in the very rear of the lot adjacent to a very old oak tree will be removed by hand. Letters of notification were sent on 9/29/14 to 825, 826, 840, 843, & 844 Virginia Aves and 828, 840, & 846 Adair Avenue.

The Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned on the applicant’s provision of a revised site plan stamped by the City showing elevations and better tree details.

V-14-213; 815 Drewry St. NE.   Deferred at request of applicant.

V-14-197; 657 Cresthill; the zoning is R-4 

Applicants and owners Kasey Libbey seek a variance to reduce the west sideyard setback from 7′ (required) to 3′ to allow a new addition and deck on the rear of the property.

The proposed additions total 1081 s.f. and bring the lot coverage to 50%. Two boundary trees (a 36’ hardwood and a 24” pine) will be lost. Though the applicant’s infiltration test suggests that no formal mitigation is required by city regulations, they are adding a 65 s.f. rain garden at the southwest corner to accommodate new stormwater.

The Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval based on the applicant’s provision of a revised site plan matching that one signed at the Planning Committee meeting that included the rain garden. (Mr. Bulloch did not participate in this vote.)

2014/15 Committee Appointments:

  • Communication: John Becker, Chair; Lola Carlisle
  • Finance: Peggy Berg and Jack White (ex-officio), Co-Chairs; Lola Carlisle; Jess Windham
  • Fundraising – Summerfest: John Becker & Paige Hewitt, Co-Chairs, Lola Carlisle, Pam Papner.
  • Fundraising – Tour of Homes: Robin Ragland & Angelika Taylor, Co-Chairs; Lola Carlisle
  • Parks: David Brandenberger, Chair; John Becker, Lauren Fralick, Colleen Lysen, Jack White
  • Planning: (rotating chairs); David Brandenberger, Chip Bullock; Lola Carlisle; Karen Feigh, Jenifer Keenan, George Van Horne, Jack White, Jess Windham
  • Safety: Peggy Berg, Chair

Appointments to the Virginia-Highland Conservation League (VHCL) Board (term is three years): Genny Ferrero, Judy Potter, Jack White

ToH update – Angelika, Robin

Music Midtown update – Jack

JHP construction update – David

Calendar update – Lola

New Business



VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers Set for September 18

at-the-corner-of-9.5X24-MECH-01The Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s annual general meeting and election of officers will be held Thursday September 18th in the Inman Middle School cafeteria, starting at 6:30 PM. Please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency. Regular civic association business will be conducted at the VHCA’s monthly board and general meeting to be held September 8 at 6:30 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave.

The VHCA board consists of ten members and one alternate who are elected to one-year terms by residents at the annual meeting. There’s also an ‘Atkins Park designee’ board member who is chosen by the Atkins Park Homeowners Association prior to the annual meeting.

The alternate member has historically functioned as a full board member, but formally votes only if another member is not present. The VaHi resident getting the fewest votes of the top eleven residents receiving votes in the election serves as the alternate member.

Our neighborhood thrives because of a high level of volunteer involvement by residents in a variety of areas. The framework for much of this volunteerism is provided through VHCA’s committees: Budget, Fundraising (Summerfest, Tour of Homes), Planning, Preservation and History, Parks, Safety, Education and Communications.  Click here for a complete list of the association’s committees, their areas of responsibility and their current chairs/members.

Click here for a list of those serving on the current VHCA board. Any of these board members would be glad to talk with you about the responsibilities and time commitments associated with board service and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Many citizens reach the board after serving on a committee, but this is not a specific requirement for running.  If you’d like to run for a seat on the board, please send an email to with your name, contact info, a short bio, and a few comments on how and why you’d like to get involved. A list of all residents running for the board with bios will be published on and included in The Voice e-newsletter prior to the September 18 annual meeting.

We encourage all VaHi residents to attend the annual meeting and make your voice heard. Again, please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency. The more residents we have at the meeting, the more the VHCA’s 2014-15 leadership will reflect the collective thoughts and goals of our community.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our annual meeting in September.


VHCA Announces Candidates for 2014-15 Board of Directors; Absentee Ballot Available

VaHi-Logo-Very-Horizontal-Small-RGBThe nominating committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy. Click on the candidate’s name to go to a page with candidate bio’s.

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 18, 2014 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting at 6:30 PM. 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 Thursday, September 18 or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 6:30 PM. 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.

Click here for a copy of the absentee ballot.


Tentative Agenda for August Monthly Meeting of VHCA BOD

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBCall to Order 

Adoption of Agenda

Police and Fire Dept. representatives – Zone 6

City of Atlanta officials; other public officials & municipal representatives


V-14-141, 885 Adair Ave; zoning is R-4

Applicant and owner Nandita Koehler seeks a variance to reduce the (east) side-yard setback from 7’ (required) to 2.9’ (existing) for the addition of a patio with roof and to raise the roof over the kitchen area.

The existing rear porch will be removed, and the lot coverage will drop  to 49.9 %.  The appropriate neighbors (884, 892 Highland View; 881, 882, 888, 891, 892 Adair) have been notified; lots behind 885 Adair face Highland View and the lot beside is along Barnett.)  A Planning Committee site visit observed no impacted trees and no stormwater issues; the Committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned on a site plan stamped and dated by the CoA on 7-8-14.  (Mr. Bullock, who is married to the architect on this project, did not participate in this decision.)

V-14-158; 862 Ponce de Leon Place NE; zoning is R-4

Applicant Dan Hanlon on behalf of owner Adam Bane seeks a variance to reduce the front-yard setback from 35’ (required) to 30’ (existing in part) to allow an addition to a single-family residence.

The house front already sits at 30’ on the north half; the renovation will square off the front (making it 30’ at all points) and provide a second-story addition.  A Planning Committee site visit reveals that one tree is impacted; the arborist has approved its removal, as it is very close to the current foundation. The applicant agreed to route the additional stormwater from the 2nd-story to the amply-sized grassed rear yard of the lot.

Notification letters went out on Monday 8/4, and the applicants are speaking to the neighbors. (The required addresses are 856, 866, 863, 857 Ponce de Leon Place NE, 695 Pylant St., and – possibly –  089 Drewry St.)

The Planning Committee recommends approval of V-14-158 conditioned on provision of proof of mailing or other neighbor notification and the site plan stamped and dated 7-23-14, revised to note that the stormwater from the new addition will be discharged in the rear yard of the property.

V-14-153; 700 Park Drive NE; zoning is R4 in the Beltline Overlay District; original variance application was V-12-140

Owner Shannon Gaggero constructed a 52”-high inch solid fence (a wall under CoA Zoning regulations, which requires 50% open space and limits the height to 48”) without a building permit or variance application in the half-depth front yard setback (alongside the Elmwood Drive side of the house.)  Assisted by builder Barry Wright, she seeks a variance to make this nonconforming wall legal. The wall consists of alternating 1×6 and 1×4 vertical boards.

After discussion, the applicant agreed to remove every other 4” board from the wall, which will still provide some privacy and allow for the passage of light and air.  The Committee agreed to support this modification, conditioned upon submission of a revised site plan.

V-14-117; 1221 Monroe Drive (southeast corner of Amsterdam and Monroe); zoning is R4

Applicant Paul Durick (with designer Mark Knight) seeks a revised variance to reduce the half-depth front yard setback (along Amsterdam) from the required 17’5” feet to 3’ feet (existing) for a rear addition in line with the existing structure.

The applicant’s revised plans change the location of the parking pad and leave the final proposed site coverage at 49.97%.  There will be no changes (other than repair of surface deficiencies) to the shared driveway in the existing easement along the south boundary on Monroe. The existing 6’-high solid fence along Amsterdam behind the house will be removed and replaced with a compliant fence that is 3’ ft. back from lot line.  Three trees in the buildable area will be removed; one is DDH, and compensation will be paid for the other two. The increased stormwater form the addition (which will flow downhill away from Monroe easterly toward Orme Creek 150 yards away) will be gathered in 4 flow-wells to the east of addition; a Grasscrete©-style hexagonal paver system will used in the new driveway.  At the rear of the property, three new trees will be installed suitable for the wet and sunny conditions that exist there, which should support eventual large growth and provide significant storm water absorption capacity.  A new walkway shown as pea gravel on the new plans was intended to be mulch; that will be revised and remove that area from the impervious calculations.

The revised plans were submitted to the neighbors the day before the meeting; the rear neighbors to the east and the adjacent neighbors who share the driveway were present at the Planning Committee meeting and found the plans as presented and conditioned acceptable.  (Proof of notification is needed for 1222, 1218, 1217, 1229, 1230 Monroe and 633 Amsterdam. )

The Planning Committee recommends approval conditioned on proof of neighbor notification and the following modifications to the site plan stamped and dated 8-5-14: the pea gravel walk becomes mulch, the new fence is specifically marked as no greater than 42” high and 50% open, and the size and species of the new trees are noted.  (Mr. Van Horne lives next door and did not participate in this decision.)

Budget: Peggy Berg

Planning Comm: Master Plan update; Monroe Drive traffic calming; Music Midtown; IMS expansion and the Field of Dreams

Safety: Peggy Berg – Sidewalk ordinance; Jack White – SPARK Safe Routes to School

Grants: Peggy Berg, Jess Windham, Lola Carlisle

Parks Committee: David Brandenberger, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Jack White – John Howell Park construction update

New Business and Announcements: Annual General Meeting – Sept. 18, 2014; 7 PM; Inman Middle School; Lola Carlisle – nominations for 2014/15 VHCA BoD



Longtime VaHi Resident billie jo Passes

in-memoriam-kaarsenMother, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Virginia-Highland Activist

July 31, 1936 – July 7, 2014

By: Jack White, VHCA President

Longtime Virginia-Highland resident billie jo – she spelled her name with all lowercase letters and had legally changed it years ago to just ‘billie jo’ – passed away early this month following a battle with cancer.

billie jo was a neighborhood activist and VHCA board member who tirelessly addressed quality of life issues in the neighborhood, especially along St. Charles and Greenwood avenues. Those streets had a very different look in the 80’s and 90’s than they do today; prostitution and drug dealing were not hard to spot. billie jo confronted the problems both personally – by challenging those engaged – and systematically, by pressuring APD. Today we take crime reporting and police cooperation with neighborhoods for granted; neither was a normal practice when billie jo arrived.  Her unyielding persistence on both issues had a lot to do with changing the culture between law enforcement and Atlanta’s intown communities.

When APD declined to provide statistical reports, billie jo repeatedly visited the Zone 6 offices and demanded to see them; then she compiled reports herself and distributed them to residents. An embarrassed police force finally took over the job and started providing them at VHCA meetings, a practice that is routine today. Inside the community, she rallied and organized residents to pressure mayors and zone commanders for more active and community-oriented policing, themes that also sound quite familiar now but were then new and different. The public safety framework she initiated is reflected throughout today’s approaches.

billie jo’s other passions were art – painting, drawing, and tile mosaics (a love she shared with her friend and fellow VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin and other current practitioners) and parks; billlie jo never met a tree she didn’t love and she fought hard for the city to take its green spaces seriously, a particular challenge as the city slashed its recreational funding in the 1990’s. The civic association recognized her wide-ranging contributions with a presentation at its 2006 annual general meeting.

billie jo had a lot of faith in people and a sense of optimism that did not fade or falter during her illness. That confidence and her own personal warmth ensured that even those with whom she disagreed about policies liked her very much, as we all did.

billie jo (seated) watches while finishing touches are put on Stephanie Coffin's 843 Virginia Circle tile piece.

billie jo (seated) watches while finishing touches are put on Stephanie Coffin’s 843 Virginia Circle tile piece. Photo credit: Tom Coffin.

Stephanie Coffin tells the following story that goes a long way in capturing billie jo’s essence:

“I did a tile piece called Three Sisters for the homeowners at 843 Virginia Circle (so named because of the three sisters who lived there). It was a chilly December day when I went to finish the piece, and I asked BJ if she wanted to come along, which she was thrilled to do. We were served sparkling apple cider in plastic champagne glasses. BJ and the girls absolutely loved being a part of the piece’s “official” installation. BJ was so willing to do anything which is one of the reasons she was so dear to me.”

billie jo will be greatly missed. There will be a more formal remembrance in her honor at John Howell Park this fall.

billie jo’s family provided the following information:

Born to Joe B. and Bertha Mae Scott in Americus, Georgia, billie jo grew up in the Jacksonville, Florida area and graduated from Duncan Fletcher High School in 1954. She went on to attend Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia where she graduated in 1958. At Brenau she held several student government positions in addition to the presidency of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority her senior year. There she met her husband of 18 years, Steven Blihovde of Passaic, New Jersey, an engineering student at Georgia Tech. When he transferred to Clemson University, the two settled in the Greenville area and had two children, Elizabeth Dawn and Steven Erik.

Coming from a long line of educators (her mother taught school with Miss Lillian Carter) billie jo taught elementary school for many years in Clemson and Greenville. Always an advocate for the neglected and underprivileged, she worked passionately and tirelessly for a long list of social and political causes that included Project Head Start, the George McGovern campaign, the Project Hope Drug Abuse Center and the Women’s Stockade.

After her husband’s premature death in 1976, billie jo retired from teaching to pursue a second career in interior design. A woman ahead of her time, she purchased an old warehouse in downtown Greenville’s artists’ district where her new business thrived for 8 years. During this period she also taught interior design at Greenville Technical College and performed in local theatre productions, supported the local ballet and became an early member of the coalition that began the revival of the city’s downtown area.

In 1984 she moved back to the Jacksonville Beach area to be closer to her aging parents; there she continued her artistic and design career. This led to a new career focused on meeting the needs of senior citizens and keeping their lives relevant and active, a turn that brought her back to the Atlanta area, where she became the director of the Duluth Senior Center for Activities. She settled in her beloved Virginia-Highland and became an active member of the VHCA.

From the doors of City Hall to local parks and meetings, billie jo was a relentless force pushing for new street lights, a stronger and more visible police presence, and improved pedestrian crossings and stop signs. During this period she discovered a new passion for creating folk art from reclaimed and abandoned object d’art. Her condominium on St. Charles Avenue offered an ever-changing sunny and inspiring display for passersby to admire. She always found great inspiration from her favorite aunt and longtime Virginia-Highland resident, the late Marguerite Bridges, who was instrumental in breathing life back into the languishing Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park as a Chamber of Commerce member in the sixties.

billie jo passed away last week after a struggle with cancer, one that she faced with her usual humor, determination, grace, and peace. She will be remembered as an unrelenting advocate for the quality of life of Virginia-Highland’s residents, and particularly for her tireless efforts with Trees Atlanta in helping to keep the community shady and green.

billie jo is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Riordan, her husband David of Hickory Flat, Georgia and her son Erik Blihovde and his wife Suzanne and two grandchildren Nathaniel and Ryan of Elk Grove, California.


Work Commences on John Howell Park Renovation

By: The VHCA Parks Committee (John Becker, David Brandenberger, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Colleen Lysen, and Jack White)

IMG_6321Contractor Hutcheson Horticultural has begun the renovation of the western end of John Howell Park. The project will substantially alter the look of the park along Arcadia Avenue opposite Inman Middle School; new granite sitting walls topped by black steel fencing that matches that at the school will replace the rusting galvanized chain link and sandbags (now, sadly, gone forever.) The walls will stop the migration of sand down the street and into the sewer system; smaller versions of them on the courts’ eastern edge will provide both seating and more formally separate the competition area from the playground. Entrance steps will offer access from Arcadia; on that street’s corner with Virginia, a new plaza will house the park’s sign and offer a gathering place for the Inman students who sometimes wait there for late pickup.

The westernmost court will be moved slightly toward Virginia, providing more room for additional landscaping, which will be installed on three sides of that court. The new fencing and landscaping along Virginia Avenue will run between the granite memorials that mark the sites of homes demolished in the Georgia Highway Department’s unsuccessful late 60’s attempt to run an interstate extension through the area. The memorial columns themselves will be raised slightly in the process.

DSC_0008The project will cost a little more than $100,000 overall, with about half paid by the VHCA and the other half by a matching grant from Park Pride, to whom we are deeply grateful. The City of Atlanta Parks Department and the volleyball association are also contributors; Trees Atlanta has pledged trees and planting assistance. Peter Frawley – John Howell Park’s original designer – did the landscape architecture and was a stalwart at every stage.

Only partly deterred by the sobering and exhausting firsthand experiences associated with acquiring a building permit on public property – which were eye-opening in a way that made you want to close them – the Parks Committee is really excited to see this work underway and looks forward to seeing it progress. If the weather and construction gods are kind, the granite walls will be substantially complete by the time school starts, and the remainder of the work will be done in time for some early dormant season planting.

Click here for a July 2012 Voice article that provides the vision for the current project. Click here for a firsthand look at the plans.


A Thank You for Summerfest 2014

By: Jack White, VHCA President

IMG_6215On behalf of Virginia-Highland Civic Association, I’d like to personally thank this year’s Summerfest leadership team, volunteers, artists, vendors and sponsors for serving up another outstanding festival. I can’t tell you how many positive comments I heard from attendees, exhibitors and residents that the 2014 edition was one of the best Summerfests ever. From what I witnessed personally, these comments were spot on.

DSC_0104Summerfest is the VHCA’s most important fund-raising event of the year. Success with the event ensures that the association can continue to provide important programs, services and grants for the betterment of VaHi and its residents. The incredible contributions of time and talent made by our dedicated volunteers, partners and vendors are a key part of this success and you all delivered this year in spades.

As has come to be expected from Summerfest, this year’s artist market was an impressive array of some of the most outstanding art in the southeast; our music stages were busy with talented, entertaining performers; and our generous sponsors helped us deliver a festival that, by all accounts, was enjoyed and appreciated by all.

DSC_0114Special thanks go to festival co-chairs Pamela Papner, Paige Hewell and John Becker for providing the vision and leadership for Summerfest 2014. There are more moving parts to organizing and executing a festival of this size and scope than most could imagine, and your attention to detail in the important areas of sponsorships, operations, volunteers, and communications positioned us well for success.

As usual, the co-chairs put an outstanding team together around them and the following folks should be thanked for their outstanding contributions in key areas:

DSC_0149VHCA Summerfest Store: Suzanne Scully and Steve Voichick

Neighborhood Parade: Kris Smith

Community Dinner and Movie: Charlie LeFort and John Peter Casey

Artists: Nancy Musser and Julie Tepp

Road Race: Ed Williams

Tot Trot: Nancy and Bob Coomes

DSC_0141On-Site Operations/Coordination of Vendors: Rob Frazer, Premier Events Management

Musical Entertainment: Josh Antenucci

Sponsorships: Rick Kern and Brooke Anglin, MixIt Marketing

Signage Design/Production: Cornelia Gregory

Promotion/Social Media: Kelsey Walker, Liz Lapidus PR

Finance/Cash Coordination: Frazier Dworet and Peggy Berg

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also personally thank the 200+ volunteers without which we would have no festival. You are truly the heart and soul of Summerfest and you stepped up to the plate big time this year.

Thanks again to everyone involved in this year’s Summerfest.


Atlanta City Council Utilities Committee Schedules Study Session on Changes to Sidewalk Policy

DSC_0009By: Jack White, VHCA Planning Committee

The City Utilities Committee began consideration this past Tuesday July 15th of a bill introduced by nine members that would place legal responsibility for sidewalk repairs and maintenance upon the city instead of adjoining property owners, as is currently the case.

The Department of Public Works asked that the legislation be held so that the Legal Department could complete a review of the effect of such legislation on any separate and disparate part of the code. A couple of members have concerns about raising citizen expectations of repairs, given that the topic is not addressed in the new budget adopted last month.

Other council members – including many of the sponsors – pointed out that the city has consistently been held liable in local courts for injuries on sidewalks, existing statutes notwithstanding. Mary Norwood reiterated her belief – and that of other council members – that only the city could manage this challenge on a large-scale basis, and that it was neither cost-effective nor practical for individual homeowners to meet the many legal and permitting burdens imposed by the city upon private contractors. This includes – among others – a very high bonding requirement for contractors and negotiating with the Parks Department about tree impacts in the adjacent sidewalk strips, for which the city is responsible.

Norwood further voiced her concern that the idea of using bond monies (should next year’s contemplated bond issue be adopted) to make sidewalk repairs in various places absent a city-wide plan and the city’s full acceptance of the responsibility would prove divisive and dilute support for the entire bond proposal.

A number of other council members voiced agreement for these specific and broad arguments, while also suggesting that a careful approach that considered any comments from the Legal Department was a good idea. After deliberation, the committee decided to hold an August work session on the topic and re-address the legislation at its scheduled meeting on August 29th.

VHCA intends to be at the work session, and we’ll report its date and other developments as they occur.


City Utilities Committee Holds Sidewalk Repair Price Increase

DSC_0009By: Peggy Berg

VHCA Safety Committee Chair Peggy Berg, VHCA President Jack White, and PEDS President Sally Flocks appeared at the Council Utilities Committee on June 24th asking that pending legislation 14-O-1240 be held. The proposed legislation reflected the Department of Public Work’s calculation that the actual cost of sidewalk repairs made by the city was $10.28 per square foot – the existing rate is $3.90 – and increased the charge to taxpayers accordingly.

While the Department’s methods of cost calculation were challenged (and left unexplained), that was not the only topic on the table. All three speakers pointed out that the key obstacle to successful sidewalk repair is that the city code makes each individual lot owner legally responsible for segments that abut their property, an approach that makes economies of repair and large-scale construction efficiencies impossible. The city also has stringent bonding requirements in place for individual contractors; that notion has merit, but it makes the cost of a contractor’s mobilizing for a small repair (like a lone sidewalk) extremely high. One of the results is that most of the legal sidewalk repairs undertaken by homeowners in VaHi are part of a larger renovation project.

Additionally, the city – through the Parks Department – has domain over the trees in the sidewalk strips (the area between the sidewalk and street). The city’s role in a healthy tree canopy is obvious and vital, but because those trees are not infrequently a factor in broken sidewalks, getting appropriate approvals for construction around them results in another administrative cost for private citizens.

All three speakers pointed out that there are huge efficiencies of scale available to municipalities that individual owners can never obtain, and that no large city in the nation has successfully maintained its sidewalks with such an approach. The speakers also noted that Georgia Tech professor Randy Guensler (himself a VaHi resident) and his grad students in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering are in the midst of a formal sidewalk evaluation project that could be used as a guide to an efficient and effective repair program.

The role of good sidewalks in a vibrant pedestrian community like Virginia-Highland is obvious; the importance of walking and biking were assets that many citizens cited through their input into the recently adopted VaHi Master Plan.

After the presentations, the Committee tabled the legislation in favor of a more comprehensive review of the entire issue. VHCA intends to be part of that ongoing discussion.

Thank you to our District 6 Council Member Alex Wan and our At-Large council member  Mary Norwood, who joined Committee Chair Natalyn Archibong, Howard Shook, Yolanda Adrean, and Andre Dickens in the unanimous vote.


Preview: 2014 Summerfest Store Merchandise

SummerfestLogo14Just to get you a little more in the mood for Summerfest – which, if you didn’t know, is this weekend – we thought we’d give you a glimpse at some of what will be for sale at this year’s Summerfest Store.

2014 Summerfest t-shirt logo

2014 Summerfest t-shirt logo (volunteers/staff)

In addition to the Men’s and Ladies Summerfest t-shirts featuring the 2014 logo, this year we’ll be featuring a collection of historic Virginia-Highland maps and photos suitable for framing. Our creative crew has also come up with a couple of fun posters featuring our new VHCA logo that we think you’ll enjoy. Signed copies of History of Virginia-Highland, written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle, will also be available.

For increased convenience, there will be two Summerfest store locations this year: Booth #505 (south side of Virginia Ave., across from Maryland) and Booth #336 (north side of Virginia near Greencove – where the store’s been located the past few years).

See you at Summerfest!!

11" x 14" sepia collage of historic VaHi images ($30 ea.)

11″ x 14″ sepia collage of historic VaHi plat maps and images.

6" x 24" art print of the Virginia/N. Highland intersection looking west. The land is being cleared by oxen for the development of the Virginia Highlands subdivision established by Ben R. Padgett, Jr. of L.W. Rogers Realty. Circa 1923. Courtesy of Tom Catron. ($40 ea.)

6″ x 24″ art print of the Virginia/N. Highland intersection looking west. The land is being cleared by oxen for the development of the Virginia Highlands subdivision established by Ben R. Padgett, Jr. of L.W. Rogers Realty. Circa 1923. Courtesy of Tom Catron.

6" x 24" art print  of the intersection of Virginia/N. Highland looking north. Unknown date. Courtesy of Larry Santiago and Bonny Valente. ($40 ea.)

6″ x 24″ art print of the intersection of Virginia/N. Highland looking north. Unknown date. Courtesy of Larry Santiago and Bonny Valente.

History of Virginia-Highland book written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. ($25 ea.)

History of Virginia-Highland book written by VaHi residents Karri Hobson-Pape and Lola Carlisle. ($25 ea.)


VaHi poster featuring new VHCA logo ($30). If you like this poster, be sure to stop by the store to see a very creative second poster that we're sure all VaHi aficionados will love.

VaHi poster featuring new VHCA logo. Be sure to stop by the store to see an awesome second poster our creatives came up with that we’re sure all hard-core VaHi aficionados will love.

Men's logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Men’s logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Ladies logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)

Ladies logo t-shirt ($15 ea.)


Virginia-Highland Master Plan Approved at NPU-F

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Master Plan was overwhelmingly approved in a resident vote at the Monday May 19 meeting of NPU-F at the Hillside Center. The final tally was 72 votes for and 5 votes against.

Adopted unanimously by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors at its April 17th meeting, the Plan will move next to the City Council Community Development Committee and then on to the full Council for adoption and inclusion in the City of Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan.

The Master Plan is the culmination of seven months of community outreach including a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. It provides a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta for such projects.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan.

The VHCA wants to thank those who attended Monday’s meeting and shared their thoughts on the Plan. Virginia-Highland residents care deeply about quality of life decisions made regarding their neighborhood, and that was never more evident than at last night’s meeting.

To learn more about and view a copy of the Plan, visit


VaHi Master Plan on Agenda of Monday NPU-F Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Master Plan – unanimously adopted by the VHCA board on April 17 – will be an agenda item at the next NPU-F meeting, to be held Monday May 19 at 7 PM at the Hillside Center, 790 Courtenay Dr. (just off Monroe Dr. across from the entrance to Piedmont Park).

The VHCA encourages VaHi residents to attend the meeting and participate in the process.

Residents who live within the boundaries of NPU-F are eligible to vote on all NPU issues.  Proof of residency is required for voting purposes – ideally a valid driver’s license indicating a home address within NPU-F boundaries.  A recent utility bill in your name mailed to an address within NPU-F boundaries may be accepted.

Access will be easier for those arriving early. Please allow some extra time – parking at the facility is limited. Our understanding is that the Master Plan will be early on the agenda, following presentations by local officials (which sometimes take a few minutes).

For residents attending the meeting, please consider carpooling or walking if you can; parking may be a challenge. The Hillside facility sits between Courtenay and Monroe Drives. Access is available from 1301 Monroe, opposite the CSO facility and the entry to the Piedmont Park parking deck. Some parking is available at that Monroe entrance, but those spaces often fill up early. Another option is parking along Courtenay Dr., near its intersection with Amsterdam, 150 yards off Monroe. The back gate to the facility will be open to allow entry from that side.

The Plan is a culmination of seven months of community outreach including online articles, VHCA newsletter articles, public postings, a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. The Plan provides the community with a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi, and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan, which was unanimously approved by the VHCA board at its April 17 meeting.

For more information and to view the Master Plan document, visit


Notice of Special VHCA Association Meeting

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-RGBIn response to a petition request from 50+ residents, the VHCA will host a Special Association Meeting on Tuesday, May 6 at 7 PM at the Virginia-Highland Church, 743 Virginia Ave. (opposite Inman Middle School). We will not be voting again on the Master Plan at this meeting, but – in response to the written request, properly made under VHCA bylaws – we will discuss why we decided to adopt the Plan at the April meeting and how this community has historically made such decisions. As part of the discussion, we will be happy to discuss the various ways citizens provided input to the Plan and how those comments were processed and are reflected in the Plan.

The specific notice follows:

VHCA Board of Directors

Notice of Special VHCA Association Meeting

Date:  Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time:  7:00 – 9:00 PM

Location:  Virginia-Highland Church (across Virginia Ave. from Inman Middle School)

Business to be transacted at meeting:

  1. VHCA board response to petition to have a special election on the Virginia-Highland Master Plan
  2. VHCA bylaw requirements for Special Association Meetings and Votes by Association Members
  3. Discussion of process used to develop the Virginia-Highland Master Plan

Pursuant to Article II, Section 2.2 of the VHCA Bylaws, no business shall be transacted at this Special Meeting, except as stated in this Notice.


Some Background On Development in Virginia-Highland and Q&A on the Master Plan

VaHi-Logo-Vertical-Hypen-RGBEditor’s Note: The Virginia-Highland Master Plan – as adopted by the VHCA board on April 14 – can be viewed here.

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

Aaron Fortner, the Market & Main consultant who led the Master Plan study, characterized this neighborhood a few years ago as being “in danger of being loved to death.”  His point was that our nearly ideal blend of home design, scale, small businesses, variety of residential options, and location had attracted so much attention and development pressure that maintaining the very features that distinguished VaHi could become a challenge. The rough model has been emulated throughout intown communities; our commercial aspects in particular now have real competition.

The adoption of Neighborhood Commercial (‘NC’) districts along N. Highland Ave. was an early response to that. These three districts allow flexible parking approaches in exchange for building height limits of 42’. Defining these districts was inspired by a proposal to build a much taller building opposite the American Roadhouse; such a building might still occur in that one location. Such redevelopment – when it occurs – is very likely to follow the modern intown models of ground floor commercial topped by 2nd and 3rd-floor residential. As that occurs, there will be still more auto traffic on N. Highland. Even sooner, there will be more auto traffic from the re-development of Druid Hills Baptist Church just south of Ponce.

We have mentioned several times this neighborhood’s historic and ongoing determination to maintain R-4 zoning along the BeltLine. That goal is important on its own merits, and also because there is the near-certainty of considerable new residential development along the BeltLine between Virginia and Ponce, behind the houses on Ponce Place. As that occurs, there will be much more auto traffic on Ponce Place, Virginia, and Monroe.

We will never return to the old volumes or speed of driving in Virginia-Highland. We can all work to keep cars moving, but as new traffic arrives, we are going to move at slower speeds – out of necessity (those other cars) and, because of safety (respecting other legal users).

Whether because of the traffic or in spite of it (or both), we now have many more citizens walking and biking. The importance of accommodating them safely and of keeping this neighborhood friendly to pedestrians were cited frequently during the Master Plan process. Keeping traffic moving is a goal we can all agree on, but it exists right beside the legal necessity of protecting other users.

Except on specified roads like interstate highways, cyclists have a perfect right to be on the road. And they are exercising that right in ever-increasing numbers. They don’t need anyone’s permission to do so and they haven’t asked; they’re just showing up and riding. That group includes many of our own residents. That those cyclists are a numerical minority is irrelevant and does not alter their legal right to be safe or our need to accommodate them.

Pedestrians – who every day include many residents of VaHi, some of them children – have a perfect right to cross the street in safety at marked crosswalks; cars have to stop for them and are more likely to do so when they are not speeding and the intersections are conspicuously marked. Any slight inconvenience that results to drivers from the slower speed is legally and morally secondary to protecting the rights of citizens to legally walk in our neighborhood.

Living in a civil atmosphere with an active street-side lifestyle that safely accommodates and encourages usages other than autos is a key characteristic of Virginia-Highland, and we all benefit from it.

*                                                      *                                                      *

While the Master Plan addresses many topics, a few seemed to come up time and time again. The amount of noise this discussion created likely caused confusion among some residents. Following is an attempt to clarify some of the more frequently discussed topics:

Cars, Bikes, and Walking

Resident Comment: This plan supports those who walk and bicycle at the expense of those who drive.

Virginia-Highland is the poster child for good intown living: a vibrant neighborhood with entertainment, restaurants, schools and park facilities. Residents have overwhelmingly said that safe, non-automotive ways of getting around are a distinguishing characteristic of this community that needs to be protected and enhanced. Being able to walk and bike safely were mentioned enough to cause the consultant to summarize the Plan’s entire theme under the rubric of ‘Healthy Living’.

Resident Comment: Have other studies identified the importance of improving the safety of walking and biking?

The independent consultants from Safe Routes to Schools have looked at the same challenges and made recommendations about pedestrian safety and access that are very similar to those in the Master Plan. For example, the Springdale Park plan focuses first on making Briarcliff Road safer; N. Highland and Ponce are the next priorities. Supported by the Springdale PTA, Poncey-Highland, and the Druid Hills Civic Association, the Springdale program is trying very hard to make pedestrian access safer, a particularly important topic for children and parents since APS school bus coverage has been reduced. The Inman Safe Route to Schools Program specifically noted accidents and concerns about pedestrian safety on Monroe Drive.

Resident Comment: All these cars and delays make our neighborhood seem suburban.

Nobody likes traffic, and we all may wish for less of it, but it doesn’t make us ‘suburban’.

The most obvious difference between intown and suburban living is the intown concentration of retail, commercial, and entertainment options that can be accessed in non-motorized ways. Most of us are very dependent on our cars, but we typically use them much less than suburbanites because at least some of our recreational and daily shopping needs are close to home and are sometimes walkable and bikeable. Protecting those options was a frequent comment by residents in this process.

VaHi residents have also been active advocates for walking and cycling over the last decade. This community has historically backed groups that champion these practices (PEDS, Atlanta Bicycle Campaign, the Atlanta Track Club) because they’re fun and healthy.

Resident Comment: The Plan calls for painting sharrows (graphic of bicycles and arrows) on roads. Those give cyclists the right-of-way over cars.

Sharrows are only a visual reminder that cyclists are on the road and that the law requires sharing  – hence, the name. They are equivalent to a “Slow – children at play” sign – a reminder that other users may be present; they change no laws.

For more information:

Resident Comment: You can’t pass cyclists who are in bike lanes.

Yes, you can. In fact, it’s easier to pass cyclists who are riding in a dedicated lane.

Resident Comment: Bike lanes, sharrows, pedestrian signals, and bulb-outs are bad ideas.

These are all tools, and like all tools, they are value-neutral, neither good nor evil. Not every cyclist wants or uses bike lanes; some take the motor vehicle lane. A poorly designed or marked bulb-out can be hazardous or irritating; at intersections where cars speed through turns, a bulb-out improves pedestrian safety by slowing the turn. One can find examples of both in northeast Atlanta.

Monroe Drive

Resident Comment: Does the VHCA support the road diet piece of the Connect Atlanta Plan?

The VHCA supports the outcomes that the CAP is designed to produce – a reduction in speed on Monroe, improvements in traffic flow (fewer cars stuck behind folks waiting to make left turns and making abrupt lane changes), better pedestrian conditions for crossing and walking along the road, and an improvement in the quality of life for residents on the road.

Resident Comment: Even if we can’t change the Monroe Drive road diet, this plan goes too far. It takes away lanes from cars on other roads and gives them to cyclists.

The Master Plan does not take lanes away from cars. Perhaps it should have; a number of people have said they thought it should. But it doesn’t.

The road diet maintains 2 dedicated lanes – one in each direction – and a third shared lane for making left turns at any of the 17 opportunities to do so between Piedmont and 10th. In the short run, it proposes bike lanes in the remaining space; to be replaced when the BeltLine is extended by additional pedestrian components and plantings designed to shield walkers along Monroe from traffic.

Resident Comment: If the Master Plan isn’t the mechanism for opposing the road diet, what is?

Such plans are updated periodically, typically every few years. In our experience, City Planners will be glad to hear your arguments. They are usually quite capable of explaining their own rationales and data, and talking to them is certain to be enlightening, even if you disagree with them.

Resident Comment: The road diet reduces auto capacity on Monroe.

The City’s transportation planners don’t think it will. The most recent road counts for Monroe show traffic at about 18,000 cars a day.

Resident Comment: How does that compare to traffic counts there 6-8 years ago?

It is less, down from the low 20’s. Many traffic counts have gone down nationwide. Oft-cited reasons for this trend include the recession, working from home, folks making conscious decisions to live closer to their work, and impatience with time spent on the roads incentivizing a search for better routes or methods.

Resident Comment: Traffic levels on Monroe will go back up when Ponce City Market opens next year.

Yes, they very well might, but the traffic models show that the road diet can handle 10-20% more cars than are currently using the roadway.

Resident Comment: Every developer who proposes a huge new development provides a traffic study that shows everything will be fine.

Skepticism is understandable and healthy, particularly when a party that stands to benefit financially from it is paying for such a study. Our consultants looked at it independent of the city’s examination and saw no obvious flaws. Any study can be erroneous, but those who have done the Monroe traffic models have no monetary motive in being inaccurate.

Also, the road diet is already City policy and has been for several years.

Resident Comment: The traffic signals on Monroe can be better programmed to handle more traffic.

That would be great. We encourage sharing such ideas with the City traffic engineers. Perhaps there is a very simple fix that can be made somewhere on Monroe that will really help there – or maybe not.  Either way, there’s no reason to delay trying, and we’d be glad to help arrange such a meeting, if that would be of assistance. Helpful or not, this single point has little to do with the Master Plan.

Resident Comment: Why don’t you just leave out any reference to the road diet? That would be interpreted as being OK with it by default without having a big discussion.

Deliberately NOT informing citizens about any law or process – or carefully not mentioning information because someone might not like it – is the exact opposite of good planning and totally inconsistent with this community’s historic approach, which has been based on openness. The iterative process is based on learning, asking, and discussing. That process takes time and has real value; a better-informed citizenry is one of the benefits of those who go through it.

It is interesting to note that our process appears to have informed many more citizens about the road diet than the city did on either of the two occasions it passed the plans that included the feature.

By the way, how exactly would anyone responsibly involved in the Master Plan process reply to a resident who asked if important content had been omitted because it might upset someone?

Resident Comment: Are there parts of the Connect Atlanta Plan that the VHCA does not like?

Inevitably, there are – specifically the concept of a new road though the Ponce de Leon Kroger from North Avenue to Ponce de Leon Place. We are very concerned that such a connection would funnel what we fear would be new large volumes of traffic from North Ave. (especially once Ponce City Market opens) into our neighborhood.

Resident Comment: Why isn’t that opposition part of the Master Plan?

Master plans start with and are based on existing policies and do not assume that that they will change.   No individual or group waives their right to try to change polices in the future by learning and acknowledging what existing policy is.

Resident Comment: Why didn’t the Master Plan seek to prohibit retail chain stores?

As with the road diet, the Master Plan approached commercial topics through existing law and policy.  Even if the commercial areas in VaHi were prospering, and even if city code contained a definition of what a chain store is (which is not as straightforward as it may seem), there is no basis in law for limiting them.

While the VHCA is a resident-based organization, the health of the commercial districts received a a good bit of focus in the Plan. Some proposals will have to await the expiration of or changes to the Park Atlanta contract (because that is law and no matter how much we wish we could change it with a master plan, we cannot), but there are some specific infrastructure recommendations for the Atkins Park NC district that are intended to improve the street-side atmosphere and make the area more attractive.

Board Process and By-Laws

Resident Comment: Why didnt the Steering Committee and the Board participate in the social media debates?

They did. Members of those groups made approximately fifty comments on various social media sites, providing a large amount of input on issues, process, and schedules. We also commented to ensure that resident concerns and comments were directed to the proper channels ( and specific board members) where they could be observed and recorded.

Resident Comment: No neighborhood votes are needed on one-foot variances; they’re not very important. But we should vote on the Master Plan, like Candler Park did.

Candler Park followed its by-laws and rules, as it should have. They vote neighborhood-wide on all requests: one-inch variances, one-foot variances, two-foot variances, and any and every other detail.

Virginia-Highland has very successfully used a representative model to engage on a wide and sophisticated range of processes (including running a very successful Tour of Homes and Summerfest that raise large amounts of money that is spent on – among other things – schools, parks, planning, and sidewalks.

We followed our by-laws throughout this process, as we should have.

It is worth noting that the distinction cited – variance review versus formal planning – is not nearly as broad as it might seem. While some variance requests are routine, others are not and their content and the manner in which they are handled have a great deal more neighborhood-wide significance than might be obvious at a glance.

Resident Comment: The Boards support of the Master Plan was pre-ordained; there are Board members on the Steering Committee who weren’t impartial.

We certainly were not impartial on the value of a Master Plan, or we would not have studied them, gone to other neighborhoods that were meeting on the topic, talked to the City of Atlanta’s Planning Office, sought out the opinion of several city council members, or asked two of them for financial support to defray the cost of developing the Plan.

No citizen – certainly not any board member or volunteer on a master plan – starts with a tabula rasa, a blank slate. But there were no pre-ordained conclusions about any specific content, where input arrived from a variety of sources – residents, the consultants, and other planners.

*                                                      *                                                      *

The VHCA thanks the many residents who have engaged in the Master Plan process, providing valuable insight into current experiences in VaHi and goals for the future of our neighborhood. Please reach out to for further information and continue to comment on the plan at


Master Plan Promotes Vision of Healthy Living

DSC_0037Editor’s Note: Jett Marks is a Virginia-Highland resident and non-VHCA board member who serves on the Master Plan Steering Committee.

Since October of this past year, Virginia-Highland residents have been enthusiastically participating in a blueprint for our future, a Master Plan that defines not only who we are, but what we want to become.  At the April meeting, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association formally adopted a Master Plan that reflects how we view ourselves, what we value, and – as a practical matter – specific recommendations to build for our community’s future.

The process started with an on-line survey. The survey guided us to share what we love about our neighborhood, what we wanted to keep, and also what needed improvement. By listening to what Virginia-Highland residents value, the planning team could establish what it was capable of becoming.  Through focus groups and public forums, the team of urban planners from Market + Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided us through the process.

The City requires certain elements in a Master Plan: mobility, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development, and education. Assembly of the Master Plan incorporated input for all of these elements. The City’s existing plans and zoning code provided the starting point for the neighborhood’s planning.

For decades, Virginia-Highland has represented a lifestyle other Atlanta neighborhoods have desired to embody, but what exactly were they trying to embody? What is the essence of Virginia-Highland? The planning process sought out this essence.

Across the many responses that came in, there were numerous threads: walkability, the human-scaled streets, the green spaces, the “street-car pattern” that shaped the ratios and placement of commercial, residential and rental, the old and new, the urban and retro-suburban, the outdoorsy / active / running / dog-walking / front-porch living, the funky / edgy, and some history too — the VHCA got its start by swimming against the stream of white-flight while challenging the construction of an interstate highway. Basically, we’re a bunch of non-conformists, but happy ones.

Out of many threads, we did find one. Healthy Living is the unifying pattern in the complex tapestry that reflects our community.

Despite this common thread, it’s been a challenge finding consensus. Anyone following the Master Planning process knows there have been a few conflicts. (Why couldn’t we have happy conformists living here?!)

The process was guided by a Steering Committee whose role was first to listen, then to help all the non-conformists get along. There has been a healthy amount of conflict resolution.

An early conflict was the initial recommendation to include bike lanes on N. Highland to accommodate the growing cycling population. After meeting with the business community and the residents who depend on on-street parking, the recommendations were adjusted to balance between the loss of on-street spaces and providing for the safe travel from the BeltLine into our business nodes.

Many recommendations did not survive a review of immediate challenges and concerns voiced by City of Atlanta Planners whose input was carefully considered. Whereas the larger set of recommendations may not all work at this time, the plan captures those valuable discussions and they can still be considered for future approaches to problems we will continue to address.

The plan – befitting a thriving community – will evolve. And that’s healthy too.

~ Jett Marks


VHCA Votes to Adopt Master Plan

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBThe Virginia-Highland Civic Association voted unanimously at its Monday night meeting to adopt the Master Plan as currently posted on Click here to view a video of the board meeting in its entirety.

The Plan is a culmination of seven months of community outreach including a project website, continuous online input opportunities, public forums offered at various times of day and night, smaller focus group conversations, one-on-one conversations and a neighborhood steering committee. The Plan provides the community with a strategic vision in key areas like mobility, transportation, open space, recreation, safety, environmental issues, urban design, historic resources, public services, economic development and education. As a whole, the Plan will serve as a dynamic roadmap to guide future improvement projects in VaHi, and will be a key document in securing funding from the City of Atlanta.

A team of urban planners from Market+Main, led by Aaron Fortner, guided the VHCA and residents through the process of gathering public input, drafting and developing the Plan.

The Plan will next be presented at the NPU-F meeting to be held Monday, May 19, at 7 PM at Hillside School, 690 Courtenay Drive. Interested residents are invited to attend.

On June 9 the Plan will be presented to the City Council Community Development Committee. On June 16th the full City Council will consider and vote on adopting the Plan as a recognized document by the City of Atlanta and incorporating it into the City Comprehensive Plan.

A group of residents has requested a special meeting of the VHCA to discuss issues related to the Master Plan. The VHCA intends to convene such a meeting at a TBD time and place. Details of the meeting will be announced as soon as they are available.

The VHCA would like to thank the Master Plan Steering Committee (see member list below) for the many hours of hard work they invested in working with Market+Main and residents to develop the Plan; Market+Main for their invaluable assistance in guiding the neighborhood through the process; and most importantly, the residents of VaHi who stepped up and took advantage of the many opportunities to provide valuable input into the creation of the Plan. We are a community of residents who care passionately about their neighborhood, and this project has been a true reflection of that reality.

Master Plan Steering Committee Members

Lola Carlisle

Frazier Dworet

Michael Elliott

Frank Fralick

Jenifer Keenan

Jett Marks

Stuart Meddin

Jack White

Jess Windham







Historic Hex Pavers Available for Purchase from VHCA

VaHi-Logo-Horizontal-Small-RGBIt’s time for Spring gardening and outdoor improvements and, if fixing historic hex pavers in your sidewalk is on your to-do list, the VHCA has what you need.

The civic association has a good supply of historic Virginia-Highland hexagonal pavers for sale at $6 each. If you’re interested, email Peggy Berg at and she’ll call you to set up your order.

If the pavers in front of your home are in bad shape and you’ve been thinking about fixing them up, now would be an excellent time to tackle the project. Not only will you improve the curb value of your home, but your pedestrian neighbors will thank you, as well.

photo 2 photo 1






Initial Draft of VaHi Master Plan Available for Review; Open House Scheduled

DSC_0037The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is pleased to announce that, after six months of community input, the initial draft of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan is available. Click here to review the Plan draft. The VHCA will host an Open House on Sunday, March 23rd from 2:30 – 4:30 at the old Aurora Coffee location on N. Highland near Virginia (across from Yeah Burger) to answer questions from residents about the Plan.

The 142-page Plan draft is divided into the following sections:

Background (pgs. 5 – 32) Includes neighborhood demographics and summaries of other City Plans, including the North Highland Avenue Study, the Ponce-Moreland LCI Study, the Beltline Subarea 6 Master Plan, the City of Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan, and the Connect Atlanta Plan.  All of these plans have sections that address areas in VaHi and all have already been adopted by City Council.

Neighborhood Engagement (pgs. 49 – 79) Includes detailed information on all comments that were received via the Master Plan website, the public meetings and focus groups.

Neighborhood Vision (pgs. 95 – 142) Contains the Plan’s proposed projects/proposals for VaHi.  These are the proposals that came out of the six-month public input process leading up to the Draft Plan.

Aaron Fortner, the professional planning consultant who prepared the Master Plan, gave an excellent presentation on the Plan at the March 10th VHCA board meeting.  Here is a link to a three-video YouTube playlist of Aaron’s presentation: Following are start/stop times for key portions of his presentation.


  1. Aaron’s Entire Presentation Including Q/A: This excerpt starts at 15:43 of Part 1 and ends at 16:18 of Part 3.
  2. Aaron’s Monroe Dr. Presentation: This excerpt starts at 33:48 of Part 1 and ends at 41:05 of Part 1.
  3. Aaron’s Accessory Dwelling Presentation: This excerpt starts at 54:11 of Part 1 and ends at 58:07 of Part 1.
  4. The Q/A Session Only: This excerpt starts at 10:23 of Part 2 and ends at 16:18 of Part 3.


If you have questions specifically about the Monroe Dr. Road Diet, the excerpt of Aaron’s presentation on Monroe is available at the following link:

At 140+ pages, the document provides detailed information on all the public input that has been received over the past six months. As with all other phases of the Master Plan process, residents and business owners will continue to have an opportunity to provide input on the Plan through the Master Plan website.  We encourage everyone to submit comments on what they like and don’t like about the draft Plan on the “Feedback” page of the Master Plan website A revised draft of the Plan reflecting the input received through the Website and at the Open House will be posted on April 4.


Tentative Agenda for Tonight’s VHCA Monthly Board/General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, March 10, 2014; Virginia-Highland Church 

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

Budget Committee – Peggy Berg

Planning Committee

V-13-265 – 976 Adair Ave NE

Applicant Patti Hinkle has amended her variance application to and now seeks to reduce the setback to 5’ from the rear property line,  a distance that will end any question as to whether her (already existing) accessory structure is appropriately distanced from the boundary.  (The measurement is difficult to make, as the line is behind a tall fence.)  The Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval and waived the applicant’s appearance.

Toscano @ Sons Italian Market Alcohol License Transfer – 1050 N. Highland Ave. NE

Applicant Kathy Boehmer of Toscano & Sons Italian Market is transferring this business’ alcohol license from its previous location. The application has not come to us from the NPU; the applicant furnished a copy of the application.  The applicants had no liquor violations at their previous location and conduct their own training program, carding everyone.  The Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval, contingent upon city’s paperwork reaching the NPU by its meeting on 3-17-14.

V-14-031 – 669 Elmwood Drive NE

Applicant Jennifer Hansen seeks a variance to reduce the front yard setback from required 35’ to 18’ 4” (existing) and the east side yard setback from required 7’ to 1’ 7” (existing) for a 2nd story addition.  The addition is entirely within the existing setbacks; a site visit on 3-2-14 revealed no tree or runoff issues; the applicant is nonetheless considering adding stormwater retention capacity.  The Planning Committee recommends approval conditioned on a site plan dated 2-14-14.

V-14-012 – 959 Todd Road NE

Applicant Marsha Scott seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the required rear yard setback from 15’ to 3’ (using half of the 10’ rear alley for credit toward setback).  The application required a re-platting of the (north) side yard property line, previously shown as an alley; the applicant’s request to that end was approved by the City of Atlanta Planning Department on 1-23-14, a decision that has been appealed by an adjacent neighbor.  The case will be heard by the BZA on 5-1-14.  The applicants wish to continue the variance process, averring that construction will not commence until the appeal is resolved.  At its meeting on 3-5, the Planning Committee solely addressed the variance issue and the applicant’s revised plan; at the applicant’s request, the application was deferred until the April Planning meeting.

Parks Committee – Lauren Wilkes Fralick, David Brandenburger

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle: New permanent site for VHCA Planning mtgs: Garrison Hall, Church of Our Saviour

Master Plan Presentation – Jenifer Keenan, Jess Windham, & Aaron Fortner of Market + Main



Understanding How the Virginia-Highland Master Plan Was Drafted

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadBy: Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board Member & Co-Chair, Master Plan Steering Committee

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) is pleased to announce that, after six months of community input, the initial draft of the Virginia-Highland Master Plan is being released today on the Master Plan website:  At 140+ pages, the document provides detailed information on all the public input that has been received over the past six months.  As with all other phases of the Master Plan process, residents and business owners will continue to have an opportunity to provide input on the Plan through the Master Plan website.

Overview of the Community Input and Drafting Process

There seems to be confusion among some residents about how the VaHi Master Plan has been developed and drafted.  Some people assume that the VHCA Board has drafted the Plan.  That assumption, however, is incorrect.  The Plan was not drafted by the VHCA, and the VHCA has in no way dictated the Plan’s content.

To develop the Plan, the VHCA hired Aaron Fortner of Market + Main.  Aaron is a former City Planner and has served as the Planning Committee’s consultant on zoning and municipal issues for many years. He has led the Master Plan processes for a number of neighborhoods, including Edgewood, Brookwood Hills and Candler Park. To read Aaron’s biography, visit

Aaron and his team used the following process to develop the draft VaHi Master Plan:

  • Phase 1:   A Master Plan website was developed to allow residents to review concepts and provide input 24 hours a day.  The first phase of the website had a Survey and an Interactive Map where people could identify what they like most (and least) about VaHi.  The Interactive Map allowed people to make specific comments about specific locations in the neighborhood.
  • Phase 2:  Input from the Survey and Interactive Map was used to develop some Preliminary Planning Concepts for the neighborhood.  The Preliminary Concepts were presented at a public meeting and all-day design charette where people had an opportunity to talk to Aaron and his team and provide in-person input on the Preliminary Concepts.  The Preliminary Concepts were also presented on the Master Plan website so residents could provide input and comment on the Preliminary Concepts via the website as well.
  • Phase 3:  The Preliminary Concepts were modified based on the comments in Phase 2 and refined into some Proposed Concepts.  The Preliminary Concepts were presented at a January 22 public meeting and again on the website.  As in Phase 2, people had an opportunity to provide input both in person and on-line on the Preliminary Concepts.
  • Phase 4:  The Proposed Concepts were again modified based on public input and used to develop the initial draft of the Master Plan.  This draft of the Master Plan will be presented at the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board meeting on Monday, March 10th.  As with all stages of this process, people will continue to have an opportunity to provide comments on the concepts in the Plan.  The draft plan concepts will continue to be modified based on public input until the Final Master Plan is published.

In addition to the four phases noted above, five focus groups – consisting of residents and business owners in VaHi – were conducted throughout this process to obtain input on specific issues.  Aaron and his team also met with officials of the City of Atlanta’s Planning Department to provide updates on the Plan and discuss the feasibility of the concepts that were evolving from the public input process.

Examples of the Process in Action

In order to fully understand the process, it is helpful to look at a couple of small-scale examples of specific concepts and how they evolved during the Plan development process.  In Phase 1, residents of Cooledge, and several other streets, indicated that they would like to reduce cut-through traffic and speeding on their street.  In Phase 2, “bulb outs” were proposed for several streets that expressed these concerns, including Cooledge.  During the public input part of Phase 2, the residents of that street almost unanimously indicated they did not want bulb-outs on Cooledge, deciding that they were inconsistent with the historic character of their brick street.  Residents of other streets, however, embraced bulb-outs and other traffic calming measures for their specific streets.  In Phase 3, based on the input provided in Phase 2, bulb-outs were part of the Preliminary Concepts for some streets, but were no longer proposed for Cooledge. Also, bike lanes on North Highland Avenue were proposed and considered in the opening stages.  Based on an array of public comments – many supportive – and identified challenges, the Draft Master Plan does not recommend bike lanes for North Highland.

Where varying and multiple shades of opinions were expressed – which is in a number of areas – Aaron’s team looked first for overall impacts on the community, the goals and reasoning used in existing plans (where they applied – the city’s Connect Atlanta Transpiration Plan is such an example) and offered its best judgment of how to proceed for each subject.  In some cases – changing the code to allow accessory residential structures or design guidelines, for example – the plan recommends further study of the topic and monitoring the City’s anticipated revisions.  All transportation recommendations are based on existing municipal and state laws and standards, and none conflict with city policy; many ideas reflect insights gleaned from city staff about the municipality’s evolving approaches on many topics.

Moving Forward 

As with other phases of this process, there will be ongoing opportunities to provide input, including 24 hours a day at the Master Plan website.  Our residents and neighbors have made an extraordinary number of suggestions on both broad and specific topics, and Aaron and his team have expended a huge amount of work trying to filter and synthesize everyone’s comments and aspirations for this community. Many diverse ideas have been expressed, but there are a significant number of well-identified challenges and strongly expressed wishes.

I hope everyone will review all the draft’s concepts and recommendations and provide specific comments through the website.

Best regards,

Jenifer Keenan, VHCA Board Member & VHCA Master Plan Steering Committee Co-Chair




Initial Draft of VaHi Master Plan To Be Presented at Tonight’s VHCA Board Meeting

VaHi CornerFor the past six months, Virginia-Highland residents have provided tremendous insight into the creation of the neighborhood’s first Master Plan. An initial draft of the Master Plan will be presented at tonight’s regular monthly VHCA board/general meeting. Again, this is a presentation of the Plan’s initial draft – there will still be ample time to review, reflect and comment on the Plan in the weeks to come. The initial draft of the Plan should be available for review sometime this afternoon at

The meeting will be held in the downstairs meeting area of the Virginia-Highland Church located at 743 Virginia Ave. (across from Inman Middle School). The meeting will start at 7 PM with regular business expected to take 30-45 minutes, after which the Master Plan presentation will begin. Residents are invited to attend the full meeting, or come only for the Master Plan portion. There will be an opportunity for residents to ask questions about the Plan.

Click here to read an article from VHCA board member and Master Plan steering committee co-chair Jenifer Keenan that provides valuable insight into the process of creating a Master Plan for our neighborhood.


Tentative Agenda for February 10 VHCA Board/General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, February 10, 2014; Church of Our Saviour, 1068 N. Highland Ave.

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

  • Dr. Gerry Neumark, President, President, APAB
  • Presentation on Open Door Residential Community (sometimes referred to as a Protestant Catholic Worker House), 910 Ponce de Leon Ave.; Mary Catherine Johnson

Planning Committee

V-14-005; 1055 Amsterdam Ave. NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicant Dan Hanlon (on behalf of owner Stephen Roach) proposes an extension of the existing home to the rear of the house and seeks variances to (1) reduce the eastern side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’ in line with the existing structure on that side; (2) reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) to 28’ (existing is ); and (3) reduce the half-depth front yard setback on the west side (abutting Humphrey St.) from 17’6” (required) to 3’5” (existing).   One tree in the buildable area will be removed; two 2.5’ trees will be planted.  The lot coverage remains well under 50%.  The appropriate neighbors have been notified. The date on the city’s stamped plans was not clear. At the VHCA Planning Comm., the applicant agreed he would furnish that date (and bring a copy to the VHCA meeting) and file a more specific plan to address the new stormwater created by the addition, specifically demonstrating that it would not flow downhill onto the eastern neighbor.  Subject to those conditions, the Committee voted unanimously to support the application.

Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE

Applicant Erik Kronberg  presents a proposal to rezone and redevelop the Druid Hills Baptist Church Activities Building and parking lot.  The proposal preserves the sanctuary and contemplates a new mixed-use residential/retail/commercial development with parking.  Though the development is in Poncey/Highland [NPU-N]) – not in Virginia-Highland – this informational presentation is mandated by the re-zoning process due to its proximity to and potential impacts on our neighborhood. (Link to the rezoning application:  Z-13-056 1085 Ponce de Leon Ave NE.   Link to a previously released article about it:

City of Atlanta Alley Re-platting Policy

Remand of V-13-099 from Fulton county Superior Court to BZA

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

2014 Goals & Budgets – Jack White & Peggy Berg

Parks Committee – Lauren Wilkes Fralick, David Brandenburger

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle



Tentative Agenda for VHCA January 2014 Board and General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, January 13, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library 

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

  • Angelika Taylor, Tour of Homes
  • Alex Beasley, Trees Atlanta

Planning Committee

V-13-264 Glen Arden Way NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicants  Ashley Peck seeks a variance to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required0 to the existing 23’ to add heated space in the attic within the existing footprint.   A Planning Comm visit on observed no tree or runoff issues.  The applicant has notified the appropriate neighbors. The Planning com recommends approval conditioned on a site plan dated Nov 25, 2013.

V-13-265 976 Adair Ave. NE; zoning is R-4.

Applicant Lisa Pringle seeks a variance to (1-A) reduce the east side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 5’ and (1-B) to reduce the rear yard setback from 15’ required) to 6’ (credit given for half of a 10’ alley) to build an accessory structure (storage shed begun w/o permit and already substantially complete); and (2) a variance to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ to 5’ to allow an extension in line with the existing structure on that side.  A Planning Com site visit indicated that notation of one tree was needed; ti has been made.  A 55-gallon (minimum) rain barrel is being added to the west side addition to prevent additional stormwater from reaching the adjacent neighbors..  The removal of an existing deck in the rear will reduce lot coverage from to 57%  49.29%.  The appropriate neighbors have been notified.

The Planning Comm recommended approval based on the filing of a revised site plan that matches the one displayed and signed off on at the Planning Comm meeting, which adds a requested rain barrel.

V-13-284 1038 St. Charles Ave.; zoning is RG-2.

Applicants Ben and Melissa Redwine request (1() a variance to0 reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 2’ (already existing) and (2) a requust to add heated a space to a proposed new finished basement. No external changes will be made.  The FAR is going from 3102 to 3908 (31%->38%), well within the permitted limits for this zoning.  The existing lot coverage of  50.84% will not change. An exhausting number of neighbors have been notified.

The Planning Committee recommended approval conditioned on the site plan dated Dec 18, 2013.

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

Committee Reports –

Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Budget – Jack White & Peggy Berg

Communication – Revised VHCA logo – Lola Carlisle and John Becker

2014 Goals & Budgets – Jack White

Calendar Items



Agenda Set for December 9 VHCA Monthly Board/General Meeting

Following is the tentative agenda for tonight’s monthly VHCA board/general meeting:

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, December 11, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Proposed Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials & guests

Planning Committee – Jess Windham


  • V-13-238;  990 Bellevue Drive NE
  • V-13-243;  670 Park Drive. NE
  • V-13-247;  906 Highland Terrace NE
  • V-13-256;  932 Highland View NE
  • V-13-257; 926 Highland View NE

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan / Jess Windham

Tour of Homes – Suzanne Buck / Angelika Taylor

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle



Recycled Hexagonal Pavers Available From VHCA

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadHave you been waiting for the cooler fall weather to take on that project of repairing your sidewalk of broken hexagonal pavers? If so, the VHCA has a deal for you.

Paver pileThe civic association has a healthy inventory of the historic pavers that have been recycled from sections of VaHi sidewalk previously repaired by the city. Pavers are 18″ x 18″, six-sided (what else would you expect from a hexagonal paver, right?), and vary in color due to age. See accompanying photos of the stored inventory and what a repaired hexagonal paver sidewalk can look like.

pavers installedPrices are $6 ea. for Virginia-Highland residents, $8 ea. for non-residents with all funds going to the VHCA general fund. If you’re interested, contact VHCA safety/sidewalk committee chair Peggy Berg at or 404-236-9064.


Agenda Set for October 14, 2013 VHCA Monthly Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association BoD Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, October 14, 2013; Church of Our Saviour


Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire Dept. representatives

City of Atlanta officials –

Other elected officials & guests

Planning Committee

Variances – Lola Carlisle

V-13-151; 1145 Briarcliff Place; zoning is R4

Applicant Scott Reale on behalf of owner Alice Washington seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the east side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’1” for a new accessory building.   Planning Committee recommends approval w. conditions.

V-13-139; 765 Highland Terrace NE; zoning is R4

Applicant April Ingraham on behalf of owner Jenna Angst seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) to 34’ and the west side yard setback from 7’ to 4.2’ to construct a two-story residence.

(2) notification to the neighbors of new plans, (3) added note of no modifications to existing garage or water addition to the proposed studio, and (4) notification to city arborist and (5) notification CoA DWM of pending stormwater issues and proposed retention solutions. Passed unanimously.

V-13-139; 960 Highland Terrace NE; zoning is R-4

Applicant David Ogram seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ to 3’ for a new garage.  Lot coverage is now under 50%. Planning Committee recommends approval with conditions.

V-13-179, 1077 Lanier Blvd NE ; zoning is R-4

Applicant “Pfeil Family Partnership LLC” request a variance from the southwest side yard setback from  7’ required to 4’ (already existing) to add a 2nd floor addition.  Planning Committee recommends approval.

V-13- V-13-180, 962 Rosedale Road; zoning is R-4

Applicant Mark Arnold (on behalf of owners and residents Sarah McCormack)David Ogram seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required) and the north side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 5’ to add a 2nd floor addition.  Planning Committee recommends approval.

Request for support for waiver of distance requirement (250′ minimum from church required) for liquor retail sales – Toscano and Sons Specialty Food Market, N. Highland Ave. (next to Paper Source); owner is Kathy Boehmer

Master Plan Update – Jenifer Keenan & Jess Windham

Committee Assignments & Reports

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle



Input Needed for Virginia-Highland Master Plan


By: Jess Windham and Jenifer Keenan

As detailed over the last few months, a Master Plan for Virginia-Highland is being developed to address a wide range of issues in our neighborhood – from traffic and parking, to historic preservation, and everything in between.  In order to make the Plan a success, and reflect the hopes and wants of the neighborhood, we’d like to know all about your neighborhood experiences. One of the most visible and active tools in the Master Planning process is the website ( and its accompanying tool box of features that will gather input directly from you and enable people with all kinds of schedules to participate.

From today through Friday November 8th, you can share your experiences, opinions, and unique perspective on Virginia-Highland through a brief online survey: Having your feedback will be key to shaping the questions to be addressed in the Master Plan. What do you think are the most important issues that will be facing Virginia-Highland in the next five years? How would you rate parking or the cost of housing?

At the bottom of the survey, you’ll find another tool we are excited about: an online map where you can pinpoint and note exactly what you have observed, love, hate, or want improved in Virginia-Highland.  You can add your input directly to the map at The map will allow you to place a “dot” on a specific area on the map and add comments tied to that map location.  This will enable the community to address specific issues – like whether a stop sign is needed for a particular intersection – to more general issues, like the impact of large events and festivals on our community.

For all you Instagram fans, send us pictures of what you love (or hate!) about Virginia-Highland to @VaHi_ATL with the hashtag #welovevahi. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest updates and reminders for events.

On top of feedback from all of these tools – the website, survey, interactive map, and social media – we will also be holding focus groups on specific topics, a Design Workshop, and a Plan Presentation in the coming months. The Design Workshop and Plan Presentation will be open to the public. Details on dates, times and locations will be announced soon.


2013 VHCA Annual General Meeting Recap

Music was provided by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus

Music was provided by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus.

The 2013 Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held September 19 at the Inman Middle School cafeteria. Approximately 75 residents were in attendance.

The meeting opened with a performance by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus under the direction of Brianne Turgeon. Accompanied by SPARK music teacher Jon Marvel on guitar, the chorus performed four songs that were warmly received by those in attendance.

District 6 City Councilmember Alex Wan

District 6 City Councilmember Alex Wan

The following elected officials were recognized and made comments at the meeting:

  • Atlanta Police Department Captain J.B. Shaw (second in command in Zone 6)
  • Georgia House of Representatives District 57 Rep. Pat Gardner
  • Atlanta City Council District 6 Councilmember Alex Wan
  • Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Board of Education (BOE) District 3 Rep. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane
  • APS BOE Member-Elect Matt Westmoreland.

Several candidates for seats on the APS BOE and Atlanta City Council were also introduced and made brief comments.

APS Board of Education member-elect Matt Westmoreland

APS Board of Education member-elect Matt Westmoreland

Election of Officers

The VHCA Nominating Committee formally introduced the following candidates for seats on the 2013-14 VHCA Board of Directors. All candidates were confirmed in the election that followed and will serve for the upcoming board year.

  • John Becker (incumbent)
  • Peggy Berg (incumbent)
  • David Brandenberger (new board member)
  • Suzanne Buck (new board member)
  • Lola Carlisle (incumbent)
  • Genny Ferrero (incumbent)
  • Paige Hewell (new board member)
  • Jenifer Keenan (incumbent)
  • Colleen Lysen (Atkins Park representative, new board member)
  • Jack White (incumbent)
  • Lauren Wilkes Fralick (incumbent)
  • Jess Windham (new board member)

Retiring board members Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner and David Wolfson were recognized and thanked for their service.

Committee Reports

Attendees were provided with a printed report detailing accomplishments made this year by the various VHCA committees. Click here to view the report.

VHCA board members (left to right) Lola Carlisle, Peggy Berg and Jack White presenting grant awards.

VHCA board members (left to right) Lola Carlisle, Peggy Berg and Jack White presenting grant awards.

Grants Awarded

The VHCA announced the awarding of the following charitable grants for 2013. A total of $15,000 in grants was awarded.

  • Grady High PTA
    • $500 in support of the Teacher Grant Program
  • Grady High College and Career Connection
    • $800 in support of college/career counseling for all Grady students
  • Inman Middle School PTA
    • $2,500 in support of teacher training in behavior reinforcement and to support all Inman students having the opportunity attend the 7th grade Jekyll Island field trip
  • Springdale Park Elementary School PTO
    • $3,000 to purchase new science kits (8) for grades K-5.
  • Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
    • $500 in appreciation and support of Atlanta Streets Alive
  • Church of Our Saviour
    • $500 in gratitude for the church’s support of the community and willingness to host multiple VHCA meetings
  • Hillside, Inc.
    • $250 in gratitude for their longstanding support of NPU-F
  • Ponce de Leon Public Library
    • $2,950 in recognition and support of the vital role public libraries play in supporting education and cultural literacy in all communities
  • PEDS
    • $500 in support of promotion of pedestrian rights and infrastructure
  • Trees Atlanta
    • $3,500 in support of their tree planting programs and advocacy for trees in our neighborhood and across the city
VHCA Board President Jack White (r) introduces Aaron Gross Award recpient Pamela Papner while former board members John Wolfinger and Winnie Currie look on.

VHCA Board President Jack White (right) introduces Aaron Gross Award recipient Pamela Papner while former board members John Wolfinger and Winnie Currie look on.

Aaron Gross Award Presented

The evening’s final order of business was a presentation of the Aaron Gross Award which was created in 2001 in honor of its namesake, a VHCA President and NPU Chair who gave many years of service to the community. The award recognizes exceptional dedication and enduring excellence in the performance of duties to both the Virginia-Highland neighborhood and to the VHCA. It is not given annually, but when the Board believes that the width and breadth of a resident’s contributions merit special recognition.

Joining VHCA Board President Jack White in presenting this year’s Aaron Gross Award to long-time board member Pamela Papner were previous recipients Winnie Currie – who developed and shaped the association’s processes and approaches to planning and zoning and remains a walking authority on the topic – and John Wolfinger, who campaigned for and gave life to a practical and effective neighborhood safety movement that is based on both newsletter outreach and a street captain system.

In presenting the award to Papner, White made the following comments:

“This year we are delighted to honor a resident who was elected to the board in 2006, served one year as Secretary, and 5 years as President. Such tenure in those jobs alone is itself meritorious, but today we recognize some very special and particular achievements. Six years ago she became the chair of Summerfest, inheriting a model that was widely regarded as satisfactory and successful. Our honoree saw an opportunity to expand the festival’s scope and reach, to engage more citizens and have more fun, and to markedly increase revenues in the process. And she had ideas of what this community could do with those revenues – prominent among them, the purchase of two lots and creation of a brand new public green space, a task that was very much beyond the capacity of the city.

Retiring VHCA board member Pamela Papner receiving the Aaron Gross Award.

Retiring VHCA board member Pamela Papner receiving the Aaron Gross Award.

Like Ms. Currie and Mr. Wolfinger, this year’s honoree will truthfully report that she had a ton of help along the way, and she did. But it was her vision and her will that inspired both the remaking of Summerfest into the event we enjoy today and the purchase and creation of the new park. The added revenues she generated have not only financed the park; they have supported renovations in Orme Park and the pending improvement project in John Howell Park, fueled community grants to all our schools and non-profits, and made possible a level of planning sophistication that included – among many other parts – the creation of Neighborhood Commercial zoning along North Highland Avenue and the Master Plan we will undertake this fall.

It’s a remarkable list of accomplishments, all done with her trademark combination of hard work, diligence, humor, back-patting, volunteer arm-twisting, and – most importantly – an ability to create and share a vision of how this community can expand and protect what has made it special for so many years. We are all much the better for what she has done.

The VHCA is honored to present the Aaron Gross Award to Pamela Papner.”

“I am so honored to have received this award,” Papner commented. “I have such tremendous respect for the Civic Association; keeping it strong is vital.  The willingness of so many citizens to band together and “give back” is what makes our community so special.”

The award comes with a $1,000 stipend that, true to form, Papner chose to apply to the outstanding debt on the new park she was instrumental in creating. Papner was also presented with a commemorative tribute card and a framed photograph of an historic Virginia-Highland street scene.

Click here to view a video of this year’s annual general meeting.

Sally Flocks of PEDS accepts a $500 grant.

Sally Flocks of PEDS accepts a $500 grant.

Madison McGillicuddy from the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. accepts a $2,950 grant.

Madigan McGillicuddy from the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. accepts a $2,950 grant.


VHCA Annual General Meeting and Election of Board Members: Thursday, Sept. 19th, Inman Cafeteria, 6:30 PM

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadThe Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s annual meeting and election of board of directors will be held Thursday September 19th in the Inman Middle School cafeteria, starting at 6:30 PM.

The VHCA board consists of ten members and one alternate who are elected to one-year terms by residents at the annual meeting. There’s also an ‘Atkins Park designee’ board member who is chosen by the Atkins Park Homeowners Association prior to the annual meeting.

The alternate member has historically functioned as a full board member, but formally votes only if another member is not present. The VaHi resident getting the fewest votes of the top eleven residents receiving votes in the election serves as the alternate member.

DSC06465Our neighborhood thrives because of a high level of volunteer involvement by residents in a variety of areas. The framework for much of this volunteerism is provided through VHCA’s committees: Budget, Fundraising (Summerfest, Tour of Homes), Planning, Preservation and History, Parks, Safety, Education and Communications.  Please visit for a complete list of the association’s committees, their areas of responsibility and their current chairs/members.

A list of those serving on the 2012-13 VHCA board and their contact information is at Any of these board members would be glad to talk with you about the responsibilities and time commitments associated with board service and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Many citizens reach the board after serving on a committee, but this is not a specific requirement for running.  If you’d like to run for a seat on the board, please send an email to with your name, contact info, a short bio, and a few comments on how and why you’d like to get involved.  A list of all residents running for the board with brief bios will be published on and included in The Voice e-newsletter prior to the September 19 annual meeting.

We encourage all VaHi residents to attend the annual meeting and make your voice heard.  (Please be sure to bring your ID or recent utility bill in your name as proof of residency). The more residents we have at the meeting, the more the VHCA’s 2013-14 leadership will reflect the collective thoughts and goals of our community.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our annual meeting in September.


Agenda Set for 2013 VHCA Annual/General Meeting

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadFollowing is the tentative agenda for tonight’s annual/general meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Annual General Meeting

6:30 PM;  Thursday, September 19, 2013; Inman Middle School Cafeteria                       


Call to Order and Welcome

Intro of Choir

  • Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus –– Chorus Director, Brianne Turgeon

Opening Remarks

Recognition of City and Elected Representatives

  • APD
  • Georgia House of Representatives District 57: Rep. Pat Gardner
  • City of Atlanta District 6: Councilmember Alex Wan
  • APS Board of Education District 3:  Rep. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane
  • APS School Board Member-Elect Matt Westmoreland
  • Other elected representatives

Recognition of Guests

  • Candidates for At-Large seats on the APS Board of Education
  • Candidates for Atlanta City Council District 6
  • Candidates for At-Large City Council seats

Nomination Committee Report and Election of Board Members

Presentation of Committee Reports

Recognition of Retiring VHCA Board Members (Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Nicole Forschler Horn, Pam Papner, David Wolfson)

VHCA Grant Awards  for 2013

Announcement of Election Results

New Business

Closing & Adjournment


2012-13 VHCA Committee Accomplishments

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadFollowing are lists of accomplishments of the various committees of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association as reported by the respective committee chairs.

Communications Committee (reported by John Becker)

  • Published 312 original articles to the VHCA website in 12 months, ensuring that all content was in support of VHCA activities, goals and objectives.
    • Actively engaged other board members and non-board members as appropriate to provide content.
    • Personally wrote or edited most articles.
    • Actively supported Summerfest and Tour of Homes committees in developing their communication plans, as well as content for their respective websites and/or pages on the VHCA site.
  • Based primarily on content posted to the website, published 27 issues of The Voice e-newsletter in 12 months, (meeting goal of publishing at least 2 issues per month).
    • Grew Voice subscriber base from 2,966 email addresses in October 2012 to 3,051 in September 2013 (3% increase).
    • Generated $5,300 in revenue from Voice advertisers. Signed The Intowners up for new ‘skyscraper’ premium ad space for six months; another advertiser has committed to leasing the space when Intowners’ agreement is up in November. Grew number of sidebar square advertisers from 3 to 7 (currently).
    • Revised/updated The Voice masthead. Masthead revision included creation of new ‘skyscraper’ premium ad space and moving premium ad space from masthead to sidebar (providing greater focus on the fact that the newsletter comes from the VHCA).
  • Served as admin for three VHCA Facebook pages (VHCA, Summerfest and Tour of Homes) and VHCA’s Twitter account. Actively used social media to promote neighborhood events, promote The Voice newsletter and other website content and provide timely alerts as needed. Posted content as appropriate to neighborhood message boards like Nextdoor VaHi and VHLIST. Also created a blog account on VaHi Patch and posted neighborhood-related content to it as appropriate.
  • Took hundreds of photos of numerous neighborhood events and activities. Created 13 online Google albums with photos from different events that are archived through the VHCA website for future reference.
  • Managed our two primary communications committee volunteers: Ida Centner (website), and Mary Johnson (website, e-newsletter). Solicited additional committee involvement and have talked to a few people who are interested in helping.
  • Along with safety chair Peggy Berg, implemented WelcomeMat service where each month new VaHi residents receive a welcome flyer from the VHCA that includes instructions to visit a welcome page on the VHCA website to learn more about the neighborhood, sign-up for The Voice e-newsletter, safety updates and more. Also designed and built the new welcome page to support the service. Flyer is delivered to roughly 200 addresses each month and we get 20-30 hits per month on the welcome page in the days following the mailing.
  • Established positive relationships with editors at VaHi Patch and Atlanta INTown resulting in those sites picking up VHCA website content on several occasions.
  • As part of initiative to establish relationships with other civic association communication chairs, met and talked with counterparts from Inman Park and Piedmont Heights and now have reciprocal arrangement to share information and ideas as appropriate.

Safety Committee (reported by Peggy Berg)


  • Hold an annual Street Captain’s meeting and Safety public meeting. The meeting was held on September 14, 2013
  • Maintain a working relationship with FBAC and encourage that group to be highly visible, effective at outreach, integrated with the community on a daily basis, financially viable, responsive to quality of life issues, and viewed as a neighborhood asset. FBAC has been submitting regular reports to its members and operating consistently.
  • Provide opportunistic support (holiday dinners, e.g.) to local Public Safety personnel. John Wolfinger organized this for our first responders at the end of 2012.


  • Advocate for public policy changes in the city that both encourage the city to assume formal responsibility for and fund sidewalk repairs and greatly simplify the capacity of citizens to make their own repairs as desired. We chaired a sub-committee on sidewalks for City Council, researched red tape and neighborhood initiatives for Atlanta and provided comparison to other communities, developed detailed recommendations which were presented to City Council and DPW, met with DPW and Parks about the recommendations. Some changes have already been implemented.
  • Continue to participate on the City Council Sidewalk Committee and advocate for safer pedestrian and cycling measures.
  • Continued to monitor the anticipated CoA bond issue that contemplates funding for sidewalk repair.
  • Push the city to fulfill its commitment to complete the sidewalk repairs on St. Charles Avenue identified and funded in 2012 by residents and VHCA. Repairs completed.
  • As practical, develop a similar program in a second section of the neighborhood. Second bundle delivered to the City; a supplement is complete and will be delivered by August 21, 2014.
  • Using the methodology developed by VaHi resident Dr. Randy Guensler and his grad students at Georgia Tech, inventory the neighborhood’s sidewalks and provide that data to the city’s Public Works department. This is in progress. Participated in volunteer initiative to inventory sidewalks and will again.

Traffic & Transportation

  • With the Planning Committee, develop a formal transportation plan for VaHi. This is in progress.
  • With the Education Committee, work to improve pedestrian safety along Briarcliff near Spark. This is in progress. We extended the sidewalk bundle to improve sidewalks along Briarcliff and hope to have significant improvement between St. Charles and Ponce on the VAHI side of Briarcliff.
  • Work with the CoA to restore and enforce the directional signage at the Triangle. Worked with the CoA to restore multiple street signs and traffic indicators around the neighborhood.

Planning Committee (reported by Lola Carlisle)

Committee Members: Mark Arnold, Chip Bullock, Lola Carlisle, Karen Feigh, Genny Ferrero, Jenifer Keenan, Jess Windham, Jack White

  • Reviewed applications for variances, special exceptions and liquor licenses and made recommendations to the board.
  • Represented VHCA at NPU-F, BZA meetings.
  • Monitored the development of public policies in the city that might impact VH – including Beltline related activities, CDP updates and other transportation and development initiatives.
  • Monitored developments in NC zones.
  • Began compilation of NC zone database of business types and contacts and allocated parking for each business.
  • Responded to citizen concerns about building code violations.
  • Notified City of hazards in the neighborhood such as broken sewer drains, hazardous trees, etc.
  • Reviewed public education policy and planning that effect VH. Advocated for inclusion of the VH Planning committee in planning meeting for Inman expansion and will continue to monitor and be involved .
  • Approved plans and engaged Market + Main to develop a master plan for VH and formed a steering committee – called out for focus group participation.
  • Continued to address traffic implications resulting from overcrowding at Inman.
  • Identified original subdivisions of VH with intent to support historic efforts by subdivision.
  • Maintained updated site with planning reports and database of information.
  • Met with new director of Callanwolde and director of Laurel Heights to ensure transfer of history regarding stormwater issues from Callanwolde and potential issues with expansion of Laurel Heights.

History & Preservation Committee (reported by Lola Carlisle)

Committee Members: Paul Burks, Rachel Blacher, Lola Carlisle, Karri Hobson-Pape, Judy Potter,  Jack White,  Jess Windham

  • Continued to add to VH historic archives.
  • Met with an archivist to discuss best practices for archiving images and documents.
  • Added historic maps to archives and development map online.
  • Served as a resource as needed for those concerned about preservation in VH.
  • Encouraged creation of and provided preservation content on relevant to VH.
  • Called out to community to identify subdivision champions to gather history and promote preservation by subdivision. Resulted in the identification of several research projects which will result in content creation. Also resulted in the creation of a Historic Designation Steering Committee for “F.A. Ames Property / Virginia Highlands.” This committee will pursue HD for that area.

VHCA Co-Sponsoring APS BOE At-Large Candidates’ Forum This Week

110713063635_NewAPS-LogoThe Virginia Highland Civic Association and Inman Park Neighborhood Association are sponsoring an Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education At-Large Candidates’ Forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the Inman Middle School auditorium, 774 Virginia Avenue NE.

Candidates in attendance are running for at-large seats Districts 7, 8 and 9. Confirmed attendees to date include: Courtney English (At-Large Seat 7); Cynthia Briscoe-Brown, Reuben McDaniel, Mark Riley and Tom Tidwell (At-Large Seat 8); Jason Esteves and Lori James (At-Large Seat 9). The event will be moderated by past CNN and WABE journalist, Susanna Capelouto.

All are welcome to attend. Please submit questions in advance to


Progress on Ponce!

Ponce-City-Market-Logo-221x300The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Board of Directors wishes to sincerely thank Jodi Mansbach, Vice President of Development, Construction and Sustainability for Jamestown Properties, for hosting members of our board and that of the Poncey Highland Neighborhood Association at Ponce City Market this past weekend. We were thrilled to see the tremendous progress being made on this important redevelopment along the Atlanta BeltLine and look forward to the day when a stroll down the Eastside Trail can include a stopover at your wonderful property.

Jodi Mansback with Jamestown Properties is our host.

Jodi Mansbach with Jamestown Properties is our host.

Before the tour starts she gives use the 50,000 foot view via the model.

Before the tour starts Jodi gives us the 50,000 foot view via the model.

Hard hats donned, we begin our tour.

Hard hats donned, the tour begins.

We walk from the building where the leasing center will be, past the newly laid surface parking lot and into the west side of the building.

We walk from the building where the leasing center will be, past the newly laid surface parking lot and into the west side of the building.


This shot shows how endless the space appears when you're inside. The restored original columns are awe-inspiring.

This shot shows how endless the space appears when you’re inside. The restored original columns are awe-inspiring.


Jodi was very knowledgable and provided great insight into the status of the project and its importance to Jamestown Properties.

Jodi was very knowledgable and provided great insight into the status of the project and its importance to Jamestown Properties.


VHCA Board President Jack White makes a point.

VHCA Board President Jack White makes a point.

That's a view down 8 floors...made my stomach a little queasy.

That’s a view down eight floors of stairwell…made my stomach a little queasy.

It was very hazy and the light was less than ideal, but here's a shot of the Midtown skyline.

It was hazy and the light was less than ideal, but here’s a shot of the Midtown skyline from one of the best views in the city.

This south-looking view from the roof shows just a glimpse of the development that's taking place along the BeltLine Eastside Trail.

This south-looking view from the roof shows just a glimpse of the development that’s taking place in the Old Fourth Ward along the BeltLine Eastside Trail.

The iconic water tower and flag that can be seen from just about anywhere. The water tower will actually serve a purpose by containing gray water that will provide gravity-fed cooling for the HVAC system.

The iconic water tower and flag that can be seen from just about anywhere. The water tower will actually serve a purpose by storing water that will provide gravity-fed cooling for the HVAC system.

The luck tour-goers.

The lucky tour-goers.

Click here to view the full album of photos from the group’s tour.




2014-2015 VHCA Board of Directors Bios

Following are bios for members of the 2014-15 VHCA Board of Directors.

board_peggyPeggy Berg

I moved to Virginia Highland in 1984 and have a home, rental property and had a business in the neighborhood. My husband and I raised our two sons here and I served on PTAs for Morningside Elementary, Inman Middle and Grady High Schools. We have always been active in our neighborhood.

Our family is in the hotel business (we own the Hampton Inn Northlake Mall) and I have also been a partner in a consulting firm and an international CPA firm. I have a strong business background. I have chaired several industry and professional organizations. I recently completed a Masters degree from Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.

I believe that our individual involvement is what makes our neighborhood such a good place to live so I served on the VHCA Board in 2012 and 2013. I work on sidewalks and streets. This year, the City has responded to requests from us with regard to pedestrian signs, street signs, traffic lights and other maintenance items on the streets. We have also been working on a program to improve sidewalks in Virginia Highland and expect to have 29 sidewalk segments replaced by year-end with collaborative funding from VHCA, the City and property owners.

LinkedIn Brandenberger
David Brandenberger

I have been a homeowner on Rosedale Road for nearly fourteen years where I now live with my wife of ten years, Dana and our 6-year old son, Eric. Since playing sports and earning a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, I have been employed in various sales and sales leadership roles in the technology and now ‘cloud’ computing space, presently managing Southeast enterprise sales for a leading marketing automation company based out of Northern California.

Since living in the neighborhood, I have been fairly active with more ‘street-centric’ community activities, including helping to organize block parties, street yard sales, and at various times working with the City, DeKalb County and other adjoining non-residential neighbors to the East of Rosedale Road to try to remedy various rainwater and sewer-related runoff issues of concern to several homeowners on the street. I have a keen interest in preserving our unique intown neighborhood and the quality of life for all residents it provides.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with family, gardening, cooking, coaching my son’s soccer team and enjoying our awesome neighborhood and surrounding communities. I am eager to expand my leadership and ‘community’ involvement beyond the work I have done on our street and expand this to the broader Virginia-Highland community. While I have interests in potentially working with the Parks, Planning, Communications and/or Safety committees, I feel my skills and enthusiasm would be a good fit anywhere and I am eager to be of service wherever needed most upon being elected to the Board.

TRP_Lola_pic_croppedLola Carlisle 

I am currently on the VHCA board. I have volunteered with various organizations in Virginia-Highland since 1997. My husband, Tom Beisel, and I have lived in Virginia-Highland at 1030 N. Virginia Ave. since 1993, and are the second family to live at this address! We raised our daughter here and we couldn’t ask for a better neighborhood to call home.

Over the years I’ve volunteered with VHMPA, VHCA History & Preservation efforts, PLAN – reporting to the City of Atlanta from Virginia-Highland as the zoning code was revised, VHCA Planning Committee and various fundraising efforts of VHCA. Having a passion for preservation, I co-authored Images of America – Virginia–Highland history book with Karri Hobson-Pape.

I hope to continue working with the planning and preservation committees helping to ensure that development in the area supports the goals set in our Master Plan . Through proper planning and oversight, Virginia-Highland can represent the best Atlanta has to offer in a vibrant intown neighborhood.


Emily Gilbert

I am an attorney who graduated from Emory and Georgia State Law School and has lived in this city for almost two decades.  I moved to Virginia-Highland because I appreciate its great mix of homes and businesses, both of which are very important. This community is unique and vibrant, and I want it to stay that way.  While the Civic Association has accomplished a lot, there are even more things it can do, and I hope to be part of that.


PicCivicAssocPaige Hewell

I have lived in the neighborhood on Virginia Circle for over a decade. A native Atlantan, I grew up in Buckhead and had little exposure to Va-Hi. I truly love our community and sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am to be a part of it. Leon, my puppy, is loving the neighborhood as well.

My professional background is marketing. I worked primarily in telecom for 10 years before following an old boss to healthcare. I’ve loved the challenges and education I’ve gained from the switch.

Though a latecomer to neighborhood volunteerism, I have really enjoyed working on the Summerfest organization committee. I became involved in many activities that I had never imagined I would, such as appearing in a TV promo and even fence building. I’ve gotten to know some great people whom I might not have met otherwise. I’ve loved every minute of it.

I look forward to continuing my involvement with Summerfest and serving on the board of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association.

Keenan-jeniferJenifer Keenan 

I am a mom, wife, lawyer, and community activist who has lived in Virginia Highland for 11 years. I take great pride in our neighborhood and have been an active neighborhood advocate on the BeltLine and important neighborhood issues.

I served as the Secretary of NPU-F for 7 years and have been a VHCA Board member for 3 years. My service as NPU Secretary and on the VHCA Board has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the issues facing our neighborhood and the most effective ways to deal with those challenges. My neighbors, friends, work colleagues and fellow NPU and VHCA board members would all describe me as a “go-getter” – when I see something that needs to be improved or changed, I work hard to make it happen!

Since my election to the VHCA board in 2012, I  have primarily served on the Planning Committee. In 2013-2014, I was the co-chair of the VHCA Master Plan submcommittee. The comprehensive Master Plan addresses many of the most important topics facing our community, including zoning and development, historic preservation, traffic, parks and open space, environmental issues. I look forward to serving on the Board for 2015 – 2016 term and plan to focus on implementing the Master Plan and the challenges posed by increased development in our neighborhood.

Catherine_LewisCatherine Lewis

I have lived in Virginia Highland since 1995; and in our house on Lanier Boulevard since 1998. I’m an alumna of Emory University and have been in Atlanta since 1986. I hope to serve the VHCA by helping to coordinate the community effort as we begin to renovate the No. 19 Fire Station. This is such an important local resource, and many of us are committed to making sure it remains a vibrant part of our neighborhood. This is a big project; one in which the VHCA has played a central role. In my worklife, I am the Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books at Kennesaw State University and the Bobby Jones Curator and Special Projects Coordinator at the Atlanta History Center. Our family is very committed to the historic fabric of this neighborhood and hope to help it continue to grow and thrive. You will see my husband, John, and daughter, Emma on a bicycle, on foot, or on a razor scooter in the neighborhood. I would be honored to serve the neighborhood with this very dedicated group of friends and colleagues.

ViHi headshot clColleen Lysen

I’m a new resident of Atkins Park/Virginia-Highland, my husband and I bought our house in May of 2013. Originally I’m from the Philadelphia area, two years ago when we visited Atlanta for the first time we knew that the Virginia-Highland area would be where we would want to live.  We loved all the great restaurants, historic homes, and walking though the neighborhoods parks.

I work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a molecular epidemiology team that focuses on water borne parasitic diseases.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling and food related endeavors including cooking, tending to my vegetable garden (fending off the squirrels), and trying new foods and restaurants. I have a 4-year-old Australian Shepherd that loves to go for long walks throughout the neighborhood and exploring the great parks that Atlanta has to offer.

RBR-VHCARobin Ragland

After joining my husband in retirement in 2006, we relocated to Virginia-Highland from Gwinnett County. We arrived just in time to enjoy our first Dogwood Festival as locals, relax with our new Elmwood neighbors at the annual street party, and volunteer for, as well as have a blast at, our first Summerfest! I soon lost count of how many times we said “what took us so long to move here” while walking to local restaurants and shops. It quickly became apparent that a key component to keeping our neighborhood so vibrant is the continued contributions of volunteers organized and focused through the VHCA.

I’ve continued to volunteer for Summerfest each year in various capacities. In 2012, I began participating in fundraising for the neighborhood by creating items to sell from recycled Summerfest t-shirts. I joined the Tour of Homes committee in 2013, chairing the sponsorship sub-committee. We raised over $30,000 that year, and in 2014, we increased that to over $33,000. Now the tour committee is in the midst of preparing for the 2015 tour, and this time, we are planning to raise at least $40,000 for the neighborhood. We are eager to show off our neighborhood during the 2015 tour, and create another great tour next year!

angelika and flowers 4584x6Angelika Taylor

Hi…I’m Angelika Taylor. My husband Joe and I moved to Virginia-Highland four years ago with our girls Ally, 16, and Kenzie, 14, to start a new life in the city! Two years ago, we welcomed a baby boy named Jack into our family.

We jumped right into Virginia-Highland headfirst. We bought a house in desperate need of love and affection. I have owned my own business as an interior designer for 14 years. Together, my husband and I run our own company, Taylor and Taylor Homes. We have a passion for renovating homes, selling them and changing neighborhood streets, one house at a time.

Our family is committed to our neighborhood and community. Our girls have both gone through Inman Middle School and are now at Grady High, and Jack attends International Pre School. We believe in shopping local and we can often be spotted at many of the restaurants, bars and shops around VaHi.

Three years ago I took on the challenge of chairing the Tour of Homes committee for the VHCA. TOH is the neighborhood’s second largest fundraiser and, since I’ve chaired the event, proceeds from the tour have grown from $15,000 to over $50,000.  This year should be even better.

If elected to the VHCA board, I’d like to continue my leadership of the Tour of Homes committee, and also look forward to finding new ways to serve the residents of the community that my family and I have grown to love so much.

IMG_2755Jack White 

When my (then four-year old) daughter and I moved from Midtown to Virginia-Highland in 1984, we were the two youngest people on the half-block.  If I am not now the oldest, I’m pretty darn close. My particular interests are planning, parks, and public resources, particularly water use and stream issues, a field in which I’ve worked for several decades. Our neighborhood schools that both my kids attended are pretty high on the list too.

I’m grateful for the Virginia-Highland Civic Association’s role in helping shape the history of the community.  If the residents of the late 60’s and early 70’s hadn’t organized and stood together with their allies to the north and south, it’s very likely that most of us wouldn’t be living in – and might not even recognize – this neighborhood today.  The idea of a huge interstate highway cleaving the Old Fourth Ward, clipping the Inman School parking lot, splitting Orme Park, and blasting through our neighborhood and Morningside seems even more preposterous in retrospect than it did then, but I believe it’s accurate to say that the successful struggle to prevent that road’s construction represented the first defeat of its scope for the (then) Georgia Highway Department.  (Thankfully, there would be more, the original huge Presidential Parkway among them.)

It took endless energy and an almost illogical faith in the potential of citizen movements to stop that road.   The lasting gifts of that period include are a tradition of openness and a belief in the power of organization that are as important  today as they were then.  The challenges of our decade are not as obvious nor as dramatic, but the need for a strong and democratic community organization that capably advocates for the neighborhood remains very clear.

I’ve enjoyed serving on the board these last two years.  The experience has made me even more appreciative of the Association’s wide range of activities and the volume of effort that our volunteers expend.   The challenges and occasional frustrations have been more than counterbalanced by the chance to work with large numbers of energetic, humorous, and hardworking optimists who like to get things done.  I’d be pleased to serve another year.

Lauren Wilkes FralickLauren Wilkes Fralick 

Lauren and her husband Frank moved to the neighborhood in 2011. They live on Highland View with their dog Abner. Lauren works in Government Relations for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. On the weekends, you may find her working on one of the many “do it yourself” projects they have going on at their home.

Lauren has been a board member for two years and has been a driving force on the Parks Committee. Lauren looks forward to another year serving the neighborhood.

Jess at 4th and SwiftJess Windham

For about the last three years – even before officially moving in – I have been active with the neighborhood Civic Association, primarily through the VHCA Planning and the Master Plan creation process. My role in that process was to keep everything on the rails: organizing and communicating the public meeting schedule, sharing information and clarifying inaccuracies, coordinating the steering committee, and feeling out consensus every step of the way. 

Since the Master Plan was adopted by council, I have been focusing on the implementation of the highest priority items outlined in the Master Plan. This has involved follow up with various city departments and nonprofits. I’m excited to be part of a vibrant urban community with a rich diversity of residents and incredible history. Currently I’m also serving as ambassador between the neighborhood and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition for the Atlanta Streets Alive event in September.

In terms of style, I have a diplomatic approach, a true desire to contribute, and would appreciate the opportunity to serve the neighborhood. I’d like to continue to be involved on the board so that I can support the neighborhood with broad initiatives, from master planning to fundraising for our parks. Having served on the Planning Committee, I understand the time, patience, and dedication needed to create positive changes that keep the neighborhood vibrant. Change is inevitable and the desirability of VaHi is only going to grow. I’d like to be on the board to ensure the character and quality of life in Virginia-Highland continues to get better each year.



VHCA Announces Candidates for 2013-14 Board of Directors; Absentee Ballot Available

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadThe nominating committee of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association presents the following list of candidates, all of whom have declared their candidacy. Click on the candidate’s name to go to a page with candidate bio’s.

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 19, 2013 at the Inman Middle School Cafeteria starting at 6:30 PM. 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 Thursday, September 19th or to the Annual Meeting by its start time at 6:30 PM. 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.

Click here for a copy of the absentee ballot.


VHCA Announces Process to Develop Neighborhood Master Plan

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadIn July of this year, the Virginia-Highland Civic Association announced the formation of a Task Force to guide the creation of a transportation plan for Virginia-Highland. This plan contemplated combining public input and review of existing factors with professional planning guidance to create an effective set of goals based on an overall vision. We asked for volunteers; the number of citizens who responded represented an impressive cross-section of VaHi residents.

As we tried to define the scope of such a plan, many closely related topics emerged that are fundamental to the community’s future, though not directly related to transportation. In order to make the most efficient use of the feedback processes and resources needed for any such public effort, it became clear to the Board that it makes more sense to broaden the planning scope beyond transportation to key topics like open space, urban design characteristics, historic resources, public services, demographic issues, development variables, environmental challenges, and educational concerns. The result will be a Master Plan for Virginia-Highland.

The advantages of a formal master plan are considerable. One is obvious: it’s a formal chance for citizens to examine alternatives and create goals in the context of existing development plans, policy and research. Visions that are formed absent such contexts have very limited chances of being implemented. Additionally, most governments – including the City of Atlanta – are far more likely to approve and fund projects that are broadly consistent with their own approaches and have been formally adopted through a recognized master plan process. Once just a very good idea, community-based master plans are now a practical necessity in large urban areas. Neighborhoods that have such plans are far better situated than those that do not.

Our neighbors in Poncey-Highland and Candler Park have recently completed master plans; they may be viewed at and, respectively.

The timeline and method for creating this plan is approximately 8 to 12 months, with public engagement and meetings throughout the process. The process will be led by our longtime planning consultant and partner, Market +Main, under the guidance of Aaron Fortner, who played such a key role in the adoption of the Neighborhood Commercial Zoning along North Highland Avenue.

Market + Main will facilitate a variety of focus groups on broad topics such as:

  • Neighborhood businesses and market conditions
  • School site analysis and planning
  • Historic preservation, zoning, and land use
  • Parks, green space, and environmental resources
  • Traffic and transportation

There will be many opportunities to contribute to this effort, and we would like to hear from you. Please keep an eye out for announcements throughout the fall season for public engagement, both in-person and online. Throughout the process, we will be compiling information on this website: While no requirement other than residency is needed to be part of this process, you can let us know if you are particularly interested in serving on a focus group by providing this form to Jenifer Keenan at by Sept. 9.

  • Name, address, and time as VaHi resident or business owner
  • Why are you interested in serving on the Focus Group?
  • What expertise/experience do you have in the area that will be covered by the Focus Group?
  • Focus Group (choose one):  1) Neighborhood Businesses 2) Schools 3) Historic Preservation, Zoning, & Land Use 4) Parks, Green Space, & Environmental Resources, 5) Traffic and Transportation

Agenda Set for August 12 VHCA Board and General Meeting

VHLogo_color_horiz_letterheadHere’s the tentative agenda for tonight’s monthly board and general meeting of the VHCA. The public is invited to attend the meeting which will be held at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. and start at 7:00 PM.

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda (with permission for chair to rearrange order as needed) & Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire Department representatives

City of Atlanta officials

Other Elected Officials & Guests

  • Joan Garner, Fulton County Zone 6 Commissioner
  • Kate Baltzell, Trees Atlanta education coordinator (Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum)

Planning Committee – Lola Carlisle

Variances – Lola Carlisle

VaHi Master Plan – Jenifer Keenan and Jess Windham


  • Summerfest – Pam Papner
  • Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

  • Sidewalks update
  • Streets Alive – Sunday, October 6, 2013

Parks –  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park update

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle



Tentative Agenda Set for July 8 VHCA Board and General Meeting

Here’s the tentative agenda for tonight’s meeting which will be held at the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. starting at 7 PM. The public is invited.

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda (with permission for chair to rearrange order as needed) and Minutes

Reports from Police and Fire Dept. representatives

  • Special report by Lt. Jeff Baxter of APD’s new Path Force BeltLine Patrol

City of Atlanta officials

Other elected officials and guests

Planning Committee – Lola Carlisle

Change of agent and change of corporate ownership for liquor license:

  • Erik Maier, Yeah Burger, 1017 North Highland Ave. NE.  (No LRB filing number provided by NPU-F; requested for this meeting from applicant.)  Applicant reports no history of liquor code violations or charges; in-house training program to continue. Subject to provision of application in a timely manner, Planning Committee unanimously recommends forwarding to NPU-F with no objection.


  • V-13-021;  960 Highland Terrace NE  – withdrawn by applicant.  Planning Committee recommends denial without prejudice.
  • V-13-077;  770 Greenwood Ave. NE.; RG2 zoning; revised application for a reduction in the side yard setback from 7’ required to 3’ for the construction of a new garage and 2nd floor office.  Requested setback minimizes impact on 30”+ slash pine in NW corner of yard that si believed to be the largest such tree in the neighborhood. Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval, subject to provision of all letters of notification and standard VaHi accessory building conditions (60A maximum electrical service and plumbing restricted to hose bib connection only with no connection to sewer system), and applicant’s promise – in light of reduced buffer) to be mindful of construction impacts on east-side neighbor.
  • V-13-099;  1062 Maryland Ave NE; R-4 zoning.   Applicant requests a reduction in the rear yard setback to 5’ to expand the southwest corner of an existing garage being rebuilt on an otherwise existing foundation.  The application includes a toilet and sink inside the garage.  The applicant has appropriately notified the neighbors.  Noting the historic potential and practice of some such structures being converted to illegal residences, the Planning Committee unanimously recommends approval of the expanded rear setback with standard VaHi accessory building conditions (60A maximum electrical service and plumbing restricted to hose bib connection only with no connection to sewer system.)
  • V-13-101; 1050 Ponce de Leon Ave (Briarcliff Summit);  R-4 zoning.  Deferred at request of the applicant.
  • V-13-116; 848  Highland Terrace NE; R-4 zoning.  Appeal of property owners at 854 Highland Terrace NE of a City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management riparian buffer delineation at 848 Highland Terrace and the subsequent issuance of a building permit based on that decision.  Planning Committee unanimously recommends support of the appeal and the use of a standard and typical buffer delineation.

VaHi Transportation Plan – Jenifer Keenan and Jess Windham


  • Summerfest – Pam Papner
  • Tour of Homes – Angelika Taylor

Safety Committee – Peggy Berg

  • Sidewalks update
  • Streets Alive – Sunday, October 6, 2013

Parks –  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park update

New Business

Calendar Items – Lola Carlisle



Agenda for March 11, 2013 VHCA Board and General Meeting

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM, Monday March 11 2013; Ponce de Leon Ave. Library

Meeting Agenda

Call to Order

Adoption of Agenda and Approval of Minutes  

Reports from Police and Fire Representatives

City of Atlanta Officials  

Other Elected Officials and Guests

Planning Committee: Lola Carlisle

> Addition of new member Jess Windham


V-13-017, 617 Cresthill Ave NE

V-13-019, 1049 North Virginia Avenue NE

V-13-027, 988 Lanier Blvd NE

V-13-028, 750 Drewry Street NE

V-13-033, 994 Lanier Blvd NE

VHCA Goals and Budget for 2013


> Summerfest update – Pamela Papner

Parks:  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

> John Howell Park report

> New Highland Park grand opening event – Pamela Papner


> Sidewalks Update – Peggy Berg

New Business

Calendar Items: Lola Carlisle



Agenda Set for VHCA Meeting – February 11, 2013

Virginia-Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, February 11, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library


  • Call to Order
  • Adoption of Agenda & Approval of Minutes
  • Reports from Public Safety representatives
  • City of Atlanta officials
  • Other elected officials & guests
  • Randy Guensler, Ga. Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Committee Reports:
    • Fundraising
      • Summerfest update – Pam Papner
      • Planning  – Lola Carlisle
        • V-13-002, 1026 Bellevue Drive NE.  Homeowner and applicant Celia O’Keefe seek a special exception to relocate a bedroom inside the existing footprint of a legal non-conforming duplex with a grandfathered apartment in an accessory structure in the rear.  The room currently being used for a bedroom for their small child was not designed for that purpose. A site visit revealed no other issues.  At the Planning Committee meeting on 2-5-13, the applicant had proof of notification of the relevant neighbors.  There were no objections or other relevant comments, and the committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned on site plans stamped and dated 1-8-13.
        • LRB _____ . Applicant and owner Emile Blau seeks a license to sell spirituous liquors at the American Roadhouse, 842 N. Highland Avenue NE.  The applicant’s application was mysteriously undated despite its trip through the City, an unusual (but not unheard of) result. The applicant attended the Planning Committee meeting on 2-5-13 and avers as follows: He has 23 years of experience in the restaurant management at Bones and related businesses; his proposed manager has similar experience. Neither has been personally cited or represented a business cited for underage service of alcohol. He will do in-house training for staff on alcohol service, recognition of boisterous behavior, and identification of conditions that dictate the refusal of service.  The Planning Committee recommended that the application go forward without opposition.
        • Aaron Fortner, Market & Main
          • Analysis of Middle School expansion impacts on traffic, land use, and neighborhood balance
  • Adjournment

VHCA Board Members Meet With APS Superintendent; Discuss Overcrowding Task Force Recommendations

Inman Middle School

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

In December, the Inman Task Force formed by school board representative Cecily Harsch-Kinnane issued a report on the two issues it was asked to consider: (1) whether a 6th or 8th grade academy would be a better short-term solution for the Grady Cluster’s overcrowding, and (2) potential sites for such an academy. The Task Force preferred a 6th grade academy and named three possible sites, two of them in Virginia-Highland (one next to the existing Inman building, and the other being the block south of Cresthill Avenue and west of Monroe now occupied by about eight private homes that would be torn down.)

The VHCA Planning Committee asked Aaron Fortner – the principal at Market & Main and our municipal consultant for several years – to analyze a number of important factors outside the purview of the Task Force, particularly the traffic, policy, and planning implications and impacts of construction at the two VaHi locations. His firm compared such outcomes at those two sites to a third location also recommended (less enthusiastically) by the Task Force: the Howard School located in the Old Fourth Ward.

The Market & Main analysis is available here.

Well aware that APS will consider many factors in reaching this decision and facing an announced end-of-January deadline, we very much wanted this information and these concerns to be in front of APS Superintendent Erroll Davis before he acted. Accordingly, members of the VHCA Planning Committee met with Superintendent Davis and other APS officials last week to present the findings contained in the Market & Main report.

Our discussion with Superintendent Davis was cordial, detailed, and thorough; he specifically asked about the history of the neighborhood, the Civic Association, and its historic support of public education. Davis spoke carefully, as he always does, making several key points: (1) His anticipated January deadline for a decision will not be met; (2) He is looking for a site that could accommodate a middle school in the future, though he did not say that one would be built; (3) None of the locations recommended by the Task Force is ideal, and APS is reviewing many options, including the original three sites.

The Market & Main report makes no recommendation as to what location should be picked, but we are aware that the conclusions in it may not be welcomed by anyone who believes that expansion at the Inman or Monroe sites is the only acceptable outcome to the attendance challenges facing the Grady cluster. The report focuses on the overall impacts of building in VaHi – increased traffic, non-conforming land use, congestion – and the implications that flow from them, specifically those that might contribute over the long run to permanently altering the residential character of the neighborhood.

Such challenges exist in many contexts independent of possible new school construction. The popularity of the Beltline has heightened traffic/pedestrian conflicts on an already-stressed Monroe (where both the Piedmont Heights Master Plan and the Beltline Plan suggest changes), and pedestrian safety on Briarcliff is a very real concern for those walking to SPARK. A separate public meeting next week at Inman Middle School will hear about pending traffic changes intended to relieve congestion on Ponce.  The neighborhood has existing un-built commercial and residential capacity, the eventual utilization of which is very likely to exacerbate today’s traffic challenges.

The permanent impacts of unplanned construction in our neighborhood outside the Comprehensive Development Plan require especially thorough consideration. Our primary goal – as it is frequently is in such matters – was to examine the traffic and policy issues in a professional context with an independent planner, and that is what Market and Main provided.

As always, please let us know your thoughts about the report. Aaron Fortner will be at our next VHCA meeting (February 11th, 7 PM, Ponce library) to amplify on his work.


Agenda Set for January 14, 2013 VHCA Board Meeting

The VHCA has posted the following agenda for tonight’s regular monthly board meeting. This agenda is tentative and subject to change.

Virginia Highland Civic Association Monthly Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, January 14, 2013; Ponce de Leon Library

Tentative Agenda

Call to Order     

Adoption of Agenda & Approval of Minutes

Reports from Police & Fire Representatives

City of Atlanta Officials

Other Elected Officials & Guests

  • Bill Seay, Piedmont Heights Master Plan

VHCA Committee Reports and Proposed Goals and Budgets for 2013 


Tour of Homes –  Financial Summary: Arturo Cruz-Tucker

Summerfest Update – Pamela Papner

Planning  – Lola Carlisle

  • V – 12- 217   Ponce de Leon Terrace NE.  Applicant Magdalena Bach (on behalf of owner John Vertefeuille) seeks a variance from zoning regulations to reduce the west side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3’8”.  A Planning Committee site visit on 1-7-13 revealed no concerns regarding the setback allowance or tree or runoff issues of concern. The Committee unanimously recommended approval at its meeting on 1-9-13, conditioned on site plans stamped and dated 12-19-12 and proof of notification of the standard eight adjacent owners. The committee recommended native plantings to absorb water from the area at the rear of the property above an intermittent stream; the stream enters an underground in a pipe immediately upstream (to the east), but the area is predictably wet. The applicant agreed to research and provide appropriate options to the owner.

Parks –  Lauren Wilkes-Fralick

  • John Howell Park report
  • VHCL – Pamela Papner
  • New Highland Park opening

Budget Committee – Arturo Cruz-Tucker

Safety Committee

  • Sidewalks Update – Peggy Berg

New Business

Calendar Items

  • Lola Carlisle



Piedmont Heights Master Plan To Be Presented at January VHCA Board Meeting

By: Jack White, VHCA Board President

Bill Seay from the Piedmont Heights Civic Association (PHCA) will make a brief presentation on that group’s proposed new master plan at this month’s regular VHCA board meeting. The meeting is scheduled for Monday January 14 at 7 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Piedmont Heights, Virginia-Highland, Morningside/Lenox Park, and Lindridge/Martin Manor are the neighborhoods that comprise NPU-F. The PHCA defines Piedmont Heights’ boundaries as being roughly I-85 on the north, the (future) BeltLine on the southwest, and Piedmont Road on the south and east. The association is seeking NPU approval for their master plan, and part of that process involves giving adjacent neighborhoods the chance to hear about the plan first-hand.

The plan merits our attention, partly because the VHCA Planning Committee has been examining the planning implications of traffic issues on our major streets for some time, and specifically because the PHCA’s plan supports the BeltLine-adopted future recommendation of reducing Monroe Drive from 4 to 3 lanes north of Piedmont. The PHCA has had to contend with Monroe as a choke point for decades. Their thinking is shifting away from expanding that street’s capacity and toward trying to making it more pedestrian and cycling-compatible, characteristics it emphatically does not possess at this point anywhere along its length.

Given the new pedestrian/bike usage and increased crowds at the new BeltLine connection with Monroe in VaHi, this challenge is increasingly front and center for us as well. BeltLine usage is likely to increase dramatically this spring. As Monroe is currently the only formal entrance point the BeltLine trail from our neighborhood, pedestrian safety is a real concern.

Click here for more details on Piedmont Height’s proposed master plan.



The VHCA Needs Your Help

By: Lola Carlisle, VHCA Board Vice-President

Interested in investing some time giving back to this wonderful in-town community that means so much to all of us? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association (VHCA) has much work to do and volunteers are needed! If you’re not familiar with the VHCA please visit our website at to learn more about our neighborhood, the association and the many ways you can get involved.

Following are two current immediate needs but volunteers of all interests are always welcome. For more information or to volunteer, email

The Historic & Preservation Committee is currently searching through old civic association documents, organizing them and digitizing as much as we can. We’d love an organized, tech savvy volunteer to take on this task. If you’d like to learn more about the committee and its goals look us up at or email us at

• Also, the Planning Committee is busy year round and the work this committee does is very important. The committee reviews zoning variance applications and monitors a range of development activities in our area and surrounding neighborhoods. As a start, we need an organized and somewhat tech savvy volunteer to help set up and attend meetings and create and post reports. Serving in this position will be a good way to begin to learn all about the Planning Committee, city zoning approval processes and more. To learn more go to or mail us at

I can say from personal experience that working with the association and its board and committee members of the VHCA is a rewarding experience. As a group, those who volunteer are fun to be with and inspiring, and the organization’s goals and achievements are worthy.

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from eager volunteers.


Minutes: October 8, 2012 VHCA Board Meeting

Monday, October 8, 2012; the Church of Our Saviour 


Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7 PM.   The following board members were present:   John Becker, Lola Carlisle,  Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Genny Ferrero, Pamela Papner, David Rein, and Jack White.  Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Nicole Foerschler Horn,  Jennifer Keenan, and David Wolfson and were absent with notice.  Peggy Berg had provided notice of a conflict and arrived subsequently.


Father John Bolton extended a warm welcome to the Association, guests, and community members.


Mr. White moved to approve the agenda, the motion was seconded by Ms. Carlisle, and the motion passed unanimously.


The evening shift commander for Zone 6, Neil Klotzer, spoke.   He noted that while he he did not have any statistical data available, the neighborhood’s crime statistics are available online.  He further welcomed any questions from the audience.

It was reported by an audience member that there were three robberies last month in the neighborhood, and that there is an unofficial discussion is ongoing as to whether the people who recently committed similar robberies in Midtown were the same.   Mr. Klotzer advised that he would look into the matter and invited further inquiries by providing his contact information (; 404-617-8157.    Following additional questioning, Mr. Klotzer further indicated that there were no reported incidents from the recent Streets Alive event.

Other elected officials & guests


VHCA Committee reports

Organizational Board Meeting.   Ms. Carlisle reported that the Board had its Organizational Board Meeting on September 23 and that Board officers were elected at that time as follows:   Jack White, President; Lola Carlisle, Vice President; Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Treasurer; Genny Ferrero, Secretary.   Ms. Carlise further commented on the appointment of committee chairs, all of which will be available on the VHCA website.


V-12-070;  1041 Greencove Ave. NE.   Applicant Mark Arnold spoke on behalf of owners Karrie Furman and Jeffrey Glover, who have requested a reduction in side yard setback from 7’ (required) to 3.5’.   Ms. Carlisle reported that during a site visit, no tree issue or runoff issues were observed and that the Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval.  Mr. White moved that the Board recommend approval to the NPU, conditioned upon the site plan dated 9/19/12 and proof of mailing to adjacent neighbors; the motion passed unanimously.


Mr. White spoke on behalf of Lauren Wilkes Fralick.  He reported that the application for a grant in support of the Association’s recently-approved John Howell Park Conceptual Plan had been submitted to Park Pride and that a decision was expected in the next month.  He further acknowledged and thanked all of the volunteers who made the October 7th Triangle Planting a success.   Ms. Papner spoke regarding New Highland Park, noting that construction of the park was proceeding  apace and should be substantially complete by the next meeting.   An audience member questioned whether Mr. Glancy has provided the funds raised from his race to the VHCA yet for the construction of New Highland Park.   He has not, Ms. Papner reported on behalf of VHCL.


Tour of Homes.   Angelika Taylor provided an update to the Board, stating that the TOH committee already has $10,000 in sponsorships. There will be six homes and one B&B on the Tour this year, and several magazines have also agreed to publish articles on the event.

Summerfest / New Highland Park.   Ms. Papner informed the Board that this was the best year ever – netting approximately $195,000 in Summerfest proceeds.

Safety/ Sidewalks  Ms. Berg spoke regarding ongoing and proposed sidewalk projects.   She noted that many crosswalks in the neighborhood have been recently improved at her request, and that she is investigating the possibility of adding ADA curbs on various sites.   She also presented a check to the Board for the amount received from the recycling and sale of pavers removed from old sidewalks during replacement.  She explained that the St. Charles bundle will be installed in the next couple of months and, moving forward, she moved for Board permission to investigate three possible bundles in the future and make necessary repairs that fall within the allotted budget.   Mr. White seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Communications.   Mr. Becker spoke regarding the communications committee, and noted that all communications projects are proceeding smoothly.

There was no new business.

Calendar Items

Lola Carlisle commented that the next board meeting will also be held at the Church of our Saviour on November 12.

John Wolfinger reported that there is a graffiti clean-up scheduled for Saturday, October 20, at 9:00 am, to address the remaining graffiti at the back of the Highland Theater.


The meeting was adjourned at 7:50 PM.


Minutes: September 10, 2012 VHCA Board Meeting

7:00 PM;  Monday, September 10, 2012; Ponce de Leon Library

Call to Order

Mr. White called the meeting to order at 7:01. The following board members were present:  Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Frazier Dworet, Genny Ferrero, Brian Gross, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner, Jack White, John Wolfinger, and David Wolfson.  Lauren Wilkes Fralick was absent with notice. Mr. Glancy did not attend.

Adoption of Agenda &  Approval of Minutes

Ms. Foerschler Horn made and Mr. White seconded a motion to adopt the attached agenda, which was approved without objection.

Reports from Police & Fire representatives


City of Atlanta officials


Other Elected officials & guests


VHCA Committee reports


V-12-134 – 870 Adair Ave.   Applicant Charles Toti (architect Jeffrey Griffin) seeks variances to: (1) reduce the front yard setback from 35’ (required ) to 20’, and (2) reduce the half-depth front yard (along Barnett St.) from 17.5’ (required) to 7’ to allow a second story addition. Architect Jeffrey Griffin spoke on behalf of the applicant.   He noted that the application did not increase the existing lot coverage and only went upward.   He reported that letters of notification have been sent to all neighbors; no concerns have been expressed. Ms. Carlisle noted that the Planning Committee performed a site visit on August 17th and that no tree or runoff issues were observed.  The Planning Committee  unanimously recommends VHCA approval based on site plans dated and stamped August 8, 2012 and proof of mailing to notification of specified adjacent property owners.  Ms. Carlisle moved to approve per the Committee’s recommendations; Ms. Foerschler Horn seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

V-12-135 – 880 Virginia Circle. Ms. Carlisle reported that applicant Matt Perrine has requested deferral for one month, and this item was not heard.

V-12-138 – 1100 Rosewood Dr. Applicant Jason Douget seeks a variance to (1) reduce the required front yard setback from 35’ to 25’ feet (existing) and to (2) reduce the required side yard setback on the south from 7’ to 2.6’ (existing) to allow a 2nd-story addition.

Builder Tony Tripoli spoke on behalf of the applicant and stated that the existing roof line will remain virtually unchanged; proof of mailings to all neighbors have been supplied.  Mr. Tripoli noted that three of the neighbors have supplied written approval of the plans, and that a fourth neighbor has indicated verbal approval.

Ms. Carlisle noted that at the Planning Committee site visit of August 30, 2012, no apparent runoff or tree issues were noted. The Planning Committee therefore unanimously recommends approval conditioned on site plans stamped and dated August 21, 2012 and proof of appropriate notification of specified adjacent property owners. Mr. White moved to approve the Planning committee recommendations; Ms. Carlisle seconded, and it was unanimously approved.

V-12-140 – 700 Park Drive. Applicant Barry Wright seeks a variance to reduce the required half-depth front yard setback from 17.5’ to 8.3’ (existing) to allow for a 2nd-story addition and to construct a new driveway 23’ wide (20’ allowed.)  Mr. Wright presented the variance request.   He has three of eight signatures from the neighbors, and he is attempting to reach the remaining neighbors individually, but all proofs of mailing have been sent out.

A discussion ensued regarding the width of the driveway entancec and the slope of the lot upon which it sits. After a site visit on August 28, 2012, the Planning Committee asked for new stamped elevations attached to the site plan showing that the slope of the hill and height of the wall adjacent to the proposed new driveway  will conform to the existing grade in the half-depth front yard, to ensure proper visibility of and from cars backing from the driveway. Two public trees – one which was deemed hazardous by the Parks arborist – will be removed.  One public tree will be removed; the applicant will pay recompense as calculated. Ms. Carlisle requested that Mr. Wright provide an update on trees. Due to the removal of several trees on the site, the applicant is seeking to add four trees along their property at Elkmont, and four more at John Howell Park.

Ms. Carlisle reported that the Planning Committee unanimously recommended approval conditioned as amended and proof of appropriate notification of specified adjacent property owners. She therefore moved to approve the application based upon the site plans dated August 22, 2012, and the amended driveway sketches dated September 9, 2012 (which address the sight lines). Mr. White seconded the motion, and it was approved unanimously.

Nominating Committee and Annual General Meeting – Lola Carlisle

Ms. Carlisle spoke on behalf of the nominating committee and listed the individuals who have agreed to run as Board candidates on the upcoming Annual General Meeting – John Becker, Peggy Berg, Lola Carlisle, Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Genny Ferrero, Lauren Wilkes Fralick,  Nicole Foerschler Horn , Jenifer Keenan, Pamela Papner, David Rein,  Jack White, and David Wolfson – all of whom it recommended for election.

Mr. White thanked the Committee for its work and moved to approve the committee’s recommendations; Ms. Ferrero seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Mr. White further mentioned that a few members will be leaving the board and that we will take a moment to thank them for their service at the general meeting on September 13.

Other Committee Reports 

Mr. Wolfinger spoke regarding $171 that was previously supplied to the Association by the street captain on St. Charles for the removal of graffiti.  The intent was to use the money for the reimbursement of those community members who expended funds in removal efforts. However, because their reimbursement has been done in another fashion, the donor would like the funds returned. Mr. White asked Mr. Dworet if the Association can simply refund the money, and he affirmed that it can.

Ms. Foerschler Horn provided an update regarding school issues, noting that additional neighborhood children are using APS buses based on the extended routes. The City has a set up a meeting with GDOT to discuss better signage along Briarcliff road for children crossing on their way to school.

Mr. White discussed the Parks Committee’s preparation of an application to Park Pride for funding support for the renovations at John Howell Park outlined and specified in the Association’s recently-adopted conceptual plan. If successful, such an application will require support from the Association in a combination of in-kind and cash match on a dollar-for-dollar basis, predominantly cash.  He asked that the board approve and support such an application; Ms. Carlisle seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

New Business


Calendar Items



The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 PM.


VOICE to go all digital

In the August 2012 VHCA Board meeting, the Board voted to immediately discontinue publication of the VOICE as a printed magazine, although special editions may be published in the future as warranted. This decision came after audience discussion as well as a notice on the cover of May's printed edition of the VOICE. VHCA will realize cost savings of over $10,000 a year, money that will now be available to benefit the community in other ways. Since moving to our new e-newsletter format in December 2011, we have received much positive feedback about them, which provide residents more timely information.  Remember to tell your neighbors to sign up for the e-newsletters on this site and to look for the red box. If you have neighbors without email access that would like to receive printouts of the e-newsletters, please let us know at


PDF copies of VOICE 1990-1995

Thanks to Nan Hunter for providing us with most back issues of the VOICE from 1990 through 1995. We've scanned them and uploaded them to this website. You can find them by going to News/Events and selecting VOICE (Print Edition) Archive, or by following this direct link. We have provided a summary listing of most articles in each VOICE. You can also use the topic index on the right side of the page to find editions with articles on topics of interest to you.  Nan Hunter worked on the newsletter and for the VHCA for many years, and you can find her recycling and environmental columns in these issues.


Proposed revisions to VHCA bylaws

Here are links to:

(1) the existing bylaws

(2) the proposed new bylaws, for the membership’s consideration (and potential adoption) at our Annual General Meeting on September 13th at Inman Middle School; and

(3) some explanations and commentary on the changes by their primary authors, board members Genny Ferrero and Jack White.

We suggest starting with the Commentary and proceeding from there.

Your comments and suggestions are requested and welcomed::


Voice – Summer 2011

Download PDF here (7.5 MB)

– Summerfest
– Recent accomplishments of VHCA
– Maintaining curb appeal
– Funding received to benefit Orme and New Highland parks
– Rosedale Dr./N. Virginia intersection improvements made
– New businesses (Catalyst, Genki)
– History Part XI


Voice – Fall 2010

Download PDF (1.5 MB)

– Summerfest success
– President’s Corner: VHCA achievements of past 12 months
– Historic designation interest survey results to be presented
– Atlanta’s oldest fire station seeks funds for renovation
– Green Dream – New Highland Park fundraising
– Osteria 832
– Gas main replacement project nears completion
– History part VIII
– Public safety update: city codes and code violators
– Java Jive
– 2010 Tour of Homes with Design Forum
– Membership


Voice – Fall 2009

Download PDF (2.8 MB)

– Summerfest success
– Safety: our neighborhood connection VHList with 331 members
– President’s corner: past year’s achievements
– Streetscape Phase II (Triangle area) update
– Neighborhood arboretum coming to VaHi
– History part IV
– School news: MES, Inman
– New Highland Park fundraising update
– Join the New Highland Park Conservancy
– Neighborhood feels impact of Callanwolde construction
– New afterschool program (Garrison)
– City Storage
– Col. Mustard reviews D.B.A. Barbeque


Voice – Fall 2001

Download PDF (981 kB)

  • Jules Burt, artist and creator of artwork for Summerfest incl. t-shirts
  • Planning update by Betty Baumann and Winnie Currie: Eats ‘n’ Sweets location, 830 Ponce (case to save the trees was lost)
  • PEDS
  • Summerfest 2001 was success
  • Park and tree news: GA Power line clearance, 817/821 Brookridge trees, Final defeat at 830 Ponce
  • Overview of VHCA committees