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Items in the April Newsletter

 
Mark you Calendars

BPNA Monthly Meeting
Third Tuesday of the month, 7:00 p.m. at Senior Center (1705 Commerce Dr NW)

NPU-D Meeting
Tuesday, April 22, 7:30 pm 
Agape Center, 2351 Bolton Road, NW
All NPU Residents Welcome


Chili Cookoff
April 13 at Monday Night Brewing
(790 Trabert Ave)
$5 for food, $15 for food and beer

Beautification Day
April 26, meet at Forrest/Berkeley at 8:30

Waterworks Park Event
Wednesday, May 21 at Monday Night Brewing
(790 Trabert Ave)


2014 Yearly Membership Dues
Complete online

Where in BP?

A picture from within the neighborhood will be posted in the newsletter for the next 6 months.  If you know where it is located, email the location and your name to Hollie Meyer.
From all the correct entries over the next 6 months, one winner will be drawn to win a Berkeley Park t-shirt.  Each month's entry must be submitted by the last day of that month and only one entry per person per month.

#1 - April



 
Have an idea or suggestion for the newsletter? Want to nominate a fellow neighbor for Spotlight on Berkeley Park?

Send to info@berkeleypark.org
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Chili Cook Off

Please join us for the Annual Berkeley Park Chili Cook Off! Bring the whole family out (dogs too) for a day of fun and food at the annual Berkeley Park Chili Cook Off. If you're interested in entering the chili cook-off, please reach out to Cherish Bailey at cherish.bailey@gmail.com
 
When: Sunday, April 13th 1 - 4 PM
Where: Monday Night Brewing (670 Trabert Ave NW)
Cost: $5 - Food / $15 - Food & Yummy Beer
Kids under 12 are free

President's Report
 

Neighbors,
 
First I'd like to note two upcoming events in Berkeley Park, both taking place at Monday Night Brewing (670 Trabert).  I hope you can make it out to these:
  • BPNA Chili Cookoff, April 13, 1-4pm.  Cook up your best chili recipe to compete.  Tickets are $5 (food only), $15 (food/beer), and children 12 & under are free.  Dogs are welcome, too, so bring the whole family.
  • Atlanta Waterworks Friendraiser, May 21, 6-8pm.  Come kickoff civic efforts to re-open the Atlanta Waterworks as a public greenspace, in accordance with the Beltline's plan.  There will be food, beer, a band, and speakers.  Tickets are $25.
Regarding our recent the March BPNA meetings, there are several items that Jim mentions below that I also would like to note:
  • QT case - We allocated up to $1000 from the BPNA general fund to pursue an appeal in the QT case, if needed.  The board will direct this appeal process.  Jacob Burton has additionally secured a commitment for financial support from several nearby businesses and I'm awaiting word on UHNA's commitment.  I've spoken to a couple attorneys and the BPNA board will direct expenditure of these funds if needed.
  • Selig funds & traffic - Currently there are about $13,000 in Selig funds of the $45,000 that was committed to a traffic study.  Rather than devoting those funds towards uses that fell lower on the Selig usage list several years ago, we voted in March to prioritize those remaining funds from the traffic study to implementing the recommendations of the traffic study.  At this time, we do not however have approval from the city to implement any recommendations.  Nick Stone is now leading the neighborhoods traffic committee to try to see what is feasible among the study's recommendations.
I have not yet completed the agenda for the April 15 BPNA meeting, but the first item will be a request for a parking reduction exception for a proposed ophthalmology office at the corner of Howell Mill and Trabert. 
 
Regards,
Will

Beautification Update

Finally some lovely weather! Thank you Dan for getting a start on us all and replacing the plants at the Buchanan/Verner mini park.  It was sad to see what the frost had done to the magnificent cactus in the big planter. Also a big thank you once again to Linda for all her gardening skills resulting in a delightful display of daffodils last month.  It was always such a joy to drive up the road from Northside Drive into Berkeley Park and see dozens of blooming flowers. Also another big thank you to Dan and Jeff who year after year keep the corner garden at Buchanan and Verner always looking cared for and pretty.

We hope to have concrete pads poured within the next few weeks so the new park benches can be installed.  However for the time being a good general cleanup is in order. Looking at the calendar how does the April 26th work for most of the neighbors who are able/willing to put in a few hours? Pizza and drinks  are to be enjoyed at the Forrest/Berkeley mini park after the clean up!  Start at 8:30, finishing about 1:30.   Further information upcoming. 

Regards Margaret.
NPU-D and BPNA Updates

By Jim Martin

I missed the March 25th NPU-D meeting because I was traveling for work. In my absence, the meeting was run by Karyn Hudson, the NPU-D vice chairperson. There were four city-wide zoning ordinances. Those were the most that I recall dealing with at a single meeting, and we decided to defer dealing with a 5th until April at the earlier executive committee meeting. In my absence, we also reheard all of the business items from our January agenda because of a complaint that was raised in February regarding the city’s failure to properly advertise the special meeting that we held on February 11th in lieu of our regular January meeting.

The first of the four ordinances dealt with public works of art (large sculptures or murals) on private property. These already require permits, which most of the meeting attendees seemed not to understand. The ordinance was intended to modify the permitting process in order to include public input via the NPU system and to shift the entire application review process to the city’s office of cultural affairs rather than its zoning office. People seem to be deeply suspicious of this ordinance, either because they falsely believe that it introduces a new permit requirement or because they falsely believe that it will enable their neighbors to dictate aesthetic decisions via the new NPU-review process. As with all NPU reviews, the new one would be purely advisory rather than binding, so this fear seems overblown. As there seemed to be little understanding of the ordinance and no consensus, it was decided to defer acting on this until April.

The second ordinance was an attempt to reduce signage in store windows, which many retailers have used as an attempt to circumvent the sign ordinance (i.e. “It isn’t an illegal sign because there is a window in front of it”), by requiring all signs that are visible from public rights of way to meet the requirements for outdoor signs. After a surprisingly long discussion, this was approved by a vote of 10 to 6. It is not clear what the objections of the 6 folks who voted in opposition were.

The third ordinance was specific to signage at the Ponce City Market, which is the old Sears building that is not in, or even near, NPU-D. Oddly, the ordinance was deemed to be “city-wide” because it involved an amendment to the sign ordinance. It wasn’t clear to me why it was handled in this way rather than being a variance to the requirements of the ordinance for that project, which would have made it a matter specific to the impacted NPU. That aspect of the issue was not discussed at the meeting, and the ordinance was approved by a vote of 16 to 2.

The fourth ordinance was the “Urban Agriculture Ordinance” which defined two types of commercial urban food gardens and the zoning restrictions that applied to them. One of these, “Urban Gardens”, would be where food is grown but not sold (i.e. the selling would take place elsewhere). The other would be for gardens where the food is both grown and sold, “Market Gardens”. Gardens where food is grown for personal consumption (like my garden), rather than for commercial purposes, would not be affected by this ordinance. The ordinance was unanimously approved with relatively little discussion.

The reconsideration of the items from our special meeting ended up not being much of an event. Only one of these was contentious, our earlier approval of the rezoning for a proposed apartment complex behind Swinging Richards, which BPNA had also endorsed. After a somewhat confused and wide-ranging discussion, we voted to reiterate our earlier approval of this by a vote of 13 to 4. It was unclear what the four voting in opposition were actually objecting to, as their complaints seemed to involve what-if scenarios that didn’t have anything to do with zoning.

Beautification
The weather improved in March, but we didn’t get much neighborhood beautification work done. Dan Cleveland replaced the plants in the Verner mini-park that had died during the cold weather, and another bench, which we purchased with a grant from the city, arrived. We now have four benches ready to install. Margaret is planning a work day this spring for us to do this and to catch up on some much needed landscaping.

Sidewalks
I have not heard anything from the city about our sidewalk projects since receiving an email from Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza on this matter in January. March was a pretty busy month for me so I didn’t have much time to follow up on this. Hopefully we will hear about the sidewalks in April.

Selig Funds
At the March BPNA meeting we again discussed the process for spending the unexpended portion of the Selig donation. The proposals discussed at that meeting seemed to involve ways to codify not spending this money by setting it aside for undefined future project(s). It seemed to me that this would preclude alternatives, but not actually advance anything. We have been doing nothing about this for a long time now. We can choose to continue doing nothing simply by continuing to do nothing. If we now vote to officially do nothing, it is not the same thing as doing something.

QT case
At the March BPNA meeting we also discussed the future of the QT case, in which the Superior Court has still not issued its order against us. We voted to authorize the board to expend up to $1,000 out of the general fund in order to pursue an appeal of this if it chooses to. Our bylaws already authorized the board to expend up to $500 in this effort if it chose to. It was not clear to me why we would use our general fund for this rather than spending (or at least trying to spend) a portion of the unexpended Selig money. In contrast to the Selig money, our general fund has no restrictions imposed on it. We can use it for anything that we want, we can earn interest on it when it is not expended, and our access to it is guaranteed in perpetuity by the FDIC. There is an aspect of indecisiveness to the action that we took in that we did not decide on a course of action, but rather decided to have our board decide on a course of action in the future. It took us nine months to arrive at that much of a decision. The actual decision to take action by filing a notice of appeal must be reached within 30 days of the court order or we will lose the option to act at all.

Neighborhood Rezoning
I still have not heard back from the Planning Bureau regarding the scheduling of a meeting with affected property owners to discuss our proposed Neighborhood Commercial zoning district on Howell Mill Road. When I spoke with Kathy Kingsbury in Felicia Moore’s office about this, she indicated that the rezoning effort along Howell Mill north of the freeway had been given precedence over ours despite having begun almost a year later. The folks in NPU-C must either be more enthusiastic, more diligent, and/or more influential than we are in safeguarding their area from unwanted developments like the QT.

For Sale and Trees
There is now a “for sale” sign on the empty lot at the corner of Forrest and Howell Mill (Mr. Agasarkisian’s property). Although this site has been empty since I moved into Berkeley Park 24 years ago, I have not seen it posted for sale before. Given the fact that Mr. Agasarkisian was unable to secure an abandonment of the alley easement on the east side of the property in order to assemble it with other property to the east (Martin Electric), and the recent news reports of his legal troubles, which have involved claims of poverty; we should probably expect this lot to be sold (i.e. he probably is not just testing the market). Quite a few undesirable things (gas stations and auto-parts stores come to mind) might be built there under the current zoning. This should add a sense of urgency to our long-delayed NC zoning effort, unless we rather wait for something bad to happen and then pursue the impotent-rage approach that has been ineffective for us in the past.

I was out of town for the last week in March. While I was away, the posting for the proposed tree cutting on the lot next to the auto-parts store on Howell Mill (the proposed Jimmy John’s site) changed from an orange sign (application submitted) to a yellow sign (preliminary approval granted). The deadline to appeal this approval was March 31st. I do not know if anyone chose to appeal it, but I did not because I was unaware of it until it was too late. Based on the spray-painted “X”s, we can expect them to destroy all the trees on the site including the large healthy oak tree on the property line of the house to the south. I don’t know how they were able to get permission from the city to do that.

APAB
I did not attend the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board meeting in March, but it was apparently a doozie. APAB, which is the umbrella organization for the NPU system, is normally a pretty dysfunctional group. That dysfunctionality reached what may have been an all time high in March when a security guard had to be called in to bring order to the meeting and the newly elected chairman promptly resigned in disgust once the meeting was over. I am not sure what the future holds for APAB governance, but it should at least be entertaining if not productive.

Monthly Meeting Minutes

By Hollie Meyer, Secretary

March 18, 2014 – Senior Center
 
  1. Chili cook-off at MNBC, April 13, 1-4pm ($5 food, $15 to drink)
    1. Cherish Bailey (cherish.bailey@gmail.com) organizing, let her know if you want to enter a chili
    2. Prizes: BPNA paraphernalia
    3. Raffle: Let Cherish know if you have connections to others who may be willing to donate
      1. David will see if local restaurants will donate a couple of gift certificates.
    4. Kids play area – Donate toys for use: Will contacting Jennifer Corkrill-Haggerty (face painting), Hollie and Rustin will allow some toys to be used
  2. BPNA workday TBD  - Margaret will begin organizing as soon as she returns
  3. Atlanta Water Works Event at MNBC, May 21, 6-8pm
    1. Video needs – We will be shooting a video for that as well
    2. Speakers: Will; CEO of Jamestown; Paul Morris, CEO of Beltway; perhaps Mayor
    3. Reyonolds PR group will be coordinating PR. 11 Alive will likely have first dibs on story
  4. Apartments at Hoke/Northside/Greene and NPU meeting (March 25)
    1. NPU-D voted to rezone area near Swinging Richard’s. Neighbors now “making trouble” and it will now be revisited next meeting, which Jim will not be at. Jim would encourage folks to be there and vote to uphold it – overturning
  5. Selig funds traffic plan funds motion by BPNA Board, announcement for April 15
    1. Board intends to introduce to next month’s meeting to use money not used in traffic study (~$13K) to allocate that towards the implementation of the traffic study. Nick Stone (Antone) has volunteered to head-up traffic committee. 
  6. Allocation of funds for QT case motion by BPNA Board
    1. Waiting for a ruling. Expecting an adverse ruling. We should make a plan to prepare for an adverse ruling.
    2. Met with Chris on Holmes who has agreed to review documents.
    3. Looking into the filing fee (probably a couple of hundred dollars).
    4. Dwight has talked to Shell and BP stations who have agreed to help fund us. BPNA. Underwood Hills can allocated up to $999.
    5. Motion: Give the board the authority to spend up to $1,000 to spend on the appeal. Unanimous yes

NextDoor

Several of the area neighborhoods are using a private online network called NextDoor.  Berkley Park has its own feed for neighbors to share community events, recommendations, items for sale/rent, crime reports, other neighborhood updates, and more. When you sign up, you can restrict the messages to just Berkeley Park or include Underwood Hills, Loring Heights, etc.  Join today and help build community networking and share local recommendations.
BPNA Membership Dues

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Become an active part of a lively and innovative urban setting by joining the Berkeley Park Neighborhood Association. The neighborhood teems with restaurants and other amenities, and includes the largest number of technical and production facilities in Atlanta. Its residents love food, and love art and technology.

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