By Terry Horgan, 404-934-5508
I hope this finds everyone enjoying this Summer and finding ways to stay cool. We have some important issues to discuss at our next meeting.
Atlanta Gas has a Pipeline Construction project presentation by Zachary Smith and Team.
We will review the Selig projects updates –
· A&R will be at our August meeting to share their traffic study report and the traffic calming options. Please make sure to be in attendance at the BPNA meeting August 21st to review that and get any questions answered that you may have on this.
· Jim has 3 benches (1 on display at firestation) and 3 dog poop-bag dispensers which were paid for by city grant money – the board will vote to approve the expenditures for the concrete slabs, etc. and we will schedule with the neighborhood to install those.
· The additional signs are in the works.
· Jim Martin is working with Chandler and in communication with the city about the sidewalks. We are not yet in a position to allocate funds unless we want to in a piecemeal way (i.e. fund only the segments the city has agreed to now and work on the rest later).
In March of 2012, the Atlanta City Council approved the Beltline master plan for Subarea 8. The final digital copies are available from AECOM, which are now on their new website at: http://beltline.org/progress/planning/master-planning/
. I was honored to serve on the Subarea 8 Planning Committee and this master plan is the result of many years of work which will govern future development in our area. Please take time to familiarize yourself with it. I think you will share my pride in our piece of paradise knowing the City supports the smart growth reflected in this plan. The Beltline’s trail and park work is reflected at Tanyard Creek Park that will eventually connect to Berkeley Park, it is very worth a visit.
The BPNA’s Fall Pig Roast and Chili Cookoff is planned for October 20th. If you have missed these events in the past you are missing a great opportunity to meet your neighbors in a fun casual environment filled with great food, libations, and entertainment while getting involved with your neighborhood association.
Our next meeting is on July 17th, so make sure you join us at the Senior Center at 7 PM. Underwood Hills Neighborhood Association will also be in attendance to learn about the Atlanta Gas project. I look forward to seeing you all.
By Jim Martin
The June 26th
NPU-D meeting was a quick one. We wrapped matters up in about an hour, which may be a new speed record. There were only two real business items on the agenda. Both were liquor licenses that were unanimously approved. The first of these is for the Starbucks coffee in the Walmart shopping center. They plan to serve beer and wine along with finger food and live entertainment in the evenings. The second is for a new restaurant that will be called Bone Lick BBQ. It is going into one of the ground floor spaces in the complex at the corner of Huff and Ellsworth. There was also an unreal business item. We unanimously deferred the rezoning application for the old Georgia Steel site, which is something that has become routine this year. We may actual review that application in August.
We were joined at the meeting by Tiffany Harlow, who is our new zone 2 community prosecutor. She is replacing Hannah Chung who left the office this spring. Tiffany and I briefly discussed our issues with boarding houses and slumlords in Berkeley Park. This was something that Hannah inherited from Kimani King when she arrived as our community prosecutor. Kimani had quite a bit of success when he was working on this. Hopefully, it is an issue that Tiffany will take an interest in.
As I mentioned in the May newsletter, the first three benches that the city bought for our beautification project have arrived. Two of them are now in my garage and one of them is inside Fire Station 23. All three are intended for installation around the Fire Station. Now, the BPNA board must approve the use of Selig funds for concrete pads to secure these benches before they can be installed. Selig funds have already been approved for the fabrication of three new neighborhood signs. All of the other beautification projects are currently awaiting funding approval. We still have not heard back from the department of public works on the cost details for our sidewalk project. Hopefully, we will be able to move ahead with that soon as well.
Several people have asked about the construction at the corner of Chattahoochee and Ellsworth. This should be a gas station and mini-mart that was proposed in an SAP (special administrative permit) application about two years ago. If anything other than this were now being built, a new SAP application would have been required and none have been submitted.
There was a great deal of recent discussion on the BPNA email list regarding the proposed Advance Auto Parts store at the corner of Holmes and Howell Mill, which is described in the March BPNA newsletter. Construction of this seems likely to begin soon. The developers have applied for a tree removal permit (they intend to clear cut the site) and have submitted a revision to the site plan in their February SAP application. This plan has not yet been approved, but it is likely to be soon. The approval process is purely administrative (i.e. it does not come before the neighborhood or the NPU). The revised plan responds to my criticisms of the original plan in several ways. It includes a sign forbidding right turns onto Holmes St similar to the one at the Flip restaurant driveway onto Verner. It also includes space for a BPNA sign in the northeast corner of the site. This was the sign that we had originally planned to put in the corner of Jacob and Lindsay Burton’s yard. There it would be blocked from view by the screening fence behind the new store. The new plan also includes a bench and trash can near the signal light post on the northwest corner of the site. There is no tree replacement plan with this SAP application, but one has presumably been submitted to the arborists’ office along with the application for tree removal. There appears to be adequate room for new trees in the planting strips along both street frontages and in the transitional yard along the east side of the site. The location of the screening fence is still problematic (it is too far to the east), but hopefully that will be corrected in the next revision to the plan.
The dislike that everyone has expressed for an auto parts store in this location points, once again, to the problem associated with having unconditioned C-1 zoning along the boundaries of the residential core of Berkeley Park. This is something that could have been dealt with years ago and might still be dealt with. Although it is too late to affect the use of this site, there are plenty of other locations such as the old Salvation Army building, and the empty(ish) lot(s) at the corner(s) of Howell Mill and Forrest/Berkeley where another undesirable use might be proposed in the future. One way to proactively deal with this would be to amend the existing SPI-14 (special public interest district #14) overlay zoning in our neighborhood to include restrictions on commercial uses along the lines of SPI-9, which applies to Buckhead Village. Another would be to create a neighborhood commercial (NC) zoning designation for the segment of Howell Mill along the west side of Berkeley Park similar to the Virginia Highland neighborhood commercial district (NC-11). Of course we can instead do nothing for a few more years and complain bitterly the next time something we don’t like is built. This is the strategy that has always worked for us in the past.
Next NPU-D meeting
: Tuesday, July 24, 7:30 pm
Agape Center, 2351 Bolton Road, NW
by Barry Sermons
Thanks to all who supported the Fire Station 23 fundraiser, picnic and party. We had a great time and stay tuned for the Fireman Shuffle Video soon to be released.
Chili Cook-off is scheduled for Saturday, October 20, 2012. Details, registration and entertainment information coming soon. Festival music will be broadcasted on internet TV 1:00-5:00 p.m.
The all new Berkeley Park Mobile Shoppers Club. This is a Smart Phone Friendly website and now a Mobile app - with information, videos, coupons, discounts and community updates (a great perk for business sponsors)we have new businesses coming on board each month to offer exclusive discounts. www.BerkeleyParkMobileShoppers.com
The Membership Drive Continues
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TSPLOST Opinion piece by Jim Martin
You have probably been bombarded with junk mail, robocalls, and television commercials encouraging you to vote for the TSPLOST (transportation local option sales tax) on July 31. The expense and magnitude of this effort as well as the lack of an equally well funded contra campaign may have made you suspicious of those who are behind it. These are companies that have a big financial interest in seeing this thing happen, as it will transfer an enormous sum of money from taxpayers to various contractors. It will also increase the value of specific assemblages of land. The support of local officials for this thing has been bought with the promise of a 15% kick back to local budgets. Politicians, like as our anti-tax governor, are naturally attracted to proposals like this that allow them to raise taxes while publicly maintaining that they have not raised taxes. In short, there is something in this for everyone except the taxpayers.
Our leaders who are now asserting that this tax will fund desperately needed projects are the same officials who have chosen not to fund these projects for years. Clearly they perceive these projects to be less important than other expenditures such as the ill-fate Brand Atlanta Campaign (“every day is an opening day”). Of course, these are only reasons to be suspicious of the TSPLOST and not reasons to vote against it. Here are 13 reasons to vote against it:
1. This is not “just a penny” it is about $8 billion. It would have added more than a dime to the cost of my lunch today, over a hundred dollars to my total tax bill last year, or a few hundred dollars to the price of a new car. I would choose to spend this money differently if it were not taken in taxes.
2. This tax, unlike the watershed and APS sales taxes, will not offset any other taxes or fees. It will only fund new expenditures most of which would not otherwise occur.
3. This tax will be paid by us, not by someone else. Although it is often pointed out that non residents shopping in the city will contribute somewhat to this revenue stream, their contribution is never quantified. It is likely that the reason for this is that the tax will be overwhelming paid by the same people who are now being asked to vote for it (us). Unless about a quarter of the tax is paid by others (see #4 below) the average Atlantan will lose on this deal regardless of the merits of transit expenditures.
4. Sales taxes are not deductible on federal income tax returns and thus forego a federal subsidy of about 27% (the average marginal income tax rate) compared to deductible taxes. $1 worth of transit therefore costs taxpayers about $0.73 when it is paid for with property taxes or state income taxes, but costs us the full $1 when it is paid for with sales taxes or fees.
5. The proposed projects are designed to benefit the suburbs at the expense of the city. They are overwhelmingly commuter-oriented and will therefore make distant suburbs more attractive communities in comparison to city neighborhoods. Large areas of Atlanta are under built and sparsely populated. Our area (the northwest) has a lot of vacant land ready for residential development and a lot of affordable residences in a variety of forms including single family houses. We will create a disincentive for the purchase and improvement of this with the TSPLOST projects. Atlanta is not Manhattan and does not require more infrastructure to support unnecessarily long commutes.
6. Sales taxes are regressive. They preferentially impact the poor and middle classes who spend most of their incomes locally rather than saving, investing, and traveling. These are the people who can least afford to fund new expenditures.
7. Sales taxes (unlike gas taxes) have nothing to do with roads or with transit. No rationale has ever been provided for tying this tax to these projects other than that those proposing it think that it will be an easier proposal to sell to the uneducated public than others that actually make sense.
8. Sales taxes are already high in Atlanta and increasing them further will be bad for commerce. With this tax, the sales tax rate in Atlanta will be 9%, one of the highest in the country. With increasing local sales taxes, consumers will be less likely to patronize local merchants vis-à-vis tax-free mail-order merchants.
9. There is no evidence that the proposed TSPLOST projects will solve any regional traffic problems. Planners acknowledge that these represent a very small fraction of the transit projects that they would like to build. Previous “fixes” for traffic problems have been remarkably ineffective at reducing traffic and effective at increasing suburban sprawl. The extension of 400 did not solve freeway congestion. It built Alpharetta.
10. This tax is unlikely to be temporary. Both the APS sales tax and the water and sewer tax were originally proposed as temporary measures. Both have since been renewed twice, both have become part of the operating budgets of the associated authorities, and both are now re-pitched to voters with the rationale that their revenue is needed for routine operations and therefore offsets property taxes and water rates.
11. The proposed TSPLOST projects are not particularly progressive. Many of these are simply road building projects of the sort that we have been engaged in for many decades. Others involve transit with minimal utility. Some are so ill defined that it is absurd to dedicate large sums to their construction.
12. The proposed Cobb County transit line, which will be funded with more than $600 million from the TSPLOST, will probably be bad for Berkeley Park and the surrounding communities. The planners involved with this project are dedicated to bringing a rail line off of I-75 onto Northside Drive. This rail line is quite likely to come through Berkeley Park and Loring Heights. See the April 2012 BPNA newsletter for more details on this.
Creating dedicated revenue streams, as the TSPLOST proposes to do, is intrinsically problematic. This is unnecessary as we already have too many structures in place to fund transit (city, county, state, federal, ABI, ADA, GRTA, ARC, MARTA, CCT, etc.). New structures will create new overhead expenditures, obscure responsibility, and create new opportunities for high-interest borrowing. One of the proposed projects, the Beltline, involves bailing out another project for which a different dedicated revenue stream (the TAD) has already been created and burdened with expensive debt.
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FYI - updates
Berkeley Park was originally a farm owned by John Whitley. It was developed in 1921 and until 1995 was a part of Underwood Hills neighborhood . That year, Berkeley Park residents formed their own organization and called it the Berkeley Park Neighborhood Association.
In order to vote on issues at meetings, you must be a dues-paying member of the association. Effective January 1, 2009, BPNA membership is $20 per person (up to 3 adults per address are eligible to become members), and $10 for seniors. To join the association, attend a monthly meeting and pay dues to the treasurer, Nina-Daniela McCormack, or the president, Terry Horgan . If you cannot attend a meeting but wish to join, or for more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to fill out the form and pay online.
About the newsletter
The Berkeley Park Bulletin is published monthly in print and at www.berkeleypark.org by the Berkeley Park Neighborhood Association, a non-profit organization. To subscribe to the monthly edition, submit an article, or inquire about advertising, contact the editor, Hollie Meyer, at 765-532-1164 or email@example.com. We accept appropriate articles from all Berkeley Park residents or other interested community members at the discretion of the editor and as space permits.
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