Summer has been a bit slow in the BPNA, but there are still a few things to update you all on. First off, thanks to those who came out to our July clean up day to clean up and install hardscaping at the minipark at Forrest and Berkeley. Pictures are up on the facebook page (did you know there is a BPNA facebook page…get on it!), or better yet, go walk by and enjoy the benches. Once the weather cools down a bit, we’ll have another day for planting.
For traffic calming, we are still hoping that the city will allow us to implement some experimental, temporary measures. The fire department opposes traffic calming citywide because any narrowing of streets would apparently impede their response times. Of course, the irony is that Atlanta’s wide streets allow the fire department to quickly respond to carnage caused by cars speeding down wide streets. Never mind the fact that accidental fires killed 103 Georgians last year, while 1,193, including 168 pedestrians, were killed on roads. It doesn’t take a doctorate in statistics to figure out where the greater risk lies.
Lastly, we usually have a fall neighborhood event. I have not yet discussed ideas with the board for a theme and location, but the most important part is an organizer, so we would love a volunteer. I look forward to seeing you all around more this fall now that people are back in town and school is starting.
By Jim Martin
July was a busy month in NPU-D. At our meeting on the 23rd
, we approved two rezoning applications and deferred two others. We also approved a liquor license change of agent request for the Walmart on Howell Mill. This was something that we had voted on several months ago at BPNA, but the applicant did not show up at the NPU-D meeting for which he was originally scheduled. He would have come to the July BPNA meeting, but that was cancelled at the last minute.
One of the rezoning applications that we approved was for a biosolids processing facility next to the sewage treatment plant off of Bolton Rd. This was something that we had been deferring since last November while a group of neighbors worked out a set of conditions with the applicant. In July, they finally reached agreement on conditions, and we voted to approve the application subject to the subset of those conditions that were relevant to zoning. The other rezoning that we approved was for a single-family residence in the Bolton neighborhood. In this case the owner was seeking a slightly denser residential zoning designation, to R-4A (like in Berkeley Park) from R-4 (like in Underwood Hills), so that he could subdivide an oversized lot into two lots. The neighbors were pretty eager to approve this because the house that is currently on the site is an eyesore that they would like to see removed.
One of our two deferrals was for the old Georgia Steel site next to the Waterworks. We have been deferring this for two years. The applicant came to our executive committee meeting earlier in July and announced his intention to move ahead with the rezoning in August. He is seeking to rezone the property from its current industrial designation to a dense residential designation (MR4-A) in order to develop mid rise apartments of the same sort that are popping up along Huff and Howell Mill. When he first came to us with this proposal two years ago, we told him that we wanted to see a real improvement to the intersection of Huff and Howell Mill in order to support the traffic from this and other developments, rather than the sort of vague promises to pursue this improvement that other developers have offered over the last decade. After thinking about this for two years, this developer has decided that a vague promise rather than a real improvement is what is needed once again. He apparently will be moving ahead based on this in August. Unfortunately, a lot of the folks at our meetings do not seem to appreciate the distinction between vague promises (and the pretty pictures that often accompany them) and substantial action. Thus he has a good chance of winning approval for his project at our August meeting. That approval is likely to doom any chance of actually fixing the traffic nightmare that the east end of Huff Road is becoming for several years by making it the sole concern of the folks in the department of public works, who have already demonstrated that they do not care about this at all. Because of this, I intend to vote against it.
The other case that we deferred in July was an application by Brockbuilt, represented by Adam Brock rather than his father Steve, to rezone and redevelop the old APL truck yard on Marietta Road as a Planned Development Housing (PDH) district. Brocks’ plan is similar to the adjoining Dupont Commons and Adams Crossing developments which they built several years ago. It would essentially be a warren of cul-de-sacs fronted by large houses on small lots with a single point of access on Marietta Road. It would feature private infrastructure (roads and sewers) and shared amenities (clubhouse, pool, and green space) that would be deeded over to a homeowners association along with the obligation for their maintenance. This arrangement has been a pretty big issue with home owners in Brocks’ other developments, who find themselves paying the equivalent of two sets of property tax bills. That, in turn, has led to considerable animosity against the Brocks, for having masterminded such schemes and for allegedly constructing substandard infrastructure with high maintenance costs. Animus toward Brock by those who have dealt with him in the past, which is apparently reciprocal, dominated the discussions at the July 23rd
meeting. We never actually got around to talking about the rezoning application. Our deferral was to allow time for Brock to meet with neighbors to discuss his proposal. Felicia Moore offered to referee those discussions. It wasn’t hard to see that a referee would be needed.
On July 12th
, I filed suit in Fulton Superior Court to overturn the BZA decision granting a special parking exception for the QuikTrip that has been proposed at the corners of Chattahoochee, Howell Mill and Defoors. The city has 30 days to respond to this filing. I have not yet heard anything back about it. Lawyers that I have spoken to, including the lawyer who is representing me in this case, believe that I have a strong case as there is no basis in the law as it is written for the BZA’s decision. That was instead based on a fairly bizarre interpretation of a section of code that is only relevant to parking reductions rather than parking increases as is the case here. In other legal news, our neighbor Barry Sermons won his appeal to preserve access to his garage off of Forrest St along the alley easement separating the empty lot belonging to Mr Agasarkisian from Martin Electric. It was Mr Agasarkisian’s intention to have this alley abandoned in order to assemble the properties on both sides of it for a large undefined commercial development. Now, he will not be able to do that.
We made bold progress on our beautification projects in July. On the 15th
Carol Gray and I attended an orientation meeting for the city’s Love Your Block (LYB) program. There, we were handed a check for $1,000, which will pay for the restoration of the tree protection fences along Forrest Street. On July 27th
, we had another beautification work day. A group of us, led by Carol, cleared brush and landscaped around the mini park at the corner of Forrest and Berkeley. Thanks for help with that go out to Will Jungman, Jacob Burton, Dwight Glover, Terry Horgan, and Frank Leopold. Dan Cleveland and his crew worked on the mini park at the corner of Verner and Buchanan, which is now nearly complete. There, we now have shrubs and flowers in the planting beds, border stones around the planting beds, a pea gravel walkway, and a decorative planter on top of the retaining wall in addition to the benches and trash can that we
installed on previous work days. Our next beautification project will focus on Forrest Street with more work on the minipark and a cleanup of the west end of the street around the overgrown lot. We will need to schedule this some time before November as Forrest was the focus of our LYB grant and there is a final report for that due in November. If we successfully complete our LYB project, we will be able to apply for other LYB grants in the future. They appear to be semi-annual. The city has also announced another round of NPU grants. We have already received three of those totaling $9,400 to support our beautification efforts. I see no reason not to pursue a fourth. The deadline for submission is in October (two months earlier than last year). If anyone has specific ideas for how this money ($3,000 - $4,000) might be spent, please contact me.
July was another month that saw no progress on our sidewalk project, although I did trade email about this with Felicia Moore and Yolanda Adrean. They have promised to arrange a meeting with the director of Public Works, Richard Mendoza, to try and restart this effort. Until now, the project has been kicked around between several people in his department, who hand it off to each other when they run out of excuses for inaction.
Next NPU-D meeting:
Tuesday, August 27, 7:30 pm
Agape Center, 2351 Bolton Road, NW
ALL NPU RESIDENTS WELCOME!
Monthly Meeting Minutes
By Hollie Meyer
No July meeting.
Submitted by Hollie Meyer, secretary
Dan has done a great job with the landscaping at the Buchanan/Verner mini park! This is a real plus for our neighborhood and a place to be enjoyed by everyone - thank you Dan!
Thank you also to the neighbors who helped with all the work undertaken at our second mini park at Forrest- this also will be a place of rest and social gatherings for our neighbors. We will be planning another cleanup of weeds etc. and will send out a notification later.
Regarding the overgrowth of weeds on the lot at Howell Mill and Forrest, please call 404-330-6150 to complain- it's a matter of the ' squeaky door'- if a number of us complain, hopefully the owner will be forced to cut the grass! At the moment the overgrowth is making visibility on Howell Mill almost impossible and it's only a matter of time until there is an accident.
Again thanks to Dan and our neighbors who helped with the beautification of our mini parks - your work is appreciated by the neighborhood.
The Sanctuary Village of Power, Inc. and its leaders, Pastor Kemel Brown and CoPastor Angela Callaway, would be honored to have the neighborhood residents send words of proclamation and celebration in honor of their ministry's 2nd Church Anniversary. The anniversary celebration will be held September 29, 2013.
We appreciate your time and consideration as well as, of course, your camaraderie in the endeavor to benefit and better the neighborhood and the residents within it. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at the number below.
Exec. Administrative Assistant
The Sanctuary Village of Power, Inc.
1671 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30318
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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.
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