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FH Neighborhood meeting minutes

FHNA Neighborhood Meeting

April 11, 2016

  • Approx. 30-35 people attended meeting
  • New neighbors introduced themselves
  • Meeting facilitated by board member Michael David Sharbaugh follow-up questions ca be emailed to Michael at knowmale@comcast.net

 

Al Fowler, Dekalb County Public Education Specialist at Dekalb County Police Dept.

  • Works with about 220 neighborhood watches in Dekalb County, brings crime dog to elementary schools, handles neighborhood complaints
  • Forrest Hills neighborhood is located in North Central precinct which is very large
  • Neighbors are the eyes and ears for the police and need to stay well connected, especially by calling 911 when there is an issue
  • All non-emergency numbers now roll into the 911 system and calls get prioritized based on type of call or emergency; you can let them know that it’s a non-emergency call when they pick up
  • Even if the suspicious person or vehicle is gone by the time the police officer arrives, calling 911 still puts it on the record; detectives then go through records daily and use information to identify criminals
  • Can tell it’s a safe community based on what crime is not occurring; in Forrest Hills car break-ins and copper wiring considered relatively minor and infrequent
  • Neighborhood Watch does not require intensive block captain system as long as people know how to get help (call 911) and how to contact our coordinator, Mark Malkovsky at mjmalkovsky@gmail.com
  • Neighbors can follow police activity on social media (facebook) where they post meetings, arrests, other info, police post info daily. To follow like the facebook page for: Dekalb County Police-Center Precinct
  • www.nextdoor.com is another source about crime incidents in your neighborhood or nearby b/c criminals travel all over the area
  • Typically in residential burglaries, criminals check to see when people generally leave and come home so they know when to enter –usually look for big flatscreen tv’s, laptops, jewelry, small valuables
  • Vast majority of burglaries occur Mon-Fri; 9-5pm; usually work in pairs, they ring the doorbell, knock on the door to confirm no one is home, no barking dog. If someone knocks during the day make sure you yell out so they know you’re home. Usually burglars try to kick in backdoor where they aren’t seen or where there are unlocked lower case windows.

Home Security Advice:

  • Don’t leave your valuables such as a laptop sitting out on a table, counter or other location where it’s viewable from the window
  • Don’t put your precious jewelry in an obvious location like the jewelry box or top drawer i.e. example of a woman who hides her jewelry in a Lean Cuisine box in the freezer, another person built a false bottom to a laundry hamper and placed the jewelry in that location
  • Need to engrave jewelry for identification in case it is stolen, you will need for insurance purposes or if the police are able to find it at pawn shops or other places they can track the items; you can check-out an engraver from Dekalb County library system to engrave items
  • Guns will be stolen so make sure they are locked up, out of sight for theft and general home safety
  • Photograph jewelry or valuable items so you can refer back to photos in case items are stolen
  • Write down serial numbers for all electronics or other items so they can be traced through pawn shops, altering a serial number on anything including guns is very illegal. Serial numbers are invaluable to police.
  • Do not leave extra set of car keys visible in your house or home keys in your car b/c someone can steal keys and take car later
  • As the weather improves you will see more auto break-ins; considered a crime of opportunity so make sure you lock your doors; even a garage can be accessed with a universal garage door opener
    • Make it a habit to empty your car so you are not leaving anything valuable
    • Many car break-ins occur in the evening after work hours at restaurants b/c they know people have left their laptops or electronics
  • You can request extra patrols on your street if you are going on vacation.

Questions?

  • Do car alarms deter people? A: Yes they help.
  • When you call 911 you often get put on hold, are there plans to improve system? A: We have a great head of 911 but there are always ways to improve it. Very, very high call volume, especially on the medical side.
  • Is there a coordinated effort to track copper thefts? Those receiving copper must know it is stolen. A: Al Fowler believes the answer is yes but couldn’t speak to it specifically and provided the name of detective to contact.
  • Mark Malkovsky (mjmalkovsky@gmail.com) is our neighborhood liaison to community policing – emphasized importance of calling 911, posting on facebook or FH google group so everyone is aware of issues, meet your neighbors and get contact info so you can stay in touch if you see something suspicious, let people know when you’re having construction done so people know to expect other people  in the neighborhood, if possible, take cell phone photos if you see a break-in in progress

 

Upcoming neighborhood meetings and Citizens Policing Academy which is a 10-week course on Thursday evenings where you do ride-alongs with police.

 

Treasurers Update –Jess Parilla

  • $2600 in account b/c annual bills such as Greenspace Insurance, 8 months of maintenance and recent tree work by Jon Frederickson were paid
  • Annual dues are $35, please make check payable to FHNA and give to Jessica (zzjess@aol.com)

 

Saturday, April 23 Neighborhood Clean-up in Walter’s Woods for Earth Day

  • Come out to assist or donate trash or yard bags, wheel barrows, beverages for the volunteers
  • Monkey grass and ivy are invasive and growing into the Greenspace
  • Some native plants were taken out with recent cleanings and Amy Robinson can help to identify those

 

Flamingo Fridays are the third Friday of the month at different neighbors home, need a host for April and May. If you want to volunteer contact Jessica.

 

New Board Member: Lindsey Lingelfelter voted onto the board unanimously!

If anyone else is interested in joining please let any member of the board know and join our monthly meetings at Avondale Pizza

 

Neighbor Comments and Open Discussion

  • Issues with speeding on Forrest Blvd. due to parents late for drop-off or pick-up at The Museum School
  • Question asked about whether there could be a laser speed trap set-up?
  • Neighborhood police officer agreed to look into getting a machine that shows how fast people are going
  • Request to contact Museum School about sending info to parents related to issues; these messages have been sent out before
  • Thrive Home Atlanta have bought apartments on Cragie and will remodel as a gated community see www.thriveatlanta.com for more info
  • When pulling out of N. Carter onto Columbia Drive, there is a house for sale on the left with overgrown shrubs that inhibits line of site when pulling out of the road
  • Dekalb County Candidates forum on Tuesday night at Agnes Scott at 6 p.m located at Rebecca Scott Hall
  • Loose collie like dog with a hurt backleg is missing, please post on facebook if you see him

 

Blue Recycling Bins can be ordered online through Dekalb County

 

 

FHNA Neighborhood Meeting

April 20, 2015

Approx. 40 neighbors in attendance

East Decatur Greenway –update by Michele Ritan and Jennifer Wilson

-formerly a convenience store and gas station, left as a petroleum contaminated site where dumping and graffiti occurred, previous owner was really difficult to deal with and code enforcement was unsuccessful at making changes

-Nov 2012 East Decatur Greenway acquired the property, receives support from Environmental Protection Division and region 4 EPA, removed underground oil/gas storage, sampled soil and found contamination of both soil and groundwater due to leaking fuel lines to the tanks, completed early cleanup then applied for Brownsfield Cleanup grant of $200,000 (only two sites received funding in 2014 and East Decatur Greenway was one of them)

-now completing EPA paperwork before they can finalize cleanup, plan to create a community greenspace and would like to get input from this group on what should be placed there –environmental education for nearby schools, PATH foundation trailhead will be placed there as a dedicated off the road trail that will go to the Avondale MARTA station

-Interactive Exercise: Imagine it’s one year from now and the path and greenspace is complete, what do you see? (Attendees wrote ideas on post-it notes) Lots of ideas including: nature, swing, dog park, edible plants, evergreen shrubs, low maintenance landscape, trees, electric vehicle parking spot, native trees and plants, reclaimed piece of woods, dog friendly, lighting for safety, some isolation from Columbia Drive, small gardens, bench, blueberry and raspberry bushes, education, community garden, picnic tables, trash and recycling, flowers, water fountain, bridge over creek, trash containers, access to MARTA, no standing water and no trash, serenity garden, covered pavilion, map of points of interest, gateway to Forrest Hills, monument to the person who the county is named after F. Dekalb to replace bust at the courthouse

-long term funding is not in place yet but East Decatur Greenway is working on sustainable funding to maintain the space, current funding includes county contribution of concrete, PATH Foundation paying for half of the project, private dollars will support the rest

-there is a larger project to redevelop the MARTA parking lot off of East College, the current surface parking lot will become housing, mixed use, City of Decatur is having a public meeting this Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m. on Tally Street, Michele will put details on facebook/listserve

 

Columbia Senior Residences at Forrest Hills – update provided by Michele Ritan

-April 1st grand opening, property manager is Charles James and he will show people around, currently a lot of single women are residents, four cost tiers to enter

-non-profit hired to manage the gardens is Habashaw

-director of programming said they will offer community garden spaces to residents first then they will be open to Forrest Hills residents

-staff have been really eager to connect with the neighborhood

-FHNA Board will offer to present at the senior residences in advance of our summer bbq

 

Annexation Update – Legislation piece only – update provided by neighbor Suhail Seth who has been following the legislation closely

-La Vista Hills and Tucker cityhood proposals passed and will be voted on in November

-South Fulton cityhood measure and Stonecrest, and Greenville did not pass but three others did, those that passed will need to have the residents vote in the next election

-rumors that both Decatur and Avondale Estates would propose annexation measures but Decatur backed out at the last minute, Avondale Estates measure passed the house but the senate amended to remove Dekalb Farmers Market b/c the owner petitioned them to do so, so Karla Drenner would need to propose again in the fall. Forrest Hills is in the Avondale Estates map for annexation

-city of Atlanta wants to petition to get the Druid Hills cluster b/c they would leave Dekalb County

-lots of proposals floating around, rumors that Dekalb and Atlanta are doing some backdoor conversations, encourage everyone to contact local reps to ask that our cluster remains intact b/c we would lose Druid Hills High School and do not know where our neighborhood kids would go

-expectation is that this will be revived in legislator this fall

 

Forrest Hills Neighborhood Annexation Petition –update by neighbor Stephen Smith

-250 properties in our neighborhood, as of today 100 properties have signed the petition as a YES, about 40 properties have said NO (of those contacted in the neighborhood, about 71% for annexation)

-remaining 110 properties are either ‘maybes’ or they have not been contacted yet b/c they have not been able to reach them at their home during neighborhood petition signing walks, petition would need about 50 more YES signatures to hit an overall 60% of neighborhood approval

# of HOMES in FORREST HILLS (approx.) PETITION STATUS
100 homes Signed the petition in favor of annexation
 40 homes Contacted but declined to sign
110 homes Undecided or Have not yet been contacted
250 (approx.) TOTAL HOMES

 

If you would like to sign the petition, please contact Stephen Smith at fhannexation@gmail.com

 

-Avondale Estates did an internal feasibility study on annexing our neighborhood but it only made sense if they were also able to annex the commercial properties, many AE residents and FH residents would like to have a third party evaluation and feel there should be more transparency

-many neighbors who were ‘maybes’ are transitioning to a ‘Yes’ with all of the uncertainty that exists within the county and other cityhoods that are being developed, concern about what will happen to us if we are left on our own as a pocket of Dekalb County

 

Neighborhood Directory –update provided by board member Mark Malkovsky

-about 50 responses to survey monkey link to collect updated neighborhood info, also handwritten pages in the back of the room

-we will do a drawing for free annual dues for those who complete the survey, we will also use our block captains to go door-to-door to collect missing info

 

Upcomg Neighborhood Events – update provided by board member Kate Pawlicki

Flamingo Friday (every third Friday of the month)

April 24th in the greenspace (weather permitting), if it rains Josh McDowell will host at his home, please contact Kate Pawlicki if you are interested in hosting, following Flamingo Friday is May 15th at Michael Sharbaugh and Elise Ashpole’s home on Wiltshire –see facebook/listserve for address

Block Party scheduled for May 30th/rain date is June 13th, located in the greenspace, grills, potluck salads, ticket sales support the neighborhood events, lower cost for FHNA members, great time to pay your dues. Is there interest in having a keg? Otherwise it is BYOB. We are looking for a volunteer to coordinate the event. Please contact Kate if you are up for coordinating –it’s a fun event and great way to get to know more neighbors: kate.pawlicki@gmail.com.

New Board Member – vote facilitated by board member Elaina Ouimet

Nicole Fiber who has been in the neighborhood since 1999 was unanimously voted onto the board w/36 people in favor of adding her. Congrats and thank you to Nicole for joining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forrest Hills Neighborhood Meeting – October 13th, 2014 7:30PM

FHNA Neighborhood Meeting Notes
10/13/14
Meeting held at the Columbia Presbyterian Church, started at 7:30 p.m.
Approx. 70 attendees total

Election of Board Members
57 attendees present at time of vote; 44 votes in favor of electing all board members. Seven members total: Brooke Doan, Malle Quintero, Mark Malkovsky, Jessica Parilla, Michael David Ash Sharbaugh, Elaina Ouimet, Kate Pawlicki
Josh McDowell has stepped down from the board temporarily.
Anyone interested in joining the board is welcome –we are always recruiting! Board meets the second Monday of the month at Avondale Pizza at 8 p.m.

Treasurer’s report:
We have approximately 6000.00 in the FH account – which is more than we have had in several years. We would like to start funding any small projects for the neighborhood, like the recent purchase of orange parking cones to be used to prevent Museum School parents from blocking resident driveways during event nights. If any resident has suggestions about neighborhood beautification projects or other projects that would be appropriate for FHNA funding, please contact the board.

Fall Neighborhood Activities
Flyer on fall events delivered to doors of each home, also posted on facebook under files
Tutorials – first tutorial was a knitting lesson held on 10/12

Halloween Decorating Contest
People’s Choice and Best Decorated Home
Prizes -gift certificate for Avondale Pizza, and Wild Haven Brewery, judging on Wednesday evenings between 7 and 9 p.m., official signs for bragging rights on October 30th

Halloween Caravan, Friday night, October 31
Kickoff party with hot dogs, BYOB at 986/993 N. Carter Rd starts at 5:30 p.m., maps on facebook and google groups, also distributed on the printed fall events flyer

Chili Cookoff on Sunday, November 9
at the Pawlicki’s house 993 N. Carter Rd., prizes from local companies $5 to attend as a guest, $20 to enter a chili, all details on the Chili Cookoff invite posted on google group listserv and facebook page

Holiday Progressive event on Saturday December 6th from 6 – 10 p.m., need two appetizer houses

Annexation Conversation (8 – 10 p.m.)
Moderator asked group to be respectful of their fellow neighbors at the meeting and considerate of all opinions, two groups presented, followed by Q&A with Avondale Estates and Dekalb County city officials

Pro-Annexation Group presented
Represented by Stephen, lives on Walker Dr. This group has met over the last several months and reviewed all info collected by board and other groups
Distributed a one page flyer that included property value information
Pro group is seeking 60% method which requires 60% of property owners and 60% of registered voters to sign a petition in support of the annexation
Speaker supports annexation because 1) wants more local representation 2) more police presence, AE will add two additional police officers if Forrest Hills is added to their city 3) other options -strong movement toward city hood in other areas of Dekalb County and feels that it’s not a question of if it will happen but when, if we wait we will have less choice
Pro annexation group met with City of Decatur representative and they recommended against our attempting to be annexed into their city bc we do not even share a 1/8 boundary with them and they are seeking to annex areas with significant commercial property that will have little impact on their already crowded schools
Whether we go or stay, our property taxes will go up, they will not be status quo, think of the long-term consideration
Group met with Keller William Realty and property values projected to go up if we join Avondale Estates Codes and ordinances will be the same as in Dekalb County
AE would take over the expenses of the upkeep of our green spaces

Not So Sure About Annexation/Anti-Annexation Group presented
Represented by Nicole who lives on Forrest Blvd. and Elise who has lived on Walker lived for 21 years
Handed out a flyer at the door
Noted the official petition to be annexed into AE would be available to be signed at the end of the night for those who would like too (board approved its presence)
Developed what they feel is a neutral survey, 87 completed surveys out of 250 homes, only about 1/3 of neighborhood represented so it is not statistically representative, responses showed that many people were concerned about taxes
Website listed on flyer shows a percentage increase to expect on taxes, shows there will be about a 30% increase which reduces the amount of funds available for other things you want to purchase
Seems to be a rush to move forward with annexation, quote from Davis Fox in response to an inquiry from neighbor on the county website “A City of Dekalb is unlikely to be financially feasible”
There will not be an automatic jump in your property value, many smaller homes that are not as up-to-date such as those in our neighborhood are being torn down and replaced with larger homes -consider long-term effects and whether or not this is sustainable since we will all remain residents of Dekalb County
Water and fire support will remain the same as well as Dekalb County police support, stats provided
Avondale Estates offers services such as non-bagged sidewalk leaf pickup, side of house trash pickup
AE enforces ordinances and has limits on the number of pets, chickens per acre
Our neighborhood is affordable and has its own unique character and this group does not see any advantages to going into AE

Q&A for all city and county representatives and reps from the two committees
Representatives present at meeting:
Terry Giager, Mayor Pro Tem, Avondale Estates
John Quinn AE commissioner, Avondale Estates
Kathie Gannon, Dekalb County Commissioner
Zach Williams COO Dekalb
J. Vinicki, Dekalb County Deputy Finance Manager

Comments/Questions from Audience
Resident Comment – Opposed to annexation into AE bc she will be facing a fixed income soon like many of her neighbors and will not be able to afford to stay. She learned many years ago from a realtor that you should not expect property values to go up without doing significant improvements to your house.

Q – What is the plan for legislation option for annexation?
Stephen Smith responded that since the legislative vote may not work out, they are pursuing 60% method which requires signatures from 60% of home owners and registered voters from the neighborhood

Q – How did annexation process get started? Did the board initiate it?
In February the board was emailed by a new resident who received a flyer from AE about the possibility of Forrest Hills being annexed into AE which started a flurry of discussion by neighbors on facebook and listserv. In response the board collected questions from the neighborhood, a couple members of the board met with the mayor of Avondale Estates to get answers to the questions and posted a lengthy written FAQ doc. The FHNA board is neutral on annexation and members of the board are not active on either the pro or anti annexation committees.

Q -What is the intention of AE for the future of the schools in the area?
Kathie Gannon, Dekalb County responded that the city we belong too will affect our educational system, encourages us to connect with board of education on our questions (60 cents of every tax dollar goes to support educational system)
AE response -schools are a county issue and would remain a county issue even if annexed

Q- Can Dekalb County talk about the reality of a City of Dekalb
per Kathie Gannon there is no one in the county working on creating a City of Dekalb, there was a placeholder bill last year that will be dropped at the end of this year when it hits its two year expiration period

Q- Larry Johnson has previously referenced a task force that is investigating a City of Dekalb, please explain.
per Kathie Gannon, he was probably referencing the Task Force to explore a number of issues facing Dekalb County, meets every Wed evening, open to the public, advertised on the website, among other issues they are discussing the annexation issues and how city-hoods would impact the county

Q -Can you explain the 60% rule?
-Kathie Gannon explained that City of Decatur is only looking for commercial areas
-AE has included Forrest Hills in the AE map for annexation, includes commercial and residential property approx. 3:1 residential: commercial, AE believes in growth and expansion for the city and wants to bring in thriving communities nearby

Comment-My concern about staying in Dekalb County is that I don’t trust what the county is saying about the future bc the future they promise never comes. She feels safe walking in AE bc of police presence and citizen patrol. Avondale fought for us to stay at Druid Hills when it came to the school system.

Q-Lakeside, Tucker, Briarcliff are pushing through their plans to become cities and have until Nov. 15 to figure out plans. If they do form cities, what happens to us?
-Kathie Gannon said they do not have an answer to that right now. Commercial assets would be absorbed by the new cities which would leave Dekalb County in a difficult place, task force is exploring how to deal with this, would have to realign tax base to pay for services
-Dekalb County is struggling with issues around trust, transparency which are being played out in the newspaper every day, Gannon has responded by creating a blueprint (www.blueprintdekalb.org), also the creation of Neighborhood Planning Units to provide feedback at the neighborhood level
-Gannon wanted to provide a correction on police officer stat shared earlier by a speaker: 557 police officers per county citizen
-AE Rep stated that Dekalb County would always be responsible for county functions
-three processes for annexation 100% method (rarely used), 60% petition method, and legislative process method which involves a committee presenting in legislature which is the process that has created the Nov. 15th time crunch for Lakeside, Tucker, Briarcliff

Q-How much of city budget is going toward AE development projects such as downtown AE, are these funded through the floating of bonds?
AE Response
-we bought four blocks in downtown AE for $1.1 million, valued at $22 million. They did not raise taxes to fund this purchase
-AE goal is not to raise taxes, they haven’t raised taxes in the last five years and their goal is to lower taxes
-Even in AE, Dekalb County still receives taxes from residents
-bulk of difference in taxes is what supports AE services like police, trash and recycling pickup
-Per Dekalb County manager when a city incorporates, 15% of overall taxes which includes four individual taxes, are no longer collected by the county, but remaining taxes are still provided to county

Q-As other cities incorporate will the remaining unincorporated Dekalb County residences pay higher taxes?
-complicated situation bc county would reassess services provided, find ways to create efficiencies since there are fewer residences to serve so they may go up, they may not

Q-If Forrest Hills is annexed into AE, what percentage of the voting population would our neighborhood represent
-note taker missed actual response

Q-If we are annexed will Dekalb County still assess property values
A – Yes

Q- If annexed, will Forrest Hills have board representation in AE?
Yes – board is elected at large, one AE representative shared that his home is located in a formerly annexed area and he lived there before and after the annexation so we should not expect to be treated as second class
-there are many roles on committees and opportunities to get involved in local govt and residents would be welcome

Q –If Forrest Hills is annexed, would we be ‘grandfathered-in’ on local codes and ordinances?
-per AE they have a planning and zoning board who makes recommendations on grandfathering which is what has happened in the past when areas area annexed
-all AE city representatives are volunteer positions

Q-What are our real options here? Is there a real rush?
-per Kathie Gannon, if we do the 60% option we have a vote, if AE pursues the legislative option, we have a vote through regular election process, a City of Dekalb is not on the table

Comment-resident since 1970 shares that this has come up several times and there are always scare tactics about rushing, AE does not offer anything from his perspective, feels that AE wants Forrest Hills only to cushion their historic district, completely opposed to annexation

Q-What happens to islands of unincorporated Dekalb County, areas such as Decatur Terrace?
-AE rep responded that Annexation cannot go forward if it would leave a “donut hole” in the maps between cities, it is possible that they would become part of a city either way

Q-Clarification about vote -is there a separate vote for each area looking at city-hood?
A -Yes

Q-Clarification on taxes?
-per Dekalb County-county would lose some tax dollars but still receive some. Dekalb County has a Host sales tax that goes directly to the county, commercial properties do not get any breaks on their taxes, it costs more to service residential homes than it does commercial properties, by the time these three cities come around the county would need to reassess revenues and expenditures…

Comment-Resident since 1980, comment on property value increases, looked for similar size and style of homes in AE and found some in the outskirts of Kensington and saw that those homes are being torn down and she does not feel property values will increase.

Q- Resident commented that her assessed property value arbitrarily went up by 1/3 last year which she has appealed and is waiting for a response from the county. She would love for someone to enforce the codes such as the lack of upkeep on two vacant homes near her.
-Kathie Gannon from Dekalb County requested addresses of vacant homes so she can follow up

Q-What is being done about the eyesore of the abandoned apartment complex on Craigie?
-Kathie Gannon was not aware of apartments and requested that we contact her office. She can be contacted at Ph: 404-371-4909

Q -What are you going to do about the abandoned apartments on Craigie?
-AE responded that they understand his frustration and do not feel they need to respond
-second AE rep shared that they made Dekalb County aware of apartments and put up a fence
-before the economy crashed there were plans to redo the entire E. College strip

Q- Does AE have the ability to condemn and raise property if the owner is non-compliant in response to code violations (such as in the case of the abandoned Craigie apts)?
- AE cannot legally take over and raise property but they can use the justice system, fines, to enforce codes, they have not had to take it so far as the raise a property

Comment -Forces that drive property values are far greater than AE. AE cannot dictate property values.

Q- Will AE open gate to neighborhood park near Museum School permanently if we become part of city? Will they reconnect Forrest Blvd to AE which now dead-ends before turning into Craigie (it used to be a through street) and increases time for fire/police response?
AE- if Forrest Hills become part of AE then they will be able to provide police protection on all sides and the park will likely be opened permanently

Q/Comment-If AE and Dekalb County have to abide by the same rules, what is the county going to do about abandoned properties? They were informed about abandoned apts at the April meeting. Deserted apartments and sidewalk is never maintained on Cragie bc county is not doing it.

Q- Are property taxes being paid by Craigie apartment owners? Otherwise the property would be foreclosed on.
-answer from county is that someone must be paying the property taxes but they don’t know the specifics

Comment -Resident suggested that the board members organize volunteers to maintain abandoned homes noted by residents. Resident was asked to contact the board with the address of the homes.

Kathie Gannon closed by noting that it was almost 10 p.m., thanked the FHNA board for making information available to the community and for inviting representatives to discuss the issues. Encouraged everyone to contact their legislators to provide input.

AE Reps thanked the group as well and said they will be available afterward for a few min to answer questions.

Forrest Hills Neighborhood Meeting – April 14, 2014 7:30PM

• In Attendance:
o Residents of Forrest Hills
o Ed Rieker – Mayor of Avondale Estates
o Larry Johnson – DeKalb County Commission – District 3
o Cedric Alexander – DeKalb County Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Public Safety
o Zach Williams – Executive Assistant to DeKalb County Interim CEO
o Officer James Conroy – Interim DeKalb County Police Chief
o Atticus LeBlanc – Candidate for the DeKalb County School Board

• Josh McDowell began the night with a brief introduction and rundown of events.
• Kate Pawlicki discussed the directory update residents were completing as they entered the church.
o Directory Update – Apologies for old or misspelled names/address as the old directory has become very old.
 When completing the directory form, please notate if you are a Renter/Owner/Landlord.
 Once complete, residents with paid dues for FY2014 will receive an electronic copy; hard copy for those who do not paid their annual dues.
o Play Date at the GreenSpace
 Contact Sara Edelstein if you are interested.
o Flamingo Fridays are typically held on the 3rd Friday of the month during the spring/summer/early fall months.
 Need a volunteer for April 25th (1 week late due to the late request for a host)
• Jessica Parilla announced that from today, any dues paid will go towards the 2014-2015 financial dues year.
• Josh McDowell concluded with stating the need for organizing a neighborhood clean-up for streets/drains as well as volunteers and/or donations to help restore the benches in the GreenSpace areas.

Ed Rieker, mayor of Avondale Estates, speaking about the benefits of allowing an annexation into Avondale Estates:
• First, he accepted the neighborhood’s condolences about the recent house fire and deaths.
• The Mayor thanked us and mentioned how AE and FH often comingle as neighbors in many ways.
• Ultimately it is our decision if we decide to be annexed or not, but it’s important that we weigh both sides of the issues.
• There are 3000 residents currently in AE, and about 13-14 police officers, which equates to about a 1:225 ratio (police officer to residents)
• It is approximately 1:775 for DeKalb County (police officer to residents).
• AE has an old stripped-out police car that utilizes “Citizens Patrol” to help increase the patrolling presence in the community.
• AE has plans to knit the communities together with the growth and revitalization of the downtown area
• AE also has different service delivery ideas such as:
o Leaf Vacuum at the curb (instead of having to bag and county pick up)
o Backyard Trash Pickup (instead of having to wheel your 65-gallon trash can to the curb every week)
o Easier to get permits at the city office as compared to the county

Q: What type of police response time would be offered by Avondale Estates?
A: 911 is a county system, so calls to 911 would still go to the County. But AE always have 2 cars on patrol covering roughly 1.2 square miles. So a call to 911 would be covered by both AE and DeKalb County.

Q: The Museum School is not a public school within AE, where do you see that going?
A: AE does not have their own school system, thus they are a part of the DeKalb County School System. He explained the lottery rules, about needing to be within a certain attendance zone and getting selected through the lottery process. AE has no control over The Museum School as they are a charter school and a part of DeKalb County. But Ed explained that as of right now there won’t be any more charter schools, and it is up to the residents of AE to help rescue the county school system.

Q: If we are annexed, how can we still have a Decatur mailing address?
A: The postal service is a tricky government entity. Although we are not required to change our mailing address to Avondale Estates, we can request it through the post office. But in keeping the Decatur address, our mail would still filter through the Decatur post
office instead of Avondale Estate’s post office. Keep in mind that city name in our address represents the post office we are serviced by. Also, if there is an annexation, there will be no changes in the assessments on your property taxes.

Forrest Hills Neighborhood Meeting – April 14, 2014 7:30PM

Q: The Museum School favors AE residents.
A: No, The Museum School is a charter school that uses a lottery system based on attendance zones (FH is currently in Attendance Zone 1 and would remain there whether we are annexed or not). The lottery is based first on current student siblings, then children of school/board employees, then Attendance Zone 1, then Attendance Zone 2, then the remainder of DeKalb County. Please check with The Museum School for exact lottery procedures.

Q: The Museum School has become invasive on your neighborhood once again creating traffic issues for those living on Forrest, sometimes being unable to get in or out of their driveways during pick-up/drop-off times.
A: Send Ed Rieker an email regarding your issue and he will try to get cooperation with The Museum School. Michele Ritan (neighborhood resident) may be able to help as well. (NOTE: Since the meeting, Josh McDowell has been in contact with TMS board addressing the traffic issues. Unfortunately, it will not be an overnight fix but they will work with FH to get it worked out.

Q: I’ve heard all this talk about things happening in AE, but I don’t see anything actually happening.
A: Here are some of the highlights of things happening in AE:
• Old Pizza Café
• Front view of AE just came out of bankruptcy and should start seeing more updates
• Tudor Village area is being updated
• Lots of new businesses are open or opening soon within AE
• City is purchasing land to begin development

Q: Are there any restrictions to home businesses in AE?
A: No problem as long as a business license and permit is obtained at the city office ($60 application fee plus annual tax based on type of business).

Q: Why would we not change our address from Decatur to Avondale Estates if we are annexed?
A: Again, it’s a post office issue, but you may request an address change at the Post Office.

Q: I saw something where my taxes would increase $800/year, would additional services would I see for that tax increase?
A: That $800/year would be different for everyone based on the value of your home. But AE would hire 4 new officers for the annexed areas and 1 additional police car as well as more sanitation workers and another truck if needed. Officers patrol the same areas so they get to know residents, vehicles, etc. The county does offer the other same basic services, but since the county is more dense, the service level may be better with AE.

Q: Are there any vehicle or other restrictions in AE?
A: RV’s and boats must be parked in the back, and this ordinance will likely be enforced in FH. But obviously cannot have cars on blocks or deteriorating in front yard. Yard sales are OK on weekends.

Q: There are not enough sidewalks in FH. Could AE help where DeKalb County could not?
A: AE has invested in many infrastructure projects, including sidewalks in other areas in AE, but it does take time to get to all the areas.

Larry Johnson, DeKalb County Commissioner – District 3, speaking about the benefits of remaining in Unincorporated DeKalb Co.:
• DeKalb County already works very closely with Avondale Estates in many regards, including police and fire response.
• Agrees with the mayor that we, as a neighborhood, need to make our own decisions.
• DeKalb County has been influential in cleaning up the old Gas Station area on Columbia as well as budgeting the $100K for the trail/bike path. (Note: After speaking with Michele Ritan after the meeting, there is some confusion as to whether or not that $100K has been officially approved by the County).
• Big improvements at Belvedere Plaza
• Hooper Alexander School sale – hopefully an Applebee’s or LA Fitness can purchase that building
• SunTrust is making a big investment by having a location on Memorial Dr.
• Economy has hit Memorial badly, but it is slowly coming back
• County will continue to improve areas on Memorial Drive
• Infrastructure projects like roads and sidewalks will have a priority
• District 3 (our district) is very important to DeKalb County
• Just found out 2 weeks before the session ended that there were talks of annexation into AE

Forrest Hills Neighborhood Meeting – April 14, 2014 7:30PM

Q: Could there be a City of DeKalb?
A: Cities like Decatur, Brookhaven, Lakeside, Tucker are all picking apart valuable areas. Discussions will happen more over the
summer about the possibilities.

Q: How would we be affected if we become an “island?”
A: After an investigation, the county would most likely hire more police officers, as they are currently looking to do now with a graduating
class of cadets. But, the protection would not change, and response time could even get better.

Q: Sell me. I can see that Memorial Drive sucks. I can see that Avondale Estates is nice. Decatur is nice.
A: Permits are up 50% in the Memorial Drive area, the county is hiring more police and fire, and having SunTrust in the area is big.

Q: The timing of the street lights on Sam’s Crossing need to be adjusted.
A: Contact Zack Williams and he will investigate the problem to see if timing adjustments can be made at that intersection.

Q: What types of police services does the County offer that AE does not?
A: (Answered by Officer Conroy): The County has more police officers, bomb squad, S.W.A.T., helicopters…

At this point, Mayor Rieker stepped in to disagree with Office Conroy’s statement. He feels that is an unfair assessment as the city pays the county for those services (helicopters, S.W.A.T., etc. No matter if we remain in Unincorporated DeKalb or become a part of a city, we will always have those services no matter what.

A: Officer Conroy then continued to mention that most of these break-ins are committed by 15-17 year olds, and although they are arrested the court system lets them right back out and they end up arresting them again. It is not a police issue, but more a judicial issue.

Q: One of the main reservations is with the uncertainty of our school districts.
A: That won’t change, but we all need to work together to get things the way we want it, and work to keep it that way.

Zach Williams – Executive Assistant to DeKalb County Interim CEO
• Gave out his direct phone number (404) 371-2174
• Management prospective is that cities and the county is battling for the market share of neighborhoods and commercial property.
• As we decide, don’t’ give up on DeKalb County
• The County has new people in place focused on our needs as a community.

Mayor Rieker again interjects that he thinks it’s sad to say that it’s cities vs. county. That no one should be competing for marketplace because no matter what happens, we will all still be a part of DeKalb County.

Commissioner Johnson closed his discussion by saying he didn’t mean to create any tension between himself or the other DeKalb County representatives and Mayor Rieker. He did emphasize once again that it is ultimately our decision.

• Kate Pawlicki announced that the surviving members of the house fire in AE are in severe demand for donations:
o Monetary donations
o Clothes for a 5 year old boy
o Toys for a 5 year old boy
o Men’s Clothes
o The husband worked from home and the home was completely destroyed, so any donation would be greatly appreciated
o Contact Kate via FaceBook or Email with any questions

• Josh then introduced Atticus LeBlanc, candidate for the DeKalb County School Board

Forrest Hills Neighborhood Meeting – April 14, 2014 7:30PM

Atticus LeBlanc – Candidate for the DeKalb County School Board
• Website: http://www.electatticus.com/
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/electatticus
• Moved into Midway Woods in 2003
• Married and has 3 boys and 1 on the way
• Yale Grad
• Soccer coach at YMCA
• Founder of a successful real estate investment company
• Volunteer at Urban Plan
• Volunteer at District 3 Community Council

• Currently, DeKalb County has a 58% graduation rate
• A 10% increase in graduation rate can equate to a 20% reduction in crime
• He is in favor of rezoning, and in favor of the Druid Hills cluster
• Decided to run when the Druid Hills cluster failed
• Up to a 50% reduction in crime if students are allowed to choose their school they attend throughout the district
• Current school board lacks leadership and commitment
• The school budget must produce student achievement
• In favor of more charter schools
• Discovered that $200 million should not have been spent last year
• Supports forensic audits for fiscal transparency and the general ledger to be posted to a public website
• Would donate his County salary to help tutor and teach children

• Early voting is from April 28-May 9. Election Day is Tuesday, May 20th.
• April 21st was the voter registration deadline

Josh McDowell then mentioned that both Mayor Rieker and the DeKalb County crew would stick around and answer any other questions we may have, thus concluding the neighborhood meeting.

 

 

Minutes from Forrest Hills Neighborhood Association Meeting on Monday November 4, 2013

 

 

Neighborhood Communication

 

The FHNA website is forresthillsneighborhood.org.  There are two primary ways to receive security and other neighborhood-related news and information. One way is to join the neighborhood Facebook page (currently over 200 members belong to the closed FHNA Facebook group) and/or you can sign up to receive email updates through the neighborhood Google group (same as our former listserv).  Instructions for joining both are below.

 

1)      To join the FHNA Facebook group you must first be signed up with Facebook.  Once you are, do a search for “Forrest Hills Neighborhood Association” and you should see the neighborhood group pop up. Note that it’s a closed group.  If you click on this group, there will be an option to request membership in the group.  This will send a message to the administrators of the FHNA Facebook page who will confirm that you live in the neighborhood and then add you to the closed group.

 

2)      To join the Google group which is the neighborhood listserv you do NOT need a Gmail account.  There are a variety of ways to join. You can go to googlegroups.com

and type “forrest-hills-neighborhood” in the search box and it will drop down and say “search for groups named “forrest-hills-neighborhood” and you click on that.  You then request to join the group.  An administrator for the group will then confirm you live in the neighborhood and add you to the Google group.   Another way to join the group is to email Jessica Parilla at zzjess@aol.com and request that she add you to the group.

 

 

 

Upcoming Social Events

 

FHNA Chili Cook-off – Sunday, Nov. 17th 4-7 at the Pawlicki’s, 993 N Carter

-a fun fundraiser for the neighborhood and a great way to get to know neighbors and eat some great food!

-advance tickets are $5 and can be purchased on the website or by putting a check in my mailbox (993 N Carter) (kids under 10 are free!) ($7 at door)

-$20 chili entry fee and needs to be in by Nov. 10th

-first prize is a weekend getaway at a cabin in Blue Ridge, Ga!

 

Holiday Progressive – Saturday, Dec. 7th, 6-10

-A perfect way to kick off the holidays with some great neighbors!

-Appetizer houses (6-8) at Brooke Doan (985 N. Carter) and the McLeod’s (1085 Forrest).

-Dessert house (8-?) is at the Pawlicki’s (993 N Carter)

-Jennifer Murkinson has graciously offered to coordinate and will be asking for volunteers to bring apps and desserts!

 

 

Security Updates

 

Neighborhood Watch Signs

-              Al Fowler, our community police liaison, has received the signature pages collected by our Block Captains last year and will provide two new Neighborhood Watch signs for the neighborhood this year and additional signs in 2014. Signs will be hung once we received.

 

Nation of Neighbors website www.nationofneighbors.com/community/GA/forresthills

-              Nations of Neighbors is an online source for neighborhood security updates. You can join anyone of the open groups in our area and get separate notifications via email from each of them as a security issues or activities are posted in the group.

-              Board member, Josh McDowell created a group for our hood (thanks Josh!) (http://www.nationofneighbors.com/community/GA/forresthills) but we are also in another larger group covering Avondale all the way to Columbia. As you view the groups you will see a map of the area they cover.

-              If you are interested in receiving updates from Nation of Neighbors, click on the link above to join. The typical number of emails is not excessive, only one or two per week.

 

Updates on Neighborhood-Related Projects

 

Columbia Heights Senior Living Community

Latest update below from project manager of the Columbia Heights project, a senior community with 80 units.

 

“Construction is 6% complete. We are still expecting to complete construction in November of 2014. The trailer should be moved out onto the small parcel (garden parcel) any day now.

The Groundbreaking went well. HUGE shout out to Margaret Price for stopping in and speaking. It was very nice.

We are recalculating and recalculating items for EarthCraft Communities to make sure we stay in compliance and continue on the path of certification. We are on track for both EarthCraft Communities and EarthCraft Multifamily thus far.

Walton Construction, the General Contractor who is running the construction work on site, will host a meeting November 14th at 6pm at Tobie Grant Manor Apartments Community Center 3218 Tobie Circle Scottdale, GA 30079 to review potential opportunities for Section 3 Residents and Section 3 subcontractors in the construction of the Forrest Heights Apartments. This is for Minority Owned Business, Women’s Owned Business, etc and DeKalb residents to let people and businesses in the area know of the potential work that we will be hiring out for. “

 

Former Speed Trip gas station, 890 Columbia Drive
East Decatur Greenway Inc acquired this property a year ago. We are keeping the property cut back as much as we can. We have engaged a consultant to help us write a federal EPA grant for brownfield cleanup funds. As you can imagine, the govt shutdown caused a delay in the publication of the guidelines, so the process has not yet begun. There will be a public meeting as a requirement of the grant, so I’ll notify FH to ask folks to attend. If we get the funds (up to $250,000) this will allow us to complete the cleanup of soil and groundwater. Long term plan for the area is greenspace and a trailhead for a bike trail (see below).

 

Bicycle/pedestrian path

East Decatur Greenway is working with the PATH Foundation to construct a dedicated multi-use trail for cycists and pedestrians. The trailhead will be located at 890 Columbia. We are negotiating with the Friends School to proceed through their property to Katie Kerr Drive. The trail will then be on the area that was blown up when the gas line was installed last year, keeping cyclists and walkers off the street! The trail will end up at the Avondale MARTA station.

 

There are other trail networks planned that go through FH, but we’re still in the negotiating stage. Columbia Residential has given us access across the small parcel on Forrest that will be garden space. More on this soon.
The green area on N. Carter where Chester intersects is torn up, as you may have noticed. East Decatur Greenway owns a 30% interest in this property, and our lanscaper (Freddie Gaither, who also tends Walter’s Woods) told me that it was flooded. I called the county, who went out there on Tuesday and found a leak ina 30-inch water main that runs through the property. They said they will patch it and put everything back. I hope.

 

Forrest Hills Community Survey and Neighborhood Summit Summary (update by Carolina Casares)

Social, economic, and environmental conditions dictate people’s opportunities to live healthy lives.  The Forrest Hills community has the potential to become a model healthy livable community through more sustainable growth.

Last Spring, I conducted a short neighborhood survey online for a sustainability capstone project which helped identify the topics that our neighborhood considers priority areas for improvement. This plan can serve as an incentive for the future development of a comprehensive neighborhood sustainability plan.

The majority of the respondents have a positive image of our neighborhood and the community at large. Mostly folks agree or strongly agree that the neighborhood has a promising future, good support, education and health living conditions. However there also seemed to be concern with safety and local government response to neighborhood needs.

 

While most folks felt safe and satisfied with the greenspace in our neighborhood, and did not believe that there is too much traffic overall they also identified security and safety, healthy food options, arts and culture, and healthy behaviors as the top 4 areas that could be improved upon in our neighborhood.

More specifically, folks identified three (3) top areas of concern: safety, the greenspace (upkeep and development of green spaces) and education (building relationships with local schools and quality options).

However, traffic, infrastructure development (sidewalks, walkability, roads, etc.) and increased community engagement were also areas of high concern.  Within infrastructure: abandoned property, greenspace, roads and pavement (sidewalks), and traffic control were ranked among the top 4 infrastructure problem areas that residents would like to see addressed.

Some good ideas for neighborhood engagement and improvement were also provided, such as: neighborhood yard clean up days, choosing an annual service project to do together, and developing neighborhood projects.

Most important over 65% responded that a plan was needed to address these problems areas indicating strong interest and support for moving a plan forward and 27 neighbors responded that they would be willing to develop such a plan. These folks provided their contact information for future engagement in the process.

After reviewing the information I respectfully suggest the following next steps:

  1. We can start by identifying some “low hanging fruit”.  Items/areas that we can work on together that are low in effort but that will yield a high impact. This will give us some quick and satisfying wins to get us started.
  2. We can build a coalition with several small working groups to develop a plan and tackle these items one item at a time. This way we are not overwhelmed with too many things at once.
  3. We need to identify possible community grant funding sources for projects

 

On August 5, I attended a neighborhood gathering at the Columbia Presbyterian Church. In attendance were representatives from the United Methodist Children’s Home, Midway neighborhood association, the Druid Hills Charter Cluster, Our House Inc., Forest Hills, Winnona Park, Columbia Drive, Columbia Presbyterian Church, CTS and the Waldorf School. I am attaching the detailed meetings notes for reference.

In summary, much of the same problem areas and concerns that were identified in the Forrest Hills survey are also shared by our neighbors. We all agreed that together we might have the opportunity to tackles some of these problems through a more comprehensive plan.

 

In particular the following items were mentioned:

  • We need to continue this process,
  • We need to partner in the process of finding solutions, because there is strength in numbers providing more leverage,
  • We need to have a better strategy for communicating among our groups,
  • We need to compartmentalize the issues, so that they are more manageable.
  • We needed to work together and  grow a coalition

 

Forming the“Shoal Creek Coalition” was mentioned as an idea for identifying who “we” are and how we could work together.

It was clear by the end of the meeting that we all agreed that there are opportunities to do many good things together. If we did become a coalition, we could write grants to accomplish things that alone each individual neighborhood might not be able to achieve. Even though we may have different interests and issues, we also share many common problems and that with good communication and group involvement we can make our voices be heard.