Lake Claire Neighbors
Meeting June 19, 2014, at the Frazer Center
Neighbors gathered for refreshments (pizza compliments of Savage Pizza, and wine and sodas) 15 minutes before the meeting. The Lake Claire Neighbors Association is very grateful to Savage Pizza for its generous support. At the beginning of the meeting, there were 29 people present.
LCN President Joe Agee called the meeting to order, welcoming two guests from the Atlanta Police Department, Officer Floyd and Sgt. Barth, as well as Derona King and Natalyn Archibong.
The residents who recently had a break in, Rachel and Steve Jackson on Southerland Terrace (house number left off intentionally for security reasons), gave a report.
Here is their description of what happened. They have surveillance cameras, so there are a few pictures and a few seconds of video. Around 4:30 Tuesday morning two guys broke in through the back door (as there was no damage, there is a possibility that the door was left open) and took the car keys along with a number of other items. The wife’s car was parked on the street, so they took it too as they left. From watching the video footage, they looked to be two relatively young black males, both on the thin side. They were wearing black tops, one in a hoodie and the other a t-shirt/polo. It looks like one guy came up the driveway and scoped out the front of the house for a few seconds, looking in through the front guest room window. He then summoned his buddy from the street and they went up the driveway, opened the gate, and walked over to one of the french doors in the back. Flood lights turned on while they are walking by. The main guy had a tire iron or something similar in his hand. He opened the back door and they went into the kitchen and back guest room – in and out in about two minutes. Their dog woke up and started barking, which appears to have scared them.
Officer Floyd, who comes to the Lake Claire meetings to report on Zone 608, discussed this and other brazen break-ins that have recently taken place. On Lake Claire Court, someone tried to break in at 1 a.m., trying to open a window, and alarm went off. Person who lives there saw a man outside on deck at glass door leading to house.. He had his face covered and something on head so she did not get good description. He was tall about 6 feet and holding crow bar. She called 911 and hit the panic alert on alarm. 6 police where there in less than 5 minutes and he was gone. There is no easy in or out from the woman’s yard, where he was, or cul de sac, and that he had his face covered so not sure what he was planning..
Officer Floyd emphasized the importance of lighting, leaving nothing like keys in plain sight through an uncurtained window, purse, etc. Question from attendee was that typically neighborhood (neighborhood including Lake Claire and Candler Park) crime is mostly car break-ins, not house invasions, and isn’t this an alarming change? The Officer said the police think it’s tradition for the beginning of the summer when teens bored. Free attractions such as pools add to the incentive to come to the neighborhood. [Note—I didn’t know either Candler Park Pool or Lake Claire pool offered swimming other than to members?] Other attendees pushed back in the discussion, expressing worry that this level of crime, breaking in while people are home and an alarm is sounding, is extremely upsetting. The officer and a detective also in attendance expressed that it is of high concern to the APD as well, and that more officers would be deployed, and they would be vigilant. He was asked to give his contact information, and he said he could be reached on a commercial website “Next Door” that the police has been utilizing. A request was made that the police utilize the yahoo groups we’ve set up for the purpose, as “Next Door” is a website for many purposes, including selling items, yard sales, commercial advertisements, babysitting, referrals for handymen, etc., and he gave his phone number 404-371-5002 and his email email@example.com. The detective mentioned that an officer is assigned especially to come out and assess security preparedness, whose name is Inspector Hines. Contact APD for a free inspection and assessment. Fences help, lighting helps, keeping shrubs neatly trimmed, etc.
A resident brought up the possibility of forming a Lake Claire patrol. Some long-time LCN members commented that this has been attempted before on several occasions but has not been sustainable for lack of funds or continued participation in volunteer patrols. This does not meant that it still can’t be done, but any attempt to start one will require the effort of a very dedicated group.
Natalyn Archibong introduced herself saying “my office will do whatever we can – we stand behind the work of the police. She gave a brief City Council update, including that the budget passed, and that they are looking at a Bond referendum to improve and add sidewalks. Everyone was very supportive. She expressed that they look for us to say what is important to us. Someone asked about bike rider safety and someone else asked about the suicide lane on Dekalb. She said that we hope to have more of those conversations. She also said the millage rate hike was voted down. She also mentioned the public meetings being held by the city for neighborhood improvements such as side walks. The next closest to us will be on June 24, 6 – 8 PM at the Old City Hall Council Chambers, 68 Mitchell Street SW, Atlanta.
President Joe Agee thanked the policemen for all they do and for attending our meetings to keep us apprised. In lieu of the long police report, he abbreviated the officers reports, briefly noting monies in the treasury, and mentioning the VPs who were absent, and giving a brief report on Lake Claire Park. (Judy Hammack of Friends of Lake Claire Park is now working with the City of Atlanta for further improvements to LCP. Anyone interested in the planning process please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Friends of Lake Claire Park will also have a review process after the approval from the city, one on July 10 and then a presentation at our next neighborhood meeting, July 17, and after that at the NPU N meeting, July 24.) Joe also mentioned that Sara Rockaway, though not here, sent in a report on efforts on the Tour of Homes, which will be October 4. The committee desperately needs volunteers. This is the only fundraiser for the year, and all are encouraged to volunteer. The key to its success is volunteers, and it’s a great event. It is a way to show off Lake Claire and how it is different and unique.
Joe then called upon Carol Holiday, VP of Planning. Carol reported on the continuing issue of the Tamas Property, 2 residential lots on South Ponce on which builder Philip Clark proposes building 13 units. She said that Sue Strauss has been regularly attending meetings. The builder wants a 30 ft instead of 50- foot setback, which is the only thing in the plan for which he’ll need legal approval. It is in the discussion stage (see full details in the May and June/July Clarions). The property is in the Druid Hills Landmark Zoning area, and that is getting it some visibility. The NPU is typically very involved, but Druid Hills group has not been as adamantly opposed to this as we might expect. An attendee pointed out that this will impact traffic heavily and that anyone who walks South Ponce or enjoys Olmstead Linear Park should pay close attention. Carol agreed, saying we need to be vigilant.
Joe then called upon Beth Krebs for an education report. Beth discussed a number of leadership changes, first the extensive search process for the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent. It resulted in the hiring of Maria Carstarphen, from Austin. In Austin she was a champion for public education, and there are high hopes for her. Already she has expressed that she is in a “turn around” mode for APS, and that she will as one of her first acts appoint an accountability committee. Beth also mentioned that Grady has a new principal, Timothy Guiney, as well as Inman, Dr. Betsy Bockman.
At Mary Lin: renovation is still going on, with 2015 as the projected finish date. The assistant vice principal, Ms. Adamo, is going to Spark. For further information, Beth said to write her at email@example.com.
Then a report from Laura Hartt of the Freedom Park Conservancy. She gave a brief report and said to contact Joe Agee if you want more information and he will pass it along to her. Joe also mentioned that last month Eric Dusenbury (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Randy Pimsler (email@example.com) from the Candler Park Master Plan Coordinating Committee came to the LCN meeting to speak about traffic along DeKalb Avenue and the need for a joint proposal by Lake Claire, Candler Park, and Inman Park. They also invited all Lake Claire residents to participate in their Master Plan initiative. The next meeting for the Master Plan Committee is on Monday, July 7 at 7:00 at the Epworth Methodist Church on McLendon Ave. For more information get in contact with Eric at the above email address. Subsequent meetings are scheduled on first Monday of every month at the same time and place.
Joe then introduced Derona King, Director of the Citizens Advocacy Program. It is a 37-year old group dedicated to community building, and specifically they hope to connect people to those with vulnerabilities and disabilities who have been forgotten and are isolated. She asked for those interested in checking in on such people in our neighborhood to contact her. Their belief is that with neighbors helping neighbors, everyone’s gifts can contribute.
Joe then called upon Carol Holiday, who in VP Zoning Dan White’s absence would present two zoning issues:
1. Variance V 14 120-506 Harold Ave: Josh and Coleen Golden seek a reduction in the required north yard setback from 7ft to 6ft to allow for addition of existing single family dwelling
2. V 14 116 at 354 Nelms Ave: Appellant seeks reduction in front yard setback from 30 ft to 19 ft and to allow for a parking pad in front setback
Josh Golden of Harold spoke about how they love the neighborhood, and thus, the reason for their expansion is to accommodate their growing family. The measure passed, 16-1.
The builder, Dan Hanlon (Red Level Construciton) was representing Betsy DiSalvo, who is the owner of the property on Nelms. He explained how they would add a dormer to the front and the back. Adding the level with a master bedroom and bathroom will not change the footprint, and the lot coverage is still under the allowable amount. It passed 16-0 (one person not voting).
Joe asked if there were any other issues – those with concerns or information they wished to bring to the membership; and there were none. There being no further business, the meeting was adjoined at 8:35 p.m. Lake Claire Neighbors meets the third Thursday of each month, so the next meeting is July 17.
Minutes taken by Beth Damon, Editor of the Clarion