I. Welcome & Introductions
Jim King called the meeting to order at about 6:40 PM. A quorum was present.
II. Approval of Minutes
Minutes for the January, February and March meetings were approved.
III. Admit New Member Neighborhoods
No neighborhoods asked to be admitted to BCN.
IV. Update and Q & A with Hon. Paul Howard, Fulton County District Attorney
Paul Howard returned to BCN, having spoken here several times. He summarized the APS cheating scandal in which his office indicted 35 APS officials. He recalled that BCN was one of the first organizations that pressed for action by his office. He has had eight or nine staff members involved in the case for 21 months. They winnowed down the suspects from the original 178 to the suspects he felt had crystal clear cases. He hopes that the outcome of the case will be that citizens will examine their public education system and what it accomplises.
Paul next covered the Burglary Task force which his office organized through the county. Eight police forces were involved in this initiative to reduce burglaries by 30%. They essentially succeeded, with burglaries reduced by 29.4%. However, this year burglaries are on the rise, up 1.2% over last year. He said Chief Turner attributes the increase to gang activity.
Paul said that 49% of burglaries are committed by juveniles at times when they are supposed to be attending school. He is concerned that a new juvenile code is taking effect on July 1. That code requires that juvenile burglars be committed to community treatment centers rather than jail. His concern is that the legislation didn’t provide sufficient funding (just $6 million statewide) for establishing the centers and thus juvenile offenders may be convicted but have no place to go. He added that Gov. Deal is looking into additional funding sources, though Howard didn’t seem hopeful that Fulton County would get sufficient help.
His office was involved in a heavy metals task force involving stolen cars. He said 86 defendants were arrested the same day for stealing car,s and with a lot of work by his office they achieved convictions in 85% of the cases. Unfortunately, 75% of those convicted were given probation, including one who had 32 prior arrests for auto theft. Of those given parole, six have already been rearrested. In Q&A he added that the Superior Court chief judge came to a meeting of police officials and said that a particular magistrate judge (who handled about 90% of these cases) was the problem but that there was nothing that could be done about that judge. The magistrates are selected by the State Court of Fulton County and assigned to the Superior Court of Fulton County, which can’t reassign magistrates. Paul said the county commission and city councils need to get involved.
He said when he took office in 1997 their conviction rate was in the 52% to 56% range. He was hoping to increase the rate to 80%. Last year they achieved 92% rate and so far this year they are at 97%.
Paul spoke about Jerry Moody who was charged six years ago with brutally murdering two teenagers. Having languished in jail for six years, Moody finally went to trial and immediately pled guilty. He is facing the death penalty. Paul said six years is far too long to wait, though the cause of the delay was not identified.
Jim King asked about the funding of the DA’s office. Paul said it was bad, that they had suffered a $527,000 reduction in funding. So while APD is staffing up to fight crime, this office is restricting resources to prosecute those APD arrests. He is thinking about asking the City of Atlanta for help.
Gordon Certain asked if there would be a prosecution of the volunteer at E Rivers Elementary who embezzled money from the PTA. He said the money had been paid back and the case will proceed in 30 to 45 days with a negotiated plea.
V. Presentation by Lt. Leanne Browning, Atlanta Police Department
Lt. Leanne Browning is the project director over Operation Shield. She said they are creating a
“domain awareness system” merging state of the art technology and traditional policing practices. Her Video Integration Center started last May with 17 cameras and they now have more than 1300. They integrate feeds from APD cameras and exterior feeds from business and apartment cameras. They are able to activate feeds in real from, for instance, near the scene of a reported robbery. The camera feeds are also used for evidentiary purposes. APD only records feeds from their own cameras, recordings that are kept 14 days. Recordings of feeds from private cameras are the responsibility of their owners. The cameras they are using are both high-definition and lower definition. There have not been problems using feeds from private cameras in prosecuting crimes.
Future efforts of her unit are to provide activation of the appropriate camera feeds by the 911 call. They are also working to simplify access to various APD databases using a customized search engine. City parks are just coming on-line with the VIC, including Piedmont, Chastain and the Beltline. The Buckhead CID cameras will be added soon, providing 14 to 16 additional important feeds both to Zone 2 and to her VIC. She said that during otherwise idle times, her analysts monitor video feeds for possible crimes.
She said the cameras are a force multiplier, each one seeing what a beat officer on the scene might see. Their
cameras have recorded crimes, even including a homicide.
She cautioned that people should not assume that a camera system will stop crime—it won’t. It may make the criminals think twice. But to avoid being caught may involve something as simple as pulling on their hoodie.
As for potential use by neighborhoods, Lt. Browning said it is important to use a professional grade video management system. She said the cameras may be very expensive, ranging from several thousand dollars to $10,000. She encouraged neighborhoods interested in cameras to contact her by email – lbrowning@AtlantaGa.gov. There are also tours available of the VIC, either day or night. She encouraged neighborhood groups to book a tour.
VI. Update on Buckhead Forest Land Use Concern (Amy & Dan Hillman)
Amy Hillman updated BCN on events related to the special use permit application by Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. She reported that church representatives, Councilman Shook and neighborhood representatives had met twice. She said they expected the meetings to be mediations but the church was unable to provide copies of plans to the neighborhoods in advance of the meetings and she didn’t consider them to be mediations. Yet she is cautiously optimistic. She said in the second meeting she briefly saw one plan which showed the 50,000 SF activities building relocated from R-4 lots back into the existing SPI9 area. The plans still showed two R-4 homes being demolished to become parking lots. She hoped that they might be able to save one of the homes and make the second lot a parking lot only on an interim basis until a parking deck might be completed.
Amy is still concerned that no overall site plan is being made available. She said some kind of master plan may be submitted with the current SUP. She said they have had a series of piecemeal special use permits (SUP), each with its own detention pond and that there is no logical master plan.
She is especially concerned with storm water issues and inadequate pipes to keep the neighborhood safe. The neighborhood seems to have significant hydrological problems, some related to the church, some with other causes. She showed a video taken during a light rain that highlighted some of the problems and which showed how, when really heavy rains occur, the large Herby Curby garbage carts on one street get washed to the bottom of the hill. (Thanks to Dan Whisenhunt of the Buckhead Reporter, the video is on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j6STCUAdYA.) She is planning meetings on site with Councilman Shook and Lowell Chambers of Watershed Management. She is also working with a representative of the Fulton County Soil and Water Board.
VII. Committee and Liaison Updates
Glenn Delk made a motion that BCN sign a letter supporting the establishment of the Atlanta Classical Academy charter school. The motion was seconded. In discussion, Amy Hillman asked how we could support a school that we haven’t been told where it will be located – the location selected may unfavorably impact a neighborhood that’s being asked to support the school. Glenn responded that they can’t select a permanent location until the application is approved and that while the application has to identify a location for the school when the application is submitted on April 19, the one listed will probably be an interim location. Katy Bryant expressed concerns about potential traffic congestion, land use and infrastructure requirements that might be difficult for many neighborhoods to tolerate. The draft letter was read and various corrections were suggested. Matthew Kirby, representing the school, said that several site were under consideration but that it wouldn’t be in taxpayers’ interest to disclose any. The motion, as modified, passed 10-0-2.
Did not meet. No report.
Legislation has been written but not yet signed to redistrict Fulton County. The existing five districts, one at-large commissioner position and one at-large chairman would be replaced by six districts and one at-large chair. Two existing commissioners (Edwards and Darnell) would end up in the same district. There would be two districts with no incumbents: the new upper Fulton district and a district including much of Darnell’s old district.
Transportation, Development and Infrastructure
Jim King and Gordon Certain outlined recent events related to the Sandy Springs Gateway project in Sandy Springs adjoining Buckhead. In an April 9 meeting, new plans were shown. The new plans are a significant improvement. Retail is mostly pulled up to Roswell Road. Apartment building and parking deck heights are reduced. A fifty-foot buffer is shown along the areas adjoining homes. It still ties into West Wieuca, at which GRTA require a long third turning lane requiring funding from the City of Atlanta. High density is still an issue and the relocation of the Windsor Parkway may cause loss of private homes or yards. For Atlanta, there are no positives, just more traffic. The city must pay for a new left-turn lane on eastbound West Wieuca Road and condemn the land to build it on. With the Windsor Parkway relocation, cut through traffic into the Meadowbrook part of North Buckhead may be the only means of visiting a Roswell Road Walgreens store during periods of heavy traffic.
VIII. Old / New Business
Voting for bylaws revisions for email voting is being done on paper ballots. 13 BCN member neighborhoods have voted to approve.
The following BCN member neighborhoods have not voted:
Brandon, Brookwood, Channing Valley, Fernleaf, Grant Estates, Collier Hills North, Loring Heights, Margaret Mitchell, Mt. Paran-Northside, Peachtree Battle Alliance, Pine Hills, Tuxedo Park
A 2/3 majority of our current 25 member neighborhood is 18 neighborhoods. Just five more votes are needed. The email bylaws ballot is available at nbca.org/EmailForm.pdf.
IX. Community Concerns – No Report.
X. Announcements – None.
XI. Next Meeting – May 9, 2013
XII. Adjourn – The meeting adjourned at about 8:15 PM.
Minutes prepared by Gordon Certain, BCN Secretary, May 7, 2013 (Corrected May 9 to include attendance of Kennedy and Helget).
Note: The opinions expressed by the speakers and individual neighborhood representatives in these
minutes do not necessarily represent those of BCN or its member neighborhoods.