July 2018 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
July 9, 2018
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met July 9, 2018 at the Cliftondale Community Center. About 30 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included State Senator Donzella James, Councilmembers Catherine Rowell and Helen Zenobia Willis, Police Captain Hattie Cotton Tukes, and the meeting’s featured speakers Councilmember Naeema Gilyard and South Fulton Interim Police Chief Sheila Rogers.
Vice President Marcus Carter presided. A guest provided the invocation.
Mr. Carter recognized and welcomed first-time visitors. He briefly explained the Club’s mission to serve and inform the community. One visitor asked which authority to contact regarding a burned-out streetlight, and Mr. Carter explained that given her address GreyStone Power would be responsible and that he would inform them about the light.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody provided an update on two area zoning cases. Z18-005, requesting changing the existing agricultural zoning at West Stubbs Road and Cascade Palmetto Highway to Community Business District, was withdrawn. Mr. Moody credited the developers’ decision to withdraw to the large turnout of opposed residents at a Club-sponsored meeting with the developers. Z18-007, requesting rezoning 6926 Campbellton Road from agricultural and Sub-A (Single Family Dwelling District) to commercial, was deferred without any specifics as to possible changes.
Mr. Carter introduced Councilmember Gilyard, who represents District 4.
Councilmember Gilyard relayed statistics provided by the Atlanta Aerotropolis at the last Council meeting. Only 15% of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport workers reside near the airport (defined as within 25 miles), while 73% of the nearby residents work elsewhere. Given that the Airport has above-average unemployment, Aerotropolis is focusing on workforce development programs with area schools and colleges.
Councilmember Gilyard noted that the deadline for appealing property tax assessments has passed. However, a group of new homeowners filed a lawsuit against the County on the basis that their assessments are higher than similar houses. The County could lose $30 million in tax revenues if the suit is successful.
So far as the City, its midyear budget is on track. Its principal financial challenges are arise from its several sources of revenue and the need to control costs. Several meetings for citizen review of the proposed 2018 budget are scheduled.
In District 4 news, local residents would prefer a traffic light to the proposed roundabout at Highway 92 and Jones Road, which is favored by the State and the County. Senator James announced that she has requested the Georgia Department of Transportation to conduct a study of the issue.
Catholic charities have distributed $500 gift cards to the homeowners in Chestnut Ridge subdivision whole homes were damaged in the spring tornado.
A new development with small lots is being proposed for the Cedar Grove portion of Jones Road. Two District 4 subdivisions, St. Joseph’s and Lexington Park, are scheduled to be “turned over” from their developers to HOAs, and both new HOAs will need help getting underway. St. Joseph’s has an issue with unbuilt sections of sidewalks, which arises because the subdivision falls under several different overlays (the Parkway, District 4, and Union City). One of Councilmember Gilyard’s priorities is establishing an HOA coalition for District 4 to have an informed and unified front to deal with such issues; the coalition has held its second meeting.
In closing, Councilmember Gilyard said that she wants to improve outreach to the Cliftondale community, a significant part of which falls into District 4. (The community’s legal Overlay limits also extend into Districts 2 and 3.)
Mr. Carter introduced the next guest speaker, the City’s Interim Police Chief Sheila Rogers. She reported that 85 officers made the transition from the County’s police force to the City, and five more have been hired.
Chief Rogers summarized some planned departmental strategies. A priority is to increase manpower by recruiting quality personnel, in order to increase visibility in the community. In addition to the 5539 Old National Road precinct, precincts are being planned for Cedar Grove and the South Fulton Parkway area, 4121 Cascade Road, 5565 Stonewall Tell Road, and at the Citgo station in District 2. The Department receives about 1,100 calls each week. Response times will be reduced by reassigning beats based on the average number of calls over the past 2 years, utilizing GIS, and better prioritizing of 911 calls. Another strategy is to be more proactive in enacting traffic ordinances, in order to reduce accidents and thereby car insurance rates. A website to direct citizen requests to appropriate departments and track their responses is under development.
She provided year-to-date crime figures for the City: 26 robberies, 82 burglaries, 169 thefts from motor vehicles, 111 car thefts (the majority involving keys left in the car).
The National Night Out celebration will be held August 7 at the Old National Precinct.
Chief Rogers invited questions from the audience.
Senator James asked when fireworks can legally be set off. Councilmember Willis replied that while the City is currently operating under the State law, cities are allowed to write their own ordinances. She is working on a City ordinance to allow fireworks only for specific holidays.
Senator James also had a question about response times, since she was recently the victim of an illegal left-turn “T-bone” accident at the Cascade I-285 intersection.
Asked if the City will provide incentives for new police hires, Captain Rogers said the plan is for every officer to have an assigned car (rather than a departmental pool), and officers who live within 25 miles of the City can take their cars home. The cars cannot be used for personal errands, but they can be used for legitimate off-duty purposes, such as visiting a service station that has experienced “slider” crimes.
Asked about how the new precincts will be manned, she replied that there will be a patrol in every precinct and the precinct offices manned from noon to 8: pm or 1: to 9: pm. The long-term goal is to have fully functional precincts.
Asked about the recent murder at a party at 3610 Union Road, she replied that a warrant is out for an identified suspect. Policy is now for officers to patrol “party houses” and tow away illegally parked cars. Clubs (defined as selling food, drinks, entry) are not allowed in residential areas. She explained that City ordinances prohibit parking on city streets from midnight to 6 am; allowances are made say for out-of-town guests but the prohibition is strictly enforced near stop signs, fire hydrants, etc.
Asked about enforcement against ATVs and similar vehicles operating illegally on public streets, Captain Rogers said the department is cracking down on such activity and cooperating with other south Fulton municipalities. The vehicles are not “chased” because of the danger of accidents, but they are followed until they run out of gas. They can be impounded and proof of ownership is needed to get them back; because the vehicles are often stolen, the illegal operators are not able to retrieve them.
Mr. Carter thanked Captain Rogers for a very informative presentation.
He asked the public officials present if they had any comments or announcements. Councilmember Willis, Councilmember Rowell, and a representative from Commissioner Marvin Arrington’s office announced back-to-school events.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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