February 2020 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
February 10, 2020
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met February 10, 2020 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 20 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included Senator Donzella James; Commissioner Joe Carn; Jaceey Sebastian, deputy chief of staff for Commissioner Carn; Aaron Johnson of the Fulton County elections board; and Kelvin Jones and Jordan Presley of Fulton County Voter Education.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody reported on the rezoning application for a subdivision at West Stubbs and Cascade Palmetto roads. He met with the developer 6 times, and the two parties are in agreement. However, the decision that the subdivision should have an amenity such as a basketball court has caused a 30-day delay in the Council vote, because the City’s zoning staff has requested a 100-foot separation and buffer around a court, and the developer will have to rework plans accordingly.
Mr. Moody said that he was invited to serve on a committee formed by County Commission Chair Robb Pitts to consider whether certain services and facilities should belong to the County or its cities. Initial discussion focused on whether senior centers should continue to belong to the County or be turned over to the cities where they are located. The committee’s thinking is that the centers should remain with the County because of the costs of the services (rather than the cost of the physical facility) needed to serve seniors.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall welcomed those present and noted that the Club’s annual membership season was coming up. Annual dues, which support the Club’s website and email tree among other efforts, are $25 for a family and $12 for a family headed by a senior.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
Mr. Jones described the County’s extensive effort to educate voters about the new voting machines to ease concerns about the technology and security. The County will hold 100 events by the end of February to give citizens a chance to try out the machines. He demonstrated how to operate the three machines on display: touch screen monitor, printer for the completed ballot, and a scanner to record the printed ballot. Lastly the printed ballot is deposited in a locked box so that a paper trail will exist if ever needed.
Mr. Johnson announced that a countywide “mock election” (with choices such as a vote for state bird) will be held on February 18 to give voters a chance to try the new machines. The Wolf Creek Library and the government “Annex” on Stonewall Tell Road will be sites convenient for Cliftondale residents.
Senator James provided an update on the State legislative session. The session opened on January 13 but soon recessed to iron out budget issues. The Governor wants significant cuts in the originally proposed budget to prepare for a possible economic downturn and to find funds for his campaign promise of a $5,000 teacher raise (of which only $3,000 has been paid). Among the possible cutbacks are the popular dual enrollment program in which high school students can take college courses at no cost to them.
Senator James introduced a resolution asking for an apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws. She stressed that she is not asking for reparations, and a number of states and Congress have passed similar resolutions.
She also introduced a bill prohibiting fully automatic “long guns” and limiting them to magazines of eight rounds. The bill does not apply to handguns. In response, she has received almost 300 hostile and threatening letters and emails. One night she was threatened by a call from a truck parked in front of her house on Pittman Road; it drove away before police arrived.
To address major concerns about the City of South Fulton Charter, the Senator has written some proposed amendments, which are being reviewed at the legislature and by the City. She noted that the Charter is unusual in allowing for a House delegation but not a Senate delegation.
To keep her constituents informed, Senator James does a weekly You Tube presentation during the legislative session and monthly out of session.
Commissioner Carn reported on his first months in office, which coincided with finalizing the County’s $1.2 billion budget. He was able to get funds for a feasibility study for a multipurpose wellness-senior center in South Fulton. A possible site would be near the Annex, where land is already owned by the County and served by public transportation.
He also focused on the negotiations regarding the County properties due to the cities, such as the Southwest Arts Center and the Wolf Creek Amphitheater. Transfer of the latter will go into full effect after the summer concert series are over, so promoters can have continuity of management for their events.
He is promoting city-County school partnerships and public library-school partnerships (such as having copies of text books in the libraries). As part of his literacy program he is able to negotiate steep discounts on a wide range of community interest and self-help books, such as SAT preparation, gardening, and health. He plans to make the books available free at every community meeting he attends – as indeed he did for the evening’s Cliftondale meeting.
The Commissioner emphasized the importance of every resident being counted in the upcoming 2020 Census. The best estimate is that in the 2010 Census only 75% of Fulton County residents participated. This year the objective is 80% participation.
The Census’s significance goes far beyond the population count. It is estimated that each counted resident boosts government benefits per person by $2,000 per year or $20,000 over the ten years before the next census. The Census affects funding from all levels of government for matters such as roads, school capacity, policing, street lighting, hospitals, senior centers. It provides the numbers for redistricting all levels of government, from City councilmember to state legislators to Congress. With a full count Georgia could receive one or even two more Congressional districts.
The Census’s population count also has direct economic effects. Industries and retail businesses considering entering an area want to know the number of potential customers and labor force.
Commissioner Carn stressed that the 2020 Census questionnaire is not intrusive. It asks only 9 questions, none of which relate to citizenship. Questionnaires will start arriving March 12, slightly staggered so as not to overwhelm telephone switchboards or crash computers. Once you receive your questionnaire, it can be filled out on-line, via a 1-800 number on the phone, or on paper.
The Commissioner will be starting a mailed newsletter, with the objective of making his District 6 the best-informed district in Fulton County.
Mr. Carter thanked all the speakers for such an informative evening. The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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January 2020 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
January 13, 2020
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met January 13, 2020 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 15 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included City of South Fulton Councilwoman Helen Willis; Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Jocelyn Watkins; Jaceey Sebastian, deputy chief of staff for Commissioner Joe Carn’s office; and Aaron Johnson of the Fulton County elections board.
Mr. Carter explained that, rather than having a featured speaker, after committee reports we would have a discussion brainstorming ideas for the Club in 2020.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
Harold Reid, who heads the City’s Planning Commission, said the Commission’s January meeting was cancelled, there being no zoning applications because of the City’s moratorium. He warned, however, that when the moratorium was lifted, developers will submit a large number of applications.
He noted that the report on revising the County’s zoning resolution, which had been carried over by the City, will be released soon. There will be several public meetings to introduce the new version, and he urged all to attend and learn about the changes. He is particularly concerned about the revised version reducing opportunities for citizen input in the application and approval process.
Ms. Watkins explained her position in the Community Prosecutor’s office, which involves sending concerns on to District Attorney Paul Howard. Her focus is on “quality of life” crimes, such as slider crimes and youthful repeat offenders, rather than serious crimes. The Conviction Integrity Unit reviews convictions and provides youth focus programs for first and second offenders ages 14-16.
Mr. Sebastian noted that his family was a victim of a youthful offender crime in 2017 which still has not been resolved. He asked Ms. Watkins to see that the system is made “more customer friendly” to the victims.
Councilwoman Willis commented on Fulton County’s “12 point” system for juveniles. The 12 point system is state mandated, and controversy centers on how it is locally administered. Ms. Watkins noted that sentencing is purely the responsibility of the judges, not “law enforcement officers” who only make arrests.
Aaron Johnson described the roll-out of the state’s new voting system, in which the voter uses a touch screen, prints out the cast ballot, proofs it, and takes it for scanning. Voting machines are currently being taken around the County for voters to try out. On February 18 the County will stage a county-wide “election day” to test the new machines, mostly at libraries. Official voting for Georgia’s presidential primaries will be on March 24, with early voting March 2 – 20.
Councilwoman Willis reported on the City’s human trafficking ambassador program, with training beginning on January 16. We want the City to be so conscious of human trafficking that the traffickers avoid us.
She noted that the City will sponsor a Martin Luther King Holiday parade on January 20, starting at the Old National Walmart parking lot at 1 pm. Citizen organizations are invited to submit entries to participate. The parade will be followed by a Census rally at Grown Folks Restaurant following the parade.
Mr. Carter opened the floor for suggestions about speakers for future Club meetings. Suggestions included Juvenile Justice Court; probation; Police Chief Keith Meadows; plans for new police beats in the City (a study estimates that we need 17 beats); blighted property laws and programs; inviting Commissioner Carn to describe County services; gangs; Court Watch; updates on the $13 million in T-SPLOST projects the City’s Public Works department will take over; and the Community Block Grants program, which the County is not administering effectively for its cities (Councilwoman Willis noted that the City will be able to administer its own grants in 2021 because of its population size).
Mr. Carter thanked the attendees for a lively session and adjourned the meeting.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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November 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
November 11, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met November 11, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 20 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included featured speaker Councilwoman Naeema Gilyard and recently elected District 6 County Commissioner Joe Carn.
Commissioner Carn said that he was sworn in on November 4. His District office is located in the South Fulton Service Center (“the Annex”) on Stonewall Tell Road and his phone number is 404-472-4599. He expressed his concern that every resident in his district is counted in the upcoming 2020 Census, because the population count affects all levels of government plus businesses, school districts, utilities, and infrastructure. He emphasized that individual Census returns are strictly confidential and not open for other purposes. The first major local issue he faced as Commissioner was a proposed County allocation for water and sewer projects that did not include the City of South Fulton; he was able to have the measure put on hold until it is revised.
Councilwoman Gilyard began with City matters. The sanitation ordinance has been revised: 1) to provide assistance to handicapped householders who need assistance in getting garbage bins to the curb for pick-up; and 2) to create zones for hauler coverage and to lower required liability coverage, benefitting smaller haulers. The City’s 2019 financials show a deficit of $7 million which must be reduced. 2020 will bring the challenges of adding $1.5 million to reserves and the expense of litigation with the County over ownership of the Wolf Creek Amphitheater complex. She wrote the ordinance that governs the City’s finance oversight committee.
The November 12 Council meeting agenda includes a revision for overlay districts, revising regulation of service stations, and regulating “party houses.” She has not received enough information about these measures to speak in detail about them. Harold Reid, head of the City’s Zoning Commission, said he was told that the current overlays do not apply to every builder, and the amendment is to clarify that every builder must conform; his Commission responded that the amendment must be published before the Commission’s meeting.
Councilwoman Gilyard shared that her son, who is an independent contractor, had a stroke in October. He does not have insurance, so she has had to be a quick study on health care. One conclusion is that the City’s 100,000 residents largely work, shop, and get health care elsewhere.
Turning to District 4, the Councilwoman is continuing her focus on development. She is working with Georgia State University students on urban architecture and in partnership with Emory University’s Hercules Center for the environment. The City received a National League of Cities “city of opportunity” grant for assisting its comprehensive planning effort. On November 14 she will sponsor the third forum in a series about Economic Development and the Environment.
In District 4 residential development, a developer is planning to build million dollar homes on Cedar Grove Road and is buying 34 acres on Butner Road near Camden Manor.
On December 12 she will sponsor a Christmas and Kwanza celebration. In January she will host a farewell party for Councilwoman Rosie Jackson of District 5, who was defeated in the recent election.
The Councilwoman introduced three special guests, two officers from the City’s new K-9 unit and an officer from the traffic unit.
Sargent Dylan Healey of the K-9 unit explained that he tried for several years to form such a unit, with no success until Chief Keith Meadows was appointed. Chief Meadows is very supportive and hopes to add one additional officer and dog unit a year until the City has five teams. The first two dogs, Rollo and Frankie, are German Shepherds trained for detecting narcotics and tracking. Tracking usually involves searching for lost children and demented individuals. The cost of forming the unit was about $200,000 for the dogs, equipment, and vehicles, and they have already discovered contraband worth twice that.
The officers explained that the dogs live in their homes and described acclimatizing the dogs to a family environment, their daily routine, and their training.
Lieutenant Shumacher of the City’s traffic unit described new initiatives in school zone traffic enforcement and radar speed detection.
The City will be implementing speed enforcement cameras in all City school zones over the next few months. Speeding will be a civil offense, punishable by fines between $300 and $500. If a violator does not pay after the third notification, the State will be notified and the driver’s license tag will not be renewed. The Lieutenant has been conducting studies of City school zones. She cited as an example that 85% of the cars in Stonewall Tell Elementary School’s zone are in excess of the posted speed limit for one hour before and one hour after school hours.
The City was recently certified for radar speed detectors, which can be used on any street. Prior to their installation, the more common warning lights that tell drivers how fast they are going relative to posted speed limits will be installed to make drivers more alert to their driving. Lieutenant Schumacher asked the audience for nominations of Cliftondale roads where such warning lights are needed now.
Mr. Carter thanked the guests and opened a brief business meeting.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody announced a November 14 meeting regarding a rezoning request for about 40 acres located at the southeast corner of the intersection of West Stubbs Road and Cascade Palmetto Highway. The developer is Kerley Family Homes. The request is to rezone existing AG-1 (Agricultural) to CUP (Community Unit Plan). Lot sizes and house designs will be similar to existing homes in the area. Issues with the proposed plan are too small front and side setbacks and that one lot apparently has a house planned over a sewer line. (“Setbacks” are the distances from the lot lines to the front and side walls of the house.)
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s Report.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall explained the reworking of the intersection of Welcome All Road and Camp Creek Parkway and urged exercising caution in that area.
Mr. Carter announced that the Club will hold a regular meeting with refreshments and a Toys for Tots collection at the December meeting, rather than the Gala party we hosted in recent years. Greystone Power will provide a speaker on holiday safety.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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October 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
October 14, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met October 14, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center, Vice President Marcus Carter presiding. About 20 members and guests were present. Councilwoman Helen Willis was present as a distinguished guest.
Councilwoman Willis reviewed the polling schedules for County Commissioner District 6 and for four City Council seats and two City amendments. She is on the ballot but is unopposed. She urged all residents, even if their Council seat is not on this year’s ballot, to turn out to vote on the two amendments, which deal with authorizing tax allocation districts and an Urban Redevelopment Authority and capping City homestead property tax increases.
In other news, she reported the City’s renaming process is getting underway, starting with a committee of citizens nominated by each Councilmember. The Community Development Department has only one planner left. In keeping with the City’s efforts against human trafficking, there will be training for human trafficking ambassadors at Welcome All Park on November 2. She noted that Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is not, as commonly believed, a center for human trafficking, but rather a refuge for the homeless.
She announced several City initiatives: the opening of the newest police precinct at Butner and Camp Creek roads; the reopening of Fire Station 1 on Welcome All Road after rehabilitation, which includes a new community meeting room; and the installment of speed enforcement cameras in all 16 City school zones by January.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody announced there will be a meeting with a developer at Welcome All Park on October 21 regarding a proposed 65-house subdivision at West Stubbs and Cascade Palmetto Roads. He reported that the Council passed certain requested variances for the “Bluffs” subdivision (the name is to be changed). The variances were not made public. A requested zoning for the Legend Oaks extension on Butner Road was withdrawn.
Mr. Moody and Mr. Carter noted that unfortunately the south Fulton community organizations were not working together on zoning matters as they used to do.
Mr. Moody recognized Vangie Watklns in the audience for her retirement from many years of service in the County’s zoning and code enforcement department. She was recently recognized by Women of Change with a Worker Bee of the Community award.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall reminded attendees about opening or renewing annual membership. He also announced that Friendship Church will host a forum for the candidates for City Council districts 1, 5, and 7 on October 17.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
Mr. Carter explained that the Club was not holding a fall festival this year, but several other festivals are planned in the community. In partnership with the City Parks and Recreation Department, Councilwoman Willis is sponsoring a Fall Festival at Welcome All Park on October 26.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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September 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
September 9, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met September 9, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 20 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included Councilwoman Helen Willis and several candidates for public offices: Tonya Isles, Kenya Johnson, and Rafer Johnson. The candidates were allowed a few minutes to introduce themselves.
Councilwoman Willis is running unopposed for re-election for District 3. She said her new term will focus on Roosevelt Highway, especially illegal enterprises on its side streets.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody described the issues involved in a proposed expansion of Legend Oaks subdivision. The new phase will exit into busy Butner Road a short distance north of its intersection with Stonewall Tell Road. The developer is requesting modifications to be considered by the City Council on September 10. The Modifications are not reviewed by a commission, so community input is essential. Issues the Club has identified include poor sight lines on a hill exit, no turn lane, only one exit, and modifications on stream buffers.
Councilwoman Willis said she would ask for detailed information on the application. On another zoning front, District 3 has recently faced several applications for group homes. She is considering ordinances to control the number of such facilities in residential neighborhoods, for example, by requiring distances between facilities.
Harold Reid, who represents the Club at the South Fulton Parkway Alliance, reported that the most recent speaker was from MXD Corporation, which specializes in development for aerotropolis projects although its involvement in the Atlanta Aerotropolis has been limited. The speaker discussed tools for South Fulton Parkway development, such as measures that encourage residential construction rather than warehouses.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
Mr. Carter, who is director of Greystone Power Company’s Operation Round-Up Foundation, said that the Company is building a new substation off Camp Creek Parkway. The facility is scheduled to be complete by December or January. Its purpose is to relieve the stress on the existing grid resulting from growth in our area.
Councilwoman Willis discussed some issues currently facing the City.
She noted that the draft of next year’s projected $105 million budget shows a $5 million deficit, and the Council will have to address that.
The City will have two proposals on the November 5 ballot. The first deals with authorizing tax allocation districts and an Urban Redevelopment Authority to handle capital needs arising from repairs needed for facilities inherited from the County. The second creates a cap on City homestead property tax increases, designed to prevent hardship as property values rise.
Councilwoman Willis said the City is considering moving Code Enforcement from Planning and Development back to the Police Department. Her discussions with Code Enforcement employees indicate they will feel safer as part of the police (they will not carry weapons, but they can call for assistance). Moreover, as long as Code Enforcement is under Planning, its employees work a standard weekday schedule, so issues arising on weekends are not addressed until the next regular workday.
The City has filed a lawsuit against the County for the transfer of certain properties that by law or precedent should be made over to the City: arts centers, amphitheaters, the Tom Lowe shooting range. State law, for example, identifies amphitheaters as a city responsibility. She urged those present to write the Commissioners to “Let Wolf Creek go.”
The City is also participating, with the seven other cities in southern Fulton County and the Atlanta Regional Commission, in updating the 2013 Comprehensive Transportation Plan. A meeting will be held in each jurisdiction to focus on its issues. The City’s meeting will be held October 1 at 6:30 pm at Welcome All Park.
Mr. Carter thanked the Councilwoman and invited the candidates for public office to meet informally with attendees after the meeting. The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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August 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
August 12, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met August 12, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 35 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included City of South Fulton Mayor William Edwards; Councilmembers Helen Willis, Carmalitha Gumbs, and Catherine Foster-Rowell; Fulton County School Board President Linda Bryant, Board Member Kimberley Dove, and Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney, who was the featured speaker. Candidates for public office included Councilwoman Rowell of District 1; and Sojourner Marable Grimmett and Sonia Francis- Rolle to succeed Commissioner Emma Darnell in District 6.
Candidates for office were given time for a brief introduction and invited to meet with attendees after the meeting adjourned.
Harold Reid, who represents the Club at the South Fulton Parkway Alliance, reported that the 102-acre parcel at the intersection of the South Fulton Parkway and Highway 92, adjacent to Southwind subdivision and across from the Publix, is once again being considered by Union City for rezoning from General Commerce (GC) to Town Center Mixed Use (TCMU), which allows warehouses. An earlier attempt at rezoning was defeated some months ago, but the effort is underway again. It will be voted on at Union City’s August 26 planning meeting. That meeting will also consider rezonings or preliminary plats for five other parcels near the Cliftondale community.
It was announced that Cecil Moody, long-time member and brother of former Club President Bruce Moody, died recently.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall welcomed first-time visitors to the Club and invited them to become members. He explained that dues for a family membership are $25 and for families headed by a senior 65 or older $15. The money goes to support local schools and similar worthy causes.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasury liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
The program was turned over to Dr. Looney, who introduced Philip Hammonds of Stonewall Tell Elementary and Gyimah Whitaker, superintendent for the South Learning Community.
Dr. Looney, who is newly appointed, is visiting south Fulton schools and very impressed with the students. They are polite, prepared, and focused on their work.
He noted that the System has 195,000 students. About 1,000 students a year drop out, and he has a priority of impacting students of poverty and color. In his former position he had a policy of meeting every student who announced plans to drop out and found that none of them really wanted to do so. The solution is to help them find a way to finish by wrapping services and support around students and their parents.
Education needs to start at the kindergarten level – kindergarten is now an academic year. All incoming children are assessed for school readiness skills such as vocabulary, knowing the alphabet, being able to count to 20, identifying a square, circle, and triangle, and doing “math 3” (for example, being able to add two numbers and then subtract a number from the sum). Adults and parents need to teach these skills to young children. In some schools only 11% of incoming children can do math 3, but 86% of System kindergarteners are proficient by yearend.
He said that this year he will use the System’s current strategic plan; next year he and the Board would make a new plan, focusing on “One Fulton.” He added that he is appointed, not elected – but he is appointed by the elected School Board.
Asked if the Board looks at the needs for facilities long term, Board President Bryant replied that the State’s philosophy is that a school has to be overcrowded and using trailer classrooms before a new school can be built. The System does employ a demographer and it has a long-term capital plan.
Mr. Reid commented that he would be glad to approach the State to present the case for a faster response to crowding. He added that his greatest disappointment in Fulton County government is the lack of interaction between the Board of Commissioners and the School Board.
Councilwoman Willis said that she would like the System to provide better communication to the City Council. Dr. Looney replied that the Board has just hired a communications director and the situation should improve.
Councilwoman Willis noted that the Atlanta School Board has a position on the 2020 Census’s local committee, and the Fulton Board should also.
Asked how the System develops high quality leadership to turn a school around to measure progress rather than by using the State’s standardized test scores, Dr. Looney agreed and said his job is to select and train good principals – and he will be accountable for that. He noted that nowadays parents often confront principals and teachers over discipline and grades. Dr. Looney said he will “get the teachers’ backs” in disagreements with parents. The question is whether the community and Board have the political will to stay the course. Board President Bryant said, “The Board is the ‘what’ and Dr. Looney is the ‘how’.”
Dr. Looney added that the community also must step up to give hope to kids at risk, for example by providing internships and exposure to businesses.
Ms. Rolle noted that the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce is planning a career and business expo in September and Aerotropolis is planning another in October.
An audience member commented that the community and schools need to recognize graduates who are going into the military or to technical school as well as those who are accepted to college.
Mr. Carter thanked Dr. Looney for his candid and informative presentation.
Mr. Reid announced that a city-wide zoning training workshop is planned, tentatively scheduled for August 28 at the Cliftondale Community Center. 1,400 single family building permits were issued for the City in the first six months of this year. The workshop is intended as an all-city opportunity for residents to learn how to evaluate and respond to developments proposed for their neighborhoods.
Councilwoman Gumbs said that she will be holding a follow-up on the District 2 zoning rewrite after Mr. Reid’s workshop. There will also be a follow-up meeting on the Bluffs’ application. She and Councilwoman Willis will be holding a business mixer on September 5.
Mr. Carter thanked the speakers and attendees and adjourned the meeting.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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June 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
June 10, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met June 10, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 25 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included State Senator District 35 Donzella James, the evening’s featured speaker; Joe Carn, former Fulton County Solicitor General and candidate for District 6 Commissioner; Fulton County Judge Eric Dunaway; and Cedar Grove Community Association Directors Jaceey Sebastian and David Daniels.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody called attention to the four Zoning Rewrite Workshops the City will be conducting for public participation in updating the Zoning Ordinance. The City has been using the Ordinance carried over from Fulton County. It is important for Cliftondale and Cedar Grove residents to attend because our two communities have most of the City’s land available for development. We want to have community input in every workshop, and we want the revised zoning ordinance to protect community input and our Land Use Plans and Overlays. In response to a question, Mr. Moody reviewed the County’s process that required developers to notify nearby property owners and attend community meetings in which attendance and comments were recorded and provided to the County’s zoning staff.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall announced that now is the time for renewing Club dues. Our dues pay for the Club’s extensive e-mail tree, aid to local schools, and our Fall Festival and Christmas Gala social events. Dues are $25 per family and $15 for a family headed by a senior.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasury liaison, provided the Treasurer’s Report.
Mr. Carter introduced Senator James for a report on the recent legislative session. She thanked the community for supporting her and announced she does a monthly You Tube legislative update.
Senator James reported that the Cliftondale precinct is going to be divided up such that some voters will be directed from the Community Center to other nearby polling sites. Details are available on the County elections website, and affected residents should be notified by mail.
At the state level, the Senate added five newly elected Democratic Senators. This past session was the first half of a two-year session. 278 bills were introduced to the Senate, 873 on the House side. The Senate passed 140 pieces of legislation and resolutions. Of the bills that passed both houses, the Governor vetoed four, one being the “school recess bill”.
The Senate established 17 study committees for possible legislation. She particularly supported two issues: eliminating patient charges for unused medical supplies; and including research on electric wheelchairs in an electric scooter study. Because electric wheelchairs are used on sidewalks and streets she wants a visibility flag requirement.
The state budget of $26.9 billion is by law a balanced budget. We as taxpayers need to track the expenditures, since they affect many aspects of our lives, such as state highways and recreation. The budget included a state raise of $3,000 for public schoolteachers and certified school employees and protected the teacher retirement fund.
HB 213 contained regulations for marijuana cultivation and hemp oil uses. The oil can be legally used for certain medical conditions and a “qualified agricultural producer” can grow marijuana if a license is secured. The producer must sign a consent allowing the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to survey and inspect the farm at any time. Criminal background checks for any substance-related charges must be made for all employees. A commission will make the detailed regulations and will include public hearings in its process.
Legislation for new voting machines did pass, but she is disappointed that the machines chosen create a bar code trail rather than a paper trail.
There were some good bills to promote economic development, but their effects could be negated by the “heartbeat” bill, which could cause many film industry firms to leave the state.
There were also bills providing provided more money for autism programs and for dyslexia screening and treatment for schoolchildren. She supports dyslexia screening from kindergarten to third grade, since the condition can be reversed if treated early.
She noted that three of “her” proposed bills were moving in the legislative process, but they have been absorbed into other bills so they are no longer under her name.
Senator James then opened the floor for questions.
Asked why hemp oil is so expensive, she replied the cost is partly due to the expense of the licenses, which range from $100,000 to $500,000.
Asked if the Governor explained why he vetoed the school recess bill, she said his reason was that the bill made recess mandatory and some school systems would not be able to afford it.
Replying to the comment that while the $3,000 teacher raise was appreciated, it only compensated for the lost income during the Great Recession, she agreed that the amount was not enough and she had supported a $6,000 raise. She would be working on future raises and benefits.
Replying to the comment that the state needs to go into more schools to insure that they improve, she noted that the legislature did pass the Quality Basic Education law (QBE) many years ago, but it was never fully implemented.
Replying to the comment that more state support is needed for health care for seniors, especially on the south side, she replied that she shared those concerns, especially with regard to nursing home care. However, many legislators have relatives in that business, which impedes regulatory reform.
Asked about the status of the bill to annex the Fulton Industrial District into the City of South Fulton, she replied that the District’s businesses want to be in the City. The bill got halfway through this session but two south Fulton legislators held it back until the last day, leaving the bill tabled for next year’s session. She supports trying another method of annexation, perhaps the 60% method, but she needs to know where other elected officials stand. So far as Fulton County’s position, they have expressed willingness to let the City have the District if the County can have Charlie Brown Airport.
Asked about the fire in the mountain of illegally dumped tires on Bishop Road, she replied that she had air quality checks made and took them to the state authorities. One possibility is that the state will condemn and seize the property.
The Senator acknowledged a volunteer who teaches aviation to young girls at the Aviation Center.
The Senator and Mr. Carn passed out men’s ties for Father’s Day gifts.
Mr. Carter thanked Senator James for a very informative presentation. He reminded attendees of the importance of attending the upcoming Zoning Rewrite Workshops.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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May 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
May 13, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met May 13, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 20 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included Councilwoman Naeema Gilyard, the featured speaker, and Commissioner Marvin Arrington’s Community Engagement Representative Channing Parham.
Harold Reid, who represents the Club at the South Fulton Parkway Alliance, reported on the Alliance’s April meeting. The featured speaker was Mayor Tom Reed of Chattahoochee Hills. Mayor Reed explained that he has been able to “monetize” a comparison of the returns of using land for warehouses versus mixed use, which weighs in favor of mixed use. The tool might be of help in reducing the proliferation of warehouses along the South Fulton Parkway.
Mr. Reid also said that Aerotropolis would like to provide a speaker for an update on its projects, which might be scheduled for the Club’s September meeting.
Zoning Committee Interim Chair Bruce Moody reported on a proposed subdivision at 7195 Butner Road, which backs up to Walden Park. The developer is proposing CUP zoning [flexible lot sizes] with 81 lots for 40 acres. The developer held a community meeting at Wolf Creek Library on May 8, where the large turnout opposed many aspects of the proposal.
Mr. Moody made the point that to be effective in getting better development, we have to fight all the bad zoning battles. Bad zoning becomes a legal precedent for future developers to exploit. Among the standards the Club has fought for over the years are stream buffers to guard against flooding, vinyl siding because it presents a fire hazard to the initial house and its neighbors, reasonable side yard space between houses, etc.
On May 14 the City Council will consider a modification application for The Bluffs, a development on Butner Road near the Camp Creek Parkway. Because the terrain is steep, the developer wants to decrease the distance from the house front to the street from 45 feet to 20-25 feet and the distance from the sides of the house to the lot lines from a 20-foot building separation to 7.5 feet fixed distances from the lot lines. Because the application was for a modification rather than a rezoning it was not submitted to the City Planning Commission for review. Mr. Moody urged attendees to speak against these modifications in the public comment session of the Council meeting.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasury liaison, provided the Treasurer’s Report.
Mr. Carter introduced Councilwoman Gilyard. With reference to the complaints of some residents located near The Bluffs that they had not received any notification about the modification applications, she said she is supporting legislation to remedy that complaint.
The Councilwoman explained that she wanted to focus her presentation on the City’s finances “Because finances are the way the City does anything.”
She introduced Frank Milazi, the City’s Chief Financial Officer. He noted that the proposed 2020 budget does not contain a tax increase, nor will it unless the citizens ask for an increase. The plan is to create an urban redevelopment agency to fund capital projects for the whole city through bonds rather than taxes.
Mr. Milazi provided a slide presentation on the City’s income statement as of March 31, 2019. Total revenues for the 2019 Budget are $71.1 million. General revenue has jumped because of more property tax revenue, more intergovernmental revenue (services provided to Fulton Industrial District, which is held by the County), and more franchise revenue. Total General Fund expenditures are budgeted at $66.7 million. Year-over-year expenditures are down because of delay in capital projects implementation; delay in purchasing motor vehicles, equipment, and software; and delay in hiring in some departments.
Councilwoman Gilyard turned to a survey of developments in her District.
District 4 has had very little economic development since 2008, the start of the Recession, though some residential activity is now underway. The District has 30,000 undeveloped acres, the most of any City district. In March she sponsored a development tour of 15 available parcels, which went well. She wants quality development in the District, and will seek to turn down developers who propose less. She instituted a moratorium on CUP zoning in the District, to last until November or until the City finishes its zoning ordinance rewrite. She is sponsoring a survey for District 4 residents to indicate what development they want.
A committee is considering how to enforce impact fees for developers, which are actually already in the zoning code. For many years the County did not enforce impact fees in unincorporated south Fulton in hopes of encouraging development. The fees are designated for infrastructure improvements needed for the influx of residents in new subdivisions.
The Council has received a draft of the proposed strategic plan, which needs community review and comment.
She wants to partner with the Chattahoochee Hills charter school for gardening and a farmers market, and has applied for a grant for that purpose.
Regarding the “smoking landfill” of tires near Fairburn, she noted that EPD regulates landfills. An emergency can be declared, but that must be done in conjunction with the Governor, and he has said he will not deal with the residents. The matter will be back in court on May 20, and we need to pack that courtroom.
Mindful of such recurring environmental challenges, in April the Councilwoman sponsored a forum on environmental health, and a group is following up identified issues.
The clearing on Highway 92 next to Mt. Vernon Church is occurring in Union City, and it will be for a 1.3 million square foot warehouse.
She is pursuing renovations for two of the fire stations in her District.
A Chattahoochee Greenway Study is underway for a project to stretch from Buford Dam to Coweta County on Fulton County’s side of the River, with efforts to do something similar on the Cobb side. Mr. Reid asked if the City would consider buying up the extensive County property that abuts the River in south Fulton.
Asked if the City has competitive police salaries and personnel stability, the Councilwoman replied “Yes”.
Mr. Carter thanked Councilwoman Gilyard for a very informative and wide-ranging presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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April 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
April 8, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met April 8, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center, Vice President Marcus Carter presiding. About 45 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included City of South Fulton Councilmembers Helen Willis and Carmalitha Gumbs and Commissioner Marvin Arrington’s Community Engagement Representative Channing Parham.
Harold Reid, who represents the Club at the South Fulton Parkway Alliance, reported on the Alliance’s March meeting. The guest speaker was College Park Mayor Jack Longino, who described the anticipated impact of two major developments in his city, Airport City near the Georgia International Convention Center and the Hawks minor club arena near Highway 29. Mr. Reid emphasized that while the two developments were in College Park, the more successes we have anywhere on the southside, the more developers will be willing to invest on the southside.
Membership Committee Chair Tommie Stegall welcomed first-time visitors. He noted that we are entering our annual membership drive. The Club’s dues are $25 per family and $15 per family headed by a person 65 years or older. Our dues support expenses such as our email tree and website, donations to local schools, and community events such as our fall festival and Christmas gala.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasury liaison, provided the Treasurer’s report.
District 2 Councilmember Gumbs made several announcements.
A lease has been signed for a District 2 mini-precinct located on Butner Road near Camp Creek Parkway. The first officers are anticipated to occupy the precinct by the end of April.
The County officially closed the Merk Road transfer station as of March 31, although it will remain open on a month-to- month basis. The City is evaluating leasing the facility for continued operation.
Councilmember Gumbs said the City has submitted 5 applications to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) grants for traffic planning. Such grants provide money for sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.
She is sponsoring several events: a May 4 Community Clean-Up and School Fundraiser, partnering with Comcast, to clean up litter and illegal dumping in Cliftondale; a “smart city” town hall meeting on April 22, consistent with a recent Council resolution supporting smart city planning; and a second annual gala for seniors 55 and up on May 23.
District 3 Councilmember Willis also made a series of announcements.
She and Councilmember Gumbs are sponsoring a community clean-up for Districts 2 and 3 on April 27. She is pushing for more cameras to catch illegal dumping. She will also be sponsoring a child abuse symposium on April 13.
Councilmember Willis provided information on the Atlanta Job Corps Center, which is being built on Highway 29 and is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2020. The federal government owns the land where the Center will be built, so no rezoning was involved. A community information meeting was held last October, and more information will be released at a public meeting on April 18. The Center will provide vocational training programs. It will resemble a college campus with housing and a very secure and structured campus. The Center invited the City to submit requests for specialty training, and we are considering suggesting logistics and film programs. And, since the Center is not located in Atlanta city limits, the Councilwoman is working to have it renamed to reflect its regional focus.
The City is applying for a Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP) Grant from the ARC for sidewalks and walkability improvements in the vicinity of the Center. (CDAP grants are annual local assistance grants for a wide range of projects such as zoning training, designing a community garden, auditing city ordinances, etc.)
Councilmember Willis sponsored legislation allowing the City to increase its hotel and motel occupancy tax to the maximum 8% allowed by law; the enabling legislation passed the state legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
She opposes as premature the effort to designate the Old National area as “downtown” to be considered by the Council at its April 9 meeting. The Council has budgeted $80,000 to develop an economic strategic plan that will allow residents to participate in selecting a location for city hall and perhaps choosing to have more than one “downtown”.
Councilmember Gumbs stressed that this is the City’s year for planning: zoning and economic development, parks, and comprehensive transportation in conjunction with MARTA. The most likely MARTA initiative will be continuing the South Fulton Parkway bus route from Derrick Road down to the Publix plaza, with a turnaround near the Waffle House on Highway 92.
Mr. Carter introduced guest speakers Inga Kennedy and Anna Johnson of Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., the consulting firm handling the rewrite of the County Zoning Resolution (which runs to hundreds of pages) for the City of South Fulton. Once the rewrite is complete, it will be voted on by the Council and then go on to the State for approval.
Ms. Kennedy explained the effort involved not only the zoning ordinance but also the land use plan, overlay districts, subdivision regulations, tree ordinance, etc. She described the public outreach process, project timetable, and public participation questionnaire.
She asked the audience for their top issues regarding the zoning ordinance. The following comments were made.
- A top priority should be maintaining the requirement for public participation in the reworking process and in the resulting zoning cycle. The City’s zoning cycle needs to be reviewed to assure this, since the cycle has dropped from 60 to 45 days and is now approaching 30 days, which hardly allows for getting information out and scheduling community meetings.
- The City’s process, unlike the County’s process, is so divided that an overview of a zoning application is not available at the beginning. The County would provide the application, requested modifications and variances, etc. in one original package; the City needs to offer the same convenience for residents.
- The City needs to improve its website, particularly for searches.
- The City needs to make the information in the CZIM (Community Zoning Information Meeting) – plats, etc. – readily available to residents, either in a more central location or on-line.
- The CZIM’s agenda needs to be broadcast in a timely manner.
- We are concerned about preserving our respective community overlays. Ms. Kennedy responded that the Wood team is looking into the commonalities of the existing overlays to apply across the whole City while leaving the individual overlays intact.
- We are concerned about preserving “the way South Fulton looks” [its wooded and rolling landscapes] even as we seek economic development. The ordinance needs to be sensitive to building our subdivisions as communities – allowances for schools, recreation, churches — not just houses.
- In the 1990s we fought to be recognized as Cliftondale, Sandtown, etc. Newer residents need to understand the history of how we fought to protect our natural environment and that we want to keep our overlay protections.
- We should use the City’s historical preservation board to insure keeping some of the City’s character during development.
– The Land Plan needs to guard against over-saturation of businesses (for example, establish distances between gas stations) and to include standards for business turnovers (as when shopping centers age).
- The ordinance will need to consider land use issues with contiguous cities, for example, their industrial/light industrial land uses bordering our residential areas.
- The consultants and the City need to be careful of making changes in the land use plan, regulations, and overlays. Will they respect input from the citizens, for example, our responses on the questionnaires?
- To be frank, in many cases the community veterans know more about the existing zoning ordinances and processes than the City’s staff and elected officials. In terms of Land Use planning, we need more categories for lot size and minimum house size, and we need to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of “rooftops.” We need a zoning Category RL (Residential Low Density) to insure quality as well as quantity.
- The City and consultants need to consider the infrastructure issues involved in zoning and development planning. The City’s water, sewer, public transportation, and school systems are controlled by other jurisdictions.
Ms. Kennedy asked what new trends need to be addressed in the ordinance, such as AirBNB. The following comments were offered.
– Councilmember Willis noted that a number of group homes are being proposed in her district and the ordinance should address them.
-The Wood firm should look into the original visioning process when overlays were developed for guidance regarding how those communities might respond to new trends. The visions still apply for the most part.
- The City should not offer incentives to businesses considering moving here. The City has advantages of location and available land.
- The City should require impact fees from developers to help address the resulting strain on infrastructure.
- Separate water meters should be required for individual condo, townhouse, and apartment units.
- Solar technology is a trend that should be addressed.
- Regarding the turnover of businesses, what is grandfathered in for replacement businesses in that location?
- Regarding grandfathering, the consultants should consider a rule wherein if a rezoned parcel is not developed in X years, the rezoning expires and the parcel reverts to its previous zoning (which is usually agricultural).
Ms. Kennedy closed the discussion by thanking the audience for their participation and urging them to complete the Zoning Ordinance Survey on paper or online. She stressed the Wood firm’s eagerness to meet with the community, for example, at HOA meetings or festivals.
Mr. Marcus thanked the speakers and audience for participating in a stimulating and informative evening. He called on those present to continue to inform themselves about these critical issues and participate in the planning processes going forward. He also announced an appreciation breakfast will be held for senior women in the Cliftondale community on May 4; information will be available from the Club’s email tree.
The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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March 2019 Minutes

Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
March 11, 2019
The Cliftondale Community Club, Inc. met March 11, 2019 at the Cliftondale Community Center. Vice President Marcus Carter presided. About 15 members and guests were present. Distinguished guests included Channing Parham, Community Engagement Representative for Commissioner Marvin Arrington.
Harold Reid, who represents the Club at the South Fulton Parkway Alliance, reported that its recent guest speaker spoke on MARTA’s transportation improvement plan. MARTA is concentrating on north Fulton County and on Highway 29 in south Fulton, since it already has bus routes on Highway 29. Regarding eventual plans for the South Fulton Parkway, MARTA envisions Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), involving dedicated bus lanes and bus stops. However, ridership will have to grow considerably before BRT would get underway.
Secretary Gayle Lesser, speaking as Treasurer liaison, provided the Treasurer’s Report.
Ms. Parham announced that Commissioner Arrington will sponsor Family Fun Day on May 4 in Welcome All Park. She emphasized that the Commissioner is trying to reach out to young people. Ms. Parham’s office is located in the South Fulton “Annex” on Stonewall Tell Road, and she invited residents to contact her there or by phone with any concerns.
Mr. Reid asked Ms. Parham if the County had any plans for a Cliftondale senior center given the community’s senior population. She replied there were no current plans, noting that building a stand-alone center would take time. Tommie Stegall asked if there was any possibility of a private partner like the YMCA, and she replied that private partners would always be welcome.
Storm Mitchell reported on the recent CZIM (Community Zoning Information Meeting). There were two zoning applications of interest.
First, Habitat for Humanity is proposing a resale store of donated and unneeded construction materials in a former used car facility on Old National Highway. However, Old National’s Overlay prohibits discount centers.
The second application concerns The Bluffs, a development proposed for land just this side of Camp Creek Parkway between Butner and Fairburn Roads – land that falls into both the Sandtown and Cliftondale Overlay Districts. Mr. Reid said there was an Agreement on zoning conditions between the developer and the Sandtown Association for the land in that District, but Cliftondale’s negotiations did not lead to a signing. Mr. Mitchell explained the developer originally planned on 3 lot sizes, but the terrain is so steep it will exclude the smallest lot size. For the remaining lots, the developer wants to decrease front setbacks (distance from the house front to the street) from 45 feet to 20-25 feet and side setbacks (distance from the side of the house to the lot line) from 20-foot building separation to 7.5 feet fixed setbacks. Mr. Reid suggested we might consider flexible setbacks if the total distance between houses was 20 feet.
Mr. Mitchell distributed a list of questions to be used as a guide for public discussion in planning this year’s rewrite of the City’s Zoning Ordinance. The City is currently using the carried-over Fulton County Ordinance. Public meetings will begin next month; the Cliftondale April meeting will focus on the issue.
Several attendees urged that impact fees be added to the list. Impact fees – usually a few hundred dollars per house – are charged to developers to help the community cope with the new residents’ “impact” on public services such as local roads, parks, sewer, libraries, etc.
Another consideration is items common to all City Overlays that could be part of the Code itself.
In addition to the Zoning Ordinance, Mr. Mitchell noted that the City will be revising its Land Use Plan (LUP), which identifies specific areas to be designated as commercial, light and heavy industry, residential and residential density, etc. A critical issue here is to plan sewer routes – the sewer system is owned by the County — to accommodate future use that cannot be handled by the existing system and septic tanks. The area’s sewer trunk lines date back to the 1960s and 1970s and are nearing the end of their life cycle as they also face the demands of 100,000 and growing City residents, plus other south County municipalities.
Mr. Carter thanked the speakers and audience for an informative and stimulating meeting. The meeting was adjourned.
Gayle Lesser, Secretary

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