Druid Hills Preschool for a Special use Permit

Druid Hills Preschool for a Special use Permit

As Board of the Inman Park Neighborhood Association, we are aware that the pending application of the Druid Hills Preschool for a Special use Permit has generated a great deal of interest. The neighborhood will be voting on the proposal at our next monthly meeting on Wednesday February 15 at 7:30 at the Trolley Barn. Below, we set forth the procedures and some other points for any resident who plans to attend to bear in mind.

First, the applicant (Druid Hills Preschool) will have 10 minutes to present its proposal. At the conclusion of the applicant’s presentation, the chair will recognize an immediate neighbor for 5 minutes to present their objections. After these presentations, we will open the floor for 25 minutes for questions and discussion. After the period for questions and discussion, we will devote 20 minutes total to advocacy. Those wishing to speak will form two lines. One line will be for opponents of the application, the other for supporters of the application. We will alternate comments between the opponents and supporters. Each line, opponents and supporters, will be allotted a total of 10 minutes. No individual may speak for more than one minute. Because we have allotted 20 minutes for advocacy, the Board asks that participants refrain from engaging in advocacy during the period for questions and discussion.

We recognize that our procedure requires that all meeting participants act in good faith. The meeting chair may determine, in his sole discretion, that it is appropriate to reduce, extend, or otherwise revise time allotments. The Board understands that there is disagreement regarding the benefits and burdens of the application. We are committed to deliberating constructively on the substance of these points. We urge both supporters and opponents of the application to confer in advance to ensure, to the extent possible, that the individuals making comments do not make duplicative points.

All residents of Inman Park who are 18 years of age or older are entitled to vote (i.e., voting is not restricted to members of the Inman Park Neighborhood Association). The by-laws expressly forbid any absentee or proxy voting. Any resident wishing to vote at the meeting must sign in with their name and address. By signing in, the person affirms that they are a resident of Inman Park and 18 years of age or older. In order to facilitate this sign-in process, residents are strongly encouraged to be on time (or early) for the meeting. As with all regular monthly meetings, this meeting will begin at 7:30 pm and doors will open at 7:00 pm.

The vote on the DHP application is one item on the agenda of the regular monthly meeting of the Inman Park Neighborhood Association. It is by no means the only item on the agenda and it will not be the first item on the agenda. If you are interested, you may consult the neighborhood website, inmanpark.org, to view the full agenda. Another major item on the agenda is a presentation by the City's Renew Atlanta Office on the redevelopment and redesign of DeKalb Ave. This will give the neighborhood an opportunity to have input into the City's planning process on this extremely important matter. This item, among others, will precede the deliberation and vote on the DHP application. It is the hope of the board that those attending the meeting principally out of interest in the DHP matter will constructively engage on these other matters. At the very least, we will appreciate good-humored patience. It is going to be a long meeting. In this connection, we will, as we always do, have a baby-sitter on site. If you wish to utilize this service, you will find the sitter set up in the basement of the Trolley Barn.

-Neil Kinkopf

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Comments on "Druid Hills Preschool for a Special use Permit"

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Susan Thompson - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My name is Susan\_M\_Thompson and I live on Dekalb Avenue. But for 35 years I lived adjacent to or across the street from the Inman park preschool we had no difficulties for 35 years living next to a preschool. My children went to Inman Park preschool and my two grandsons have both attended Druid Hills preschool and both preschools with different educational orientations offer excellent early childhood learning. The church is gone and the property is for sale and a preschool seems like an excellent choice. what else would go there? another preschool in Inman Park will strengthen our neighborhood by offering diversity and balance among businesses condominiums and private homes. recently I sold our condominium across my the street from Inman Park preschool and during the selling process I learned that the man who bought our condo said that a factor in the purchase was that the preschool was across the street. I hardily endorse this special use permit.

Stephanie Millet - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

To the Residents of Inman Park. Hi. My name is Stephanie Millet and I live with my husband, Kevin, and our daughter, Cordelia (10) at the corner of Seminole and Sinclair opposite from St. Joseph’s Church (1 house off). Kevin and I are 2 members of the not-so-small group of 44 immediate neighbors who cannot support DHP in its application for a Special Permit to operate out of the St. Joseph’s Church. I have seen comments made about us, as whole, in various places, by various people, on Facebook, Next Door and elsewhere, calling us “greedy”, “angry”, “hostile”, “rude”, haters of children and schools. We have been accused of saying awful things. We have been questioned and looked down upon because someone said they heard that we were only concerned for our property values. Those comments do not describe the neighbors I know and that I have lived with for 11+ years. The 44 people I know love kids. We have 24+ between us. We moved to this neighborhood because we loved kids and we wanted a neighborhood with parks to walk to and sidewalks to get us there. Where I can walk with Cordie selling cookies door-to-door and go inside neighbors homes to chat. The people I know are not “greedy” and “hostile”. We are generous and supportive. I can’t imagine any one of us saying what we were accused of saying, and in no event should one person’s behavior been accorded to the rest. Quite a negative image has been painted of us. Which is hurtful enough, but most hurtful of all, people have used this to completely dismiss and deflect from these 44 people’s very real, very unsolvable, traffic concerns. I feel like I must tell our side, at least from my perspective, because I won’t get a chance to at the meeting. I don’t know how many of you are very familiar with our little part of Inman Park. We aren’t really like the rest. For the first half of our family’s 11+ years on Seminole we seemed more like Little 5 Points and less like Inman Park (fun fact, our streets weren’t even part of Inman Park in the beginning). If you aren’t that familiar with us you may not realize that our end of the neighborhood consists of only three streets: Cleburne/Seminole, Sinclair and Mansfield. All three streets are for all intents and purposes dead ends. Sinclair dead-ends into Seminole. Seminole dead-ends on both sides, at L5P and Freedom Parkway. Mansfield dead-ends into Seminole. And Cleburne dead-ends into N. Highland. At every one you either need to turn left or right, or turn around. 

And our three dead-end streets are wrapped by an inaccessible portion of Freedom Parkway, Moreland businesses and residences, Little 5 Points businesses, and N. Highland residences and businesses. This means we have just 1 street to leave by, Cleburne to N. Highland. Our one point of egress exits right at the N. Highland and Freedom Parkway light. In the last 5 years, everywhere there has been a space on N. Highland they have built residences: big houses, small houses, townhomes, condos, apartments. There are signs now for new ones at the far corner of N. Highland and Freedom Parkway. Everywhere there has been space left on N. Highland they have built businesses and restaurants. I love it; do not get me wrong! But we live a block off of Freedom Parkway and our and our 3 streets are cut-thrus to get there. And our only exit dumps into Freedom Parkway at N. Highland. During rush hour N. Highland can back up way past Colquitt and we, along with the Sinclair and Mansfield cut-thru traffic, pile up at the corner of Cleburne and N. Highland during rush hour in lines of 12, waiting for the light at Freedom Parkway and N. Highland to turn green, and someone to be considerate enough to let us in. Last year at this time I sat behind maybe 6 cars between lights at N. Highland and Freedom Parkway. This time 2 years ago I sat behind 2-3. Making a left turn is next to impossible here. One person does it and the cars back up even more. 

Getting into the neighborhood on Cleburne from N. Highland is just as bad. You will wait for 20+ cars to pass before the light finally turns red, and you hope that someone won’t block the intersection, as they do 50\% of the time to keep Cleburne cars from coming out. Once you do get to turn in, you hope the line of cars isn’t so long that it evens up with the parked cars because then it is impossible to get through. Cleburne is one of our only two ingress streets. The other is Mansfield. On our side of the neighborhood, Mansfield is a narrow one-way “street” leading from Moreland to Seminole. Mansfield is lined with businesses at the beginning, a Starbucks, two dry cleaners, a nail salon, drug store, florist, others. As you drive a little further, Mansfield becomes encased by two brick walls; a brick apartment building to the left, lined with parked cars, and a brick wall blocking off the Mallis residence on the other. With the parked cars, Mansfield fits one moving car. You cannot pull over. If there are pedestrians walking you must wait behind them. Because of the brick wall on the right, it is not possible to just drive up to the corner and pull out onto Seminole. At Seminole you cannot see pedestrians or cars coming unless you inch up. It is a dangerous place. Our three streets put up with a lot of car traffic all week long. From being a cut-thru to Freedom Parkway on weekday mornings and evenings, to having 3 sets of apartments on the 3 blocks between the L5P dead end on Seminole and the corner of Sinclair and Seminole, we have a lot of residential traffic. And of course we abut up against L5P and put up with a constant stream of car traffic on Cleburne, Seminole and Sinclair on the weekends. During the day after morning rush hour Cleburne and Seminole have 18-wheelers backing down the street to deliver food and supplies to the businesses and restaurants at the dead-end. I had never heard of DHP before this. I had no opinion of them one way or another. What I do know, is that from day one the neighbors I know with were concerned about traffic first and foremost. On January 1, one of our neighbors told us of DHPs plans because he saw the picture of St. Joseph’s on DHPs website declaring it to be their new home. Those of us who found out immediately thought of one thing. Traffic. How many cars will DHP try to bring through these streets? And how? So great our concern, we reached out to DHP on the same day to ask about their plans for traffic and parking, and details regarding how many families and students. DHP could not give specifics of enrollment or cars, and had no details on the car flow or a traffic plan when we contacted them on January 1. On January 11 we were told to expect a survey. When, by January 26, most immediate neighbors had heard nothing, we decided to hold an informal meeting to join our collective information. When DHP showed up at the meeting, they could not give specifics of enrollment or cars, and had no details on the car flow or a traffic plan. We were told traffic concerns were being studied and a plan was being developed. And even after listening to DHP tell me nothing relating to a traffic plan, I remained open to the idea. At that time I (and most of the other neighbors) were thinking in our heads this would be maybe a 35-car problem. And we thought adding 35 cars coming in and out of the neighborhood right after and before rush hours could cause a lot of problems. Then at the immediate neighbors’ meeting DHP told us told us that a minimum of 92 – 111 cars would be coming in, through and out, the neighborhood for carpool, a minimum of 2 hours a day, every day. And they planned to do it with 35 parking spaces. With a policy that children are walked in. So perhaps some of the “anger” people thought they felt from neighbors was pure shock and disbelief that anyone could think that was possible at all. I know that’s what I felt. The DHP traffic and carpool plan is that the 100+ cars in their carpool, no matter where they live and no matter how inconvenient, will twice a day line up and down Mansfield on the Candler Park side starting at Euclid, in perfectly staggered thirds for drop offs from 9 – 10 am. These cars will cross at Moreland; head down the Mansfield one-way and then will cross Seminole to enter the parking lot. Each group will arrive, park, take their child/ren out of car seats, walk them into school, walk back to their car, pull out and line up down an new one way road to be dug out from a footpath behind the houses that back up to the school and will be let out onto N. Highland between Colquitt and Cleburne. Each person is expected to accomplish this in 5 - 8 minutes. Then it is all is to happen again between 1 and 2 pm. Without any group stopping or holding up traffic on Seminole or N. Highland, or backing up Mansfield, while they do it. A police officer would need to be placed at the entrance to N. Highland, although we were told not to stop traffic. And someone from DHP was expected to guide cars across Seminole. There were a number of disturbing facts left out and assumptions made in their DHP traffic study. First, the plan didn’t take into account that Rugby “road” was an alley and a footpath and that neighbors’ driveways were accessed off the alley they planned to turn into a one-way road filled with traffic for at least 2 hours a day. Second, the traffic study did not take into account, normal, regular traffic that we have constantly in our neighborhood. It did not account for the present backup of cars on the Candler Park side of Moreland that already goes 6 deep. It did not address that 35 cars cannot fit down Mansfield, and that cars can’t pass on Mansfield, and that the light at Mansfield lasts over 2 minutes long at 9:00 am and only lets 3-6 cars through depending on a number of unpredictable but constant and expected slow downs at the intersection of Mansfield and Moreland. It did not account for residents working from home, or count how many left regularly on off hours. It did not account for the pedestrians, cars, trucks and 18-wheelers needing to pass through the line of DHP cars crossing Seminole. And it assumed that 100 cars could release onto N. Highland without a traffic cop stopping traffic. After voicing these concerns, DHP has attempted to prove that the neighbors are wrong about the traffic we live through day in and day out, by having people come out counting cars with clipboards, on random days and on random corners. This is not how a proper traffic study is done. I travel out of our neighborhood on Cleburne @ 7:50 am and back into our neighborhood on Mansfield @ 8:50 am every day of the week. Yesterday DHP was out counting cars and some schools were on winter holiday so there was no traffic on either Cleburne going out or Mansfield coming in. Today, no DHP, but it took me over 5 minutes to get to N. Highland on Cleburne as I sat in the middle of a line of 14 cars. On Mansfield – Candler Park side, I waited for 3 minutes at the front of a line of cars that stretched 6 back to cross. In that time, I watched a car get stuck between the parked cars on Mansfield and us, and have to wait until every one backed or inched up a little to let it through. And two cars made illegal U-turns from the drug store parking lot onto Mansfield. I have pictures of all of this, but none will be captured in any DHP report because they weren’t there. Third, the numbers given by DHP do not support the “staggering” idea. The plan requires staff to park off campus, so what happens when DHP has nowhere to put staff? What happens when it is pouring down rain and your staff is expected to walk not an insignificant distance to get to the Church? What happens while cars empty from the 35-car parking lot, where will the 35 other cars be? What happens if someone comes to the wrong shift? What happens when instead of going around to get to Mansfield, 100 cars try to converge on the Mansfield alley from Moreland? What happens when those families supposed to walk don’t? When do they come? What happens with carpool when it rains? How many cars can you stack down the new road? How many cars can you fit down Mansfield on our side of Moreland? On the other side of Moreland? None of these questions could be answered by the traffic planner. Also, it was hurtful that no sympathy or understanding was accorded to the immediate neighbors and there was no acknowledgement of the validity our concerns regarding traffic. We were already seen as the bad guys. When DHP then asked the 51 immediate neighbors at the meeting if they would support their Special Permit application, 44 of us said no. So 44 of your neighbors said that what DHP was asking of us on these three residential streets was too much. Asking us to sit in 100+ car traffic every time we want to use Mansfield to come home, for a two-hour period in the middle of our day, every day is too much. Asking neighbors to lose access to their own homes for a two-hour period in the middle of our day, every day is too much. Asking us to lose easy emergency vehicle access for a two-hour period in the middle of our day, every day is too much. Asking us to cross one, maybe two, lines of carpool traffic any time we leave or come to our homes during a two-hour period in the middle of our day, every day is too much. Personally it felt like DHP came out of nowhere with a lot of demands to be made of the people who live on this little side of the neighborhood. Now DHP is asking you to support them, rather than your neighbors, in forcing us to accept traffic conditions they have not and cannot address adequately. With the good guy bad guy imaging in this process, I think people have forgotten that DHP is like any other business trying to move into a residential neighborhood. There is a reason they must seek a Special Permit. Neighbors, before you give DHP support, I ask that you please imagine that DHP is a hundred 135-person theater and wants to relocate to a building that has a 35 space parking lot, sitting on your residential corner on a dead-end street. And in order to valet off site for 4 hours the 100 extra cars that were told to arrive in perfectly staggered thirds without causing backup, even so taking an hour to pass through the neighborhood on the heels of rush hour, the theater needed to cut a road through on what has been a footpath for 30 years, running behind neighbors’ homes and cutting off their access, before bringing all 100 cars back three hours later in perfectly staggered thirds without causing backup, again taking an hour to pass through the neighborhood on the “road” behind neighbors’ homes and again cutting off access, ending just an hour or so before rush hour begins again. Now imagine that your residential street already takes in 1000+ cars a day. And that your residential street is already surrounded by businesses and highways. Would you want that theater on your street? Even, if it was as good as Broadway? The immediate neighbors would love to work with and support DHP in finding another location that can handle it’s size and anticipated expansion, like its previous one. A location that has 100 parking spaces, like its previous one. A location that is surrounded by two main thoroughfares same as Ponce and Briarcliff, like its previous one. A location that has a light to let 100 cars out of their parking lot, like its previous one. From everything I’ve learned DHP seems like a wonderful place, but it is simply too big for the location itself, as well as for the neighborhood that surrounds it. It needs a new location more like its previous one. That is why, I, as your neighbor, am asking you to support the immediate neighbors and vote against supporting the DHP Special Permit. It has been made to seem like your vote against is a vote against children and good schools, and who knows what all else, but really, your vote with your neighbors is just saying that you trust that we are voicing valid, serious concerns, and that you recognize that we are the ones who will have to live with your vote; not you. Thank you for listening. Stephanie Millet and Kevin Kakareka 478 Seminole Ave.

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