DeKalb Board Heard Us!

On Jan. 8, the BOC unanimously denied the SLUP for the Tycore Auto Repair shop.

Your activism made the difference!  289 people signed the petition against another auto repair shop, and those names and comments were sent to the DeKalb Board of Commissioners (BOC).

District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis-Johnson and new District 7 Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson set the tone by noting that Covington Highway has too many auto-related businesses, and they mentioned some of the facts that we presented. 

After the vote, the Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation thanked all of the commissioners.  Commissioner Davis-Johnson thanked us, as well, and said, “I would also like to thank all of the engaged citizens who voiced their concerns, no matter their position on the item.”

Commissioner Cochran-Johnson added, “We need development along Covington, but we must be intentional and specific on permitting what enhances communities.”

It was a painful day for the applicant, but our position was clear before he bought the property.  This part of DeKalb County is ready for more business diversity, and your efforts in signing the petition helped make the case.  The result: the Board reflected the will of the community.

What a great way to start the year!

Advertisements

Making a Difference in Greater Hidden Hills!

2018 Accomplishments

Our redevelopment and beautification efforts are making an impact in the Greater Hidden Hills community. We had a productive 2018, and we thank all of those who were part of the effort.

We advocate for the area within and adjacent to the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District, which covers a four-square-mile area (incorporating these four corners: Covington/S.Hairston, Redan/S.Hairston, Redan/Panola, and Covington/Panola).

Advocating for Better Business Development

Waffle House Opening – Redan Road and South Hairston. GHHCDC celebrated the opening of this new business in October.

New Waffle House on Redan

The company changed its plans to conform to the GHH Overlay District, and the result is a dozen trees in parking lot islands and the street frontage.In addition, the company improved the bus shelter in front of its restaurant, expanded the cement pads and updated the landscaping. GHHCDC provided two new benches, and MARTA pitched in the garbage cans.

New, expanded bus shelter on Redan Road

Rocklyn Homes Development – Covington Highway and Panola Road – heard our concerns and modified its design for the townhome community near LA Fitness. The development will have a one-third acre pocket park, a 30-foot landscaped buffer, and lots of trees.  The area used to be in the GHH overlay district, but the city of Stonecrest annexed it. Nevertheless, we insisted that Stonecrest meet the higher standards that we have in our overlay, and they agreed. We had two meetings with the developers, one with the planning department, and attended four public hearings.

Interestingly, Rocklyn is proposing another townhome community on Covington, and this plan already has walking trails, a dog park, and a pocket park!

Tycore Auto Repair – Covington Highway and South Hairston. We attended four public meetings and one meeting with commissioners to ask that this business not be allowed to open at 5361 Covington Highway, across the street from Pep Boys, a tire shop, and next door to an auto repair shop. Within three miles of this address, there are 183 auto-related businesses.  The effort continues into 2019 as the Board of Commissioners deferred its vote.

Beautification Builds Better Business

We’re beautifying the streetscape in our commercial zones. When the environment looks more attractive, more people want to do business in the area. This helps us attract better businesses and keep consumer spending close to home.   This year we:

  • Refreshed the median on South Hairston, just south of Redan. GHHCDC hired a landscaping company to regularly maintain the median.
  • Planted rosebushes and perennials in the entrance island of Los Arcos and along with beautification of the sidewalk strip.
  • Planted 26 trees as part of our ongoing streetscape improvement, in a joint project with Keep DeKalb Beautiful and the DeKalb County Tree Bank. These include 14 Nellie Stevens Holly leading up to the entrance of Hairston Park; 10 crepe myrtle in the public easement on Redan Road, to beautify the Hairston Square shopping center; and 2 Georgia Gem Green Ash trees on South Hairston and in Hairston Park.

New plantings at Los Arcos on Redan

New crepe myrtle on Redan

South Hairston median refresh, with volunteers (from left) Lois Dunlap, Jan Costello, and Nadine Rivers-Johnson.

Planted trees on South Hairston leading to Hairston Park

Herbert Love and Gwendolyn Stegall on the cold January planting day.

Parks Add Value

Parks are an economic development tool. That’s why we are active Friends of Hairston Park. We finished installing fitness stations in Hairston Park, an effort achieved through the UPS Foundation grant that we received. We also helped make Earth Day in Hairston Park a huge success as we reclaimed trails in the beautiful wooded area on the north end of the park.

Clearing paths and adding fitness equipment at Hairston Park

Remembrance of a Fine Musician and Friend of GHHCDC.

Theresa Hightower, Aug. 2018

Theresa Hightower, the accomplished jazz musician, singer and actress, graced us with what was to be her last public performance at the 2nd annual Music on Main, a significant fundraiser for the organization. She passed away in October. Ms. Hightower was a true humanitarian, and she left a legacy of outstanding performances and community service.

Help GHHCDC Continue Our Work in 2019

Your donation can help us continue our mission to stimulate economic development and create a greener, healthier environment.  Join our efforts for 2019, when we:

  • continue our streetscape beautification along South Hairston and Redan
  • advocate for amending our overlay code so that certain auto businesses and liquor stores are prohibited (No more hearings!)
  • watch that all new development meets our overlay requirements
  • lobby for tougher penalties on code enforcement violations by businesses
  • pursue more grants to enhance Hairston Park
  • stage the 3rd annual Music on Main, our annual fundraiser!

You can invest in this community. Come to our monthly meetings. And send your contributions to:

Greater Hidden Hills CDC
P.O Box 1811
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Or make a payment online at  https://greaterhiddenhillscdc.org/you-can-make-a-difference/

We are a 501(c)3, and your contributions are tax-deductible.

Stop the onslaught of auto-related businesses

We have been asking DeKalb County to achieve the vision of the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District.  That vision is to make our business environment more diverse, attractive and prosperous.  Tycore Auto Services should NOT be granted a Special Land Use Permit to do major auto repair at 5361 Covington Highway. Within one mile of this address, there are 19 auto-related businesses. Within three miles, there are 183. Voice your opinion here, and we’ll send the results to our commissioners.  They say they haven’t heard from the community, so let them know your opinion!

We need diversity of businesses because we cannot get the services and products we need in our own community.  In the retail trade, food & drink areas alone, we lost $20 million in spending within 1 mile of this address, $86 million within three miles.  These are dollars spent outside of our community because the need is not met here.  (all data from ESRI, Nov. 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three auto-repair businesses next door:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, to make your voice even louder, write or call:

District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis-Johnson

MDJohnson@dekalbcountyga.gov

404 371-2159

District 7 Commissioner Gregory Adams

404 371-2899
GregoryAdams@dekalbcountyga.gov

 

Streetscape Improvements! Plus–Zoning Battle

The latest streetscape improvement is at the entrance to Los Arcos.

We planted the 9-foot-by-20-foot entrance and landscaped a 30-foot section along Redan Road.  The old sign will be moved off the property once the restaurant gets its new digital signs fixed.

Impressive Lawns Owner Willie Baker with GHHCDC President Jan Costello

Thanks to Los Arcos for a contribution that went towards the plants. The rest of the expense was covered by all of you who contributed to our fundraising efforts. We also appreciate Impressive Lawns for the landscaping advice and the great planting effort (contact owner Willie Baker, williecbaker63@bellsouth.net, 678-618-4076).

Hurray!  Waffle House is open.

The company made tremendous improvements to the bus stop and streetscape in front of the restaurant. They also cut out islands in the parking lot and planted grass and trees.  It looks great!

 

More auto repair shops, anyone?

The Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District has a special zoning code that affects businesses within the borders.  The code has helped us keep out gas stations, liquor stores, tattoo parlors, and other businesses that do not add to the commercial health of our community.

Tycore Auto Services is asking for an exception to the types of businesses allowed in the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District. The business needs a Special Land Use Permit to do major auto repair at 5361 Covington Highway, next door to Walgreens and across the street from Pep Boys and two other auto-related businesses. The property has approximately 110 feet of frontage along Covington Highway and contains 0.6 acre.

Auto repair shops are allowed all over DeKalb County, and we have plenty in our area. However, we’re trying to create a more diverse business environment at S. Hairston and Covington Highway, and other commercial areas in the overlay district.  This community has an excessive number of auto-related businesses. From the spot where this business would be, the table below shows the number of auto-related businesses.

Auto-Related Businesses
within radius of
5361 Covington Highway
1 mile 3 miles 5 miles
Automotive Services (repair) 13 87 219
Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers 13 59 140
Gas Stations 3 37 92
Total 29 183 451
Percent of all business in the area 16.5% 9.1% 7.8%

Source: ESRI, Nov. 2018

 

The DeKalb County District 5 Community Council split on its recommendation, 4 – 3 with one abstention.  The Planning Commission voted 5 to 1 in favor of the applicant, even though three members said they felt remorse doing so.

 

The Board of Commissioners is the last stop. The public hearing is on Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m., Manual Maloof Building, 1300 Commerce Drive. Please join us.

Update on Developments that Affect Greater Hidden Hills

You are invited to the next Greater Hidden Hills Community Development meeting Oct. 20, 10 a.m., at the Mainstreet Community Center, 5001 Mainstreet Park, Stone Mountain. We will discuss the next streetscape improvement plan and business development in the area.

͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠     ͠     ͠͠͠͠

MARTA is very much in the news with its approval of a $2.7 billion transportation plan for the city of Atlanta. In addition, Georgia House District 87 Representative-elect Viola Davis is working hard to get improvements in DeKalb County. We met with her in July, and since then, she has had meetings and frequent contacts with MARTA executives.  She helped us get MARTA to honor a commitment to add benches to the stop by the new Waffle House on Redan Road.

09-01-2018-benches (3-c)That was one item on a long list of needed improvements.  MARTA has not begun to tackle the other issues.  Davis points out that according to MARTA’s own studies, 395 bus stops in DeKalb qualify for but have not received bus shelters or benches. This paltry level of service is absolutely unacceptable. Please read her most recent report, at

MARTA Priority List for Shelters and Benches Memoandum – Update and Extending the Mission 10-09-2018 final 2

͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠     ͠     ͠͠͠͠

Rocklyn Homes heard our concerns and modified its design for the townhome community near LA Fitness on Covington/Panola. The new design has a .38 acre pocket park, a 30-foot landscaped buffer, and lots of trees.  We appreciate the Stonecrest City Council deferring the vote so that more attention would be paid to the greenspace and buffer. The Council approved the final plans Oct. 15. The plans can be viewed at

Rocklyn_RenderingPanolaCovington_10-01-18

PanolaCovington_10-01-18

͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠     ͠     ͠͠͠͠

Tycore Auto Services is asking for an exception to the types of businesses allowed in the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District. The business needs a Special Land Use Permit to do major auto repair at 5361 Covington Highway, next door to Walgreens and across the street from Pep Boys and two other auto-related businesses. The property has approximately 110 feet of frontage along Covington Highway and contains 0.6 acre.

 

Auto repair shops are allowed all over DeKalb County, but we’re trying to create a more diverse business environment at S. Hairston and Covington Highway, and other commercial areas in the overlay district.

 

The DeKalb County District 5 Community Council split on its recommendation, 4 – 3 with one abstention.  The next opportunity to speak is Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m., at the Planning Commission, Maloof Building, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur.  

͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠     ͠     ͠͠͠͠

Hightower image 4Theresa Hightower, the accomplished jazz musician, singer and actress, passed away Oct. 10 after a battle with colon cancer. She was a humanitarian, who gave much time and energy to philanthropic causes. Her last concert was at our Music on Main in August. Our sincere condolences go out to her son Tony Hightower and mother Martha Hightower. The family has a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses. https://www.gofundme.com/taking-care-of-theresa

͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠     ͠     ͠͠͠͠

Waffle House on Redan Road just west of S. Hairston is almost ready to open. The restaurant is hiring and stocking shelves. They hope to open in the next week or two.

͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠͠     ͠     ͠͠͠͠

Sign-SHairston-Park-cAnd finally, we have Community Pride signs in three spots where we have planted trees. Look for the signs at the median on S. Hairston near Kroger, on Redan Road, near the  crepe myrtle, and on S. Hairston across from Hairston Park. These signs celebrate the partnership our community has with Keep DeKalb Beautiful.  Community pride at work!

Community Input Makes a Difference

Rocklyn Homes heard our concerns and modified its design for the townhome community near LA Fitness on Covington/Panola. The new design has a .38 acre pocket park, a 30-foot landscaped buffer, and lots of trees.  We appreciate the Stonecrest City Council deferring the vote so that more attention would be paid to the greenspace and buffer. The council will receive the final plans for a vote on Oct. 15.

Click the links to view the plans.

Rocklyn_Rendering

PanolaCovington_10-01-18

Stonecrest asks developer to make improvements

The Stonecrest City Council heard our voices at the meeting Monday night. We asked that more of the Greater Hidden Hills Overlay District zoning code be applied to the property the city plans to annex. This property is at 6024 Covington Highway, to the west of LA Fitness.  The council voted unanimously to defer the matter and asked the attorney to convey to Rocklyn Homes that some improvements were needed.

If the property had stayed under the GHH overlay, it would have been required to set aside 20% for public open space, have 30-foot buffers next to the Scarbrough neighborhood. We also asked for more trees and that the stormwater drainage system be environmentally sensitive and attractive.  For example,  the site could include permeable pavers, rain gardens, and vegetative swales. The stormwater retention pond could be an aesthetic and recreational feature, with a walking path and benches around it.

The next step is up to Rocklyn Homes.  We’ll keep you posted.

Thank you to all the people who came to the meeting. Your presence made a difference. We only had 10 minutes to speak; we appreciate the comments made by Jan Costello, president of the Greater Hidden Hills CDC; Kenneth Saunders III, president of the South DeKalb Improvement Association; and Rod Frierson, president of Hidden Hills Civic Association. Bernard Knight, general counsel of the Stonecrest Business Alliance, provided a factual reminder that the area was part of the GHH overlay district and that the city forgot to include the zoning when it incorporated part of the district.

Also, a word about the property owner, Halpern Enterprises. The firm did meet with us and accept the conditions we asked for that apply to commercial development. We appreciate the firm’s accommodation.