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Residents, Parents Discuss Frazer Center Traffic Issues

Lake Claire residents addressed a city council committee Wednesday morning

Lake Claire residents and parents connected to the Frazer Center packed into a city council committee meeting Wednesday morning to talk about proposed legislation that would affect the center and neighborhood.

Councilwoman Natalyn M. Archibong, whose district includes Lake Claire, introduced legislation that would limit the maximum weight of vehicles that use two Lake Claire streets to transport special needs adults to the in neighboring Druid Hills.

Residents say the MARTA buses that use the center’s rear entrance off Ridgeview Road NE cause major traffic and safety issues in the neighborhood.

After hearing from a wide-ranging group of parents and residents, the committee tabled the legislation and could revisit the issue in May.

In the mean time, residents, MARTA representatives and those connected to the Frazer Center say they will continue to work on solving concerns.

Make sure to scroll through all the videos above to hear all views expressed Wednesday morning.

Sydney Barker March 28, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Listening to the comments, perhaps there is a need to lower the speed limit to 15 mph in that direct area until the bridge is built, and then have APD actually enforce the limit. Banning the buses seems an extreme answer to something that could be easily solved with a less intrusive fix. Kudos to the neighbor willing to help with the fundraising for a new bridge. Perhaps she can also work with the attorney to get the red tape cleared so the new bridge can be built. It seems there are also problems with garbage trucks and ambulances, which could be somewhat fixed if the the neighbors agreed to a garbage pick-up point somewhere in the far perimeter of the neighborhood. Just think: if the neighbors had acted benevolently, the Center wouldn't have had to spend $65k on legal fees and would already have the money to build the new bridge, once the zoning is in place. The problem would have been easily solved. Talk about biting off your nose to spite your face!
Joe March 29, 2012 at 01:18 AM
The $65,000 on legal fees has a lot more to do with the fact that they are zoned single family, not with the bridge. They did not hire Ms. Battle, a Harvard educated lawyer, to evaluate the bridge. They are zoned single family, and operate an events center with 70 outdoor events serving alcohol in 2011, the hospitality house, and the daycare for adults and kids. The fact that they have to rezone is because they are out of compliance with their zoning has nothing to do with the bridge, the neighbors, or anything to do with the traffic in the city of Atlanta.
Sydney Barker March 29, 2012 at 01:47 AM
They do not operate a daycare. They operate programs for disabled adults and children. There is a huge difference. The Center, including the events, were known to all of these people when they chose to purchase homes in the vicinity. It's disingenuous for neighbors to fight the usage based on zoning, since there was open usage. Perhaps the neighbors would prefer a subdivision with dozens of single family homes, complete with the additional traffic, garbage trucks, ambulances, work vehicles, delivery trucks and full size MARTA buses that would bring? Not to mention the increase in students at ML and Inman, which would definitely mean rezoning to Coan.
Joe March 29, 2012 at 02:34 AM
The Frazer Center is not located in the city of Atlanta, so no Mary Lin. It is in unincorporated Dekalb County on 22 acres. The property is owned by the CRC, not the center. The undeveloped parcels in the city of Atlanta can be developed with or without the Frazer Center as a tenant, under it's current zoning of R-4 zoning (about 17 acres). They operate an inclusive daycare, which includes 36% of "at risk" kids, and between 98 and 60 adults with disabilities, depending on the stat that is published. No one is denying that this is a wonderful and needed service, only that maintaining the infrastructure of institution and doing good work are not mutually exclusive, and provides a safer community for everyone, including the clients they serve. As for the events center, It started in 1998, it is licensed as a wedding events center, though is often used for other kinds of events. It is not zoned for it's current use, even as a wedding events center. Until 3 years ago, the events center did not allow amplified events, only things like harp music. Three years ago, again without any input from anyone, they started blasting amplified music and doubling the bookings. Outdoor amplified music is not allowed of any other commercial business in Dekalb.
Kirkwood Resident March 29, 2012 at 12:16 PM
The funds from the events go towards supporting the school. They do have a portion of the daycare which is open to everyone. Again, it is my understanding the daycare funds from those parents help with the operation of the overall program. Regarding blasting of music and amplified events, sound requirements should be the same as you have in your neighborhood for if your neighbor was playing loud music which I believe is after 10pm. The event location is also much further away than any neighbor would be that is close to you. The amplified events you are referring to are typically the speakers that a wedding DJ may bring with them, which are not like a rock concert speakers, and should be able to play at a lower volume but of course you are going to hear them as they are outside. Regardless, is your concern safety or noise? Or is this petition just a round about way of you getting what you want by saying it is a safety and traffic issue but in reality you don't like the noise which current noise ordinances should already address? Also, I believe I have seen speakers that are outside of many restaurants and other venues in Dekalb county commercial districts that play loud music. I would say that is no different, especially since there are condos that are nearby those locations.
Joe March 29, 2012 at 12:45 PM
The Dekalb County single family noise ordinance is any amount of noise is allowed between 7am and 11pm. This is the ordinance the center follows. The Dekalb commercial noise ordinance limits noise to 63 decibels in mixed use, about the level of a conversation. This is an issue that is being addressed through their rezoning, since they are not zoned to have an events center. I do not live near the gardens. I have just spent many, many hours talking with the center board and director trying to work through solutions, and this is another issue they have with neighbors who live close to the gardens, who are far fewer in number than those who are impacted by the traffic safety on Ridgewood. The center will make less than $40K of the gardens this year after direct expenses, and much less than if you included the other cost, such as officing, benefits, computers and phones for dedicated staff, management time, ect. Their total budget is roughly $4.5M, so this is not a significant source of funds.
I'm Just Sayin March 29, 2012 at 12:56 PM
There is no easy fix to this situation. One of the groups here will win and one wil lose as I don't think there is enough to negotiate with. There really isn't an effective way to get into the FC without going through a residential neighborhood. I suppose the buses could park on N Ponce and then the FC could use the club cars to shuttle the adults that attend the center. Even if the proposal to limit busses on Ridgewood passes, this will not likely change the traffic patterns that much as the parents are likely to still use Ridgewood to drop off the kids. If they posted signs prohibiting entry to the parking lot from Ridgewood, we would probably just park on Ridgewood and walk our kids in. This saves us a lot more mileage and gas and is safer than driving all the way around the center to enter on Ponce. I am notorious for driving very slowly and carefully. I don't think that car use on Ridgewood affects the neighborhood (that I live in) in a meaningful way. I believe the Ridgewood gate needs to remain open regardless (safety issue). The complaints about the music during events are funny to me. The street noise from Ponce is louder than the event noise. True they may not be zoned for those events. Still I would like some objective data that indicates that these events represent a burden. For example some decibel data with and without an event as measured from a residential dwelling.
Thisten March 29, 2012 at 01:31 PM
While the rest of us debate safety, Joe wants to talk about other things. He talks of zoning compliance, noise ordinances, buffers and other issues, and he has "spent many, many hours... trying to work through solutions" as they relate to these tangential issues. From what I can tell, he's not interested in Frazer's mission, he's not interested in safety, and he's definitely not interested in trying to reach a mutually beneficial agreement between Lake Claire neighbors and the Frazer community to the extent that one can be forged. Joe clearly has other issues with Frazer that go beyond the scope of this argument and which should not distract the rest of us from having this debate about safety.
Kelvin Scythe March 29, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Hi Sydney. Actually as Joe says, they began the events in 2011... most people have lived here for more than a year. Imagine an events center/party venue springing up in your backyard, without your consent, unrelated to disabled adults. The tragedy to me is quickly becoming the way the Center's NEWish admin is arguing. LC is not trying to argue. A parent recently told me they were "kept in the dark" by TFC. Parents don't realize the tactics being used by the center. Case in point: they hired an attorney, LC just wanted to talk.
Kelvin Scythe March 29, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Hi Kirkwood. I agree, the issues are beginning to get muddied. To clarify, THESE ARE SEPARATE ISSUES, with separate petitions.... -NOISE (residents on Ponce & Lakeshore say it's out of control during weddings) -ZONING (TFC told me they need it, but are having a problems getting it). LC has taken their word for it that the wheels are in motion, but despite invites, TFC never come to the table with docs. LC wants to help push their bridge permit thru, but how can we help if they are no-shows to a meeting? -MONEY: LC residents have offered to help fundraise, but TFC told me personally that money for the bridge is NOT an issue -TRAFFIC: perhaps the most urgent request. an accident is inevitable on the streets the buses use. it hit me yesterday that if/when that happens, who will be at fault? TFC? Doubtful (despite the fact those buses are dedicated to TFC use). It'll be MARTA, and with so many LC people documenting their concern for such, a lawsuit could be huge (not to mention your TAX dollars down the drain). Please spread the word that LC is not about making trouble. We just want an open, transparent dialog, and not getting it is the only reason some took the case to city hall.
Joe March 29, 2012 at 02:23 PM
This is not true that it can't be a win-win situation. The traffic safety issue effects not just the residents of Ridgewood, but also the center clients who use Ridgewood. They are at risk too, particularly the parents who walk there to pick up and drop of their children, but also the parents in cars. The win-win situation is that Frazer fixes their bridge and, if as Trace says in his article, the narrowness is a problem, during the busy drop off and pick up times, they have a staff member at the top and bottom of the hill to help with coordinating the timing of the buses coming up the hill. My daughters preschool had a traffic problem, and they had staff to assist during those busy times. It is not an undue burden. Problem solved. Everyone is safe and happy, and the center has said it already has a plan and money to fix the bridge, but not to take the traffic off the street. The event data is available from the Frazer Center. They recently had a "listening event" and did decibel readings. I am with the others though, this is about the traffic safety issue. That is the issue that is most concerning to me. The events are a zoning issue. That is not for me to decide.
Jamie March 29, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I agree Thisten. There seems to be a contingent (and I believe, majority contingent) of neighbors who truly value Frazer and simply want to explore workable solutions to increase the safety of the streets in a way that does not compromise the Frazer mission. There also appears to be a very vocal contingent (presumably the folks at the disingenuously named "Lake Claire Info" site, which is not officially affiliated with the neighborhood) who just do not want Frazer in the community. You can spot these folks easily - they will use words and phrases like, "trotting out the disabled and minorities," or refer to the adult services program as a "daycare," or claim to know Frazer's director is a "master at providing partial truths" yet can't even spell his name correctly. This isn't about Lake Claire at all. Among Lake Claire residents you will find not only Frazer kids and parents, but employees *and* members of their board. Instead this is about those handful of militant, "concerned" homeowners that you find in every neighborhood across this country who seem to live to find things to hem and haw about. I'm sorry, but if you don't like noise or public transportation or any of the other things that come with urban living, go move to Mableton. Frazer, MARTA, Ponce - all this stuff was here before you moved here (indeed, maybe even before you were born). And if you can quote Dekalb law on permissible decibel levels…well, man, I'll gladly trade my problems for yours.
Thisten March 29, 2012 at 03:01 PM
So, there are "separate petitions" attempting to deal with noise, zoning, money, and traffic circulating through your neighborhood? Leading to what? More ordinances, regulations, enforcement? Well, I'm depressed.
Sydney Barker March 29, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Joe and Kelvin - You are flat out wrong about the events starting there in 2011. Please do not insult us. My best friend got married there in 1999. Several other friends got married there around that time, too. (I worked with my friend on the wedding and even remember the caterer's name was Cindy and I believe the catering company was the Company Company.) The actual wedding took place in the garden, with a tent set up for the dinner. Dancing afterwards was in the facility at the top of the hill. Please stop bending facts and writing whoppers. Your pants will catch fire and one of those large firetrucks will have to drive on your street, and we know you don't want that to happen! Events have been happening there for at least fourteen years. I don't think events were a new thing in 1998, but that's the first time I went to a wedding there. Personally. Myself. Actually there.
LCParent March 29, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I think it's pretty clear that the posters here who are sided with TFC are doing so for reasons unrelated to the issues at hand. Namely, sour grapes over APS's decisions and secondly to the 'supposed' lifestyle differences of these 'supposed' new neighbors, like the fact they don't live in a cinder block flat from the '40's. Moral indignation in most cases is, 2% moral, 48% indignation, and 50% envy. Vittorio De Sica
Sydney Barker March 29, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Rationalizing poor behavior, rather than face the fact that at every turn, your neighbors choose to act selfishly, irrationally and snobbishly? Those who cannot win on facts often resort to this, so it's understandable that you would. If there was any doubt about this seeming to be the LC way, the childish statement about envy and assumption that those that don't live in LC must live in a cinder block flat confirms that you just don't get it. (For the record, we are on a half acre, in the city, in a home we custom built in 2006. Our neighbors all have similar lot sizes. Our street has 75 foot setbacks, so our children don't play in the street like children apparently do in some other neighborhoods.) LC just ain't all that. You cannot walk to restaurants, like CP, you don't have large yards like IP and we know that it isn't a first choice neighborhood for anyone. It's where people live who cannot afford Va-Hi, Morningside or Decatur. For all the lip service neighbors give, nobody sets out to live in LC. The attitude just doesn't match the reality. I get that there are some lovely people in LC, but think about this: Anyone who is thinking of purchasing a home in your neighborhood is going to read the horrible posts from this and the APS discussion boards and will likely be scared to another neighborhood. Y'all have not been looking good lately.
Joe March 29, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I did not say that the events started in 2011, I said they had 70 events in 2011. The event center obtained a business license in 1998. It started amplified music three summers ago.
Joe March 29, 2012 at 06:09 PM
From Dekalb County Planning regarding having to wait to fix the bridge: Our goal is to resolve all conflicting issues in the most timely manner. Since bridge is located in the Druid Hills Historic Preservation District, any modifications will require HPC approval. However, the bridge plan can be completed (with HPC approval), and is mutually exclusive and independent of any rezoning issues. I will support any plans to press ahead and get the bridge reconstructed independent of other issues. The bridge reconstruction plan is not “maintenance” and will require engineered design and land development permitting. Lee Azimi DeKalb County, Engineering Services
CPS March 29, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Your trollish behavior and pathological hatred for LC and its residents are troubling (and tiresome).
AngStahl March 29, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Thank you so so much, Jamie. You NAILED it. The 'militant' neighbors cannot have it both ways - they cannot claim to support Frazer's mission (which by the way hosts one of the only inclusion pre-school programs in the state, let alone the city) while simultaneously bleeding the Center of its most cherished resources - money and time. I've read and heard these few residents talk about their own personal monitoring of the traffic, shouting at drivers, taking counts of different types of vehicles and guesstimating/recording their speeds. At first I took it personally as I have twins on the autism spectrum and there are so few quality programs that to see a great adult program attacked was painful. Then I realized that, even with autism in our family and its inherent challenges, we're still happier and (I would wager) busier and more productively engaged than these few LC neighbors that give the whole area a bad name! FWIW, my backyard is I-75. If I didn't want to hear sirens, the steady hum of traffic and occasional drivers wailing on their horns, I wouldn't live here.
Sydney Barker March 29, 2012 at 09:16 PM
CPS, look back at my posts. Any instance of me telling the truth about LC has been a response to one of your neighbors insulting me. Wouldn't it be better to counter the argument that you and your neighbors are heck-bent on telling the world what to do and attack people personally instead of sticking to fact by doing something other than calling me names and telling me what to do? Hysterical!
Irate Bride March 30, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Oh now this is beyond pathetic- classic case of NIMY-ism in the wrong town. I've seen these EXACT neighbors complain on wedding websites and blogs, just to drag down the ratings at CWG. Folks you live in Atlanta, Georgia, less than a mile away from Moreland and Ponce, an intersection known for a man who hangs out on a street corner with a sock in his pants- talk about nuisance. The reality is, as it relates to the event space, you cannot complain about "coming to the nuisance"- it was there as an event space for the last 13+ years, in the same capacity. I find it hard to believe, that even at 70 decibels, a level so low that I cannot hear my music at that level in the upstairs of my home as it plays downstairs, that it could rattle your windows, and cause chaos similar to the birth of rock and roll. In Atlanta, we hear the clanging of CSX, the slam of car doors, the voices of neighbors and day and night, I hear the whizzing of the MARTA train near my house. These are the sounds of Atlanta. Should you want something quieter, might I recommend relocating to the suburbs. Here is the reality- you are impeding on income potential at CWG. Because of your constant complaining, they've lost me as a customer. Just so you know Joe, who apparently has time to post at 2:00 pm on a Thursday, 60% of my funds went to the Center. Not any more.
Sydney Barker March 30, 2012 at 12:02 PM
It's a sock???? I've averted my gaze at that intersection for so many years that I never realized this. I always thought it was some sort of medical issue. Still gross, but, somehow, a little less so.
Thisten March 30, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Wow! I was curious after reading the comment from Irate Bride and found a review on weddingwire.com from "Woods" dated 9/24/11 that states, in part, as follows: "The neighbors that border the Frazer Center property are OPPOSED to the OUTDOOR EVENTS being held at the event center in the gardens… they held over 70 events during 2011 with amplified music and unchecked alcohol consumption. For those of us living in the neighborhood, the event center has become a NIGHTMARE… Please out of respect for our community, don't rent this facility!!... There is noise before, during and following events… On more than one occasion over the past years, residents have had to call 911… Please help us get back our peace and tranquility that our neighborhood used to enjoy. During your events we can't use our outdoor spaces of our porches and patios." At the same site, having scrolled through other posts, what struck me was the fact that there are numerous other positive reviews that state the following or something similar: “What sold us was the fact that the venue is so private and beautiful and what's more the profits go to a wonderful cause - The Frazier Center.” “… it made me feel good to know that money was going back into the frazer center.” “… many guests also appreciated the wedding helped support a great non-profit.” “The money for the venue is used to support The Frazier Center for special needs students.” ... and on and on. See for yourself.
Rose Walker, Simple Gifts Galleries March 30, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I have a friend whose adult daughter attends The Frazer Center. They allow a quality of life for handicapped persons that is unsurpassed, as her daughter is able to live at home, and my friend is able to work. She doesn't take that for granted. Each member of the Lake Claire community voiced their concern was safety, and NOT the handicapped. I believe they were sincere in that. Too many people do not take into consideration the needs of "the least of these", who are gigantic in God's eyes. My sincere hope is the grown-ups on ALL sides (government, neighbors, and the Center) can work together in obtaining an answer in which all give a little in order to take care of the people (young and old) that are a part of The Frazer Center. It is about them, in the end. .
Thisten March 30, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Up until this point, I thought we were discussing safety in the Lake Claire community and the preservation and furtherance of The Frazer Center's mission, and I took Lake Claire neighborhood posters at their word when they said that they supported the Frazer Center's mission and viewed with skepticism remarks from people stating that these people did not care about Frazer's mission. I was wrong. I apparently had it backward. Attempting to drive away revenue that supports a non-profit engaged in helping special needs children and disabled adults?! Who does that?!
Kelvin Scythe March 30, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Well, I've had it. Those of you who have slammed me & my neighbors for having an opinion about what happens in our backyard, you win. Clearly, I have no right to express my valid concerns. Do any of you even live in LC? Wait- don't answer that- I won't be getting your reply. TO MY NEIGHBORS- I am dedicated to making this work along with all of you. I am glad I signed up on Patch, even if briefly. We can (and will) work this out w TFC w/o the help from the peanut gallery. It's a sad say when we cannot have an honest, adult dialog. I'm deleting this account. For those of you who clearly have lots of time on your hands, and wish to get in the last word... and I know there are several of you.... go for it. My "weekend" over, and I have an actual job to go back to. Your audience awaits. Adieu. (enter sound of crickets...)
Livin ITP March 30, 2012 at 05:26 PM
And to think this all started with people who believed they have a legal right to the view from their backyard, hung banners saying "mind the buffer," let children play in the street (and smoke around them... wonderul parenting), and think they 'own' the street when they live in a CITY not a private community ... and (I heard) slammed a door in the face of a disabled man from the FC delivering holiday cards to neighbors.... sorry, no pity for you. And yes, there are other neighbors who feel this way and know you, too. Just becuase your house borders a property, does not mean you have a right to demand they keep bushes or trees - you bought property that bordered a business. You don't own the land at the Frazier Center, so it's NOT actually your back yard is it? (heat those crickets!) You have tarnished the image of the neighborhood and FC - was setting up a negative website bashing them constructive? Is that how you work togehter? I hope there is a better solution. - signed a LC neighbor who did NOT sign your ridiculous petition circulated by the mommy smoker.
Joe March 30, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Livin ITP.... The Frazer Center did not replant the buffer because of the neighbors, they replanted it because they cut down trees and put in a parking lot illegally, without permits or engineering plans. The center replaced the buffer because they were required to by Dekalb County code not because the neighbors ask them to. It is public record. If you put your energy into finding out the facts and looking for solutions, instead of maligning people, I am sure much could be accomplished.
Rose Walker, Simple Gifts Galleries March 31, 2012 at 07:59 PM
No...I don't live in LC. My concern is one of the adult people who receive services from the Frazer Center.

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