Members vote to oppose cell antennas

Apr 22 2014

CPNO members voted, 27 to 18, Monday night to oppose construction of proposed cell antennas at Epworth United Methodist Church.

It was one of about dozen issues discussed or voted upon at the April Members’ Meeting. More details on the entire meeting will be avaible in the draft meeting minutes in the May issue of the Messenger.

The cell antenna debate was the longest discussion of the evening, however. It followed upon a motion approved at the March meeting that mandated a vote on the issue, in addition to a Special Meeting during which Candler Park residents and others conveyed their concerns to an AT&T official.

On Monday, Pat Singer introduced the motion that eventually passed: “to oppose the building of a cell tower in Epworth United Methodist Church.” She then accepted an amendment from Amy Stout to “have CPNO write letters to City of Atlanta planning officials and elected officials to report the results of this vote.”

Antenna opponents stressed that — whatever one’s opinion on the health risks of cell antennas — CPNO should consider the potential impact on property values. They argued that opposing the antennas is consistent with the CPNO mission “to promote the common good and general welfare” of Candler Park. 

Much of the 25-minute discussion focused on the extent to which the church needs revenue that the cell structure would provide. The motion’s opponents argued that the church is a community asset that has the right to decide how to remain viable.

In addition to 27 yeahs and 18 nays, six members abstained. CPNO officers will convey the results of the vote to city officials, as the amended motion requires.

I want to thank our members for working hard to keep the debate civil and focused, and for avoiding personal attacks, despite strong feelings on both sites of this issue.

Members Meeting tonight!

Apr 21 2014

A reminder: CPNO's April Members Meeting starts at 6:30 pm tonight (April 21) and will move on to general business at 7 pm.

This month, we'll vote whether or not CPNO should officially oppose the proposed Epworth cell antennas. We also expect to vote on two proposed zoning variances:

  • 374 Clifton Rd.  (Application No. V-13-193 as amended)

  • 19 Candler Street (Application No. V-14-038)

And we'll discuss a proposal to form a Commercial Improvement District for Little Five Points, and a grant request for a Freedom Park Conservancy strategic plan.

In addition, hear brief remarks from our state representative, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, and from one of the leading candidates for DeKalb County sheriff.

Check out our complete agenda for the meeting here. The agenda may be amended at the beginning of the meeting (I expect a motion to add a brief update on the Master Plan).

Child care will be provided, as usual, by Mr. Elliott and Mr. Jesse. Children must be 2 or older. We have room for about 15 kids, first come first served (so show up early and mingle!)

Where: First Existentialist Congregation (470 Candler Park Drive) -- Across from the golf course.

When: 6:30 pm tonight (Monday, April 21)

Egg Hunt at noon today

Apr 19 2014

The gates to the CPNO Easter Egg Hunt will open at noon today -- as scheduled.

Cell vote, L5P CID discussion highlight Members' Meeting Monday

Apr 17 2014

The Candler Park Neighborhood Organization Members Meeting is this Monday, April 21. We'll start with socializing (drinks and snacks) at 6:30 pm, and will move on to general business at 7 pm.

This month, we'll vote whether or not CPNO should officially oppose the proposed Epworth cell antennas.

We may vote whether to support up to variances for up to three construction projects.

And we'll discuss:

  • A proposal to form a Commercial Improvement District for Little Five Points, and 
  • A grant request for a Freedom Park Conservancy strategic plan

Check out the complete agenda for the meeting here.

Snacks this month will be provided by an as yet unidentified eatery.

Child care will be provided, as usual, by Mr. Elliott and Mr. Jesse. Children must be 2 or older. We have room for about 15 kids, first come first served (so show up early and mingle!)

Where: First Existentialist Congregation (470 Candler Park Drive) -- Across from the golf course.

When:  April 21 at 6:30 pm (this Monday)

April's Messenger can viewed here

Apr 15 2014

Chock full of informative articles, papparazi-inspired photos, official business and thrilling advertisements ... yes, it's this month's Candler Park Messenger, available in PDF form for your reading pleasure here.

Special Meeting on cell antennas at 7 pm, Thursday

Apr 15 2014
A reminder: Candler Park residents get an opportunity to voice concerns regarding the proposed Epworth Church cell antennas at a Special Meeting at 7 pm on Thursday, April 17.
The meeting will take place at a new location for most residents: The Rush Center, which is on Mell Avenue, on the alley behind the Radial Cafe (actual address: 1530 Dekalb Avenue NE Suite A). Enter the door at the top of the handicapped ramp. This link to parking information should help orient you.
Although AT&T and Epworth officials have declined our request that they attend, residents will have an opportunity to voice their concerns (see UPDATE below!). Afterward, CPNO will assist in conveying those concerns to AT&T, Epworth and elected officials.
This Special Meeting is in accordance with a motion approved by members at our March 21 Members Meeting. All sides are welcome to share their points of view. To encourage open and free discussion, participants are asked to abide by CPNO Bylaws requiring civility and mutual respect.
The motion approved by the membership calls for a vote following the Special Meeting "on the issue of whether the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization supports or opposes the installation of such cell tower be put to a vote." That vote will be placed on the agenda for the April 21 Members Meeting.
UPDATE: AT&T's David Walker just wrote to me the following: "We will have someone from AT&T there tomorrow night to listen to the concerns posed by those who attend."

Hurry home tonight for CPNO Members Meeting

Mar 17 2014
Food, beverages and socializing begin at 6:30 pm and free childcare awaits you.
On the proposed agenda:
  • Presentation to "reboot" our Neighborhood Watch network
  • Discussion of proposed cell antennas at Epworth United Methodist Church
  • Chance to meet state Senate candidate Kyle Williams
  • Vote on $1,000 grant to the Clifton Sanctuary Ministries for renovation and repair.
  • Vote on $1,200 for CPNO banners
  • Progress report on setting Candler Park Master Plan priorities
Where: First Existentialist Church, 470 Candler Park Drive
When: Tonight. Socializing begins 6:30 pm. Official meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Candler Park crepes

Mar 15 2014

March 15 is Hungarian Independence Day. Today in 1848, Hungarians began their revolt against the Austrian Empire. To celebrate, Maria Nagy hosted a monthly Hungarian club meetup at her crepe stand at the corner of McLendon Ave. and Oakdale Rd. Nagy has run the stand weekends with her ex-husband, Tamás, for three years. In January, Nagy expanded from Saturdays to Friday through Sunday. She's still trying to find the Friday sweet spot but Candler Parkers can find her there every Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., weather permitting.

Typically Nagy sells her sweet and savory crepes, which are cooked to order, along with other Hungarian treats. This Saturday they also had three types of traditional Hungarian sausages.

Look for more on the Palacsinta (Hungarian for "crepe") stand in the April Messenger. In the meantime, watch this brief video of Tamas Nagy making a strawberry crepe.


March 2014 Messenger - Available Now!

Mar 6 2014

The March 2014 Messenger is available now (in PDF format) here. This month's edition features a front page article about the proposed cell antennas in the Epworth Church steeple, a piece from Grady High School student Grace Powers about Manuel's Tavern's chicken-centric sustainability efforts, and a writeup about a new book by author and Candler Park resident Titus Joseph, along with plenty more.

Epworth parents pressure church to abandon cell plans

Mar 5 2014

As church and AT&T officials met Tuesday night with the angry parents of preschool students, pressure mounted on Epworth United Methodist Church to reconsider its plan to place cell antennas in its steeple.

“The reality is that AT&T is not going to sue the church” if Epworth abandoned a lease it’s already signed with AT&T, audience member Will Shevlin told the gathering late in the meeting. Shevlin isn’t an Epworth parent but dropped in on the meeting as a nearby Candler Park resident.

The meeting in the church’s sanctuary started out badly: Many of the 30 or so Epworth Day School parents loudly objected to pastor Lisa Dempsey’s announcement that it would be limited to an hour, leaving little time for questions and answers.

That agenda quickly evaporated as parents repeatedly interrupted AT&T Senior Real Estate Manager David Walker with questions that turned toward the topics they wanted to discuss.

In his presentation, Walker did provide new information. He listed three area hospitals, three schools and one church that already have similar antenna arrays. The Georgia Tech campus has seven cell arrays, he said. Parents countered that none of those facilities are preschools.

Walker also noted that just one of two large towers visible from the church’s back door emits a 100,000-watt FM signal (compared to 270 watts planned for the Epworth facility). But parents, many of whom live near the church, countered that buying a home with existing towers in place is different from allowing a new and closer antenna array.

Parents pressed hardest to find out more about the steps necessary for putting  up the tower.

One parent asked, “Is there any chance you would change your mind?”

“I can’t answer that question,” Walker answered.

Another asked, “What are the lease terms?”

“That information is proprietary between the company and the church,” Walker responded. “The church can share that with you.”

Parents were particularly irate that news of the antennas broke last week just as many of them were signing their children up to return to school next year. Although Epworth agreed last week to refund pre-enrollment fees to any parents who wished to pull their children out, many have complained that’s it difficult to find space in area preschools by March. They also professed their love for their children's school, which has 69 students, and their regret that they may end up leaving it.

When talk turned to whether the antennas would be operational during the 2014-15 school year, AT&T’s Bryan Curtis said the company might be able to schedule construction for the summer of 2015. That prompted an angry response from the Rev. Dempsey.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard that. The reality is that we don’t know a lot, and we’ve trusted,” she said, looking at Curtis. “We expect to hear accurate, clear, prompt information.”

Some aspects of the situation appear to be dynamic. For example, AT&T officials had previously committed to coming to an open, CPNO-led forum on the antennas; Tuesday night they’d only commit to a meeting with congregation members, which is church leaders may or may not open to the public.

In response to questions on why church leaders signed a lease with AT&T without consulting with the community, Epworth Lay Leader Grady Norman Greene told the group that they couldn’t turn the clock back on the way decisions were made earlier. Both he and Dempsey apologized for not communicating with the community earlier and more effectively.

Parents responded bitterly when Greene told them that now their best route would be to work through the city’s Special Administrative Zoning process, which gives little standing to cell facility opponents. “AT&T is now in control of the process,” he said.

But an opening for common ground seemed to appear when talk turned toward alternatives to the antenna project that might be considered by the financially struggling church. He revealed to the group afterward that revenues from the preschool are greater than the $30,000 that the church expects to get from have AT&T as its cell tenant (it's unclear whether net income from the school tops prospective income from the lease).

“There isn’t anything,” Greene said, “that’s not on the table.”