By Louis Mayeux

NPU-C Chairman Paul Melvin has called for a review of the NPU’s procedures for deciding zoning variances after a resident called him and expressed concerns.

“I want to make sure that as an NPU, we are doing our variance procedures correctly,” Melvin said at the May 4 meeting. “His concerns seemed to be that our approvals are taking us out of the intent of zoning regulations.”

Melvin didn’t present details of the complaints, calling them “constructive criticism.” He said that that the review will be led by former NPU-C Chairman Eric Ranney, head of the NPU-C’s land use committee.

Following Melvin’s announcement, Vice Chair Carol Baird noted the impact of September’s floods on the NPU-C’s decisions over the last several months, although she said this was unconnected to the call to Melvin. She said that 30 to 50 percent of the NPU’s requests over recent months have been from those wanting to rebuild or raise flood-damaged homes.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is flooding,” Baird said. “We’ve wanted to err on the side of benefiting homeowners.”

Melvin said, “we’ve been hit as hard as anyone when it comes to flooding.”

NPU-C unanimously approved two flood-related variance requests from the hard-hit Hanover West neighborhood. One would allow the building of a deck for the placement of air conditioning units on the side of the home at 1312 West Hanover Drive. The other, at 1398 West Hanover Drive, would allow a home being totally replaced to have its main floor raised 9 feet above the height allowed by zoning regulations.

In other issues, NPU-C member Roger Moister expressed concern that weeds and grass are not being cut along the PATH trail at Tanyard Creek Park and Bobby Jones Golf Course right of way. Moister said that overgrown vegetation is endangering trees PATH planted to replace mature trees removed for the trail’s construction. After the meeting, Moister said that he had walked along the trail and seen a small tree, which PATH planted, now completely covered with weeds.

Moister, who lives adjacent to the trail near Bobby Jones Golf Course, said the “grass is about 2 feet high” along the golf course right of way and at the Tanyard Creek Park playground. “Is that going to be overgrown with vegetation?” Moister asked Pat Katz of the Atlanta Parks Department.

“Grass and weeds are overwhelming new trees planted by PATH in recompense for the removal of the original trees,” he said. “PATH cut down a lot of trees” whose loss would be permanent if the replacement trees don’t survive, he said.

Katz said that PATH is responsible for maintaining 2 feet of land on either side of the trail. She said that a natural look is the aim for a 25-foot buffer between the trail and Tanyard Creek.

Plus, city budget cuts are having an effect on the parks department’s maintenance schedule, she said. “We’re mowing not as frequently as last summer. We’ve been asked to take more cuts.” She said the city mowing schedule is every 11 to 14 business days.

Katz promised to take up the issue with the PATH Foundation. When NPU member Roxanne Smith expressed concern about high grass along Northside Drive beside Bobby Jones Golf Course, Katz said that the American Golf Corp., which manages the course, would also be included.

In other business, the NPU heard a presentation by Wildwood Civic Association President Jud Ready about a $50,000 Park Pride grant to install a rubberized playground surface at Beaverbrook Park. Ready said that the rubberized surface would replace mulch-covered land that turns muddy after rains. Ready said that the Wildwood Association is seeking to raise an additional $50,000 to install the rubberized surface on Sept. 1.

Looking ahead, Melvin said that the NPU-C at its June meeting will consider a revised proposal from Pope and Land for the redevelopment of the Colonial Homes Apartments. The original Colonial Homes plan drew intense opposition from neighborhoods near the complex. Melvin said the NPU’s Colonial Homes Task Force and Executive Committee would study the revised plan and make reendations.

Zone 2 police Sgt. S.J. Ormond said that the discovery of an SUV containing bomb materials at New York’s Times Square showed the value of citizen vigilance. Pointing out that a T-shirt vendor noticed the suspicious vehicle, he said “if you see anything that you’re not sure about, by all means call us.”