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Avondale Estates City Commission votes against abandoning an alleyway

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Avondale Estates City Commission votes against abandoning an alleyway

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Photo obtained via the city of Avondale Estates website.


This story has been updated. 

By Zoe Seiler, contributor 

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission at its July 20 meeting voted against abandoning the right of way of an alley located on Franklin Street.

The building at 2858 Franklin Street, which used to house Mann Mechanical, extends into an alleyway that is owned by the city.

W.T. Mann, LLC currently owns the building and asked the City Commission to abandon the right of way of the alley so they can sell the building. The City Commission voted unanimously against approving the abandonment request in an effort to preserve the alleyway.

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“I am going to vote against abandonment because I want to continue to support our street grid and I do not want to set a precedent,” Commissioner Lisa Shortell said. “I feel like this is cleaner and I feel like this can be solved by the buyer and seller.”

The City Commission previously adopted a street grid that outlines the preservation of the alleyways throughout the city. Multiple buildings extend into the alleys throughout downtown, City Manager Patrick Bryant said.

Bryant added that the city would request that Mann Mechanical remove the part of the building that’s in the alleyway prior to selling the building. If they do not remove the encroachment, city staff would work with the city attorney to develop a legal action that would require all encroaching properties throughout downtown to remove the encroachments from city property, Bryant said.

Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher agreed, saying that it was a good idea to come up with a cohesive strategy to address all of the encroachments at the same time.

Mayor Jonathan Elmore added his appreciation of Mann Mechanical and said they were the city’s largest employer for a long time. However, the city has an issue with most of the alleys and has a lot of properties that extend into them, Elmore said.

“We don’t want to go down a path that’s in conflict with our street grid,” Elmore said.

In other business:

– The City Commission also acknowledged that they received an application from residents of the Berkeley Village Townhomes to annex into Avondale Estates. There are 60 households in Berkeley Village. This is the first step in the annexation process. The board will then consider annexing the neighborhood at a future meeting.

Berkeley Village is located on Covington Highway between Avondale Estates First Baptist Church and Avondale Pattillo Methodist Church. The neighborhood previously met with the city to discuss annexation in 2017 but this is the first application residents have submitted, Elmore told Decaturish.

“Anytime a neighborhood wishes to annex into a city there is a method called the 60/60 approach, whereby there is a yearlong window where 60% of the homeowners and 60% of the registered voters have to sign a petition asking the city to consider annexation of their neighborhood,” Bryant said.

Voters could include people who are renting as well as homeowners, according to meeting minutes from the work session held on Sept. 27, 2017.

The residents of Berkeley Village submitted a verified, complete application and the city was able to verify the signatures and match residents to the voter rolls released by DeKalb County.

The city also determined that the annexation would not have a negative impact on the city’s finances and Avondale Estates would be able to easily provide services to the neighborhood, Bryant said.

– Residents of Avondale Estates presented a quilt that honors the volunteers who made masks for Emory Decatur Hospital.

Jane McMullan Howe, Christi Granger and Melitta Brandt organized a group of residents to make masks and surgical gowns for the hospital.

Over 65 Avondale residents helped cut and sew the masks and donated fabric. Avondale residents made over 2,500 masks and over 150 surgical gowns. The group donated an additional 500 masks to nursing homes in the Avondale and Decatur areas.

Howe began making masks for frontline workers when there was a shortage of masks for healthcare providers early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Brandt, who is a volunteer at Emory Decatur Hospital, made the gowns and also coordinated the sewing effort in Avondale.

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“For me, making masks gave a new purpose to my sheltering in place life and it was rewarding to help health care workers during the crisis,” Howe said.

In total, Emory Decatur Hospital volunteers, including those in Avondale, donated 11,000 masks to the hospital.

Howe, Brandt and Granger put together a quilt that honors the volunteers in Avondale Estates who made and delivered the masks. The quilt will also be donated to Emory Decatur Hospital.

“I wanted to do something to honor these unsung heroes, ordinary people like you and me, who came together for a great cause,” Howe said.

The quilt features a variety of rectangles that are about the same size as the masks the volunteers made. Granger designed the quilt and the group commissioned a quilter to do the quilting.

“I’m thrilled with the results of this quilt and hope that everyone who views it will recognize it for what it is – a homage to all the dedicated Avondale Estates residents who answered the call for masks in a time of need,” Granger said.

The mayor and commissioners expressed their appreciation to the residents who made the masks and also to Howe, Brandt and Granger for making the quilt.

“I’m proud to be a resident of Avondale. When there’s times of need and there’s opportunities to serve, I’m never ceased to be amazed at how quickly residents are willing to pick up and take action and do incredible things,” Fisher said. “I’m proud of what you guys have done and am really thankful.”

– Bryant gave an update on the renovations to City Hall and said it is finished. City staff are in the process of organizing their offices and tentatively plan to start working from City Hall on Aug. 3. However, the building will not be open to the public on that date. City Hall will remain closed at this time indefinitely, Bryant said.

The city plans to resume full sanitation services on Aug. 3 as well and will resume the back door collection service.

Bryant stressed that the city is asking residents to not interact with the sanitation employees as they resume the back door pick up service so the coronavirus doesn’t potentially spread to residents nor the sanitation workers.

“If we do have an employee who contracts the virus, most likely we will have to quarantine the whole staff which will then again disrupt service,” Bryant said. “So it’s imperative that we do as best we can and everybody maintain the appropriate social distance and refrain from interaction.”

The City Commission will meet for a special called work session on Thursday, July 23, at 5:30 p.m. through Zoom to discuss the historic preservation guidelines.

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