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Heck House postponing events following code compliance, business license issues

Metro ATL

Heck House postponing events following code compliance, business license issues

From left, folk and country music artists Joe Wunderele, Jane Frazier and Stephen “Tebbs” Karney perform during Last Minute Krampus at Heck.house in Scottdale on Sunday, Dec. 19. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Scottdale, GA — Heck House, a local arts venue, has temporarily postponed events due to code compliance issues and not having a business license.

Heck House is not closed, but is not currently hosting events. They are continuing some work, such as art projects and developing internal policies, Founder and Executive Director Paula Novelle told Decaturish.

She previously posted on the Heck House Facebook page that DeKalb County code enforcement has insisted the venue refrain from having events until the business license application process is finished, and code compliance requirements are met.

DeKalb County has said Heck House needs to address open storage, apply for a business license, and apply for a permit to sell or distribute beer and wine, according to communications obtained from Novelle.

In an email some Heck House board members sent to the DeKalb Planning and Sustainability office, they said “[s]o far no business license of any kind was applied for because we are not sure what kind of license would be appropriate and needed.”

The facility does not currently have a business license, and Novelle said the owner of the property applied for one in June. Heck House is waiting for the approval of the license.

Heck House is located at 3498 E Ponce de Leon Ave. in Scottdale. It’s zoned R-75 with a Tier 1 overlay, which allows for commercial use, including events, Novelle said.

On June 2, a code enforcement warning was taped to the door at Heck House citing “open storage, trash and debris,” and “improper zoning,” Novelle told Decaturish. The instructions written on the warning stated Heck House had to remove all open storage of wood, metal, and construction material, and that special events were prohibited in R-75 zoning.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said the commercial use is allowed at the property.

“We have established that the Heck House falls under the Scottdale overlay district, in the correct Tier, for allowable land use. The next step is to follow all of the administrative requirements for events and pour permits,” Terry said.

Rachel Bragg, senior planner for DeKalb County, also said a special events facility, art gallery and theater with live performances are allowed in the Scottdale overlay district, according to emails obtained from Novelle.

Heck House is a nonprofit designed for interactive, small events like workshops. The facility also provides a community art space. They began hosting events in November 2019 and saw an influx of requests for events in spring 2021.

“The repurposing of the house is an art project itself that started in May 2017. We gutted the house and slowly rebuilt it to be more functional, original, and artsy as Heck,” Novelle said. “Heck House is community focused. Due to the numerous requests for events from artists, I have delayed art projects and prioritized these shows. It’s a lot of work to have all these events. I am not doing it for fun. I am responding to the needs of these art communities.”

The venue is located near a residential area. It is next to an auto shop and Family Dollar.

Another concern that has been raised is parking.

“The off-street parking seems to be the main concern because according to codes of ‘Places of Assembly…’ Minimum for fixed seats is One (1) space for each four (4) seats in the largest assembly room and for places without fixed seats is One (1) space for each forty (40) square feet of floor space in the largest assembly room,” Novelle said.

She has set a maximum capacity of 100 due to parking.

“Parking is on one-side of Milton street. We have metal road signs enforcing this,” Novelle said. “I noticed that when attendance reaches 50, finding a parking spot on Milton Street is difficult. The way I have been controlling attendance is selling only 50 in-advance tickets on Eventbrite with onsite tickets also available. If one can get here via walking, biking, Marta, or ride-shares, they can get a ticket.”

Heck House has had to postpone their events.

“Because the attendance at most of our events only average 20-40 people, we attempted to find out if we could have private events as a private residence and be in compliance. Last night (June 29th) via emails, the Deputy Director of DeKalb County Code Compliance basically gave us a hard no,” Novelle said.

She added that it’s Heck House’s understanding that a neighbor made several complaints to DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw’s office.

“Heck House aspires to fulfill its mission to serve the needs of the community, and respect the community it is in,” Novelle wrote in the Facebook post. “When we have directly received a few complaints over the three years about noise and parking, we’ve responded immediately to address those concerns.”

Heck House has set the following policies:

– To stop amplified sound before 10 p.m. every night

– To turn down the volume immediately when a complaint is made

– To only allow parking on one side of Milton Street and to not block driveways

– To cap maximum attendance at 100 people, and the average attendance is 20-40 people

– To allow a maximum of eight events a month, of which only four will be concerts

“We are unsure when we will complete the process to get all the required licenses and permits,” Novelle said in the post. “Until then, we will refrain from having events until we have them in place. We hope this problem can be resolved soon, and we will keep you posted. We are heartbroken to have to postpone the upcoming events and sorry about the inconvenience. We know these artists put a lot of time and effort into preparing for these events. In the meantime, we plan to be active with repurposed art projects to ‘art up’ Heck House and stay active building our artistic community.”

Novelle told Decaturish that the Heck House board is prepared to work with the county to get the proper approvals and make the adjustments needed.

“We plan on focusing on the various art projects that were delayed due to all the events. We are also catching up on developing more internally,” she said.

Heck House has reached out to DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry’s office for help resolving the issue and applying for permits.

“I view the Heck House as an important community gathering spot providing much needed vitality to the Scottdale overlay district area and achieving the stated goals of creating more place making opportunities and supporting the artistic endeavors of our residents,” Terry said. “I hope we can sort out any outstanding requirements under the code and provide all of the information needed to them to follow through, and look forward to the continuing of the summer concert series they have been working on.”

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