The January 27, 2014 meeting of the Parkwood Garden Club (PGC) Membership was held at The Church of the Epiphany, at 2089 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta. The meeting was called to order at 7:20 pm. The following members attended: Patti Paulino, Ellen Powell, Karna Candler, Sheri Kennedy, Christina Carter, Richard Willis, Tom Bell, Megan Pruett, Sean Pruett, Mark Ordway, Joe Dicks, Andy Vocaire, Steve Elmore, Tom Hill, Alice DeMille, Gene Byrd, Mirlan Bayaman, Alia Bayaman, Steve Dorage, Cindy Bell, Jim Paulino, Frances Finegan, Mike Galifianakis, Ginger Gidden-Weinzierl, and Jamie Smith.
Purpose of Meeting. Frances Finegan, PGC President, stated that she called the PGC Membership Meeting to explain how/why the Board voted the way we did regarding signing of the petition for annexation into the City of Decatur and to hear from the membership on the issue. She also thanked the Board members for faithfully attending our meetings and being engaged in this sensitive topic.
Frances Finegan voted against signing the petition, on behalf of the PGC, because:
- The name, Parkwood Garden Club, suggests we are a social club and not an organization where the President would take on a role that would impact a city’s boundaries through annexation. The first four purposes of the PGC, in the by-laws, support our existence as a social organization:
- To continue tradition of stewardship established by founders of PGC;
- To maintain and beautify the Park and common areas;
- To sponsor social events; and
- To establish & maintain communications;
- in keeping with the purposes of the PGC, to her knowledge, previous Presidents of the PGC did not engage in neighborhood activities that substantially benefited some members and knowingly caused adverse consequences to others. The PGC has historically promoted activities, such as Bunco and parties, that engender a sense of community and good will toward each other as neighbors, but the PGC has not engaged in activities that impact neighbors’ taxes and schools; and
- she questioned her authority to sign the petition on behalf of the non-profit corporation given the annexation statute refers to a “person” signing the petition. She asked, “Did legislators intend for an uninhabited piece of land to have the same voting rights as my neighbors who live in homes on their land and are directly impacted by services, public safety, schools and property taxes while the land is not?” She wanted legal advice, but the Board did not approve obtaining legal advice for this matter. Lastly, Frances explained that in her personal and professional life she would not sign a document if she has questions about what she is signing and that she very much appreciated those neighbors who understood her need for legal advice.
Patti Paulino (PGC Membership/Social Chair with Jim Paulino) – Echoes Frances’ points and also wanted a Membership Meeting before voting.
Joe Dicks (PGC Board Member at Large) – He did not feel that his duties as a Board member included voting on annexation.
Bob Stewart (PGC Treasurer). Bob was unable to attend but provided the following comments which Frances read to the members: “It should not be contrused that the resulting 4 to 3 Board vote not to sign the annexation petition at this time necessarily reflects a Board position of being against annexation into COD (or any other jurisdiction for that matter), but rather as a statement of neutrality. Whether or not a majority of the unincorporated DeKalb County members residing within the PGC membership boundaries, were indeed in favor of annexation into COD at this time should not, in this case, be the deciding factor. Rather, there are times when the actions of the majority can cause undue hardship and have adverse consequences for the minority, and this situation, which was entirely unforeseen by the current Board when it took office last May, surely falls into that category: The parkland should be neutral because, as a non-profit corporation, it pays only a nominal property tax (approx. $37/year) and expects no significant increase; whereas, all other properties in the “annexation petition area” will have to pay an additional 40% to COD even without millage rate increases or re-assessments. Senior citizens and others on fixed incomes will be particularly and negatively affected by such a dramatic tax increase.”
Jim Paulino (PGC Membership/Social Chair with Patti Paulino) – He feels the Board did not do their homework and once he heard that the Annexation team had their acreage, the vote was not needed. He also wanted a Membership Meeting before voting.
Tom Bell (PGC Civic Committee Chair) – Did not comment
Christina Carter (PGC Secretary) – Did not comment
Steve Elmore (PGC Parkwood Park Committee Chair – Did not comment
Comments/Questions from Members:
- Ginger Gidden-Weinzierl – appreciates the Board Members volunteering their time. This time of change is inevitable and she appreciates the Board’s position. She also expressed support for getting a legal opinion based on her involvement with other non-profit corporations.
- Karna Cander – wants to clarify that there is no neutral vote. If you sign the petition, you are for it and if you do not sign it, you are against it.
- Mark Ordway – asks “What is the position of the Park” – it will stay privately owned if we are annexed
- Anonymous –“What is the area included in the petition?” –
- All of East Parkwood Road (130 through 270), West Parkwood Road (221 through 498), and Parkwood Lane (110 through 128) currently in Unincorporated Dekalb County bordered by West Ponce de Leon and East Lake Road
- Parkwood Park, located at 500 West Parkwood Road
- 221, 225, 231 Upland Rd.
- Jamie Smith – his house on W Ponce is not part of the area potentially being annexed. He would like to be considered for annexation. – Since the petition has already been filed, it cannot be modified. The Annexation team will help Jamie with his petition pending the outcome of the Parkwood Park annexation petition.
- Andy Vocaire – 72% of Parkwood Garden Club members living in Unincorporated Dekalb County signed the petition to be annexed into City of Decatur. You can still sign the petition until March/April – contact Andy Vocaire.
- Mark Ordway – has a 7th and 8th grader – can they finish school at Druid Hills? – Please contact the principal of the school if you want your child to stay in the same school.
- Andy Vocaire – After the next City of Decatur Commissioner meeting, a decision will be made in 60-90 days.
- Jim Paulino – If any of the cityhoods do go through, Unicorporated Dekalb taxes will increase, maybe not as much as City of Decatur, but they will increase.
- Frances Finegan – She encouraged the members to consider taking a leadership role in the PGC as several Board members’ terms will be ending May 31st.
The meeting was adjourned around 8:45pm.