By John Schaffner

In a move to avert making the same mistake two months in a row, the board of Neighborhood Planning Unit B (NPU-B) voted Feb. 5 to deny a festival permit application by the East Andrews Cafe for a St. Patrick’s Day event that wasn’t on the agenda.

Last month, the NPU-B board reviewed an application by the East Andrews Cafe for The 25th Steamhouse Oysterfest, Feb. 16-17, an event that previously had been held by Fadõ’s Irish pub in Buckhead Village prior to the demolition of Fadõ’s for the Streets of Buckhead redevelopment.

The Steamhouse Oysterfest had not been on the January NPU agenda, but the representatives of the East Andrews Club showed up at the meeting of the NPU’s Public Safety Committee. The committee went ahead and reviewed the application and approved it.

There was no opposition to the application voiced at the January meeting from neighbors in the West Village commercial district. However, that opposition showed up at the February meeting, when the Steamhouse Oysterfest actually was on the NPU’s agenda for consideration.

NPU-B chairperson Jeff Shell, who said he felt the East Andrews Club representatives had been less than honest with the Public Safety Committee in January, said there was nothing the NPU board could do about the January approval for the Steamhouse Oysterfest, which takes place in about one and a half weeks. That final decision would have to rest with the city of Atlanta, he said.

However, on Feb. 5, the East Andrews Club representatives were back seeking approval of a permit for the St. Patrick’s Day festival and Shell moved that the board deny the application. He said that after Kendall Craig, chair of the Public Safety Committee, talked with a merchant who showed up to protest the original oysterfest festival permit on behalf of 20 merchants in the West Village district, it was obvious the applicant was not working with its neighbors to gain approval for the event.

Merchants claim that the closing of lanes of traffic on Andrews Drive for the festival would be extremely disruptive to their businesses.

Shell’s motion to deny the St. Patrick’s Day festival permit passed by a board vote of 21 to 0 with 1abstention.

Shell also warned board members that in March, the Dogwood Festival would be coming before the NPU for approval of a festival permit, since that festival has just announced it would be relocating for 2008 to Lenox Square mall from its normal venue of Piedmont Park (See story, Page 8).

Shell said there will be lots of questions relating to that permit request in terms of handling the traffic for the hundreds of thousands of people the Dogwood Festival normally draws from metro Atlanta and the southeast.

The NPU heard a presentation by the Chastain Park Conservancy relating to the park master plan, which has been 18 months in the making and was approved Jan. 28 by the Chastain Park Civic Association.

Ray Mock, executive director for the Conservancy, pointed out that the concepts in the master plan had been reduced from 159 to 38 big ones. He said the major elements of the proposal are to improve parking, deal with a lack of open green space, create some pocket parks and focus on pedestrian safety by widening the trails along Lake Forrest and Powers Ferry roads. The next steps were listed as continuing through the city approval process and raising money.

The NPU-B board gave its approval for the process that had been followed in developing the master plan and with the proposed projects within the plan.

Gene Warren, of the Buckhead Baseball organization, presented a plan for replacing the present wooden bleachers at Frankie Allen Park for the local baseball season and in preparation for a major regional baseball tournament that will be held at the park during the third week of July, 2009. He said the three-day event would attract teams from eight states.

He also invited members of the board to attend opening day of the 2008 baseball season at the park March 8.