Neighborhood Planning Unit A kicked off its Feb. 4 agenda with a demand for more police presence and action in the Chastain Park area after a recent spate of home burglaries.

Despite a report from a visiting Atlanta police officer who said crime was down 15 percent in Zone 2, NPU board members disagreed with the statistics. The board was also outraged to discover that only one patrol car is assigned to Zone 2.

NPU-A Chairman Brink Dickerson said the Atlanta Police Department was not doing enough to prevent breaking and entering around Chastain Park.

“We’re fed up with it and we’re tired of hearing that crime is down,” Dickerson said.

NPU member Nina Schwartz said burglars were knocking on doors to see if anyone was home, then pretending to have the wrong house if someone answered the door. Dickerson, who had his own home robbed last year, said this was a precursor to future robberies.

“Our zone has 4 percent of the population, pays 18 percent of the taxes and gets 1 percent of the service,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said he would be contacting Police Chief George Turner and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed about getting more patrols in the area.

Also on the NPU-A agenda was an appeal to Atlanta’s Office of Buildings-Zoning Enforcement Division over the use of the former Sutton Middle School campus, which now houses E. Rivers Elementary School, on Powers Ferry Road.

Homeowner Claire Murray, whose home borders the Sutton campus, said that Atlanta Public Schools (APS) had signed an 18-month lease with recreational soccer leagues from Peachtree Road United Methodist Church to use the school’s playing fields seven days a week.

“APS was required to get a special use permit to allow a third party to use the property and did not do so,” Murray said. “The noise coming from the fields now is disrupting us.”

APS successfully argued with the city that a special use permit wasn’t necessary for use of the fields by third parties, which prompted Murray’s appeal. She said that with no oversight, APS could potentially lease part of the Sutton property to a cellphone company who could erect a tower there. The NPU board voted to support Murray’s appeal.

The NPU-A board also voted to support a variance request from The Westminster School, which will allow for the Carlyle Fraser Library to be expanded and rebuilt. A new floor will be added to the library, which meant the roofline would increase from 35 to 56 feet.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.