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Letters to the Editor (2) - May 24 2006

Summer Guide's Chattanooga and petting zoos, and City Council's rebuttal

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

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Thank you for mentioning Bea's Restaurant (Summer Guide, "Journey to the land that time forgot," May 18)! I used to go to high school in Chattanooga around 15 years ago and one of my fondest memories of that city was the tasty food at Bea's, as it was walkable from my school. I was wondering what happened to that place and had thought it closed a long time ago. I now hope to take a trip up there one weekend and relive that experience. Many thanks!

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-- Gene Lee, Atlanta

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PETTING PERILS

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The article promoting local petting zoos (Summer Guide, "A petting zoo in miniature," May 18) did readers a disservice by not warning them about the very real health hazards of petting zoos. Petting zoos are hotbeds of E. coli bacteria, and numerous children have been infected with the potentially deadly illness after visiting such displays; some have died. Infections can spread through direct animal contact or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit.

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Petting zoos have nearly disappeared in Florida after 26 people were confirmed stricken with E. coli, including 23 children, after visiting petting zoos at local fairs. Lawmakers in North Carolina recently passed stringent regulations for petting zoos after health officials confirmed 43 cases of E. coli and suspected 108 more cases in people who had visited a petting zoo at the state fair.

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The last thing any parent wants is their child getting sick; avoiding petting zoos is one simple way parents can ensure their kid's health and well-being.

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-- Jennifer O'Connor, Norfolk, Va.

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animals in entertainment campaign writer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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BORDERS' REBUTTAL

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After reading John Sugg's May 11 (Metropolis, Metro Man) column titled "Edifice rex," I felt it was important to correct the record for your readers and clarify my position on infill development.

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First, all Atlantans should understand that infill development is an important issue to the entire City Council, one that we believe should be addressed comprehensively and thoughtfully. It certainly serves Ms. Mary Norwood politically to suggest that only she is interested in this issue, but that is just not the case.

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Second, development moratoriums are not common. Mayor Shirley Franklin has issued only eight (not almost 30 as stated in the column) executive or administrative orders affecting residential development since taking office in January 2002. And two of those were extensions of existing freezes, meaning she has ordered only six moratoriums in more than four years. The action that Ms. Norwood asked Mayor Franklin to take was extreme and extraordinary. Any attempt to paint it otherwise is disingenuous.

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I opposed Ms. Norwood's requested moratorium for two main reasons:

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1) Ms. Norwood's approach to this emerging issue was neither comprehensive nor thoughtful. Though she says through infill development "we'll lose the character of our neighborhoods," her planned moratorium affected only 3.4 percent of the city, including neighborhoods with some of the highest property values in the city such as Virginia-Highland, Lenox Park, Ansley Park and north Buckhead. Both Ms. Norwood and I are elected citywide, so I'm surprised that "our neighborhoods" did not address the other 96.6 percent of the city — particularly other fast-growing areas like Kirkwood, Capital View or Grant Park.

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2) A "one-off" approach to zoning policy will inevitably land the city of Atlanta in court, wasting taxpayer money and city resources because fellow council members were not consulted or engaged, the entire city was not considered, and we didn't take the time to find a rational, legally sound solution to this problem. As elected officials, we must be responsible stewards of city resources. Knee-jerk reactions — such as moratorium requests — should be reserved for emergency or life-threatening situations.

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With Atlanta's projected growth over the next two decades, we need a citywide policy to help govern infill development. With the help of a panel of architects and zoning experts that will deliver their recommendations by the end of the month — and a City Council dedicated to working together — we will solve this problem, protecting both private property rights and neighborhood integrity. This is a citywide problem that deserves a citywide solution. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on City Council to find the solution.

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Sincerely,

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-- Lisa M. Borders, Atlanta

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president, Atlanta City Council