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Letters to the Editor (2) - August 23 2006

Autism, the Beltline

CALL AND RESPONSE

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This letter is a response to a comment that ran in your Aug. 17 .com-ments section ("My brother"). The .com-ment in question was from Jordan, a young wife and sister to a brother with autism: "My husband and I are actually not planning on having children due to the fear of having an autistic child." This statement left me with a feeling that can only be described as, "What the fuck?"

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If Jordan and her husband are reading this, I am begging them to reconsider their position. Your decision not to have a child is based out of fear, and in my brief existence I have already discovered it is horrible to operate and function out of fear. Although, I will admit, not acting out of fear is much like everything else in life: easier said than done.

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If you and your husband have love to give, then you should have a child. That love will not be affected or altered by even the most horrible and unfathomably dismaying mental deficiency. In fact, it's not out of the realm of possibility for such an occurrence to strengthen the love you and your husband would have for this child.
?-- Jack Storz, Atlanta

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RISE AND SHINE

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Thank you for writing this article on autism (cover story, "Alone in autism," Aug. 10). I am so glad you and Creative Loafing have taken on such a huge tragedy. This will help wake up the sector of the community that can do something about the problem. I am a believer that thimerisol is the problem and that it has also caused the asthma epidemic. I have studied the problem greatly but can't get most people to listen. Thanks again for helping bring this to people's attention.
?-- Jules Cozine, Atlanta

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TIGHTENING THE BELTLINE

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The Beltline vision can be reality (Going Postal, "Don't get dense over the beltline," Aug. 3). That vision, held by neighbors, developers and the city, and reflected in NE Atlanta Beltline proposals, is an emerald necklace encircling intown neighborhoods. Differences in the vision lie in qualifying features: transit type, new development height and character.

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The city asked neighborhoods to study NE Atlanta Beltline proposals and recommend appropriate development character. In more than 50 neighborhood meetings, Wayne Mason and the NE Atlanta Beltline team have given every neighborhood the opportunity to do just that.

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Although most neighborhood residents are comfortable with much of Mason's proposals, some were led to believe that if they disagree with one piece, they must oppose everything. Voting against Mason's entire plan, just to make a point, misses the point entirely.

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Neighborhood leaders around Piedmont Park misled neighborhoods in campaigning "Just say no" to the entire NE Atlanta Beltline proposal. By voting "No" without qualifying appropriate development for each neighborhood site, neighborhoods position themselves as victims, not active participants in the city's planning process.

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By deciding not to decide on appropriate development character, Piedmont Park neighborhoods give away power to influence their destiny, giving it to a few vocal activists who claimed that power for themselves.

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Do neighbors really want to say no to more than 45 acres Mason will donate to for transit, trails and parks, or to proposed townhomes and low- to mid-rise residential clusters next to proposed transit? Is it in the city's best interests to say no to additional TAD tax increments to invest along other Beltline segments or pay for transit, trails, parks construction?

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Other proactive neighborhoods seized opportunities to say yes to what they do want: transit, pedestrian/bike trails, parks. They are working with the NE Atlanta Beltline, describing what they consider appropriate development, detailed site conditions, building materials, height.

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Time, attention and proactive responses to Mason's proposal allow these neighborhoods to exert influence on their future. The city's Planning Department can advise the Zoning Review Board and City Council based on these neighborhoods' recommendations. Unlike "Just say no" neighborhoods, Mason responded, adjusting site proposals and agreeing to neighborhoods' long lists of recommendations.

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The NE Atlanta Beltline proposal features many elements on which neighborhoods agree. By working with, rather than against, Mason, involved neighborhoods establish desirable development scenarios and support the vision for a city-wide Beltline — and an economic development catalyst that makes it more than a dream. Let's work together to support our shared goals.
?-- Alycen Whiddon, AtlantaManager, Community Planning and DesignHDR Inc.