Scottdale, Georgia — Heck House, a local arts venue, has temporarily postponed events due to code compliance issues and lack of a commercial license.
Heck House is not closed, but is not hosting events at this time. They are continuing some work, such as art projects and developing internal policies, founder and executive director Paula Novelle told Decaturish.
She previously posted on the Heck House Facebook page that DeKalb County Code Enforcement insisted the venue refrain from hosting events until the business license application process is complete and that code compliance requirements are met.
DeKalb County said Heck House must handle open storage, apply for a business license and apply for a permit to sell or distribute beer and wine, according to communications obtained from Novelle.
In an email that some Heck House board members sent to the DeKalb Planning and Sustainability office, they said: “[s]So far, no commercial license of any kind has been requested as we do not know what type of license would be appropriate and necessary.
The facility does not currently have a commercial license, and Novelle said the property owner applied for one in June. Heck House is awaiting license approval.
Heck House is located at 3498 E Ponce de Leon Ave. in Scottdale. It’s zoned R-75 with a Level 1 overlay, which allows for commercial use, including events, Novelle said.
On June 2, a code enforcement warning was taped on the door of Heck House citing “open storage, trash and debris” and “incorrect zoning,” Novelle told Decaturish. Written instructions on the warning stated that Heck House was to remove all open storage of wood, metal, and building materials, and that special events were prohibited in the R-75 zoning.
DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry said commercial use is permitted on the property.
“We have established that the Heck House falls within the Scottdale Overlay District, in the correct tier, for permitted land use. The next step is to follow all the administrative requirements for the events and pay the permits,” said Terry.
DeKalb County senior planner Rachel Bragg also said a special events center, art gallery and theater with live performances are permitted in the Scottdale overlay district, according to emails obtained from Novel.
Heck House is a non-profit organization designed for small interactive events like workshops. The facility also offers a community art space. They started hosting events in November 2019 and saw an influx of event requests in the spring of 2021.
“The repurposing of the house is an art project in itself that began in May 2017. We gutted the house and slowly rebuilt it to be more functional, quirky and artistic like Heck,” Novelle said. “Heck House is community driven. Due to the many requests for artist events, I have delayed artistic projects and prioritized these shows. It’s a lot of work to have all these events. I don’t do it for fun. I respond to the needs of these artistic communities.
The place is located near a residential area. It is next to an auto store and Family Dollar.
Another concern that has been raised is parking.
“Off-street parking seems to be the main concern because according to the codes for “meeting places…”, the minimum for fixed seats is one (1) space for every four (4) seats in the largest meeting room and for places without fixed seats. seating is one (1) space for every forty (40) square feet of floor space in the largest meeting room,” Novelle said.
She has set a maximum capacity of 100 due to parking.
“Parking is on one side of Milton Street. We have metal traffic signs that enforce that,” Novelle said. “I noticed that when the attendance reaches 50 people, it is difficult to find a parking space on Milton Street. The way I have controlled attendance is to only sell 50 tickets in advance on Eventbrite with on-site tickets also available. If someone can get here on foot, by bike, Marta or by carpool, they can get a ticket.
Heck House had to postpone its events.
“Because attendance at most of our events averages only 20-40 people, we tried to find out if we could hold private events as a private residence and be compliant. Last night (June 29) via email, the DeKalb County Assistant Code Compliance Manager basically told us no,” Novelle said.
She said Heck House understood that a neighbor had filed several complaints with the office of DeKalb County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.
“Heck House aspires to fulfill its mission of serving community needs and respecting the community in which it is located,” Novelle wrote in the Facebook post. “When we directly received a few complaints over the past three years regarding noise and parking, we immediately responded to address those concerns.”
Heck House has established the following policies:
– Stop the amplified sound before 10 p.m. every evening
– Immediately lower the volume in the event of a complaint
– Only allow parking on one side of Milton Street and do not block driveways
– Limit maximum attendance to 100 people, and average attendance is 20-40 people
– Allow a maximum of eight events per month, of which only four will be concerts
“We don’t know when we will complete the process to obtain all required licenses and permits,” Novelle said in the post. “Until then, we will refrain from organizing events until we have them in place. We hope this issue can be resolved soon and we will keep you posted. We are sorry to have to postpone the upcoming events and sorry for the inconvenience caused. We know that these artists put a lot of time and effort into preparing for these events. In the meantime, we plan to be active with repurposed art projects to ‘art up’ Heck House and stay active building our art community.
Novelle told Decaturish that the Heck House board is ready to work with the county to get the proper approvals and make any necessary adjustments.
“We plan to focus on the various artistic projects that have been delayed due to all the events. We are also catching up on internal development,” she said.
Heck House contacted the office of DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry for help in resolving the issue and applying for permits.
“I view Heck House as an important community gathering place that brings much needed vitality to the Scottdale Overlay Area and achieves the stated goals of creating more place-making opportunities and supporting the artistic endeavors of our residents” said Terry. “Hopefully we can sort out any outstanding requirements under the code and provide them with all the information necessary to act on them, and we look forward to the continuation of the summer concert series they have been working on. ”
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