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Topside's year that was 

Tales of bribery, Buckhead and bumper-to-bumper traffic caught Topside's attention in 2000

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To ease the rush-hour crunch, MARTA opened new north Fulton stations in Sandy Springs and North Springs in mid-December. An estimated 36,000 people a day will use the new stations, which run parallel to the often jam-packed Ga. 400. Meanwhile, some neighborhoods have used any means possible to fight off new construction.

The city of Roswell made a pre-emptive strike against construction when voters approved a $30 million bond referendum to buy and develop parkland. In August, the city spent $19 million to buy 159 acres from a developer to save as a park.

While preserving green space has become a hot topic in Roswell, the measure benefited from being on the ballot the same day Georgians made their picks in the presidential primary.

Sprawl-weary residents opposed twin shopping centers in the far north Fulton community of Birmingham, and in May, Fulton commissioners put the kibosh on the developers' plans. The developments would have added two strip shopping centers with competing supermarkets. But, according to the county's Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the Birmingham intersection was named a "neighborhood node," meaning developments on the site should be limited to services needed by immediate residents.

At the beginning of the year, Fulton announced an 18-month moratorium on new sewer hookups for a 35-square-mile area in the northern part of the county served by the Johns Creek Water Pollution Control Plant. The effective ban on new construction gave the government time to cope with the strained sewer system, but business leaders feared the measure would bring the area's economic development to a screeching halt.

The environmental impact of the area's growth could be seen (and smelled) as sewer spills dirtied the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries. A Cobb County spill in August killed hundreds of fish in Poplar Creek, which flows into the Chattahoochee. The city of Atlanta received more fines from the state Environmental Protection Division for its sewer troubles, and officials pledged to pay $1.2 billion to repair its sewage system.

Owners of the "McMansions" springing up along the shores of Lake Lanier had their own sewage problems with which to deal. Residents raised a stink about Gwinnett County's plan to dump about 40 million gallons of treated wastewater a day into the lake. Home sales in the area slowed as lake levels fell, depriving some lakeside homes of their waterfront views. However, realtors predicted sales will rise with the water levels when the drought comes to an end.

CULTURE CLASH
In other news, the former president of the arch-conservative Southeastern Legal Foundation received the wrong kind of publicity after being busted in a gay cruising sting at the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in May. Matthew J. Glavin, who had led a successful attack on Atlanta's affirmative action program and was heading the charge to have President Clinton disbarred in Arkansas, was charged with masturbating in the presence of an undercover federal officer, then fondling the officer's groin.

It was revealed that he pleaded no contest to a similar charge four years earlier. Glavin resigned from the right-wing think tank, and in December was given one year of probation, fined $1,000, and banned from federal parks during his probation.

Buckhead became the land of shootings and bootings in 2000 as high-profile gunplay and a post-Super Bowl double homicide helped focus attention on a bar zone run amok with weekend cruising tie-ups, blaring music and a burgeoning booting industry that had critics and many local business owners calling for regulation.

While Fulton prosecutors bungled the murder case against Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis and two friends, the Atlanta City Council considered earlier closing times for bars, but instead opted to enforce the 4 a.m. weeknight closing time already on the books and require bars to shut their doors at midnight on Sunday. Booters' fees were capped at $50 by the council in November.

In Marietta, the head of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art learned another lesson this year: the importance of living within one's means. Museum director Alexander Gaudieri staged an ambitious exhibit of American realist Winslow Homer, which cost the museum more than $300,000 in repairs and improvements. The February-to-April show did not draw enough crowds to offset the cost. Midway through the show, the museum was bleeding red ink and Gaudieri resigned. Aaron Berger took over as director of MCMA with the task of resurrecting the troubled institution.

Even though the Homer exhibit went bust, you can't say the metro area doesn't have enough culture. In an odd twist of events, dancers at DeKalb County strip clubs began performing Broadway show tunes in the buff to comply with the county's nude-dancing ordinance. The rule prevented nudity in establishments that received most of their revenues from alcohol sales, but allowed nudity in theatrical performances. While a number of clubs challenged the rule in the Georgia Court of Appeals, a Doraville club offered nude renditions of songs from "South Pacific."

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