The Athens commission met Tuesday to vote on the Planning Department’s special projects work program, TSPLOST 2018 projects and ARPA-funded summer 2023 youth programming at the Tuesday regular session.
Mayor Kelly Girtz began the meeting recognizing Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department driver Lavoris Huff for winning first place in the automated side loader competition at Solid Waste Association of North America’s International Road-EO competition in El Paso, Texas on Oct. 26.
“We [have] of course fantastic staff here in Athens-Clarke County. Sometimes that means people are doing a wonderful job shepherding projects through, sometimes it means that they are providing exemplary service in other ways and sometimes it means that they get out on the roadsways and they prove that they are top in class,” Girtz said.
Planning Department special projects work program
The commission discussed the Planning Department’s special work programat the meeting, focusing much of the conversation on how the program addresses housing through the policy implementation of accessory dwelling units.
Commissioner Melissa Link seconded Commissioner Tim Denson’s motion to accept the project to provide for more affordable housing options in ACC.
“I personally have multiple constituents who are interested in taking advantage of it and I think that it can somewhat quickly bring some hopefully affordable units into our in-town neighborhood specifically,” Link said.
Commissioners Allison Wright and Ovita Thornton explained their opposition to the project, with Wright expressing the need for the community to provide input on the project and Thornton opposing the Missing Middle concept outlined in the program document.
The items passed 7-2.
TSPLOST 2018 projects
The commission also discussed the TSPLOST 2018 Firefly Trail sub-project, which requests the major and commission adopt a resolution allowing for the acquisition of rights-of-ways through eminent domain “only and after legal counsel’s opinion that all voluntary participation efforts have been exhausted , where no title issues are present,” according to the resolution.
Commissioner Patrick Davenport initially motioned to hold voting until the next cycle, seconded by Thornton because of the concern over eminent domain and the role it could play in the continued development of the project.
“It is our government duty, regardless of it’s been 20 years or not, Mr. Mayor, regardless of the fact that the people have been voting and talking about this for some time for us to do our due diligence for the residents who’ve been paying taxes in this county for 30 years. They bought their property and all they’re asking is for a little sympathy to let the county know, for the county to show them some little bit of respect that, when this trail proceeds, that they’re gonna lose some property, that’s all they’re asking,” Davenport said.
Commissioner Russell Edwards introduced a substitute motion to approve the project, seconded by Commissioner Carol Myers.
“Now is the time to move forward and show that this community is gonna do right on the commitment of past taxpayer dollars and investment,” Edwards said.
Edwards’ substitute motion to approve the project passed 5-4, with Commissioners Thornton, Hamby, Davenport and Wright opposing.
The voting for another TSPLOST 2018 project, the Atlanta Highway Corridor Improvements Project was unanimously tabled for one month.
ARPA funds for summer 2023 youth programming
The commission unanimously approved the item requesting that $500,000 in ARPA funds be allocated to youth development and violence prevention community non-profit programs for summer 2023.
Wright commented support on the agenda item and the importance for the community.
“I think the whole community knows that we can’t move fast enough and we can’t do too much for the youth intervention that needs to be happening right now with the violence. Anything we can do to intervene as well, there’s different layers of things that need to be done and I hope we can support all of those that are gonna be coming forward,” Wright said.