News Line for Athens-Clarke County

Final draft of master plan for downtown Athens accepted
Almost two years after the process began, the final draft of a master plan for downtown Athens was turned over to the Athens Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday, with little comment from the authority board.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Mayor says Prince Avenue study has become 'political football'
Despite her efforts to keep it out of the political arena, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson acknowledged Monday that a proposed pedestrian safety demonstration project for part of Prince Avenue has become “a political football.”
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke candidates face questions at Youth Academy forum
They may be young, but a group of area high school students had some tough questions for local political candidates during a Youth Academy forum Saturday at the Athens-Clarke County Library.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens economic development director says first year went well
Ryan Moore said the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Department has come a long way since he took the position as director in May 2013.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Preliminary plans for downtown Athens student housing complex get review
Initial proposed plans for a student housing-oriented mixed-use project show plenty on a little more than 8 acres in the eastern edge of downtown Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Small steps taken toward revitalizing Atlanta Highway corridor
He didn’t say when, exactly, but Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mike Hamby told the dozens of people gathered for this week’s Federation of Neighborhoods meeting that traffic-flow improvements will be coming to the Atlanta Highway corridor between the western county line and Georgia Square mall.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

An economic metric that's easy to understand
The Federation of Neighborhoods met Monday to hear about plans for, and recent developments along, the Atlanta Highway and Lexington Road corridors. Not surprisingly, the discussion eventually turned to the kind of retail and other business development coming to Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens planners table rezoning request for in-town farm
The Athens Land Trust’s effort to expand the mission of its Williams Farm project has run into some friendly challenges, and requests for more information, from the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department and the county’s planning commission.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Keys to Athens-Clarke County echo medieval tradition
Soon after each new mayor of Athens-Clarke County takes office, the executive assistant to the mayor’s office, Mae Walter, will remind them of one of the informal duties and perquisites of their position — designing the key to the city that they’ll distribute during their administration.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke planners recommend changes to demolition application process
The Athens-Clarke County Planning Commission is recommending the county commission approve changes to the review process for applications for structural demolition or relocation.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County planners propose grazing ordinance
A growing local interest in using sheep or goats to control unwanted or invasive plants has prompted Athens-Clarke County’s Planning Department to propose regulation of that activity while allowing it in all areas of the county.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

'Party Down South' might prompt tighter controls on TV, film production in Athens
As the cast and crew of Country Music Television’s alcohol-fueled reality-TV show “Party Down South” were making their presence known in Athens this week, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson said Tuesday that establishing tighter controls on film and video production here is “a discussion probably worth having.”
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Assessing emerging reality in downtown Athens
This week’s announcement that the Armstrong & Dobbs property in the eastern edge of downtown Athens is on track to host a mixed-use development, centered around student housing, offers additional proof of what’s become more and more apparent over the last few years: The character of downtown Athens is changing, with student-oriented housing, now virtually ringing the eastern edge of the area, becoming a dominant part of the mix.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County gets $60K grant for greenspace project
A Tennessee-based nonprofit foundation with ties to Athens has issued another grant to the Athens-Clarke County government for planning the future of a 310-acre tract acquired by the county two years ago in support of a goal of protecting 20 percent of the county’s land area as greenspace.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Planned work to close Athens intersection for summer of 2015
Athens-Clarke County commissioners have all but formally approved a road construction project at a major intersection linking Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties for which there is no easy detour.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

New pricing model proposed for Athens-Clarke Leisure Services Dept.
A community-based re-evaluation of the pricing structure for Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department has been proposed by the department’s executive director, who told county commissioners this week she’d like to move toward a philosophy for pricing services rather than merely implementing tools to get the job done.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke to consider acquiring fully automated garbage trucks
Looking for long-term cost savings, Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Director Jim Corley is asking Athens-Clarke commissioners to approve a nearly $2 million plan for replacement of the existing fleet of semi-automated garbage trucks with fully automated trucks that will pluck garbage cans from curbside, dump them and then replace the cans.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Pot possession a hot topic at Athens-Clarke mayoral candidates debate
Sharp distinctions were drawn Wednesday night between the two candidates in the nonpartisan race for mayor of Athens-Clarke County, but a debate sponsored by the Young Democrats of UGA also revealed a point of near-agreement between incumbent Nancy Denson and her challenger — no relation — local activist Tim Denson.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Fledgling downtown Athens festival gets share of local funding
Organizers of Slingshot, the music, arts and technology festival now in its second year in Athens, got a vote of confidence from the Athens Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday as the authority’s board voted to allocate $6,000 to help cover costs not covered by sponsors or other sources.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens officials establish goals for upcoming year
The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a list of “budget goals and objectives” for the upcoming fiscal year during a Tuesday meeting.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Jerry Saulters proud to serve on Athens-Clarke police honor guard
Lt. Jerry Saulters takes pride in the uniform he wears each day. And every once in a while that pride reaches a new level when putting on a different uniform used only by members of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s Honor Guard.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens government budget process underway, in early stages
While the formal budget proposal is likely months off, Athens-Clarke County officials are starting to hold budget hearings for departments and independent agencies that use taxpayer money.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens officials ask departments to spend 2 percent less
Athens-Clarke County department heads were asked to plan for 2 percent reductions in their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens Leisure Services going through reviews with more on the way
A smattering of internal and external reviews could be on the horizon for the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Lyndon House future discussed at meeting
Like many sections of the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services department, the Lyndon House has been on the short end of the budget cut stick in recent years and is one of the department’s most under-performing centers revenue-wise.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke County officially moves state and local election date
The general primary and nonpartisan elections, including those for Athens-Clarke County commission and mayor races, has been officially moved to May 20, according to an announcement from the local government.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Girtz: Hire an auditor to examine Athens' Leisure Services Department
Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz wants an ACC auditor hired by July 1 who can then immediately focus on the Leisure Services department, potentially putting another question mark in the direction of the department.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Lt. Willie Brinkley: a dedication to community oriented policing in Athens
Willie Brinkley was not necessarily looking to make a career in law enforcement. The Athens-Clarke County police lieutenant said that when growing up in the city of Madison he thought that he might become a teacher.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Plans to rebuild Oconee Street UMC submitted to Athens-Clarke County
Plans to rebuild the Oconee Street United Methodist Church dropped at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department on Friday.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Plan of Watkinsville not dependent on SPLOST
As expected, Monday’s public hearing at the Oconee County Civic Center on the list of projects to be included in an upcoming special-purpose local option sales tax referendum brought out some enthusiastic supporters of The Plan of Watkinsville, an initiative of fourth-generation Watkinsville resident and Notre Dame-trained architect Robert Smith aimed at enhancing the small-town atmosphere of the county seat’s downtown area while attracting economic development.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Nancy Denson reports raising $22,000 in January for Athens-Clarke Mayor's race
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson reported having more than $35,000 on hand from $45,000 in donations at the end of Jan. 31.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Girtz proposes government stepping in for high-speed internet, sustainable energy
With Internet companies showing little interest in dropping high-speed lines in downtown and potentially under-used sustainable energy resources, Athens-Clarke Commissioner Kelly Girtz is wondering if the government should fill those voids.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens commission to decide where to put facility for hard-to-recycle materials
The Athens-Clarke County Commission will pick where residents can drop off their old mattresses and tires Tuesday night.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke police officer has strong communications skills
Keith Kelley wears several hats, sometimes a firefighter’s helmet and other times a police officer’s cap.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Documents show Leisure Services plans to boost Lyndon House use
Leisure Services director Pam Reidy calls the Lyndon House Arts Center a “jewel” for Athens. And like a real jewel, the center is expensive. It’s also underutilized by the community and funding to it has been cut in recent years.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Proposed Lyndon House Arts Center changes stir controversy
A snowstorm canceled a public meeting this week about the future of Athens-Clarke County’s Lyndon House Arts Center, leaving questions about proposed changes at the center swirling.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens historic designation changes, community garden addition set for Feb. vote
Changes to the historic designation process for neighborhoods and the demolition review process, along with the addition of community gardens to allowed lot uses, appear set to soar through the Athens-Clarke County Commission.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke assistant manager White resigns to take NC job
Athens-Clarke County Assistant Manager Richard White will resign his position on Feb. 14 to take the town manager job in Elon, N.C.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

No change for planned development rules in Athens
The Athens-Clarke County committee looking at economic development strategies declined Wednesday to pursue changes to the planned development process.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Tim Denson lays out platform for Athens-Clarke County mayor
Many of the priorities listed in the recently released campaign platform for Athens-Clarke County mayoral candidate Tim Denson match what the Occupy Athens activists said before he declared for office: fight income inequality and poverty, push for “smart growth,” and aim for sustainable practices.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Questions linger: Does the Downtown Athens Business Assocation exist?
The downtown gift certificate program could be suspended starting March 1 if a contract between two downtown groups isn’t renewed. The Athens Downtown Development Authority, a state-chartered entity, and the Downtown Athens Business Association, a member-funded group of downtown businesses, historically worked together in the past for the gift card program, with the authority administering the program.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Federation of Neighborhoods hosts 'airing of grievances' with Athens candidates
The Federation of Neighborhoods hosted an airing of grievances with a number of elected officials and candidates for office at its Monday meeting.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Downtown Athens infrastructure work begins Tuesday
Almost two years of downtown construction will begin Tuesday, kicking off “growing pains” as the area updates its infrastructure.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Commission bolsters budgets for Athens Land Trust and Morton Theatre, community center projects
Athens Land Trust and the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government’s Leisure Services Department received a boost to their budgets Tuesday night.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Mayor Denson reports raising $18K in Athens re-election bid
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson has raised almost $18,000 for her re-election bid, according to a news release from her campaign.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens has history with alcohol issues
Communities have struggled throughout history to control the use of alcohol. More than 100 years ago, Athens became the first city in the United States to experiment with a unique method for controlling it.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens community gardens law grows forward
A law governing community gardens heads to the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission in February.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Recycling requirements loom for Athens businesses, apartments
As the Dec. 31 deadline for commercial recycling plans nears “the ball is definitely rolling” in getting community participation, Commercial Recycling Specialist Joe Dunlop said.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Path clears for Urban Outfitters in downtown Athens
The Historic Preservation Commission cleared the way for an Urban Outfitters store in downtown Athens.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens seeks to shift fed money for community upgrades
Unused federal money could go toward helping the Athens Land Trust’s urban farming program and upgrades to Morton Theatre and Bishop Park under a plan pitched by Athens-Clarke County officials Tuesday.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens officials eye north College Avenue spot for hard-to-recycle materials center
A center to recycle Styrofoam and plastic film in Athens-Clarke County moved closer to reality Tuesday night.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Finish line nears for Athens downtown master plan
The Athens downtown master plan inched closer to its conclusion Tuesday — provided the Athens Downtown Development Authority doesn’t find major qualms with it.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke officials hash out weaknesses, strengths of community while plotting future goals
The threats and weaknesses regarding Athens’ future ran the gamut: water, political influence in Atlanta, students, poverty — over and over again, poverty — and tax base included.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens City Hall streetscape plan moves forward
The Athens-Clarke County City Hall streetscape project, initially approved by a 2000 special purpose local option sales tax, is moving forward for the first time in four years.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens commission OKs larger animal shelter
The Athens animal shelter expansion is out to bid with hopes for 10 new adoption kennels and a puppy room still in the mix.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens bus fares to rise, but transfer fee dies
The Athens-Clarke County Commission passed a limited fare increase, but killed the transfer fee, for Athens busses Tuesday night.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens commission to consider bus fee, alternatives
Commissioner Kelly Girtz is prepared to accept the “modest” base fare increase for Athens busses, but only if a comprehensive look at the transit system is part of the deal.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens District 3 race drawing attention
Less than a month after Athens-Clarke County Commissioner George Maxwell announced he won’t seek re-election a queue has formed to replace him.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Lifelong Athenian seeks to replace Maxwell on Athens commission
Herb Gilmore, a native Athenian, business man and former Athens-Clarke County Planning Commissioner, announced Monday his candidacy for the commission seat held by George Maxwell.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Bus transfer fee gains no traction with Athens commissioners
The proposed transfer fee for bus riders apparently died at the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission’s agenda setting meeting Thursday night.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Occupy Athens' Tim Denson returns to City Hall with eye on mayor's seat
Occupy Athens member Tim Denson made another stand on Athens’ City Hall Wednesday night, but not like one he’s made before.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Occupy Athens member Tim Denson to run for mayor
Occupy Athens member Tim Denson announced Tuesday that he will run for Athens-Clarke County mayor.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens garbage to power homes
That new hum in the Athens-Clarke County landfill is the sound of decomposition.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Scarbrough settling in as Athens' new fire chief, foresees active role in community
Recently completing his first month as chief of the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Department, Jeff Scarbrough likes what he sees.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Hoard's friend announces intent to replace the retiring commissioner
Almost simultaneous to Athens Clarke-County Commissioner Kathy Hoard’s announcement that she won’t seek re-election in May, a friend of hers said she wants to pick up the torch.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Hoard won't seek re-election to Athens-Clarke commission
Following on the heels of Athens-Clarke County Commissioner George Maxwell’s announcement that he won’t be seeking re-election next year, Commissioner Kathy Hoard issued a news release Friday announcing that she, too, will be leaving the commission when her current term ends next year.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke Commissioner George Maxwell won't seek re-election
After nearly 11 years as an Athens-Clarke County commissioner, George Maxwell said Tuesday he won’t seek re-election next year.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Board of Elections nixes Athens election day changes
The Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections voted to postpone its election day precinct plan, leaving the number of polling places from 2012 in place for the upcoming cycle.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens commission approves facelift for Clayton Street
The downtown infrastructure plan that will end with Clayton Street’s facelift was unanimously approved Tuesday evening by the Athens-Clarke County commission.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Downtown master plan rolls through final open house
Dozens of people milled through, leaned in close and took in the more-or-less final proposals for the Downtown Athens 2030 Master Plan this week.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Selig Enterprises abandons plans for downtown Athens development
After two years of redesigns and at-times fierce community debate, the Selig Enterprises development in downtown Athens is dead.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Athens-Clarke Public Utilities Department earns EPA recognition
Athens-Clarke County’s Public Utilities Department has been recognized as a 2013 WaterSense Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a Thursday news release from the EPA.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald