Tuesday, April 22, 2008

City Council Talks Development

By Annie Porembski

Development had a big impact at the city council meeting. Last night the council discussed ordinances involving improvement budgets, annexations and pleas to change zoning to protect a major Athens landmark.

Zoning Change

The council passed a resolution requesting the Athens City Planning Commission to change zoning for the parking lot in front of the Athens Depot from a current M zone, or manufacturing zone to an open space zone. The change request for open space zoning would allow for student apartments to be built behind the depot and the parking lot to be fixed in front of the depot.

Council Member Deborah Phillips goes into detail about the possible zoning changes

The resolution called for a historic preservationist to protect the former train station.

Athens County Historical Society Museum Curator Joanne Prisley explains the significance of the depot

City council member Nancy Bain said the city has a commitment to the depot. “Initially, we received federal money for this; the money gave us an obligation to reserve the station as historically significant.” She said the council "would hope to have them assess the potential impact on the development on the preservation item which is on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Council Member Nancy Bain talks about the city's obligation to the depot

For the apartments to be built, fourth ward member Deborah Philips requests that the company bring all its requests to council at one time. “We’ve really asked them to make their application for the project they are trying to bring through so that we can look at that and we can look at the zoning questions all at the same time,” she said.
The planning commission will have the final decision as to whether the zoning will change.

City Annex

The council had the first reading of an ordinance to accept the petition to annex the area of Della Drive, the site of newly built Beaumont Green senior apartments. Located off of East State Street, the residence is currently being rented by people age fifty-five and older. Phillips said if the annex is approved the changes would be minimal.
“The only change is going to be that it will be inside the city so we will be providing city services for that area and that tax base will be included in the city.”

City Council Member Deborah Phillips explains the changes if the annex is passed

The ordinance will be read for the second time at the next council meeting.

East State Street Bond

The council declared an emergency on an ordinance for a $1.5 million note for improvements on East State Street. The widening project, which was proposed in 2001 and has since been finished, cost the city almost two million dollars and council member Jim Sands said we need to renew.
“We have paid down the loan, the principal amount today is $1.7 million, we are going to renew for $1.5 million so we will have paid $200,000 on this loan,” he said.

The city council will have a committee meeting on Monday April 28th. The next council meeting will be the first Monday in May.

No comments: