City Council members discussed increases in city code fees and Licensure and Land Use Agreement with Ohio University on Tuesday.

The increases would include fire prevention, sewage and city code fees. 

Council members discussed the increase of cost for fire prevention, inspections and fees. Fire inspection fees will cost $100 plus $50 for reinspections. Before this, there was no inspection fee. The money from the fees is said to go to the state and not stay local. In Athens, there are over 650 businesses inspected, but not annually. Majority of the Athens firefighters are certified to inspect business facilities. 

The sewage fees will increase to help pay off more of the sewer debt. The base rates for the fees are planned to increase in January from 25 percent to 30 percent. The percentage of sewage usage had gone up in past months compared to the summer since OU students returned to campus. 

All city code fees are to be moved to one title is to be more easily located. This allows the fees to be more easily accessed as well the fees to be easily keep up with current processing. 

Jeffrey Risner, second ward representative, said the proposed changes are not yet set in stone. Many of the fees have not been changed in years and some do need to be changed. 

Council members discussed the ideas of the Licensure and Land Use Agreement with OU. The agreement refers to the passive recreation space behind the Athens Community Center. 

The city wants to work with the university on cleaning up the area along the river by the bike path, which is estimated to be around 16 acres. The clean up process will not include removing trees just the overgrown vegetation along the river bank. 

In place of the vegetation, council members suggested placing park benches, an ultimate frisbee field or a leashed dog path. The city would be in charge of the area but not all 16 acres will not be under the city’s responsibility.  

Councilwoman Sarah Grace said the people should be mindful during cleanup since homeless have been known to be in areas by the river. The area should be also be cautioned because the fact that the area is so close to the river it can easily flood. 

Third Ward Representative Sam Crowl spoke about the possible changes that will possibly affect mobile venders. Changes will include redoing parking spots due to fire safety and new spaces allowing proper parking for mobile venders, ten feet away from other non-vending vehicles and seven feet between non-vending vehicles and licensing period for the vending vehicles. 

The changes will be further discussed later in the week and will be finalized at next week’s council meeting on Monday.