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The Athens City Council meets for its regular session in the Athens City Building on November 18, 2019. (FILE)

City Council: Rezoning ordinance passed, trail conversation continued

Athens City Council passed an ordinance Monday rezoning portions of Court, State, Carpenter, and Fern Streets from a B3 zone to a B2D zone.

The vote was split 5-2 amongst councilmembers. Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, and Councilman Pat McGee, I-At Large, dissented.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, who introduced the ordinance, spoke about what it entails and why it is necessary to strive for progressive solutions within the city code.

"It's to help uptown become much more logical in its zoning,” Fahl said. “It makes it a more appropriate zone than what it is now, which is much more suburban type of zoning than it is urban."

Athens resident and former BZA member, Joan Kraynanski, spoke in opposition of the ordinance. She raised concerns about urban life overlapping residential neighborhoods.

“It's a B3 because it's adjacent to neighborhoods, and I think it needs to stay that way,” Kraynanski said. “I think the concern is that we're going to have more apartments which means more congestion.”

In addition to the zoning vote, council also completed the second reading of the Baileys Trail funding ordinance for the second time. 

Residents and nonresidents of Athens continued to make their voices heard in support of the trail. Councilman Crowl reported members had received upwards of 100 emails urging the city to commit to the project.

Mike Moulton, an Athens resident of nearly 25 years, said he always brings his bike with him when traveling for work. While traveling, he meets many riders who ask him about Baileys Trail. Those people, he said, are people who are eager to visit Athens and utilize the resources the region has to offer.

Moulton’s main concern is that the city doesn’t move forward with the project, he said.

Another resident, Tracy Kitts, said Athens has natural resources other places around the country do not and that it is imperative that they are used for fruitful purposes, such as the trail.

“It’s not going to be smokestacks… it’s going to be greenspace,” Kitts said.

Avid cyclist Jim Shulz also pointed out the uniqueness of having a national forest available right in Athens’ backyard and how cyclists will flock to the area.

“Cycling is in the blood of this town,” Shulz said. “That’s why I moved here.”

Three council members along with President Chris Knisely will attend a tour of Baileys Trail on Dec. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.


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