Athens City Council met in committee Monday to discuss a potential $20,000 increase in the cost of housing developments at University Estates. 

An ordinance previously passed by Council allowed for the development of 50 townhome units at University Estates. Councilmember Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said that the base sale price of these units will have to be increased from $220,000 to $240,000.

Grace explained that this increase in cost is due to a dramatic increase in construction cost. 

Councilmember Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, expressed concern about increasing the cost of these housing units.

“My biggest fear is that the people that we had in mind to buy the homes will not be able to buy them,” Risner said.

Councilmember Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, told Council that she would prefer that these housing units not be described as affordable.

“I would respectfully suggest that we not ever call this an affordable housing development. ($240,000) dollars would be laughable to people in town who actually need affordable housing,” Clodfelter said. 

Grace explained that houses within the $225,000 to $240,000 price range are a housing need that has been identified in Athens.

“While $240,000 as a base price for a town home initially doesn’t strike many in Athens as what we think of as affordable, it fills a need in the housing market in Athens,” Grace said.

Council also discussed the review of language consistency for the Athens City Code. Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said that he has found the most comprehensive language for non-discrimination by including race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familial status, religious belief, age or disability.

Mayor Patterson also said that Athens City Code is a dynamic document that could be changed frequently.

“This is one more step in that direction to making sure we are an inclusive environment here in the City of Athens,” Patterson said.

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