On Monday evening, Athens City Council met and discussed an ordinance that would reduce the use of single-use plastic bags in the city of Athens by banning businesses from providing them to customers.
Councilman Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, introduced the ordinance and said single-use plastic bags contribute to litter in Athens. He said plastic bags are known to cause problems at recycling processing facilities and landfills.
Any failure to comply with the ordinance would result in the penalty of a minor misdemeanor and a fine of no more than $100. If passed, the ordinance would go into effect on Aug. 1.
The ordinance includes the appropriation of $5,000 to support a grant program administered by the mayor’s office that would aid businesses as they transition from using plastic bags.
Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-at large, commented on an ordinance discussed in a public hearing at Council’s Feb. 20 meeting following an influx of public concern.
The ordinance would amend the required distance between drive-in and drive-through restaurants and residential zones from 200 feet to 100 feet.
“We do need to make some changes in order to clarify our language to make it more clear for future cases so that if there is a challenge, we have a clear definition in our city code regarding what is a drive-through and how far from a residential zone it could be located,” Grace said.
Later in the meeting, representatives from Mount Zion Baptist Church updated the council on its partnership with the church and why it is necessary for it to continue.
Following the recent damage of several of the church’s precious stained-glass windows due to wind over the past few months, Trevellya Ford-Ahmed, a Mount Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society’s board of directors member, said the windows are in peril.
“We hope that the city will continue to partner with us as we try to move forward in … getting federal grants,” Ford-Ahmed said.