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Athens City Council meets atthe Athens Municipal Court on Washington Street , Feb. 26, 2024.

Council discusses pedestrian safety, zoning lots

Athens city council met Monday with two public hearings on zoning reform, one about a house on Elliot Street and another about the undeveloped lots on Grand Park Boulevard and Eden Place. 

Council President Sam Crowl served as acting mayor in Steve Patterson’s absence, and Councilmember Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, served as acting president pro tempore.

The hearing saw significant public interest with six comments from five residents and one lawyer about the benefits of the proposed changes. 

Following the hearing, Councilmember Solveig Spjeldnes, D-1st Ward, addressed constituents' concerns about the lack of effective walking paths across state Route 56. 

“It's extremely dangerous,” Spjedlnes said. “When I was canvassing this weekend and talked to my neighbors they also expressed a lot of concern about the fact that they're afraid to run into them, and it's very stressful to try to drive past people who really have no place to walk.”

Spjeldnes has data from the Athens County Active Transportation Steering Committee’s walk audit completed last year. Spjeldnes hopes the council can do something before someone gets hurt. 

Following Spjeldnes, Crowl had communications about the administration’s recent activities, including Mayor Patterson’s attendance at the International Town Gown Association event in Maryland.

“(Patteron) is presenting numerous sessions over the next few days,” Crowl said. 

Other communication from Crowl included Peggy Gish’s letter encouraging the city to enter the Council of Governments and the upcoming formation of a local NAACP unit.

“It does appear that there will be need for additional members for our local unit, so you may see people coming out to talk to you about the NAACP and how we can start a chapter here in Athens County,” Crowl said. 

The council read 17 ordinances. It passed six ordinances on third reading, and read 10 on second reads. 

The council also reappointed Mollie Fitzgerald to the Affordable Housing Commission.

“Mollie Fitzgerald is the executive director at the Athens County Economic Development Council, and therefore has a very cool view of housing-related issues on the commission,” Spjeldnes said. 

To conclude the meeting, council heard additional public comment on pedestrian safety issues and adjourned until its next meeting June 10.


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