After an almost four-hour long meeting, the Athens-Clarke County mayor and commission had its final meeting of 2018 on Dec. 4. They addressed more than 45 issues. Here’s what you need to know from some of the key issues.
Alcohol on Sundays: The state of Georgia allows counties and municipalities to determine one Sunday during the year in which alcohol may be sold after 12:30 p.m. by people who have a class D, E or F alcohol license. These would be retailers who sell beer, liquor or wine by the drink. Some of the Sundays in the running for 2019 were Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3), St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) and Cinco de Mayo (May 5). After reviewing a poll of Athens business owners, the commissioners chose St. Patrick’s Day.
Parking meters: ACC added Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Memorial Day to the list of holidays that do not collect parking meter fees. The list already included Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. ACC will also remove any parking meters at designated handicap spaces downtown.
Infrastructure: ACC unanimously agreed to replace the Tallahassee Road Bridge. The project will be paid through TSPLOST. ACC has contracted CSX Transportation Inc. for an engineering agreement for the building. The ACC also approved a project that would allow The Mark apartment complex to add an additional block of apartments next to the Firefly Trail, intersecting East Broad Street. The project also includes a renovation of the Firefly Trail adjacent to The Mark with things such as additional shrubbery and a larger sidewalk.
Car boot policy: In June 2018, Mayor Nancy Denson assigned the Government Operations Committee to review the car booting policy for ACC. After staff researched metro Atlanta cities, the GOC originally recommended banning booting and vehicle immobilization measures on private property, but Mayor Denson returned that recommendation to the committee in early October.
The committee spent two weeks speaking to Athens property owners and consulting other universities’ community officials on their booting policies and chose to move forward with a model that mirrors the University of Alabama’s home city, Tuscaloosa. The new booting policy includes requiring an annual permit for car booting employees and business owners, enforcing a $50 cap on removing a boot and, per District 6 Commissioner Jerry NeSmith’s request, requiring employees to wear a standardized uniform.
Downtown building demolition: Athens First United Methodist Church withdrew its request for a Special Use Permit that would have been used to build a parking lot where the office building is on the corner of West Hancock Avenue and Lumpkin Street. The church’s withdrawal came a month after the Planning Commission recommended denying the church the permit.
NeSmith made it clear, however, that even though Athens First is withdrawing its request for this permit, it still may obtain a demolition permit in mid-January to knock down this building, even with no future plan for the space. Bret Thurmond, the engineer representing Athens First, had previously stated in the Planning Commission meeting that these spaces would have gone unenforced and would have been open for public use.