2021 Local Ordinances

Ordinances / Resolutions of Note

  1. Approve Apartments Near Airport
  2. Give Public Land for a New Parking Deck
  3. Approve Apartments off Lexington Road
  4. Approve Taser contract
  5. Approve the Linnentown Resolution
  6. Extend the Firefly Trail to Winterville
  7. Fund the Athens Eats Together program
  8. Delay Project Reset
  9. Approve FY 2022 Budget
  10. Approve Official Homeless Camp
  11. Establish Local Anti-Discrimination Protections
  12. Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine for ACC Gov Employees
  13. Install Downtown Public Restroom
  14. Fund non-police crisis response team
  15. Change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  16. Approve AFDC to Run Eviction Prevention Program
  17. Establish Law Enforcement Oversight Board
  18. Establish Human Relations Commission

Approve Apartments Near Airport

The commission rejected a developer’s request to build apartments within the airport’s overlay zone, something that requires special approval. Despite offering to make twelve of the 112 units in the proposed complex affordable, and despite an amendment by Commissioners Parker and Houle to require extra sound proofing, the permit was denied. Commissioners voting no were concerned about safety issues or simply thought they could get a better deal from another developer.

Voting yes on approval: Davenport, Parker, Link, Denson, Houle
Voting no: Wright, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby, Girtz
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Parker

Failed on January 6, 2021

Give Public Land for a New Parking Deck

In a joint deal between the local government, Athens Downtown Development Authority (ADDA), Classic Center and Landmark Properties, the commission considered granting land to the ADDA for a parking lot in-between Hickory, Willow and East Broad streets. ADDA would lease the land to Landmark Properties, who would build the deck and pay the ADDA $150,000 per year, which would go to the Classic Center.

Commissioner Denson added in an opt-out clause for the local government, and then made a motion to hand over the land to the ADDA, in anticipation of unspecified “community benefits” that have apparently been negotiated in private. However, a majority of commissioners chose to deny the request, and the entire deal was rejected.

Voting yes to give the land: Parker, Denson, Houle, Edwards
Voting no: Davenport, Link, Wright, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Denson

After this vote failed, there was a vote to deny the ADDA’s request. That vote passed 9-1, with Commissioner Edwards as the lone no vote.

Failed on January 6, 2021

Approve Apartments off Lexington Road

When a developer came to the commission with a rezoning request to build a large, 500-unit apartment complex off Lexington road, Commissioner Mariah Parker saw an opportunity. She asked the developer to include electric car charging stations and to set aside 15% of the units for affordable, workforce housing.

Despite the Planning commission recommending that the development be rejected, and despite opposition from neighbors, the vote to rezone barely managed to pass with advocacy from Parker. It also took a rare vote from Mayor Kelly Girtz, who broke a 5-5 commission tie in favor of the development. You can read more about this vote in the Flagpole article here.

Voting yes to give approval: Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Girtz
Voting no: Davenport, Wright, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Parker

Passed on February 9, 2021

Approve Taser Contract

As ACCPD’s contact with Axon Enterprise, Inc. for Tasers ran out, the ACC Commission decided to sign a new Taser contact and merge that with the already existing contract for body cameras (which are provided by the same company). Commissioners Jesse Houle and Mariah Parker objected to the idea of continuing to arm police with Tasers and to the expense of doing so. Other commissioners disagreed and passed the contract with a clause letting them opt out at any time going forward.

Voting yes to approve Tasers: Davenport, Link, Wright, Denson, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Parker, Houle
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on February 16, 2021

Pass the Linnentown Resolution

The mayor and commission has passed the long-awaited Linnentown resolution, recognizing and apologizing for acts of “institutionalized white racism and terrorism” committed by the city of Athens and the University of Georgia against former Linnentown residents during the period of urban renewal.

Voting yes to pass the resolution: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Parker

Passed on February 16, 2021

Extend the Firefly Trail to Winterville on original route

The commission considered three alternate routes for the Firefly Trail in its approach to Winterville. The shortest and straightest route along the railbed was eventually chosen despite objections from some property owners in the proposed path.

Voting yes to extend the trail on the original route: Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: Davenport, Wright, Thornton
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on March 2, 2021

Fund the Athens Eats Together Program

Athens Eats Together is a food-assistance program run by the Athens Community Council on Aging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contract to provide free meals to Athenians in need ran out at the end of January 2021. With this vote, the commission extended the contract another two months.

The vote was strangely contentious with emotions running high towards the end of a nearly six hour meeting. Wright voted no on the proposal, but did support an alternate proposal to provide the funding put forward by Hamby. Davenport voted no on both proposals.

Voting yes to fund the program: Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Davenport, Wright
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Denson

Passed on March 2, 2021

Delay Project Reset

APN explores the background behind this vote in detail here. In short, Project Reset is a program designed to prevent evictions which three commissioners (Allison Wright, Ovita Thornton and Mike Hamby) attempted to delay multiple times. This was their final attempt to stall the program, and they were joined by Commissioner Patrick Davenport for this particular effort, which failed 4-6.

Voting yes to delay Project Reset: Davenport, Wright, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Thornton

Failed on May 18, 2021

Approve FY 2022 Budget

The ACC Commission passed the fiscal year 2022 budget, which includes zero-fare transit, $15 an hour for all ACC workers, jobs training programs, support for the Athens-Area Homeless Shelter and alternative crisis response teams, in a 7-3 vote.

Three commissioners objected to the way the budget handled the subject of pay compression after raising all employees to $15 an hour. Read more about the budget here.

Voting yes to approve the budget: Davenport, Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers
Voting no: Wright, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Parker

Passed on June 15, 2021

Approve Official Homeless Camp

Railroad company CSX was preparing to evict a large group of people camping on their property when Bigger Vision, a homeless shelter, was forced to close due to COVID-19. The commission, seeing a rise in the number of unhoused people, decided they needed to help stabilize the situation. In consultation with the Athens Homeless Coalition, the commission agreed to offer a parcel of unused public land to a local homeless services provider for the creation of an officially-approved homeless camp. You can read more about this ordinance here.

Voting yes to approve the camp: Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Myers, Girtz
Voting no: Davenport, Wright, Edwards, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on August 3, 2021

Establish Local Anti-Discrimination Protections

After years of advocacy by groups like the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, the commission established a local ordinance to provide increased protection for those who may experience discrimination. The ordinance protects a wide range of classes, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability and more. You can read more about this ordinance here.

Voting yes to establish the protections: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Wright

Passed on August 3, 2021

Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine for ACC Gov Employees

Fearing that COVID-19 case numbers would continue to rise as the Delta variant swept through Georgia, the commission decided to mandate that all local government employees show proof that they had received a COVID-19 vaccination.

However, the policy as drafted by staff ended up steering away from actually requiring the vaccine and instead focused on incentives to try and get all employees vaccinated. On Sept. 7, the commission voted to approve that more lenient policy.

Voting yes to mandate the vaccine: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Edwards

Passed on August 3, 2021

Install Downtown Public Restroom

One recommendation from the 2016 Downtown Public Health and Safety Study was for a public restroom downtown. The commission decided on the “Portland Loo” concept, which was controversial. Some commissioners objected to its price tag of $314,000, despite it being the cheapest option if you include estimated maintenance expenses for a period of 20 years.

Voting yes to install restroom: Davenport, Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers
Voting no: Wright, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on October 5, 2021

Fund non-police crisis response team

Responding to calls to reimagine public safety after the George Floyd protests of 2020, the commission approved an agreement with Advantage Behavioral to fund an alternative crisis response team pilot program.

Voting yes to install restroom: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on October 5, 2021

Change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day

Commissioner Denson crafted a resolution in collaboration with the UGA Institute of Native American Studies to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The resolution recognizes that the “Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), and other Indigenous Peoples” have “endured centuries of cruelty, exploitation and genocide,” citing the need for the local government to oppose “systematic racism” as a first step towards making amends.

Voting yes to change the name of Columbus Day: Davenport, Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Edwards, Myers, Thornton
Voting no: none
Absent: Wright, Hamby

Proposal made by: Denson

Passed on October 5, 2021

Approve AFDC to Run Eviction Prevention Program

When ACC staff put out a request for proposals to run Athens’ version of the Project Reset eviction prevention program, only one applicant responded. This applicant, Athenian First Development Corporation, had no experience in providing services or in running a similar program. ACC staff recommended denial of the contract and reissuing the request for proposals for a longer period, but commissioners decided to grant AFDC the contract so they could begin the program as soon as possible.

Voting yes to approve AFDC: Davenport, Parker, Link, Denson, Houle, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Wright
Absent: Myers

Edwards was acting mayor and did not vote on this item.

Proposal made by: Denson

Passed on October 19, 2021

Establish Law Enforcement Oversight Board

The Public Safety Oversight Board (formerly known as the Police Oversight Board) would receive complaints about alleged police misconduct and review ACCPD internal investigations. They would also engage the public, holding regular meetings and would make recommendations about police policy to the mayor and commission. Their goal would be to provide accountability for local law enforcement and therefore help to improve community trust. Check out this article for more information.

Voting yes to establish the board: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Houle, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: Thornton

Proposal made by: Hamby

Passed on November 2, 2021

Establish a Human Relations Commission

A human relations commission is an advisory body that will act as a bridge between the community and the government. It will encourage dialog around equity and inclusion in Athens, both within the body itself and across the broader community. It will also assist residents with discrimination complaints and provide support as they seek redress. Check out this article for more information.

Voting yes to establish the commission: Davenport, Parker, Link, Wright, Denson, Houle, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: none
Absent: Thornton

Proposal made by: Wright

Passed on November 2, 2021