2024 Local Ordinances

Ordinances / Resolutions of Note

  1. Fund the Athens Homeless Coalition / Salvation Army
  2. Raise the Stormwater Fee
  3. Approve Leisure Services Master Plan
  4. Regulate Short-Term Rentals
  5. Block Townhomes in Green Acres
  6. Approve Low-Barrier Homeless Shelter
  7. Overturn Restrictions on Public Comment
  8. Fund Athens Achieves
  9. Approve FY 2025 Budget

Fund the Athens Homeless Coalition / Salvation Army

The ACC Commission approved $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding for the Athens Homeless Coalition and other agencies to improve their capacity to provide services for people experiencing homelessness in Athens. The disbursement included $550,000 for the Athens Salvation Army Center, circumventing the normal request-for-proposals process.

For more information, check out APN’s article here.

Voting yes to fund the Athens Homeless Coalition: Davenport, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Link, Houle, Myers
Absent: none
Recusal: Culpepper

Proposal made by: Fisher

Passed on January 2, 2024

Raise the Stormwater Fee

As recommended by the ACC Stormwater Advisory Committee, the commission raised the stormwater fee from $3.50 to $4.73 a month for the average homeowner. The vote also locked in fee increases of 3.75% a year for five years and 2% a year for three additional years.

The revenue is used to pay for stormwater utility operations. It does not cover capital needs for the utility to replace failing culverts and pipes underneath roads all over Athens. The fee hadn’t been raised since 2005.

Voting yes to raise the stormwater fee: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: Thornton
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on January 2, 2024

Approve Leisure Services Master Plan

The commission also selected a consultant to create a new comprehensive plan for ACC Leisure Services in a 6-5 vote. The commission was evenly split, with Thornton, Hamby, Wright, Fisher and Culpepper voting no. Mayor Kelly Girtz broke the tie in favor of approving Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker, LLC to create the plan.

Commissioners who opposed the master plan did so primarily because of the $400,000 cost.

Voting yes to approve the master plan: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Houle, Myers, Girtz
Voting no: Wright, Fisher, Culpepper, Thornton, Hamby
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on January 2, 2024

Regulate Short-Term Rentals

The commission passed strong regulation that requires short-term rentals in single-family neighborhoods to be operated by someone who lives there most of the time. However, this legislation was immediately sent to the commission’s Government Operations Committee where it is sure to be weakened so that it has a better chance of standing up in court.

Read APN’s article on this topic here.

Voting yes to regulate short-term rentals: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: none
Recusal: Wright
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on February 6, 2024

Block Townhomes in Green Acres

A proposed group of townhouse-style homes off Barnett Shoals in the Green Acres neighborhood drew such fierce opposition from nearby residents that the developer was forced to withdraw the proposal just hours before the scheduled vote. That didn’t stop a legion of neighborhood residents from showing up and demanding the proposal’s permanent defeat.

Commissioner Jesse Houle asked that the developer be allowed to withdraw their proposal and submit a new one, but other commissioners voted to block the proposal totally.

Read APN’s article on this topic here.

Voting yes to block the townhomes: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: Houle
Not voting: Culpepper (absent), Thornton (acting as mayor pro-tem)

Proposal made by: Myers

Passed on April 2, 2024

Approve Low-Barrier Homeless Shelter

The Athens-Clarke County Commission allocated almost $3 million to various homeless service agencies to implement their strategic plan to reduce and prevent homelessness. Half of the funding will go towards a new low-barrier homeless shelter designed to accept residents turned away by other shelters.

Commissioner Patrick Davenport opposed the plan mostly because it also funded the Above and Beyond home care cooperative founded by the Economic Justice Coalition. Davenport did not oppose the low-barrier shelter aspect of the plan.

Read APN’s article on this topic here.

Voting yes to approve the shelter: Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Culpepper, Myers, Hamby
Voting no: Davenport
Not voting: Thornton (acting as mayor pro-tem)

Proposal made by: Taylor

Passed on May 7, 2024

Overturn Restrictions on Public Comment

The commission was preparing to adopt new rules to ban protest signs inside the commission chamber, to limit public comment to two minutes per speaker, down from three minutes, and to require those wanting to speak on a topic not on the commission’s agenda to sign up in advance of the meeting. But when it came time to vote, most commissioners disregarded a previous compromise they had made on this topic and shot down their proposed new rules.

Read APN’s article on this topic here.

Voting yes to approve the shelter: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Fisher, Myers, Thornton
Voting no: Wright, Houle, Hamby
Absent: Culpepper

Proposal made by: Davenport

Passed on May 22, 2024

Fund Athens Achieves

The commission voted to approve a $1.9 million in seed capital for workforce development plan put forward by the Athens-Area Chamber of Commerce called ‘Athens Achieves.’ The plan was funded using federal American Rescue Plan dollars the commission had allocated to workforce support and business development.

Since the local government is also crafting a workforce development plan, some commissioners wanted to wait until that was finished before approving Athens Achieves. Enough commissioners voted no that Mayor Kelly Girtz was called on to break the tie.

Voting yes to fund Athens Achieves: Davenport, Wright, Fisher, Culpepper, Hamby, Girtz
Voting no: Link, Taylor, Houle, Myers, Thornton
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Culpepper

Passed on June 5, 2024

Approve FY 2025 Budget

Commissioner Jesse Houle drafted the local governments fiscal year 2025 budget with some help from Commissioners Dexter Fisher and Mike Hamby. They came to an agreement on a proposal to fund the local government’s affordable housing investment strategy and several other priorities without raising property tax rates. Commissioner John Culpepper voted no because he wanted to lower taxes.

Voting yes to approve the budget: Davenport, Link, Taylor, Wright, Fisher, Houle, Myers, Thornton, Hamby
Voting no: Culpepper
Absent: none

Proposal made by: Houle

Passed on June 5, 2024