Home City City Council discusses right of way permits and the future of the farmers market at commission meeting

City Council discusses right of way permits and the future of the farmers market at commission meeting

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Athens City Council. Photo by Zachary Richards

At the body’s bi-weekly meeting, City Council discussed new right of way permits through a Columbus law firm and the location of the city’s farmers market.

City Council met Monday to discuss a new process for distributing right of way permits to infrastructure companies and the future of the local farmers market.

City Council began with a presentation from Lindsey Miller, representing the Columbus law firm Ice-Miller LLP, regarding how the city should hand out right of way permits. Right of way permits are given to companies for the to right to do work on public land.

The proposed right of way ordinance would require providers — entities that build and maintain public services such as streets and power lines — to receive special permits that will be up for renewal every seven years.

Ice-Miller has been working with City Council for years to craft a new ordinance to regulate the right of way permits, which will be based off of ordinances in Columbus.

It would also hand over control of the right of way system to a new organization endorsed by Ice-Miller. Councilmember Jeffrey Risner expressed concern over handing over City Council’s right of way power to another organization.

Director of Public Works Andy Stone defended the new plan, saying that more entities will be using Athens’ right of way systems in the future, and that it will be too overwhelming for City Council to run on its own.

“It’s not creating a right of way, it’s how the businesses fit in the system,” Stone said.

The proposed ordinance would also change the city’s fee system to be based on how much room the providers take up. Additionally, it would create a new system to deal with providers who don’t communicate well with the city or follow its ordinances.

City Council also discussed the future of the city’s farmers market. Leslie Schaller from ACEnet, a local business incubation organization, gave a presentation on the potential future of the farmers market in the city.

Schaller named the Project for Public Spaces and the Farmers Markets Coalition as organizations that could provide future funding for the farmers market.

Schaller said that the city’s biggest priority should be to create a permanent location, not just for the farmers market, but for markets and festivals. A lot of people get to the market on their bikes, she said, so Schaller proposed a location close to the bike trail.

Although she has been working on the project since 2004, Shaller said that she still has confidence her ideas will come to fruition.

“There is a great resilience within the market … it is a beloved institution,” she said.

In other business, City Council discussed a new sign on E. Park Drive, a $100,000 grant for a new diesel exhaust system, and a new credit card system to comply with state law.

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