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Athens City Council amends Uptown zoning laws

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Monday's City Council session. Photo by Emily Zeiler.

Athens City Council passed an ordinance Monday evening to rezone portions of the Uptown area to not require that business reserve parking spaces for patrons, but businesses can maintain current spaces for customers if they choose.

Athens City Planner Paul Logue said the newly zoned area will result in a roughly 240-parking-space deficit that will allow the areas to be compliant with city law.

Councilmember Patrick McGee asked Logue if multiple businesses that operate at different times of the day would be able to reserve the same parking spaces for patrons at their respective operating times to help reduce the need for the spaces.

“The current code doesn’t allow for shared parking requirements unless businesses compromise,” Logue said.

Councilmember Chris Fahl said the zoning code required an update.

Joan Kraynanski, a former member of the Athens Board of Zoning Appeals, was against the zoning change.

“It’s a B3 since it is adjacent to neighborhoods, and I think it needs to stay that way,” she said, referring to a B3 zone, which is a business district designed for a larger consumer population than other business districts like B2 or B1 zones.

Rezoned areas include: Court Street, East and West Carpenter Streets, East and West State Streets and Fern Street.

City Council also continued its discussion about the possibility of Athens city helping to finance the Bailey’s Trail System project.

Mayor Steve Patterson presented information by Kirby Date, a community planning expert at Cleveland State University. Date believes Quantified Ventures, the investment firm that’s managing the trail system’s financing, underestimated the numbers of potential mountain bikers the trail will draw annually. 

Quantified Ventures previously projected that the Baileys is expected to draw between 125,000 and 235,000 mountain bikers to the area per year, according to an earlier report from The New Political.

Mike Molton, who cycled many trails in the United States, told the council that he has met cyclists in other states who are excited for the construction of Baileys, despite the trail not being completed.

Kelly Shaw, an Athens resident, asked the body to pass legislation to fund the project.

“I see this project as a powerful and unifying opportunity to embrace our community’s strength and character,” she said.

James Schultz, who is an avid cyclist, said: “Cycling is in the blood of this town. That is why I would like to stay here and retire here to ride those trails.

Members of the council will attend a public tour of the Baileys from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 4.

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