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Athens debates zoning ordinance

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A proposed new zoning ordinance for the city is supposed to be more user friendly and address issues like requiring new mobile home parks to include storm shelters.

It also has new districts, like a townhouse district and duplex district.

But some want the ordinance to address even more.

Jefferson Street resident Lawson Lee told the Athens Planning Commission on Tuesday that he wants the ordinance to address rental property, such as how many families can rent a home
and not allowing those families to park their cars in the yard.

Other concerns

Athens City Councilwoman Milly Caudle wants the ordinance to be less restrictive on loft apart-
ments in downtown buildings.

Caudle also wants it to include a tree ordinance to protect ancient trees.

Developer Billy Christopher said the ordinance should address condominiums.

"If you think they aren't coming to Athens, you're wrong," said Christopher, who has built condos on the Tennessee River in the county.

Christopher said the ordinance also is too restrictive on developers, such as requiring a minimum of 100 acres for a planned-unit development and not allowing smaller lot sizes.

"That's why you've had a huge explosion in the county and not the city," Christopher said.

"With the restrictions, a half-acre lot would be $65,000 or more in the city."

Approval process

A committee will evaluate the suggestions and present the ordinance to the commission again.

The commission then will send it to the council for a public hearing and approval.

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