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Proposals for Athens zoning to allow loft apartments, bed and breakfast

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — When Athens passes its new zoning ordinance, you could live in a loft apartment, or open a bed and breakfast, things that are not allowed now.

The Athens City Council expects to vote on the new ordinance Dec. 10.

City officials, developers and industrial representatives have worked with KPS Consulting to revamp the ordinance that was last updated in the 1970s.

Public Works Director James Rich said the new ordinance will address three major areas: residential, commercial and industrial.

For example, in residential, the new ordinance includes zoning for traditional neighborhoods, such as Providence in Huntsville, and mixed development, such as Bridge Street Town Centre in Huntsville that mixes residential and commercial.

Residential changes also will allow loft apartments for the downtown and general business district, and bed and breakfast businesses and boarding houses.

The most notable change for commercial will be the requirement of new businesses to use brick or split face facades.

In the industrial arena, the changes will allow planned office distribution usage around U.S. 31 at Interstate 65, and the new interchange under construction on Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road at Interstate 65.

"We also want to keep out what we call dirty industries," Rich said.

He said examples of dirty industries would be a gas refinery or fertilizer plant.

The new ordinance also will set standards for the Zoning Board of Adjustments to use when determining a hardship case and allowing a variance.

"We're not rezoning anybody's property," Rich said. "We are just updating the ordinance to meet today's needs."

The proposed ordinance is available on the city's Web site at: partments/communitydev/CommDev.htm.

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