COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog Topic: Government

  • In the Loop: Commission Approves Downtown Condo Tower Over Community Opposition

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    A rendering of the 155 Mitchell Street development.

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted to approve a rezoning for a towering upscale condominium development near downtown Tuesday night despite concerns raised by citizens about the scale, design, price and environmental impact of the project.

    The development, at 155 Mitchell Street behind the Steeplechase condominiums, will include 256 bedrooms, mostly in two-bedroom, two-bath units, on top of three stories of parking and one level of office space. Situated on a steeply sloping lot, it will measure seven stories on one side and 10 on the other, barely coming in under ACC's 100-foot height limit when measured from the midpoint.

    Several dozen speakers opposed the rezoning during the five-hour meeting, in addition to more than 100 who emailed comments in opposition to commissioners. They argued that the ACC government should be encouraging affordable housing downtown, rather than housing aimed at wealthy retirees, and raised concerns that the development would wind up as mostly empty gameday housing or student housing.

    Activist group Athens for Everyone opposed the development as "a giveaway to those who already have enough" on behalf of its 1,075 members.

    "We want to be a community that meets the needs of all of our residents," including the 38 percent in poverty, A4E's Adam Lassila said.

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  • In the Loop: Athens Rep. Chuck Williams Named to Forestry Post

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    Last week, Flagpole blogger Lee Becker reported that state Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) was in the running for Georgia forestry commissioner.

    Gov. Nathan Deal made it official today, appointing Williams to the post. Said Deal's office in a news release:

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  • In the Loop: Podcast: Bannon and Breitbart

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    This week, co-host Baynard Woods talks with Wil Hylton, whose New York Times Magazine story "Down the Breitbart Hole" came out just two days before Steve Bannon, booted from the White House, returned to the site. And then Bannon called Wil...

    Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, produced and engineered by Calvin Perry for The Center for Emerging Media. Theme music by Ruby Fulton and the Rhymes with Orchestra. 

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  • In the Loop: Georgia Republicans Can't Seem to Bring Themselves to Condemn White Supremacists

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    "Six of one, half dozen of the other..."

    President Donald Trump has been roundly criticized for his milquetoast statement on the riot in Charlottesville, VA yesterday—during which white supremacist thugs killed a counterprotesterand injured dozens more, and two police officers died in a helicopter crash—blaming the violence on "many sides" rather than a particular group of bigots who happen to be his core supporters.

    But he's not the only one who refuses to identify the people who committed the violence or their ideology. Several Republican Georgia congressmen have skirted the issue themselves, condemning violence and hatred in general terms while acting like they're things that just sort of ... happen, instead of things that people do.

    Call them the alt-right, white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Nazis. Call them whatever you want. But call them out.

    Here's Sen. David Perdue, one of Trump's staunchest supporters:

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  • In the Loop: Protestors Raise a Ruckus at Doug Collins Town Hall

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    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville)

    Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Collins—who represents a sliver of North Athens—held a town hall meeting in his hometown of Gainesville yesterday, and although the district is one of the most conservative in the country, Democratic protesters were out in force.

    The Gainesville Times was there:

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  • In the Loop: Commission Approves T-SPLOST List, Milledge Circle Historic District Study, Chase Street Reboot

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The future Firefly Trail.

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a $109.5 million list of transportation projects on Tuesday, unchanged from a work session last month.

    That means completion of the Firefly Trail will be fully funded at $16.8 million, allowing it to be completed all the way to Winterville if voters approve a 1 percent sales tax for transportation in November.

    T-SPLOST would also fund road repaving, extending the North Oconee River Greenway, new sidewalks and bike lanes, hybrid buses and bus stops, transit service up Highway 29, replacing an aging Tallassee Road bridge, and a roundabout at Milledge Avenue and Whitehall Road.

    The commission also:

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  • In the Loop: Chase Street Road Diet Will Be Reversed—for Now

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    Removing a lane from Chase Street has caused traffic to back up at the Loop.

    Athens-Clarke County officials said Wednesday they will restripe part of Chase Street between the Loop and Newton Bridge Road, returning it to four lanes.

    But that may not be the last change to the street, according to ACC Transportation and Public Works Director Drew Raessler. A consultant hired to update the county's bike and pedestrian master plan will produce a Complete Streets study of the corridor in November.

    "We can't simply go back and say 'that's it,' in my opinion," Raessler said.

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  • In the Loop: Oconee County Considers Plan to Demolish Old Jail, Expand Courthouse

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    The old jail in downtown Watkinsville currently sits vacant.

    Oconee County commissioners are considering a plan to tear down the old, unused jail tucked at the rear of the existing courthouse in Watkinsville and to build an addition to the courthouse where the old jail now sits.

    Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell announced the proposal at the end of a town Hall meeting held by the commissioners Thursday night at the Community Center in Veterans Park.

    Eighteen people other than the commissioners attended the meeting, which covered a range of topics, including the Animal Shelter, Mars Hill Road, the proposed widening of U.S. 441 and the possibility of a property tax rollback.

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  • In the Loop: Athens Protesters, Congressional Candidates Rail Against Republican Health Care Plan

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele

    A protest against Senate Republicans' health care bill drew more than 100 people to the Arch Monday evening, as well as two potential challengers to U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.

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  • In the Loop: Athens Rep. Jody Hice Wants to Carry a Gun Everywhere

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    Photo Credit: screencap via YouTube

    "I said, don't touch my truck."

    If U.S. Rep. Jody Hice ever does hold a town-hall meeting in Athens, you might want to think twice about asking him any pointed questions.

    Or, you might find Hice has something of his own to point—a gun.

    On Wednesday, Hice announced that, in the wake of the shooting at the annual congressional baseball game last week, he's introduced the Congressional Personal Safety Act, which would allow congressmen to carry a firearm anywhere in the country, except the U.S. Capitol. (Some of those hearings can get a little testy, I guess.)

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