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The ACC Mayor and Commission will vote on inclusionary zoning in April

The Mayor and Commission met at City Hall for a meeting on March 15, 2022.

An amendment to local ordinances could bring more affordable housing to Athens-Clarke County by incentivizing developers. Next month, the ACC Mayor and Commission will hold a final vote on the voluntary inclusionary zoning policy, and they discussed the potential ordinance change at an agenda setting meeting last night.

“Intentionally the way this was written and drafted is so we can have something that can move forward with the intent that it can be revisited in a year and possibly again after that," said Commissioner Tim Denson. "Just [for us] to be able to see how effective it’s being.”

Multi-family housing developers could be eligible for up to three incentives if they apply for the program — density bonuses, waived parking requirements and lowered required square footage for ground floor retail in downtown Athens. In return, developers dedicate 5-15% of housing units for people at or below 60% or 80% of average median income. The affordable units would look the same as the others and offer similar variety.

Parking waivers would only be applicable for developments within 1,500 feet of a public transit stop.

Commissioner Jesse Houle, while in favor of inclusionary zoning, made a recommendation to decrease parking waivers for all future developments near transit stops in favor of less “auto-centric” construction projects. That’s a potential proposal for the Planning Commission on its own, but not before the commission’s vote on inclusionary zoning in April.

Mayor Kelly Girtz also noted the potential for inclusionary zoning to benefit students. At the University of Georgia, 15.7% of undergraduate students enrolled during the 2018-19 school year received Federal Pell Grants, a need-based award for low-income students.