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Morning Headlines: Planning commission gives thumbs-down to massive townhome project

The Athens-Clarke County Planning Commission has recommended denial of a rezoning request to allow a massive residential development at 505 and 515 Olympic Park Drive. The change would be from industrial to mixed density residential.

The project calls for the construction of 271 attached townhouse style dwellings which adds up to 681 bedrooms. Staff in the planning department expressed concerns about the residential project and how it could deter future development in the area because potential developers might be concerned about negatively impacting future residents.

The full commission will have a chance to see a presentation on the project at its agenda setting meeting July 19th with a vote at its regular session August 2nd.

Absentee ballot provisions in controversial voting law upheld

A provision of Georgia’s new voting law will remain in place following a ruling by a U.S. District Judge.

The AJC reports advocacy groups had challenged part of the law that prohibits the mailing of multiple absentee ballot applications to voters. The ruling by U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee leaves in place restrictions on sending absentee ballot request forms after voters were swamped with repeated solicitations during the 2020 election year.

Some voters complained that they kept receiving letters imploring them to apply for absentee ballots, even after they had already done so. The decision comes as several lawsuits are challenging the voting law passed last year which also limits ballot drop boxes, requires additional ID to vote absentee, allows state takeover of county election boards, and bans third parties from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.

While Boulee rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to immediately enjoin the law, the underlying suit will continue through the court process.

Abrams calls for more tax rebates

Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams is calling for another round of payments to Georgia taxpayers.

Stacey Abrams suggests Republican Gov. Brian Kemp should use $2.4 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money to act now. She wants payments of $500 to married couples who file income taxes jointly, $375 for single people with dependents and $250 for single people without dependents.

That’s the same structure as a tax rebate paid this spring that Kemp championed. Kemp spokesperson Tate Mitchell mocked Abrams for “copycat proposals” of Kemp's ideas.

Mitchell said Kemp will consult with legislative leaders on spending what could be more than $7 billion in state surpluses, plus federal money.

GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor surges to the top of the field in fundraising

The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor has outraised his Democratic and Libertarian opponents by a wide margin.

Burt Jones, a state senator from Jackson, received about $657,000 in campaign contributions during the most recent filing period. Charlie Bailey, the Democratic nominee, reported raising $65,000 during the same period. Libertarian candidate Ryan Graham reported raising about $6,000 for his campaign.

Alexia Ridley joined WUGA as Television and Radio News Anchor and Reporter in 2013. When WUGA TV concluded operations, she became the primary Reporter for WUGA Radio. Alexia came to Athens from Macon where she served as the News Director and show host for WGXA TV. She's a career journalist and Savannah native hailing from the University of Michigan. However, Alexia considers herself an honorary UGA DAWG!