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District 2’s commissioner candidates hold public forum

Presbyterian Homes of Georgia

The two candidates vying for the District 2 seat on the Athens-Clarke County Commission both promised they would focus on alleviating the county’s housing shortage.
Former Clarke County School Board of Education member Kirrena Gallagher said Athens needs more affordable housing. While supportive of affordable housing measures, Gallagher also talked about possible alternatives to affordable housing if legislation cannot be passed.
Gallagher’s opponent, former District 3 commissioner Melissa Link, spoke about her regret that commissioners last year failed to pass an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance. That measure would have allowed homeowners to build and rent out guesthouses.
Unlike the ADU ordinance which has been tabled by the Mayor and Commission, commissioners are currently discussing the creation of a 78.4-acre housing and commercial development on the site of the Georgia Square Mall. Candidates were asked by a member of the audience when county officials and developers will sign a community benefits agreement (CBA), a document outlining what county officials and developers will bring to the project.
Gallagher said county officials need to hear from affected communities when creating a community agreement.
Link said CBAs require county officials and developers to compromise on what they plan for the mall redevelopment.
District 2’s special election is set for Mar. 21. Advance voting begins on Feb. 27.