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Commissioners to debate Bray St. development

Plan for the possible new apartment on Bray St.
Plan for the possible new apartment on Bray St.

One item newly-elected commissioner, Melissa Link, and her colleagues are expected to discuss tomorrow is a proposed new development on Bray Street in North Athens.

The 3.6 acre parcel currently undeveloped could become host to a pair of apartment buildings targeted towards Athens workforce. The 46 proposed apartments would provide a mixture of one, two and three bedroom units with 86 bedrooms and all.

Athens Clarke County staff have expressed concerns that the property doesn't seem to connect directly to Bray St., meaning that developers would have to work out an agreement to use an existing driveway for residents to access the property if the development is approved.

Still, ACC planning director, Brad Griffin, told commissioners last month that the planning commission broadly approved of the idea and recommended that commissioners do the same.

"It felt like it was very consistent with future land use in the area zoning generally in the area that adds housing on an appropriate infill location, it is very close to many services," Griffin said. "It lacks connectivity that we just talked about and access but it was recognized by the the applicants agent that these are issues that must be resolved prior to site development."

Although the property is designed for low income housing, and developers will be seeking a federal tax credit to provide that housing, District three's Tiffany Taylor was still skeptical at a March 21 agenda setting meeting.

"It is accessible for residents as far as being on the transit line as well as having retail and a grocery store as well as, but I just have to have more information," Taylor said. "Because we can say yeah, and they can say low housing but then you know, when stuff gets worked out, it doesn't always end that way, so for me, I'm going to need more information as far as particulars."

But District 9's Ovita Thorton noted that a CVS in the area had closed recently and said she was worried that the whole area could decline if there's no development going on over there.

"That whole in of the off of North Avenue is going to deteriorate very fast," Thorton said.

Also in front of commissioners on Tuesday is a proposal which would hand out $500,000 in federal ARPA money to six local nonprofits for youth development and violence prevention programs this summer.

While commissioners agreed to place the item on their consent agenda where non controversial legislation normally goes, District nine's Thorton expressed her hope that the programs the money supports will address a growing gang problem in the county.

"That is our problem now is drugs and gangs and we have to deter kids away from both and not just do the fun things," Thorton said. "Well, fun things because that's how you also learn. but I think we're sometimes scared about using that word and it's happening every day in my community is happening every day."

Tomorrow's commission meeting begins at 6pm at City Hall and will be streamed live on the county's YouTube channel.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.