Commissioners speak of traffic calming, Christian home for new mothers
Ask any Athens-Clarke County Commissioner, and they’ll likely tell you that one of the most common complaints they get is that people are driving too fast in their neighborhoods. The commission is now considering changing the way the county decides where to install traffic calming measures such as speed bumps that force drivers to slow down.
âWe’ve made major improvements in making it easier for a community to be scrutinized,â said Commissioner Allison Wright, who chairs the legislative review committee that drafted the bill.
Commissioners have long debated how to establish criteria and objectively prioritize traffic calming projects on residential streets. This has led to some frustration in the past, with some residents – and commissioners – wondering why other neighborhoods are making the cuts and theirs are not.
The solution, after nearly a year of discussion on the LRC, is to lower the criteria for consideration while adding subjective elements. Under the proposed rules, thresholds will be lowered from 500 vehicles per day to 300, and an 85th percentile speed of 30 miles per hour, rather than 32.5 (meaning 15% of drivers travel more than 30 miles per hour). In addition, traffic engineers could take into account the width of the street, the lack of sidewalks, the proximity of houses to the road, the volume of traffic and the proximity of schools.
For consideration, 65% of all homeowners, tenants and homeowners away from the neighborhood must agree to any changes. Since the program primarily benefits those who live on the streets, residents are required to fund up to half the cost.
The proposed changes will especially help low-income and largely rental neighborhoods that are often marginalized, said Commissioner Melissa Link. âThese neighborhoods have been really underserved by this traffic management program,â she said.
Commissioner Tim Denson said several neighborhoods in his district in northwest Athens were trying to participate in the program. âSometimes there were obvious problems with traffic in the neighborhood, but these very specific criteria did not fit all the boxes,â he said.
The committee is due to vote on the proposal at its May 4 voting meeting.
Also briefly discussed at the April 20 meeting: A scrapped effort to build a mobile home park in northeast Athens for displaced local residents has found new life as a community of a serving religious organization mothers and children “at risk”.
A 17-acre plot off Freeman Drive was once slated to become a new home for People of Hope, a group of mostly Hispanic immigrants who lived in a mobile home park that was sold for new development in 2002. The project 41 mobile homes and a community center were approved by the county in 2005, but aside from some leveling and infrastructure work, it has stalled due to a lack of funding despite several grants and six-figure loans, including at least one from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. eventually recovered due to failure to meet deadlines. âIn the end, this project never came to fruition, and it has been inactive since then,â said planning director Brad Griffin.
Tax records show People of Hope returned the land to First American Bank and Trust in 2014, when it was about to be seized. A group called Hope 139 House then bought it and are now planning 12 cabins, a bunkhouse and a community room there.
âHope 139 House, not affiliated with People of Hope, sees this project as an opportunity to restore abandoned property and bring the site to life,â according to the group’s candidacy for the CCA planning department. According to his website, the group is aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention but is open to all mothers who are expecting or have children under 8 weeks old, while women with children over 8 weeks old are eligible for a ‘second house’. luck”. Its website states:
âBy providing them with housing, training and provisions in a Christ-centered environment, our goal is to set them on the path to a better future together as a family unit. We want to provide a loving home and support system for pregnant and parenting women from all walks of life or from all walks of life who are making decisions to bring their babies to life outside the womb. Our training programs, both internally and in partnership, will prepare them for various aspects of life, providing them with the parental support they need to raise a child. We welcome mothers of any race or religion into our living spaces, showing them the love and grace of Christ as we work together to prepare them for a successful future with their child. We hope to ease the pressure on the foster care program by giving birth mothers the help and support they need to keep their children. “
The organization seems to have a resemblance to “Pregnancy crisis centers” as funded by the church Athens Pregnancy Center who proselytize with pregnant women under the pretext of offering basic medical services, except with a residential component.
From a zoning perspective, the proposed development is less dense than that originally proposed by People of Hope, Griffin said. Hope 139 House is seeking rezoning for a multi-family residence, which is the same classification given to People of Hope. However, in the meantime, the property has been reduced to a suburban residential designation after the commission decided not to install a sewer line along Sandy Creek due to environmental concerns.
Commissioner Ovita Thornton, who represents the Freeman Drive area, praised the development because it will include amenities like a basketball court and a community center that will be open to all residents of the neighborhood. âNot only are they reaching out to their clientele, but they are opening their arms to residents of this region who have often been overlooked,â she said.
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