The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 24, 2013

Athens asks residents for vision of city

By Budd McLaughlin
bud@athensnews-courier.com

— What is your vision for Athens?

The Planning Commission had a presentation this week of a draft based on citizens’ vision for the future of Athens. The presentation was the result of work led by City Planner Mac Martin started in 2011.

“This began in earnest about two years ago,” he said. “For a year and a half we took comments and the last six months I took my own survey.”

He said the purpose of the “Future Land Use and Development Plan” is to create a collective vision for the future development in the city based on what the residents want.

“With such close proximity to a major city like Huntsville, change in Athens is inevitable,” he said. “The real question the community faces is ‘How will Athens grow?’”

Martin said Tuesday’s presentation went over well with the audience.

“I thought it was well-received,” he said. “We didn’t have any questions as to the direction the plan is going.”

There will be another hearing Nov .19 during the Planning Commission meeting. He said the hearing is scheduled that far ahead so the public can have time to see the plan — it’s available at City Hall, the Athens-Limestone Public Library and at the city’s website www.athensal.us.

“The program is structured for four weeks for the public to fully absorb the information,” he said. “We want to let the people decide for themselves if this is representative of the community’s vision.”

Martin said the maps (on the website) can be brought up individually and enlarged for easier viewing. The website is also easily navigable.

The plan considers geography as well as demographics as to the challenges Athens will face in housing, recreation, municipal services, employment centers and commercial services.

He said one of the more widely made comments was the enhancement of Exit 351 off Interstate 65.

“Exit 351 is our front door,” he said. “We should treat it as such to welcome visitors and our neighbors.”