The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 14, 2013

City OKs home demolition, franchise and sewer line

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— Athens City Council member agreed to demolish two dilapidated homes, extend the lease for a fiber-optic Internet company and extend sewer line to spur development.

Here is a synopsis:

• Held public hearing on a request by Touchdown Wings, a new business at 1124 U.S. 72 in Athens, to sell alcohol on premises. There was no opposition.

• Held a public hearing on demolishing an unsafe home at 1204 Widow Drive, which drew no opposition. Council then voted to demolish it, assess costs and place a lien on the property for that amount.  

• Held a public hearing on demolishing an unsafe home at 312 Vine St., which drew no opposition. Council then voted to demolish it, assess costs and place a lien on the property for that amount.  

• Agreed to reappoint City Planner Mac Martin to the Historic Preservation Commission. 

• Agreed to reschedule the next City Council meeting for Tuesday, May 28, due to the Memorial Day holiday.

• Agreed to declare at surplus some Public Works computer equipment so it can be sold.

• Agreed to pay a $200 travel expense for the Electric Department.

• Rescheduled a public hearing on a rezoning request from Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, due to the Memorial Day holiday.

• Agreed to abandon a portion of a drainage and utility easement

• Agreed to let the city apply for a COPS Hiring Program Grant which, if awarded would be used to hire two new officers. City would pay 25 percent of the cost the first three years and the full cost the fourth year and thereafter.

• Approved amendment to the joint fiber-optic network agreement with the Limestone County Commission, allowing working group to do day-to-day operations without city and county approval.

• Granted franchise agreement with Contact Network Inc. of Birmingham, extending it from three to 10 years and allowing for other groups, such as Athens City Schools, to lease from the city some of its fiber-optic Internet and email capacity.

• Approved pole attachment agreement with Contact Network for a charge of $17 per pole per year, which is the going rate, according to Athens Utilities Manager Gary Scroggins.

• Approve construction of the U.S. 72 East trunk sewer line, which will spur development along the south side of 72 for commercial development from the entrance to Piney Creek Village, west to the existing developments in the Medical Village complex.

• Agreed to increase from $860,000 to $924,269 the budget for the installing sanitary sewer to Whitfield and Winslow subdivisions. The cost of two pumping stations were omitted. The sewer is already installed.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, council members heard a request from resident Ralph Diggins, who asked that city inspectors address three buildings on Market Street, across from the Limestone County Annex. “It looks like a junkyard,” Diggins said, adding that if the city is planning to spend money to fix up the courthouse Square with lights and other amenities, it should also require sprucing up immediately around The Square.