The mission of the Athens Grow Green Coalition is to promote
responsible community development and growth management policies
and practices that protect natural resources, prevent sprawl,
maintain a healthy economy, and preserve a high quality of life
for all in the Athens region.
Protect environmental quality for all by maintaining
clean air, clean water, and protected green space and green
Reduce sprawl and automobile dependence by
encouraging communities that are multi-use, walkable, bikeable
and connected; and by encouraging improved public transportation.
Promote a diverse and affordable housing supply
for all income levels.
Promote efficient development patterns that keep taxes low.
Attract responsible businesses and industries
by maintaining a beautiful, functional, diverse community
with a high quality of life.
Ensure that policies balance the rights and
needs of the community with the rights and needs of individual
Who We Are
We are a membership organization and are run by
a board of directors
, who are
elected at our annual meeting. Our work is carried out entirely
by volunteers who serve on issue committees.
In the Fall of 1997, Athens-Clarke County began to revise its Comprehensive
Land Use Plan. Citizens provided a remarkable amount of input, completing
over 1,200 “visual preference surveys” and attending more than 200
public meetings. The result was a Future Land Use Plan and a progressive
set of Guiding Principles which promoted preservation of the environment,
responsible development, alternatives to automotive transportation,
and the prevention of sprawl. The County Commissioners, swept along
in the tide of public support, unanimously approved the plan and
these principles in 1999. The County was subsequently recognized
nationally as a leader in “Smart Growth.” There was only one more
step: to pass Zoning and Development Standards to put the plan into
action. That’s when the special interests took notice. Throughout
2000, under pressure from some short-sighted developers and realtors,
the county commissioners chipped away at essential components of
the Zoning and Development Standards. The area set aside as a low
density greenbelt eroded in size and increased in density. Environmental
protections grew weaker or disappeared. Month after month,
the vote on the standards was delayed while developers scrambled
to push projects through under the old rules. In December 2000 the
Commission voted 6-4 to adopt the new Zoning Ordinance with one
unit per acre zoning in the AR zones and no design guidelines for
the AR zone's "conservation subdivisions".
The Athens Grow Green Coalition was formed in September, 2000,
by Athens citizens from neighborhood associations, environmental
organizations, and other concerned groups to urge the County Commissioners
to pass and enforce Zoning and Development Standards that protect
the environment, reduce sprawl and preserve a high quality of life. We
held rallies (drawing a crowd of several thousand to "Land
Aid," an event that featured information booths, speakers,
and bands, including Grow Green supporters REM); hosted educational
workshops; took out advertisements; hosted a candidate forum on
land use issues for the November 2000 Commission candidates; and
held a candlelight vigil on the City Hall steps, with over 500 participants.
Fixing the Development
While the Zoning and Development Standards passed by the commission
in December 2000 promote sprawl development in the county's AR zone,
Grow Green has continued to work to improve the situation. Besides
promoting tools such as Transferable Development Rights and better
design standards for Conservation Subdivisions, we decided that
we needed to become active in the political process. We worked in
2002 to provide information to the voting public about the records
and positions of the Mayor and Commission candidates on land use
and sprawl. We are continuing our public education and lobbying
efforts with the goal of fixing the Zoning and Development Standards
so that they implement, rather than subvert, the Guiding Principles
of our Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
Join Athens Grow
Athens Grow Green Coalition May, 2003