by BRAD AARON
LAND USE CHANGES
Following months of criticism of Athens-Clarke
County's new land use plan from landholders,
developers and business owners, citizens who sup
port the plan in its original form are speaking uo.
Earlier this year, as the development regula
tions to enforce the plan neared a vote, the
Athens-Clarke County Commission decided to delay
action, citing citizen concerns about several
aspects of the ordinance.
In a memo dated April 8—four days after the
vote was to have occurred—Mayor Doc Eldridge
laid out his plan to the Commission to settle what
he considered eight key issues, including "green-
belt" densities, development buffers on waterways
and wetlands, tree conservation areas and
canopies, frequency of high-level decision-making
hearings and notifying property owners of the new
zoning codes. The Mayor requested a "series of
work sessions for the Commission to take up each
of these issues," and called for an August vote.
Green space advocates have watched the
plan's original AR-10 rural zone—allowing one
unit per 10 acres—be replaced by an AR-5 (one
unit per five acres) designation. A July 20
Commission work session revealed that only one
Commissioner—John Barrow—still supports that
plan. Four Commissioners—Tom Chasteen, Ken
Jordan, Cardee Kilpatrick and Harry Sims—favor
AR-5 with clustering, resulting in an average of
up to one house per 2.5 acres.
A straw poll conducted at the July 2C session
showed the rest of the Commission—Charles
Carter, Marilyn Farmer, Linda Ford, Hugh Logan
and Alvin Sheats—would prefer a one unit per
acre designation. This option, proposea by Logan,
had never been included in any draft ordinance,
nor was it on the agenda for tl.e session. Still.
Ford—presiding over the session in Eldridge s
absence—initiated the straw vote.
The revelation that half the Commission would
vote for less restriction on rural development than
currently exist prompted harsh words from the
neighborhood activist group friends of Five Points
A July 26 e-mail to FOFP members said Logan's
option could ' deliver classic urban sprawl a la
"The straight 1 unit per acre option is likely to
be an expensive one," the statement reads, as it
would require infrastructure costs "that would be
significantly in excess of the tax revenues gener
ated by the development."
The statement points out that one unit per
acre goes against the advice of the ACC Planning
Commission, which recommends an AR-5 density
LAND USE LINEUP
Wednesday, August 9: Public input session,
1 p.m.-4 p.m., ACC Public Library, 2025
Monday, August 14: Mayor and Commission
work session, 7 p.m., ACC Planning
Department, 120 W. Dougherty Street. No
public input accepted.
Tuesday, August 15: Mayor and Commission
agenda setting session, 7 p.m., City Hail
downtown. Public may address the
Commission on the development ordinance
(providing it is still on the agenda).
Tuesday, September 5: Mayor and
Commission regular monthly ousiness ses
sion, 7 p.m.. City Hall, downtown.
Scheduled Commission vote on the ordi
nance. Public comments accepted.
"After more than two years and expenditures
exceeding S400.000, it is of great concern to have
some of the most important provisions of the new
land use plan come under direct attack by those
who are i barged with ensuring its value tc the
community," the statement says. "It is time again
for the voices of the residents of Athens-Clarke
County to be heard."
And so it was at the Commission's August 1
monthly work session. There was no vote on the
ordinance that night—as Eldridge had called for
in April—but the Commission got an earful just
Local resident John Dewey requested a sum
mary of the ordinance in "plain English," and said
an informed public debate should continue. Dewey
said he would like to see increased tree protection
measures and development buffers of at least 50
feet on waterways. (The Commission is leaning
toward little to no tree protection and the state
minimum of 25 foot buffers on small rivers and
"The tree conservation areas are gone," said
Cart Jordan, a candidate for the District 6
Commission seat, who went on to accuse the
Commission of "wholesale rezoning" with no
public input Jordan said the Commission has
ruined any incentives for transferring development
rights. (See City Pages, June 14, on-line at fLag-
"You have given away the candy store," Jordan
"To manage land wisely, we want to grow as
densely as possible. The feai-mongers should
crawl back in their holes where they feel safe,"
another resident told the Commission.
Two days later, on August 3, the Commission
added Logan's straight one-unit-per-acre option
to the August 1 draft of the development regula
The Mayor and Commission are scheduled to
vote on the ordinance at their September 5 busi
ness meeting. The latest version is now available
for review at the Planning Department office (120
W. Dougherty Street), and at athensclarke
ANIMAL CONTROL SAYS
ADS TOUT FIGHT DOGS
On July 25, Athens-Clarke County Animal
Control asked the Athens Daily News/Banner-Herald
to remove two of its classified ads which the
agency said offered dogs for fighting.
ACC Animal Control Supervisor Bill Wise noti
fied the Daily News by e-mail that two ads for pit
bull terrier puppies contained language that indi
cated the puppies were being advertised as
fighting dogs. One ad contained the term "game
bred," the other "champion bloodline."
"Gameness is the combined qualities of
courage, aggression and tenacity in the face of
utter exhaustion and possible death," Wise wrote.
"A dog obtains the rank of Champion by various
pit dog publications by winning three contract
Wise informed the paper that he had called the
person who placed the ad using the term "cham
pion bloodline," and that person acknowledged
his dogs were champion fighters. The man also
said tfip puppies' parents were "winners."
"Dogfighting is a 'contest' in which two dogs
are placed in a 'pit' and encouraged to attack and
maul each other," Wise wrote. "This event is pre
sented to cheering spectators for their base
enjoyment and greed. Often, large sums of money
or arugs are gambled during these fights."
"Dogfighting is cruelty to animals. Pit fights
result in torn ears, bruising and deep and straight
cuts resembling knife and puncture wounds.
Frequently, the only sounds from the pit are those
of crunching bone and cartilage. The fights will
continue until one dog either passes out or dies.
Some fights can last longer than 2 hours."
According to the Humane Society of the United
States' (HSUS) web page on dog fighting, losing
dogs are often shot or left to die from their
injuries. Others are treated by their owners, who
sometimes stitch wounds together with rishing
Pit bulls raised to fight are conditioned
through cruel treatment. Breeders train the dogs
to kill in the ring by having them "practice" on
non-aggressive "bait animals"—dogs, cats, and
other small animals. Bait animals are sometimes
obtained through "free to good home" ads, the
Wise went on to remind the Daily News that
dogfighting is a felony in Georgia, punishable by a
fine of $5,000 and from one to five years impris
In response, classified sales manager Angela
Smith sent Wise an e-mail later that day which
read: "We have contacted these adv/ertisers con
cerning the pit bull ads. Thank you for letting us
The ads were still in the paper when Flagpole
interviewed Wise on July 31. The words "game
bred" had been removed from one ad; the "cham
pion bloodline" ad—the one Wise told the Daily
News had been placed by an admitted dog
"I received at least four messages from people
from the 'Pit Bull L' list [a pit bull rescue list-serv]
that said that they also e-mailed the newspaper,"
Wise said. "But apparently that's all I'm going to
get is a 'thank you for letting us know* message."
Wise said fighting dog ads are not uncommon,
but that he's never seen them in Clarke County.
Animal Control could pursue the sellers, but Wise
said its efforts would likely be wasted.
"There really is not a whole lot you can do
with dog fighting other than catching them in the
act," he said. "The thing is with pit bull fighting,
they can have an excuse for everything—every
paraphernalia, scarred up dog, everything. Some
judges will even go so far as want to see money
changing hands so they can say that they're gam
bling on these dogs.
"Stuff like [the ads] just promotes dog
fighting," Wise added. "I feel bad going after the
newspaper, but they can spare the 25 bucks and
cancel the ad."
Upon being contacted by Flagpole, Athens
Daily News/Banner Herald advertising director
Cindy Tucker said neither she nor Smith had
spoken with the advertisers.
"We place ads for lots of dogs," Tucker said.
"So we don't ask them if they're fighting dogs. I
had no idea what 'game bred' meant. I'll be very
honest with you.
"'Champion' is used in lots of different types of
animal breeding. It could be that it was shown at
a show. So we don't try to get into the discussion
of whether or not it's a champion dog."
After being told that Wise had already advised
the paper that one of the ads was placed by an
admitted dog fighter, Tucker said the newspaper
would "investigate" the possibility of removing
"I will be glad to do that, because we don't
promote fighting dogs by any stretch of the imag
ination," Tucker said. "I think there was some
ignorance on my part. I know there was on mine
as to the terminology 'game bred.' We're not going
to accept that."
Flagpole spoke with Tucker on July 31. The
"game bred" ad ran until August 4. On August 7,
Angela Smith told Flagpole she could not say if
the ad had been removed by the paper or can
celled by the seller.
As of August 7, the ad for "champion blood
line" pit bulls—placed by the admitted dog
fighter—had not been removed. Cindy Tucker did
not immediately return Flagpole s call for com
On July 31, Athens attorney Jim Smith held a
low-key, informal press conference to outline his
run for District Attorney of the Western Judicial
Circuit. A self-described "compassionate conserva
tive" Republican, Smith will face Ken Mauldin in
the November general election. Mauldin, former
Clarke County Solicitor General, upset long-time
incumbent Harry Gordon in the July 18 Democratic
Smith worked for Gordon for a short time in
the mid-1970s before going into private general
practice. Over the past 24 years. Smith has gained
a reputation as a formidable criminal defense
attorney and civil litigant, a background he said
would serve him well as district attorney.
"I've devoted my life to equal justice for alL"
Smith said, "and that's what I would attempt to
do in the D.A.'s office."
Smith's campaign platform includes fiscal
responsibility, community involvement, a pre-trial
diversion program, close cooperation with local
police and a drug court to "deal realistically with
our community's most challenging problem." ©
This land, on Willow Street across from the Greenway, was cleared to clean up waste from the former site of
an Atlanta Gas Light facility. A "development" will also be going in beside the Kelley Diversified building.
AUGUST 9, 2000