The region of Athens-Clarke is committed to a sustainable future. The Athens City Council and an organization called "Athens Grow Green" have made great strides toward a cleaner, greener future. Some of the city's goals include:
1) Improve water quality - Practice and support actions for improved stormwater management and increased stream buffer protection, particularly for smaller streams, develop a Citizen Soil Watch Program with local environmental groups, and a Stormwater Management Program;
2) Improve air quality - Improve pedestrian infrastructure, improve biking infrastructure, establish and enforce a permanent ban on open burning, and participate in the Cities for Climate Protection program to help manage emissions;
3) Improve natural areas - amend erosion and sedimentation ordinances to require best management practices for properties adjacent to floodplains or other sensitive environmental areas, encourage tree retention and strict phasing of project development, and purchase environmentally sensitive areas for the purpose of maintaining them as natural habitat through greenspace program and other grants;
4) Improve urban environments - promote re-use of abandoned commercial areas and offer incentives for their green development, create a Master Plan for downtown Athens to balance development with historic preservation;
5) Improve urban parks and open spaces - require new or re-developments to dedicate and construct greenway trails, require all new right of way acquisitions to include public access to trails; and
6) Improve affordable housing with green initiatives.
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. Specific objectives are to:
1) Protect environmental quality for all by maintaining clean air, clean water, and protected green space and green infrastructure.
2) Reduce sprawl and automobile dependence by encouraging: communities that are multiuse, walkable, bikeable and connected; and improved public transportation.
3) Promote a diverse and affordable housing supply for all income levels.
4) Promote efficient development patterns that keep taxes low.
5) Attract responsible businesses and industries by maintaining a beautiful, functional, diverse community with a high quality of life.
6) Ensure that policies balance the rights and needs of the community with the rights and needs of individual property owners.