Cigarette Litter Receptacle Proven Effective Against Littering

It’s green. It’s rectangular. It’s undeniably chic — and it’s what’s keeping cigarette butts off the streets of downtown, Athens. These artistically designed boxes are called Cigarette Litter Receptacle, better known as CLR.

Forty CLRs have been installed on parking meters as well as on light poles in pilot areas of downtown, according to the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department.

The CLRs were created to give smokers a place to dispose their used cigarettes.

“A baseline count found 6, 207 butts on the sidewalk and in the gutters along bars and restaurants near West Washington, West Clayton, and North Lumpkin streets before street-sweepers came early in the morning to clear them away”, stated Blake Aued in his article for the Athens Banner-Herald.

“Thanks to the CLRs, a four month study in the city indicated that cigarette trash was reduced up to 54 percent,” said Rachael Widener, technology manager at The University of Georgia.

“In general, we saw reductions each time we did the scans,” Stacee Farrell, executive director of Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, told the Athens Banner Herald.

According to the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP), if cigarette butts remain on the ground and are not disposed of properly, it can cause some damage economically as well as environmentally.

The CLPP states that cigarette butt litter creates blight which accumulates in gutters and outside doorways and bus shelters. This is an issue because, according to the CLPP, it “creates a sense that no one cares, leading to more community disorder and crime.”  It also pollutes the water and can harm wildlife.

About 18 percent of litter, traveling primarily through storm water systems, ends up in local streams, rivers and waterways, according to the CLPP.

The idea for the receptacles came forth when indoor smoking was banned in 2005, according to the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department,

“The design of the CLRs was a joint effort of Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, the Athens-Clarke County government’s stormwater division and public information office, the Tobacco Prevention Coalition, the Athens Downtown Development Authority, and the Athens Design Development program”, Diana Hartle told the Athens Banner-Herald.

“Our CLR is a very sturdy litter receptacle designed for busy urban areas.  There is a stub-out grate on the interior of the slot.  The cigarette is stubbed out and just dropped in,” said Didi Dunphy, one of the designers of the CRL for the Athens Design Development.

“The CLR holds a good volume of trash at which time of being full can be emptied,” said Dunphy.  “The pivot mechanism allows for the receptacle to spin down and the contents emptied into whatever trash bag or other trash unit.”

Dunphy adds that the receptacle is approximately 256 cubic inches in volume capacity and the design helps keep the disposed contents dry.

Thus far, the CLR has received two awards. The first award was for first place in the State Litter Prevention category and the second was for a second place National Award for “outstanding efforts to engage individuals in the implementation of the National Cigarette Litter Prevention Program,” according to the CLR website.

“As a downtown resident, I have definitely noticed a difference since the receptacles have been in place,” said Kelly Girtz, District 9 Commissioner. “Areas that have them installed seem cleaner by far.”


Construction plans approved for Historic Neighborhoods

The Historic Preservation Commission met on a rainy afternoon on March 17 at the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department Auditorium.

The meeting began approximately at 5:30 p.m. with 15 people in attendance. Three rows of chairs were placed for citizens and petitioners to sit and listen and two conference tables up front seated the members of the commission. A PowerPoint presentation showing diagrams of houses and design layouts was shown throughout the discussion.

“Each speaker will be given three minutes to speak. Please state your name for the record if you choose to speak. Any comments need to be addressed to the commission, not each other or the audience,” stated Sharon Bradley, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission.

The first item on the agenda was approval of a new single-family residential home located on Cohen Street in the Boulevard Historic District. The commission asked for the petitioner to come up to the table to discuss. An agent for that party spoke for the petitioner regarding construction changes.

The discussion amongst the agent and the commission members were softly spoken and once the conversation ended, observations of the house were discussed more clearly to the public.

One member of the commission stated that he liked the look of the house but there was “too much craftsman style” and that there might be a few houses in that area “that are not [considered to be] in a craftsman neighborhood.”

The goal for this house was to simplify it and eliminate details that took away from its historic appearance. The biggest concern was the chimney.

“The Historic Preservation Commission were concerned with the chimney being able to be permitted at the height shown if the code couldn’t allow reducing it,” said Amber Eskew, preservation planner for the Historic Preservation Commission. “They felt it was inappropriate at that height.”

An hour later, after much debate, the Commission motioned a vote. The vote was 3-2 and new construction was approved with conditions for the house.

“Some design changes were required regarding the chimney, and some areas of the front facade such as the gable windows, front door, and elimination of some bracket details,” Eskew stated. “They found its details and level of details needing modifications to fit within the very vernacular area.”

According to the commission, details on the house design had to be eliminated because the level of detail provided on the design was not seen in that area.

“They happen to be details common to Craftsman architecture, as are the columns on piers used at the front porch but is was not the fact that they are craftsman but that the area is very vernacular that caused them to need to be changed,” added Eskew.

After the approval of the first item, the second item on the agenda was up for review. This item was regarding Sarah Lacher’s property on Cloverhurst Avenue in the Cloverhurst/Springdale historic district.

The request was for a rear addition and a two-car carport. With conditions such as adding some windows to the left side of the elevation and adjustment and retaining of the walls, the commission approved the changes and voted 5-0.
After the first two items had been approved, most citizens had left the meeting and only five people remained as the commission reviewed the last item on the agenda.

Judson Doherty had requested to add a detached carport to his home as well as approval for modification of his driveway located at Woodlawn Avenue. The modification would be converting his tire-stripped driveway into solid concrete.

The Commission reviewed Doherty’s application and voted yes (5-0) for such changes with the following conditions.

“The site plan needed be adjusted- the degree of the carport roof slope had to be decreased, a gable vent was eliminated and retaining wall information needed to be provided,” Eskew said.

The commission approved each item based on the historic preservation design guidelines. The guidelines state that it is important for new construction to be similar to nearby historic buildings such as scale, materials and composition.  It should also have the same orientation as nearby historic examples.

No further comments were spoken after the last vote and now, according to Eskew, it is up to the property owners to turn in any revised plans required and then get zoning permits approved before proceeding.

“Sometimes driveway permits are also needed before they can apply for building permits. But how long this takes is really up the applicant and how quickly they turn in the necessary revisions and paperwork. This could take a day or two or much longer,” Eskew stated.

The next public meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission will meet on April 21, 2010.


Upcoming meeting to discuss design changes

The Historic Preservation Commission, part of the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department, is holding a public meeting on Wednesday, March 17.  The meeting will be held at the Planning Department Auditorium at 120 W. Dougherty Street at 5:30 p.m.

The main concern is construction in residential historic districts. There are three items on the agenda that will be up for voting.

The first is the appropriateness of the new construction of a single-family residential home located in the Boulevard Historic District. The second is whether or not a rear addition and detached garage in the Cloverhurst/Springdale Historic District is suitable, and the third item is to vote if a detached carport in the Woodlawn district is appropriate.

According to the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department, there are 10 historic districts in Athens and 41 individual landmark properties that are designated as historic.

The commission will vote if these requests for construction agree with the historic design guidelines.

 The meeting will be comprised of seven people that have been appointed by the Mayor and Commission. The public can speak for or against an application but they are not allowed to vote.

What is the Historic Preservation Commission?

According to Amber Eskew, preservation planner for the Historic Preservation Commission, the commission is a volunteer board that strongly feels preservation of the historic character of Athens is the right thing for the city. They are willing to give their time in this effort.

“They try very hard to work with applicants for a successful project and are often able to compromise in such a way that a design can be made appropriate while still meeting the applicant’s needs,” Eskew stated.

According to the Downtown Historic District Design Guidelines, “The Historic Preservation Commission is charged with promoting, protecting and preserving the historic, cultural and aesthetic heritage of designated historic areas”.

Normally, an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness is submitted to the Historic Preservation Planner and is up for review to determine if projected exterior changes on historic properties are appropriate in design and materials. If during the meeting, the commission approves the application, the certificate is issued.

In order for the commission to decide if applications are appropriate, design guidelines are used to explain what is suitable for a given historic district or property. Eskew explains that they look at things such as scale, massing, height, the amount of window openings, and building materials used.

Why is it important to preserve historic districts?

According to the ACC Planning Department, a neighborhood sample study shows economic benefits of preservation. Woodlawn and Boulevard are two historic districts that were sampled for the study.

 The findings mention that both neighborhoods are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are locally designated.  The study states that “the analysis of these neighborhoods, when comparing dollars adjusted for inflation, shows an impressive increase. Over a twenty-year period, beginning in 1976, the 94 property assessment values sampled in this area rose at a rate of 47.75 percent.”

“Retaining community character provides a sense of place for residents, new and old, it is a source of pride and of tourism dollars,” Eskew said.

In addition, the study reveals that the upkeep of these properties have resulted in an increase of temporary local jobs, permit revenue and tax dollars to the community compared to non-designated neighborhoods.

Where to get more information:

 For detailed information on guidelines, studies, and applications, please visit the historic preservation page on the ACC Department of Planning website at http://www.accplanning.com/historic.php.


Neighborhood Watch for Offenders

Danielle Gibson, 33, has lived in many places throughout her life. From apartments to townhouses to owning her own house, Gibson has moved from one neighborhood to the next.

In 2008, Gibson moved to Athens, Ga, along with her husband and two-year-old daughter. However, the move this time was different. It wasn’t about finding the perfect home but about the safety of her child from neighborhood offenders.

Gibson isn’t alone with her concerns of safety; many families throughout the country feel the same. According to the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, more than half of rape/sexual assault incidents happen within a mile of the victim’s home. The sheriff’s department also estimates that “80% of all addresses have at least one offender within a mile of an address.”

            So what exactly is Athens doing to keep their community safe? Are sexual offenders and predators complying with the rules that permit them to reside in certain locations, such as downtown?

Findings:

  • Cpl. Muriel Price from the Clarke County Sheriff’s department verifies that there are approximately 100 active sex offenders living in Athens-Clarke County.
  • There is only one sex offender in Athens that is classified as a predator.
  • Regarding places where sex offenders can reside, the registry states that offenders and predators cannot live within 1,000 feet of any child-care facility, school, church, or an area where minors congregate.

There is a difference between being a sexual offender and a sexual predator. The Georgia Sex Offender registry states that a “sexual offender means any individual who has been convicted of a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor or any dangerous sexual offense,” while a “sexual predator” is someone who is dangerous and who was “designated as a sexually violent predator between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 2006 or A person who is determined by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board to be at risk of perpetrating any future dangerous sexual offense.”

The sheriff’s office states that there is no such thing as a “typical” sex offender; nevertheless, they all are likely to be manipulative, deceiving, and secretive. Sex offenders come from all backgrounds, ages, income levels, and professions.

Citizens are allowed to search through the Sexual Offender Registry online to find more information about offenders living in their area. The registry gives the address to where the offender currently resides, what crime they committed, whether or not they are incarcerated, and most importantly, it shows the residence verification date.

“We use two mapping systems to determine distances,” stated Capt. Jimps Cole of the Clark County Sherriff’s Department. “One is OffenderWatch, which is the one on our website and the other is a county owned system.”

OffenderWatch allows neighbors to know how close an offender lives to them. For example, the First United Methodist Church located downtown shows that there are 12 offenders living within a two-mile radius of the church. The radius can be changed from two miles to 0.25 miles. At 0.25 miles or 1,320 feet, there are no offenders living in a close proximity to the church. Different addresses can be placed into the system and according to the program, there are currently no offenders in Athens violating the residential rule.

The sheriff’s department also uses a GPS device that is used as a confirmation if the distance of the offender is close to 1,000 feet.

If offenders move and there is a change of address, the State of Georgia requires offenders to register through the sheriff’s office. However, if offenders do not move and there is no change of address, they are still required to register once a year.

There is only one sex predator in Athens-Clarke County. Stanley Adams, 54, was convicted in 2002 for child molestation. Sexual predators must register more than once a year to the sheriff’s office. Adams is currently in jail.

The sheriffs of Athens-Clarke County keep a close eye on offenders. At random times during the year, they make unannounced checks on each registered offender. This is to verify the information that the offender had given them at the time of registration.

“If we observe a violation, we submit an application to the court for an arrest warrant on the violator…we then arrest the offender and take them to jail,” Cole added.

This program gives community members a sense of safety.

“We are lucky to have a community program such as OffenderWatch to monitor who moves in around our neighborhoods. With another child on the way, it gives me a peace of mind,” Gibson said.