All landowners in Athens County should be very alarmed and ready to campaign tooth and nail to make sure the Charter Government ballot measure is voted down. This ballot measure, if passed, likely will lead to several negative consequences. For people in unincorporated areas of the county such as Millfield, Torch, Stewart, Hollister and many others, this measure if passed will give the Athens County Commissioners new and extremely more powerful legislative power over private property than they previously had.
Once the commissioners have these new legislative “municipal” powers, they will now have much greater power over the county and its inhabitants. This probably will lead to the start of countywide zoning and restrictions to what private property owners can and cannot do on and with their property.
For example, in the city of Athens (which has a community bill of rights), one has to meet specific regulations before building on one’s own property. The city has a code office that inspects to make sure property owners are in compliance. If not, the person is fined or ordered to rectify the problem. This type of regulation will then be possible countywide, and likely will start to happen once the county commissioners have the new power to pass zoning legislation. The days of just building a barn, a new house, remodeling, having an extra unused car in the yard, or pulling a mobile home on your property with little to no regulation, other than clearing a septic tank with the City-County Health Department will become a regulatory nightmare.
Lastly, if there is any hope of bringing economic prosperity to the county from outside businesses such as manufacturing or production, it probably will create more county government red tape. This will surely stifle any hope of bringing businesses to the county; the cost of doing business will be too expensive with the new and multiple regulations.
For example, it was a mess for Fluff Bakery and Chipotle to get a liquor license approved by the city, even though the state had already cleared the licenses for these businesses. In another example, the Fairfield Inn and Suites on East State Street behind McDonald’s was prevented from adding another floor to the hotel because it hurt the “viewshed.”
Another example is the mandatory planting of specific trees when building or rebuilding in the city of Athens. To cite a specific example, after a tornado demolished AutoTech Service Center and Towing on East State a couple years back, the city forced the business owners to plant a lot of trees that were very expensive and not covered by the business’s insurance. Can you imagine this type of regulation in the county?
All of this can happen and likely will happen, if the charter government is passed. It should startle any landowner in the county. This will only lead to more government regulation on your property and higher property taxes.
Luckily, there is hope. A large coalition of county citizens is meeting weekly for what has been recently named the Athens Liberty Coalition. We are a concerned group of citizens, landowners, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, sensible environmentalists and moderate Democrats who are concerned about the road this county has been on and is continuing down.
We are here to create a coalition of like-minded individuals who can speak as one voice. For too long, a large chunk of the county population has not had a voice in local government and politics because of a very loud and irate minority. If this letter has struck a chord with you, please consider being a part of the Athens Liberty Coalition. Please contact me about getting involved, changing the county and having a voice. You, the reader, may not have cared much about voting or being involved in county politics, because it did not affect you, but this Charter government, if passed, will affect you and significantly, if you are a landowner.
You can get involved by reaching out to the Athens Liberty Coalition on Facebook or giving me a call at 740-590-5352.
Editor’s note: Abe Alassaf was born and raised in Athens, and graduated from Athens High School and Ohio University. He’s a landowner who is working as a fulltime political activist for a non-profit based in Arlington, Virginia. He lives in Westfield Place in Athens.