Lot Split Approved For Athens Bike Path Extension

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A lot split was approved last week by the Athens Planning Commission and will facilitate construction of a spur of the city bike path to University Estates.

Citizens Bank owns the lot at University Estates that was split, and the bank asked for division of the property during discussions with the city about extending the bike path through the land, Athens Public Works Director Andy Stone told the commission. The bank has agreed to donate an easement for the bike path.

The property is partly zoned as open space and partly R-3 residential, and the split is intended to help clarify where that dividing line between the zones is located. Stone said that due to the terrain, only the northern portion of the lot (the area zoned R-3) is developable. The bike path will go the the portion zoned as open space.

Stone said the spur will also go through land the city purchased from the Hope family using a Clean Ohio Fund grant. He said a wetland is being designed for about half to one-third of the former Hope property, which has already been classified by the National Wetland Inventory as an emergent wetland.

The portion of the bike path that will go through the two pieces of property and connect to University Estates is considered Phase 2 of the project. Phase 1 involved putting a deck on a former railroad bridge across the Hocking River and connecting it to the existing city bike path, and was funded with grant money.

Stone said the plan is for his staff to do the earthwork for Phase 2 of the spur, but the city will have to pay for the paving. He said the city has about $40,000 left from the grant obtained for the Hope property. Part of the leftover money is being used for design work, but the remainder will be available for the paving. He said it will be necessary to come up with some additional money for the paving.

The spur must be completed by mid to late 2015 in order to meet grant requirements.