CONYERS - After months of discussion, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted to deny a special permit for a bed and breakfast in south Rockdale.
In a 2-1 vote Tuesday morning, with Post 1 County Commissioner Doreen Williams dissenting, the board opted to not allow what would be the only legally operated bed and breakfast in the county to be established.
Terri and Reuben Alexander applied to open a two-bedroom bed and breakfast in their home at 2724 Sunday Road, where they've lived for a decades.
Many of the Alexander's neighbors on Sunday Road expressed concerns with having a business operating within their neighborhood, including security issues with random strangers coming and going from the Alexander's property and traffic issues with increased cars at the property.
Williams wanted to approve the application because the Alexanders were going through all the correct legal channels to open their business whereas she discovered there were at least eight residences in Rockdale listed as a bed and breakfast on a rental website operating without a license.
"These folks have gone through the process. I think that says a lot," said Williams.
Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner Oz Nesbitt voted against approval, however.
After the application was denied, a cheer went up in the meeting room, which was filled with neighbors and attendees who had come for the bed and breakfast vote. The Alexanders quickly left the room.
The Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission decided against recommending the permit at a June 11 meeting. The county Planning and Development staff had recommended approval but with five stipulations that needed to be met for the bed and breakfast to be operational.
Those conditions include: a professional architect be involved in the expansion of their home for the two bedrooms, the existing guest bathroom not be used as part of the bed and breakfast, no more than four guests at any one time, that the property not be used as a place of assembly, banquet hall or events center, and if the permit is issued no development be carried out until all the necessary permits and approvals required are obtained.
Initially, Williams made a motion to approve the agenda item with an added sixth requirement for the owners don't allow exterior entrances to bedrooms on the property. She said that theirs is a county ordinance that requires all new hotels to have early interior access only.
"It would appear from the outside to be a single family household," she said.
Her motion died for lack of a second.
The issue of the eight properties operating as bed and breakfast was a new "revelation" for Nesbitt and became a topic of discussion for board. He said he felt "embarrassed" that this new information was coming out now after months of meetings.
"It's embarrassing to say the least that all this is coming out right here, right now," Nesbitt said. "We have people from the Sunday road community waiting on us to make a decision and all this new information is hitting the floor without having probably been vetted between the departments."
Nesbitt then asked Williams if she told the Planning and Zoning department about his new information she discovered before the meeting "because it puts a lot of dysfunction and a lot of unorganization cloud over the proceeding of this meeting."
Oden chimed in by defending Williams and the Planning and Zoning staff for have different information because, the way he sees it, if people are operating businesses without a license the county wouldn't know about it and Williams simply discovered this information by searching the web.
"It's not an embarrassment to the county," said Oden. "That's political posturing there."