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City council restricts cash-for-phones machines
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Conyers City Council Wednesday night approved new zoning restrictions on "reverse vending machines" that offer cash for such items as old cell phones.

The police department is concerned that such machines are "potentially involving criminal activity" as a place to quickly sell stolen phones, Councilman John Fountain noted. "That's the driving force of this ordinance."

The ordinance requires a license for each reverse vending machine, and limits the number of such machines in any given leased space to four. The ordinance also includes various design and placement restrictions on other types of vending machines and ATMs.

In other council business:

-Erik Lauritsen, a University of Georgia architecture student and Conyers native, gave a presentation on the work he and a fellow student did on the city's upcoming plan to rezone Olde Town. Mayor Randy Mills praised the effort and expressed special interest in a section that will encourage "urban farms" and community gardens. City planning director Marvin Flanigan told the News that the rezoning proposal likely will be ready for public meetings in June or July.

-The council approved extensive tweaks to the Mixed-Use Village Overlay District zoning. They include detailed restrictions on streetscape, land use, signage, green space and parking, among others. The Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission previously approved the changes.

-The new Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 1337 Old Covington Highway was granted a beer, wine and liquor consumption on premise license. The license-holder is Dhansukh Patel/Conyers Lodging LLC.

-Various technical updates to the city's building regulations and code enforcement ordinances were approved to bring them in line with the latest state requirements.

-Police Chief Gene Wilson reported that a recent survey of local 911 callers found high satisfaction with the response. For 25 percent of the 911 users, it was their first time contacting Conyers Police, Wilson reported. Of those callers, 96 percent expressed satisfaction with the speed and quality of the 911 operators' response. The 911 call staff attended the meeting and received applause from the council.