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City Council shoots down West Ave. sports bar proposal
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A sports bar is not what Conyers City Council had in mind for its West Avenue "gateway" area, councilmen said as they shot down the proposal at their June 17 meeting.

Zahid Ashfaq of Norcross sought to create a "sports café" in the struggling West Avenue Plaza shopping center. While pitched as a restaurant, Ashfaq's application acknowledged that over half the projected sales would come from selling alcohol. That makes it a "drinking place" under the zoning code, and permitting it there would require extensive code changes.

The application envisioned a business that would "provide local residents an establishment to commune and enjoy good food and drinks in a friendly, laid-back environment."

But no one, including Ashfaq, showed to speak in its favor. Meanwhile, two nearby business owners attended to slam the idea.

"West Avenue is supposed to be the gateway into Olde Town Conyers," said Dr. Dan Hodges, a neighboring dentist, worrying about litter and crime. "There'll be more trash on West Ave. in more ways than one" if it were allowed, he said.

Danny Lockhart of A Clean & Tidy Carpet Cleaner said he represented some other business owners as well in opposing the sports bar. He said he worried about accidents and crime, and noted that even if the new business was a good neighbor, it could later become a "seedy bar or nightclub."

Councilman John Fountain said that some other area sports bar have created public safety issues.

"It's just not part of what our vision is," added Councilman Gerald Hinesley.

In other council business:

-The council approved its fiscal year 2015 budget, with expected general-fund revenues and expenses balancing out at $14,143,988.

-The council chambers hosted the graduation of the "Clergy Police Academy," a new initiative where religious leaders from the local African American community spend 10 weeks with Conyers Police officers. Rev. Al Sadler, pastor of the Church of New Beginnings, suggested the program to Chief Gene Wilson in the wake of last summer's Ferguson protests. The idea is to build bridges between the police department and the black community before any type of crisis situation.

Wilson said he hopes to keep the group of clergy together to meet with the police at least quarterly as a type of "advisory panel." He also announced that the Georgia Municipal Association has declared the Clergy Police Academy to be one of its new "best practices" and invited Wilson to discuss it at an upcoming conference.

-The council approved a beer and wine retail license for Anil Kumar Joshi/Ajoshi Enterprises, Inc. at 1165 Irwin Bridge Road, Suites A & B.

-After the meeting, the council entered executive session to discuss "potential litigation," according to City Manager Tony Lucas.