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City, County oppose Atlanta request for more sewage in South River
City Council and County Commissioners to issue joint resolution
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Rockdale's Board of Commissioners and Conyers City Council will issue a joint resolution opposing Atlanta's reported plan to increase sewage-related pollution in the South River, as decided at the Feb. 4 city council meeting.

As the News previously reported, Atlanta is seeking federal permits to effectively reduce the amount of waste it must clear from sewer water before it is discharged into river systems. Atlanta has an old system that combines sewage and stormwater runoff, which leads to sewage discharges during heavy rains.

County Commissioner Doreen Williams attended the City Council meeting to ask for its help in opposing Atlanta's plan.

"The county will be coming out with a resolution against it," Williams said, adding the Board of Commissioners is reaching out to state and federal elected officials as well. "We need to make sure our waterways are clean."

Mayor Randy Mills said councilmen had been discussing the issue as well. The city will team with the county on some type of joint resolution, he said.

"For so many years, the City of Atlanta treated the South River like its personal sewer," said Councilman John Fountain. "The last thing that needs to happen is for that [progress] to reverse."

Williams told the News that the plan is to have the joint resolution ready before a Feb. 13 public comment period ends.

In other council business:

-A zoning issue that reportedly endangers a well-liked local business continued to vex the council, which decided to reject its appeal while allowing for a new solution to be found.

Rockland Cargo Equipment, a trailer-selling business at 1532 Old McDonough Highway, aims to expand by purchasing a half-acre parking lot from the adjacent Discover Point Church. That will allow an increased inventory to boost business and compete with giant chains, owner Ronald Ayers says.

But the business is a non-conforming use grandfathered into the Gateway Village rezoning carried out in 2012. Expanding a non-conforming use is virtually never allowed.

The council agonized over ways to allow the business to expand without punching major loopholes into the zoning code. After long debate at last month's meeting and its Winter Retreat, the council was unable to find a way and unanimously rejected Ayers' request to alter the code.

But that does not end the discussions, and a solution may be in the works, said Councilman Fountain, who chairs the Community Development Committee.

"In talking with the interested parties, I think we can do something that will be acceptable to them and to us," said Fountain. He later told the News that the possible solution is placing the business into a more favorable category in the existing code instead of changing it.

Meanwhile, the business is "not in compliance," Fountain said, and the city will work with Ayers on that along with the possible solution.

-The council approved an updated city budget. Chief Financial Officer Isabel Rogers reported that the general fund revenues are about $300,000 more than projected, at $14,052,037. And expenditures are down slightly at $13,783,162.

-Mayor Mills declared Feb. 4 to be "Judge Nancy N. Bills Day" in Conyers as part of the council's recognition of 10 years of service by Bills, who serves as the Rockdale State Court judge.

-Police Chief Gene Wilson was recognized for five years of service. Also recognized were Gary Hegwood of Conyers Security Alert (five years) and Police Department staff members Howard Reynolds (five years) and Marie Willis (15 years).

-A large group of city employees were honored for perfect job attendance in 2014. They included: Kameron Kelley of the IT Department; Trey Rusk of Cherokee Run Golf Club; Lonnie Abercrombie of Georgia International Horse Park; and Police Department members Daniel Drummond, Paul Bernichon, Stephen Blanchette, Anthony Cook, Peggy Franklin, Juan Morales, Derek Parker, Pierce Piper, William Sanders, Patrick Sims and Marie Willis.