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Conyers Downtown Zoning District approved
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The "D, Downtown District" rezoning plan for the Olde Town area was approved by Conyers City Council on Sept. 17 after months of meetings and debate.

The new district simplifies and strengthens Olde Town's historic protection rules, while encouraging denser housing and pedestrian-oriented development.

One big change is allowing "pocket neighborhoods"-small complexes of single-family homes built around a central green space or urban farm. Another change is restricting the paint colors on buildings to a limited choice of subdued colors.

"It's a good ordinance," said Mayor Randy Mills, praising the officials who worked on it. City planner J.P. Alexander worked with University of Georgia architecture students-including Conyers native Erik Lauritsen-on the rezoning under the supervision of city planning director Marvin Flanigan.

Councilman John Fountain, chairman of the Community Development Committee, said that there "was a lot of work involved and a lot of grief involved...and I certainly appreciate it."

The many new elements of the Downtown District will take some getting used to. Councilman Vince Evans said he's heard from people wanting to clarify how the paint color restrictions apply to homes in the area. Alexander confirmed that if a house is currently a color that is not on the new list, the house can still be repainted that same color, as it is considered "maintenance." Only changing the color would trigger the new restrictions.

Councilman Cleveland Stroud noted that the new zoning can always be tweaked if some element turns out to be confusing or problematic.

In other council business:

-The council allocated $750,000 in SPLOST funds for a planned multi-use trail that would run between the Nancy Guinn Library and Pine Log Park. Planned in conjunction with the nonprofit PATH Foundation, it would be the second phase of a local trail system that started with the existing Conyers Trail that runs between Olde Town and Johnson Park.

PATH is contributing $250,000 to the new trail project, but it still has a $375,000 shortfall and more funding is being sought, according to City Council. The council also renewed its master agreement with PATH that enables the two parties to continue planning the trail system.

-The city will purchase a used 2013 model street sweeper for $140,200-including a $25,000 trade-in of its current 16-year-old vehicle. The council approved the purchase of the Schwarze Industries A7000 Tornado street sweeper, which has logged 550 service hours, from Tractor and Equipment Company of Forest Park.

-A construction contract for a street drainage improvement project on East View Road, totaling $63,516, was approved by the council. Proposed a year ago, the project will be carried out by Peach State Construction Co. of Covington.

-A water main that turned out to be in the way of the ongoing Railroad Street widening project will be lowered in a project costing $43,645.52. The city's contractor on the project, Gregory Bridge Co., will conduct the work, and then Rockdale County Water Resources will reimburse the city. The council approved a city-county agreement for the deal that previous was approved by the Board of Commissioners.

-The council approved a renewal of the Conyers Police Department's agreement with the county school system to provide a school resource officer at Rockdale High. The new agreement continues through 2017.

-The council approved a beer and wine retail sales license for Tienda Latina Grocery 1 (Atif Sajid/SAS Enterprises), 1113 West Ave. S.W.

-The council approved tweaks to zoning restrictions on security bars and grills, essentially permitting mesh-type security screens that passers-by can see through. The changes apply to the zoning's "Design Requirements" section and the Mixed-Use Development, Gateway Village, Livable Centers Initiative Overlay and Mixed-Use Village Overlay districts.

-City Manager Tony Lucas was recognized for 30 years of service in various city positions, including prior service as police chief. "He is very quick to deflect any credit he may get to his staff," said Councilman Gerald Hinesley. "We know this city is better because he's city manager."

-After the meeting, the council held an executive session to discuss "personnel and potential litigation."