After months of negotiations, plans to build a mini-warehouse facility on 4.43 acres on Flat Shoals Road near Hwy 138 have finally been approved by the Conyers city council.
Augusta builder David Miles received more opposition than support throughout his zoning change application process, but his biggest challenge may be meeting all the specifications set-forth by zoning officials and the city council prior to approval of his application.
Miles had received support from residents of nearby Hunting Creek Townhome Subdivision who feel any structure would be an improvement to the property, which is currently used as a dumping ground at the entrance to their subdivision. However, Miles' plans were denied by the planning commission in October, and the owner of a nearby storage facility voiced his opposition to the plan before the council voted to allow the zoning exception Wednesday night.
Charles Walker, who owns Best Rate Storage behind the Honda dealership on Ga. Highway 138, told the council Wednesday night that he had surveyed other mini-warehouse owners in the general vicinity of the proposed facility and the general consensus was that the market is already saturated with storage facilities. Walker, who said he is also a family friend of Miles, said there is a high number of vacancies in existing storage facilities.
"We feel particularly threatened because the site is right in our back yard, and with the market the way it is, there is not a market to draw on except the market we are in," Walker said. "We will definitely feel the crunch of competition. We don't mind the competition, but we do feel like the zoning regulations were made for a reason and we would like to see this particular request turned down."
In the end, Councilmember John Fountain said that marketing conditions are not part of the zoning decision to allow a variance for the storage facility to be built in the Gateway Village District (GVD) and the council unanimously approved the zoning change. As part of the GVD, Miles will have to follow the design guidelines demonstrated by the new Publix shopping center.
"I don't have any objections to making this as nice a building as it can be," Miles told the council.
Council members also recognized Conyers Police Department Maj. Scott Freeman, who is leaving the department after 22 years to serve as the Chief Deputy under sheriff-elect Eric Levett. Freeman started his career with CPD on Dec. 1, 1990 and his last day was Dec. 5.
"Scott has been instrumental in helping us become state certified and CALEA accredited," CPD Chief Gene Wilson said during the council meeting Wednesday. "We are going to miss him a great deal and I believe the sheriff-elect made a good choice."