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Special event ordinance focus of public comments at city council meeting
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An item that was not on the agenda was the main focus of public comments at the Conyers City Council meeting Wednesday night.

Several residents of the city and county spoke against a proposed ordinance change that would require a 30-day advanced application for special events and protests. Currently, applicants only need to apply 48 hours in advance. In addition, the new special events application would require an application fee, and applicants may be required to provide liability insurance. The city could also charge any additional costs it might incur for the event, such as security by police or clean up by city public works.

City resident Don Williamson said he had been told the council would discuss the matter at the Feb. 2 meeting. He other citizens had gathered petitions opposing the special events permit ordinance from residents in city Districts 2, 3, and 4, which are up for election this fall.

The ordinance was not on the agenda, which was released at the beginning of the week.

"Arrogance on the mayor’s part is not what we were looking for," said Williamson, after the agenda was not revised at the city council meeting to discuss the ordinance.

Mayor Randy Mills said the ordinance was still being reviewed and drafted by staff and legal counsel and that the city council had not yet seen the draft ordinance.

"The issues they raised – I didn’t disagree with them a bit," said Mills, after the meeting and public comments.

City Manager Tony Lucas said the two required public hearings for the ordinance change would likely come up by the beginning March.

"We’re taking several of the concerns into consideration," said Lucas. "These events are looking at large scale events.  Large rallies, no different than the false scare last year when they thought the Klan was going to rally, and then the anti-groups were going to rally. One thing we cannot afford to do is underestimate the needs and a citizen gets hurt."

Constitutionally protected activities, such as protests, are still allowed, he said.

After the meeting, Williamson said the meeting had been "not quite what we wanted, but we got our message across."


In other city council business:

Rockdale County Fire and Rescue Department Chief Cedric Scott also gave an annual update of the activity seen by the fire deparment over the last year, describing the increased activity and additional fire station.

From January 2009 to January 2010, the department answered 8,000 calls, with the busiest periods in July, October and December.

The fire department is also looking to hire 23 firefighters.

Scott also reviewed items that would be purchased or replaced using funds from the the one penny Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax approved last summer. The fire department is slated to recieve about $10 million in SPLOST funds. 

Two fire stations will be replaced: Station 2, at 4089 Troup Smith Road, and Station 3 at 2450 Old Salem Road. Scott said the department is still determining whether the location of Station 2 will be moved, but Station 3 will remain in the same spot.

Four fire trucks and a ladder truck will also be replaced using SPLOST monies.