Changes to historic district, town hall July 15, 22 (June 30, 2014)
Plans to rezone central Conyers are still being tweaked to allow more flexible commercial/office uses and bigger, denser buildings, City Council learned at its Aug. 20 meeting.
Marty Jones, executive director of the Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council, spoke in support of some of changes and questioned others. He also called for more public input.
The so-called Downtown, or D, District zoning had a hearing and the first of two reads at Wednesday's city council meeting, with the next vote slated for the September meeting. The council approved the first read. The D District plan already has been reviewed in three town hall meetings and by the Downtown Development Authority, Historic Perservation Commission and the Planning Commission.
The rezoning would simplify the historic protection rules in Olde Town, while encouraging denser housing development.
Planning official J.P. Alexander said a big concern heard at the town halls is the status of single-family houses converted into businesses. As a result, the D District's "Downtown Civic" subdistrict has been tweaked to allow offices with five or fewer employees, and open to the public only from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To spur some denser mixed-use development, the plan has been changed to allow taller buildings along N. Main between Milstead Avenue and Pine Log Road. The original maximum height was three stories and 45 feet, but the maximum there would be four stories and 60 feet. The zoning also would allow for apartment or condo buildings with up to 20 units if they have commercial use in the ground floor.
Jones, a former city council member and the only person in the audience to speak, said he was "happy to hear" of most of those changes. He urged officials to allow even taller buildings, and wanted the denser apartment allowance to be put in writing.
However, Jones also called for "removing all Green Street properties" from the rezoning because of existing coordinated redevelopment plans there. Green Street is the current southwestern boundary of the proposed D District.
Jones also asked the council not to consider the presentation as a formal first "reading" because it is still being worked on, which would give the public more chances for review. The council did not change that designation.
In other council business:
-New laws making prostitution deals "disorderly conduct" were approved by the council. Traveling to any Conyers location, or communicating with anyone in Conyers, for the purposes of prostitution or pandering will now be criminal disorderly conduct.
The laws will simplify police stings on hotel prostitution, Police Chief Gene Wilson told the News. Currently, officers have to catch someone exchanging money for sex. The new laws allow the arrest of someone just for arranging for paid sex.
"This way, if they come knocking on the door, we got 'em," Wilson said.
The new laws are inserted into an existing ordinance intended to prevent riots, threats and failure to obey police officers.
-Pavilion-style bathroom facilities will be built at the Cherokee Run Golf Course and the George International Horse Park's Steeplechase area.
Conyers-based Danmark Construction won the construction contract, approved by the council, with a roughly $98,000 bid.
The Steeplechase facility will include a roofed patio area. The golf course facility will require installation of a septic tank.
-Ed Carter and Julia Mauran were reappointed to the Historic Preservation Commission for three-year terms to start Sept. 1.
-The meeting was the first under the council's new security screening policy adopted in the wake of HB 60, the so-called Guns Everywhere law. Attendees were required to pass through the police station and its metal detector. Officers told the News no weapons had been found.
The extra police screening is costing the city a little more overtime money, City Manager Tony Lucas told the News. Plans for similar security at other city buildings are still under review, mostly because of possible cost, he said.