Owners of vacant properties will now have to register the buildings with the City of Conyers or face stiff fines and even jail time.
The new registration requirement for vacant or foreclosed properties was approved by City Council at its Oct. 15 meeting. The goals are to keep better track of buildings that may harm public safety and property values-and to have a contact person on record to hold responsible.
"No structures are exempted," said city planning and zoning chief Marvin Flanigan, explaining the new law applies to residential, commercial and industrial sites.
"Vacant" doesn't just mean "empty." To fall under the registration requirement, it must be vacant and totally shut down for at least 60 days. A building that still has utilities turned on won't be considered vacant, Flanigan said. The same goes for a multi-unit building that has only one unit occupied.
Buildings that stopped construction part-way also must be registered if they have no active, valid building permits.
The registration fee is $100. The penalties for not registering: a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.
Besides requiring owners to register, officials also will survey the city and compiled their own inventory of apparently vacant properties. As a starting point, they'll use a list the police department already maintains for public safety reasons.
In other council business:
-The ice-skating rink will return to the Olde Town Pavilion on S. Main Street this season, operating Nov. 21 through Feb. 8. The council approved a deal with Have An Ice Day Productions of Monroe, which will operate the rink and reimburse the city for water and power.
-Council members briefly discussed Conyers' appearance in a Sept. 28 New York Times article about the phenomenon of suburban cities continuing to have majority-white leaders while the population shifts to majority-black. The context was the enormously controversial police killing in August of a black teen in Ferguson, Mo., where a similar demographic difference has been widely cited as a key problem. The story used Conyers as an example with less obvious government-citizen friction, but still reporting some political disconnection and mistrust of the police among black residents. Councilmen Vince Evans and Cleveland Stroud were among those interviewed.
At the meeting, the councilmen only joked about the article, with Evans noting his sole quote in print was, "I don't know why." Mayor Randy Mills indicated he was not fully aware of the story and asked for a copy.
-The council approved a beer and wine retail sales license for Pantry Corner Conyers (applicant San Philip/Future Oil II, LLC) at 1165 Irwin Bridge Road, Suites A and B.
-The new Church's Chicken coming soon to the former Blockbuster Video building at Sigman Road and Ga. Hwy. 20 will not be paired with Dunkin' Donuts as originally planned, Mills and Evans said earlier this week at the Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council board meeting. The Dunkin' Donuts needed a separate drive-through window, but that ran afoul of the zoning code and was rejected by the council in June. According to CREDC Executive Director Marty Jones, the Church's owner is seeking two other tenants to fill the rest of the building.