The city's plan to establish a Village Design District around Ga. Highway 138 met resistance from property owners who will be affected by the proposed zoning change.
While the district has been adopted into the city's zoning ordinance, the official zoning transition hinges on the outcome of two impending public hearings on June 14 and 20. Meanwhile, meetings held in the last two weeks spurred conversations from property owners who are not in favor of some of the architectural and design elements incorporated in the new district.
Former Conyers city manager and former Conyers police chief Roland Vaughn expressed his concerns with the potential zoning change at the Community Development Authority meeting Wednesday. Vaughn, who sits on the Conyers-Rockdale Economic Development Council, a joint venture of the city and county to recruit companies to Rockdale, is now a real estate developer who owned the property where Target and the new Publix are located. Vaughn and his family members still reside on property adjacent to the Millers Crossing Shopping Center, and speaking on behalf of them he said he firmly opposes a zoning change.
"The government ought not be regulating rezoning of property just for the heck of it," Vaughn told authority members. "Make it an option, not a necessity."
According to city planning officials, the Village Design district, which will gradually replace the current Mixed-Use Development district, encompasses 435 acres surrounding Highway 138 from intersection of Interstate 20 to the
Millers Chapel commercial development.
Officials hope establishing this type of district will expand the city's economic and tax base by putting quality standards in place that will oversee redevelopment and growth. The purpose of the VD district, according to City Planner JP Alexander, is to encourage attractive and sustainable development along the Hwy 138/Ga. 20 corridor by eliminating zoning incompatibilities and promoting smart growth so that the city can compete throughout the metro area to attract high-quality retail and high-quality jobs. Integrating all aspects of the VD district is expected to be a gradual process that will transpire over the next 10 to 20 years.
But Vaughn, who is also the developer of the Henson Village subdivision located across Hwy 20 from Target, feels that the zoning regulations required under the VD district are too obtrusive. He explained that many of the design elements incorporated in that development are in sync with the VD design elements though Henson Village was built long before the VD district was established.
In response to Vaughn's comments, Community Development Authority chairman Dr. John Fountain said that the city "has some things we want to accomplish but we don't want to be intrusive." Over the next month city officials will continue to discuss the specifics involved in the district and the public will have further chances to express concerns at a planning commission hearing that will be held at the Courthouse June 14 followed by the city council's hearing at City Hall on June 20.