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Assisted living zoning denied

CONYERS -- Developers of the proposed assisted living center on Salem Road backed out of the development, which prompted the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners to deny rezoning of the property.

Avondale Retail LLC had proposed building a 54-room assisted living center on 3 acres at the corner of Salem Road and Avondale Boulevard and sought to have the zoning changed from Neighborhood Commercial to Civic Institutional District inside the Salem Road Corridor Overlay District.

The request received approval by the Conyers Rockdale Planning Commission in November, and officials were looking forward to the addition of 32 potential jobs the center would create.

However, during the BOC work session and regular meeting this week, Marshall Walker with the county's Planning and Zoning Division said the developer had backed out of the project, and the property owner sought to withdraw the rezoning and keep the property as Neighborhood Commercial.

Walker said the developer had run into "funding issues" for the project, but still wanted to build in Rockdale County. He said county staffers were working with the developer to find a new location.

Under the county ordinance, withdrawals of rezoning requests are not allowed once the public hearing process begins. The Board of Commissioners denied the request based on the property owner's request, who will now have to wait six months before filing another rezoning request.

Commissioner Oz Nesbitt questioned this rule during Monday's work session. "I would hate to miss out on any revenue possibilities if someone is waiting in the wings," he said. "Why hold them back six months?"

Walker said the wait period was intended to stem any speculative zoning that could tie up the property from more serious developers.

"We want to make sure they are serious with a development, and the six months also allows them to do their due diligence," Walker said. He added that the Planning and Zoning Division meets with developers to assist them with the proper permits required for a rezoning request.

Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden also asked Walker to clarify that this request to keep the zoning as is came from the property owner and not the developer. Walker said that many times, the property owners are not brought into the process until later and after coming to an agreement with a developer.