Mayor and council set annual retreat

CONYERS -- Economic development, community development and possibly the city's sign ordinance, along with other "percolating" issues, will be discussed during the upcoming Conyers City Council retreat next month.

The mayor and council will travel to Lake Lanier Jan. 29 through 31 to discuss city issues.

"A major part of it would be on the economic development because we got a lot of things happening right now," said Mayor Randy Mills, mentioning the downtown district.

Mills said there are also some developments percolating on the south side of Interstate 20.

"That developer is seeing the light on the end of the tunnel," Mills said.

Next year will be the key year for getting final plans in place to start moving projects in the development phase, "hopefully by 2011, 2012," according to Mills.

And the biannual retreats, one in January and the other follow-up session in August, will establish the vision priorities for the year.

"You'll see policies established and set ... so it does set the stage for the planning and for those items to come up," Mills said of the retreat. "It's a critical meeting for us because we do set the stage."

Mills explained it will also be a time to revisit and make sure the city is still on track with its vision.

"We go around and review where we've been and where we want to go," Mills said. "It kind of sets the agenda."

The city's department heads also attend the retreat, present reports and match city leadership's vision.

A lot of internal debate typically goes on, according to Mills, but it is all part of the brainstorming process.

"But at the end of the day, the best ideas surface," Mills said.

The retreat is open to the public.

Mills mentioned there will be "some tweaking" on the city's sign ordinance, but the major rewrites were already done when the city made amendments to align the ordinance with state law.

Marvin Flanigan, director of planning and inspection services, said nothing has been specified yet, but his department is researching the city's sign ordinance. He hopes to have something to present to the mayor and council in January.

"We're really looking at the sign standards to be kind of equal across the board in all the zoning districts," Flanigan said. "We're kind of looking at the square footage of the signs, as well as the height of the sign."

City officials started looking at amendments to the ordinance in the latter part of the summer, Flanigan said.

"Really, what we want to come out of this, besides the nuts and bolts ... we want to make sure that we're on the same page and the vision is always moving forward," Mills said.