Conyers to review new zoning

CONYERS -- The city of Conyers is looking to overhaul the city's zoning.

The Conyers Department of Planning and Inspection Services presented changes to the city's zoning plan at the City Council's summer retreat last month at Stone Mountain Park. The proposed zoning included changes to the Townhouse district for single families, Multi-Family Residential zone and discussions about the Mixed-Use and Opportunity zones.

The proposed zoning also will change requirements for existing townhouse district and RM zoning, and replace the Mixed-use Village Overlay district with the Village Design district.

"The purpose behind rewriting this code is not only to improve the usability and the flexibility, but also to support the redevelopment of the older shopping centers along (Ga. Highway) 138," said Conyers City Planner J.P. Alexander. "Also, it will incorporate visions for adaptive reuse."

The zoning will consist of Tier One, residential, and Tier Two, commercial. The zoning will provide a transition between single family, multi-family and commercial zoning.

"What we're proposing is Tier One still keeps most of its uses," Alexander said. "What we're proposing is Tier One get rid of town homes and become straight single family."

The city of Atlanta has used a similar zoning to develop similar areas.

"I don't think it's going to bring too much negative feedback," said Marvin Flanagan, director of Planning and Inspection Services. "For years, people have complained and moaned and groaned about the look of 138, it started developing in the mid '70s, and here it is 2011 -- it's probably time for a face change out there."

Revision of the city's Mixed-Use (MxD) and Opportunity zones are also being planned. Those zone cover an undeveloped area between Interstate 20 and Green Street.

"It's a big dead zone and what y'all need to understand is that's the future of Conyers," Flanagan told the council members, "This (zoning) puts us on the ground floor to comply with the future."

Flanagan said the MxD zoning will bring structures in the area, many of which are dilapidated or in poor shape, back into zoning.

"It's different -- they're having to look at what a building looks like," Flanagan said. "For Conyers to grow and look good, this is where we have to go."

Councilman Marty Jones said he agreed with Flanagan that the area is the future of Conyers and needs to be updated.

"Actually this area is bringing Conyers down," Flanagan said. "I feel like this is something we need to put in place."

The Department of Planning and Inspection also proposed expanding the city's Opportunity zone.

The state offers tax incentives for redevelopment in older commercial and industrial areas, referred to as opportunity zones. J.P. Alexander, city planner, said the city has had problems marketing the area.

"A lot of businesses are having trouble coming up with the usage requirements," Alexander said. The zone requires the average salary at a business be at least $11.85 an hour.

The zone change will have to go through public forums, the zoning commission and the City Council before it goes into effect.

"This is an opportunity for the council to really make a mark," Flanagan said.