CONYERS -- Plans for a large mixed-use development in Conyers failed to get the support of the Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission Thursday night.
Planning Commission members voted 3 to 2 to recommend denial of the Four A International rezoning application and corresponding change to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Members Max McFarlin and Karen Benton voted in favor of the recommendation, with members Allan Jones, Jerry Shepherd and Linda Carter opposed. Member Chuck Russell abstainedbecause, he said, he didn't feel that the project had the support of the residents.
The controversial issue will now go back to the Conyers City Council, where members deferred a vote on the rezoning in June, saying they needed more information before making a decision. The council will consider the issue again at its July 17 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers on Scott Street.
City planners presented a lengthy list of conditions with their request for approval of the 308-acre rezoning Thursday night, including a plan that would require phasing of the development. In response to concerns from council members at the June 12 council meeting that the development might lean too heavily toward multi-family in the initial days of construction, planners included requirements for phasing the development.
Under the conditions for phasing:
-- For the first 50 percent of the total number of multi-family dwellings, or 220, whichever is the lesser of the two, the developer shall build a minimum of 11 detached single-family homes and provide a minimum of 1,000 square feet of gross leasable floor area of office and/or retail for every 20 multi-family dwellings constructed.
-- For the second 25 percent of the total number of multi-family dwellings, or 110, whichever is the lesser of the two, the developer will be required to build a minimum of 22 detached single-family dwellings and provide a minimum of 1,500 square feet of gross leasable floor area of officer or retail space for every 10 multi-family dwellings.
-- For the third 25 percent of the total number of multi-family dwellings, or 105, whichever is less, the developer will be required to build a minimum of 67 detached single-family homes and provide a minimum of 2,000 square feet of gross leasable floor area of office or retail for every five multi-family dwellings.
-- During the same time, the developer will be required to build no more than 145 townhouses or 50 percent of the total number of townhouses that may be built, whichever is the lesser of the two.
-- At the conclusion of the initial phases of the residential, retail and office construction, the developer will be free to construct the balance of the detached single-family and townhouse dwellings and additional office and retail space as determined by the market.
Planners also attempted to address concerns about the potential traffic impact to Johnson Road, limiting points of ingress and egress to the development from the two-lane winding road to five and requiring at least 660 feet between them. Conyers Planning and Engineering Director Marvin Flanigan stressed that all road improvements within the development and on roads adjacent to the development will be done at the expense of the developer.
The proposed development would be built on property located south of Interstate 20 and bounded by Flat Shoals Road, Johnson Road and Iris Drive. Development plans call for a maximum of 1,451 housing units -- 726 single-family detached homes, 290 townhomes and 435 multi-family units. The proposed project also includes 300,000 square feet of retail space and more than 200,000 square feet of office space.
Residents who spoke at the Planning Commission meeting Thursday reiterated previously heard concerns about traffic, school overcrowding, demands on county infrastructure and too much multi-family housing.
David Shipp, who has previously spoken against the development, said the impact on schools would outweigh any property tax revenue realized from the project. While the project is estimated to bring in $1.6 million annually in city property taxes, Shipp said, it costs $7,832 per year to educate one child in the Rockdale County School System. If just one child per housing unit attends the public school system, the annual impact would exceed $11 million, he said.
"That money has to come from somewhere, and it will be coming from the taxpayers of Rockdale County," he said.
One resident, Brian Jenkins, spoke in favor of the project.
"I want to stand and convince this commission that because of the fact that you don't see this place packed with supporters is no way an indication that this thing isn't a fantastic project," he said.
Four A International is requesting an amendment to the city's Comprehensive Land use Plan from General Commercial to Special Mixed-use Activity Center and to rezone 308 acres from the General Business with conditions to the Mixed-use Development district.