City OKs curfew for minors

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS -- The city council approved a curfew for minors in public places within the city.

According to the ordinance, children 16 years old and under are prohibited from being in public places -- whether indoors or outdoors -- between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Curfew hours on Friday and Saturday are 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. The minors must be under adult supervision and in the adult's physical presence during curfew. Public places include playgrounds, roads, eating places and places of amusement.

Parents who knowingly allow their children to break curfew or fail to efficiently control their children can be penalized by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail, if found guilty in Municipal Court.

Mayor Randy Mills and councilmembers unanimously voted for the ordinance adoption during Wednesday's regular meeting.

The council's public safety committee held a public meeting March 23 about the ordinance. Councilmember Cleveland Stroud stressed Wednesday that officials will use discretion for children out past curfew for school-related events. The ordinance also makes provisions for other extenuating circumstances.

Officials also approved a parking ordinance that would allow the police department to address parking determined to be a safety hazard because it interferes with emergency vehicles.

There was also a first reading for the city's special events ordinance. The biggest change in the ordinance is the requirement from 48-hours notice for a permit to a 30-day notice.

Mills brought up February's City Council meeting where several residents spoke in opposition to the long time it would take for a special events permit. Some of the dissenting citizens even argued the ordinance may infringe on their constitutional rights.

The proposed ordinance says, "constitutionally-protected activities" requiring street closing or compromising public safety response would require a 20-day notice. Public demonstrations that are not blocking a public street or right of way, such as sidewalk picketing, would be exempt from the permit requirements. Small private gatherings on private property were also exempt.

Mills asked Wednesday where all the people went. He pointed to the March meeting and other opportunities the public had to express concern and ask questions.

"So I guess they all just agreed with everything and got happy with it," Mills said.

The ordinance will come up for a second reading and before adoption.

The mayor commended the police department and public safety committee for their work on the ordinances.

"Hopefully, this will be a great deterrent to some of the criminal element," Mills said.

In other city business, officials approved two parcels for greenspace. The first purchase was a roughly 5-acre tract between Oakland Avenue and Bryant Street for $21,000. Through a $250,000 agreement, the city also bought a little less than 5 acres at 1123 and 1113 Oakland Ave.

City Manager Tony Lucas explained after the meeting that the city is trying to protect that area. He pointed to the city's Livable Centers Initiative study in early 2009 that looked for ways to best develop the 424-acre tract identified as Central Conyers.

"We've talked about it for some time -- if we could and could afford it -- to protect that property and then decide how to use it in the future," Lucas said. "The long-range plans would be to put a nice park that would actually parallel with the PATH and bring us back to Olde Town."