Council OKs mini-warehouse development

CONYERS -- The City Council unanimously approved a rezoning and special use permit Wednesday night for a mini-warehouse development off Flat Shoals Road after developers agreed to a lengthy list of special conditions.

Developers met with city officials last week to work out details of the development proposal, which was recommended for denial by the Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission in October. The City Council had tabled action on the rezoning twice before it came back before the council for a vote Wednesday night.

Special conditions required by the city include stone or stone finish material around the base of the outer warehouse units, with the balance of the exterior walls covered in unpainted brick. Faux patio or porch structures will be required at 40-foot intervals along some of the exterior unit walls. The city also stipulated special conditions for lighting, ornamental fencing, roof pitch, and signage.

Councilman John Fountain, who chairs the Community Development Committee, made a motion for approval of the rezoning request saying that the project had changed significantly from when it was first proposed.

When asked if he understood all of the special conditions, Augusta developer David Miles said he was familiar with the requirements.

"I don't have any objections to making it as nice a building as we can possibly put together," he said.

The council's vote amends the Comprehensive Land use Plan from Multi-family Residential to Special Mixed-use Activity Center and changes the current zoning from Townhouse Residential to the Gateway Village District, with a special use permit to allow general warehousing and storage. The 4.33 acres of property is located just west of the Hunting Creek townhouses and has about 371 feet of frontage on Flat Shoals Road.

Miles also agreed to provide access to the mini-warehouses from Ga. Highway 138 rather than Flat Shoals Road and restrict access to the warehouse units to the interior of the development. Interior storage units would not be visible from the street.

At least two residents of Hunting Creek townhomes had spoken in favor of the rezoning at prior City Council and committee meetings.

Debbie Dollar told committee members last week that she welcomes the mini-warehouses in place of what's already on the vacant property.

"They use it like a dumping ground now ... " said Dollar, who has lived there 20 years. "I think with a building being there ... people would be more apt not to dump and be disrespectful to the property and the property owners."

Not all residents were pleased with the rezoning.

Charles Markwalter, owner of Best Rate Self Storage on Lakefield Drive, told the council during public comments prior to the vote that he and his brother have been part of the Conyers community for more than 16 years. Markwalter said he had surveyed other mini-warehouse owners in the area, and the consensus was that the market is already saturated, with most owners having many vacant units.

"My brother and I feel particularly threatened because this particular site is right in our back yard," Markwalter said. "With the market the way it is, there is no market to draw on except the market we're in.

"We don't mind competition, but we do feel like the zoning regulations were made for a specific purpose, and we'd just like to see this particular request turned down."