This vacant home at 2977 Salem Road is one of four under consideration for rezoning from Civic-Institutional zoning to Mixed-Use Development. All four properties were recommended for approval by the planning staff; however, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners deferred a decision on a second reading of the rezoning ordinances following discussion of another unkempt house in the area that is owned by the owner of this property. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners voted to defer a vote on four Salem Road rezonings after questions arose about the manner in which one of the applicants has maintained another property in the area.
Catherine Mercier-Baggett, a planner in the Rockdale County Planning and Development Department, presented the rezoning requests to the BOC at its Nov. 13 meeting. Mercier-Baggett said the planning staff recommended approval of the rezonings for the four contiguous properties, with the condition that the owners donate the rights of way at the time of development.
The four properties and their owners are: 2949 SE Salem Road, owned by Bernice Carter of Conyers; and 2965 SE Salem Road, 2977 SE Salem Road and 2991 SE Salem Road, all owned by William Mattice Sr. of Tallahassee, Fla. The owners are requesting a zoning change from Civic-Institutional to Mixed-Use Development, which would allow for the possible development of two, two-story buildings for retail/office uses.
During commission discussion last week, Post 2 Commissioner JaNice Van Ness inquired about another property at 3063 Salem Road owned by applicant Mattice Sr. Van Ness said that property has been on the county's code enforcement list "for some time" and asked if any progress had been made toward getting the property up to code.
Mercier-Baggett the rezoning and code enforcement issues are separate and are being addressed separately. She said code enforcement had been working with Mattice but had not made any progress.
Consultant Guy Herring, who represents Carter and Mattice, said he understood that the grass had been cut at the property and the house had been boarded up. In addition, he said discussions are under way with Rockdale Fire and Rescue to use the house for a controlled burn, after which it would be demolished.
Rockdale Fire and Rescue Chief Dan Morgan said he had spoken with a Realtor about the possibility of using the house for a controlled burn just the day before and that there were many preliminaries to be worked out before the property could be used for training. Morgan said he had "made no recommendations or promises" regarding use of the house.
Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt asked if the delay in getting the property secured and up to code was an internal one.
"When we have these types of properties come up ... what steps internally does our zoning department take to communicate and collaborate with its own code enforcement division?" he asked.
Van Ness said she had personally made calls to Mattice in an effort to get the property cleaned up, but without success.
"I have looked at these issues and I can assure you that it is not an internal issue," she said.
"If you go down there you would be appalled at the way that property is being kept," Van Ness added.
The BOC voted unanimously to defer the second reading of the rezoning ordinances.