LGBTQ lounge, Columbus Road subdivision, new event center approved by P&Z

Commissioners also voted to cancel two upcoming meetings near Thanksgiving and Christmas


Liz Fabian

Flavorz2 owner Daaiyah Sultan said all are welcome at her LGBTQ-focused coffee shop and lounge going into 368 Second Street.

Not only did the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approve a new LGBTQ coffee shop and lounge for downtown Monday, but some learned a new word – shisha.

Flavorz2 business owner Daaiyah Sultan explains that she not only brews her own brand of coffee, but makes the flavored tobacco used in the hookah pipe.

“We are not just there to be another hookah lounge,” Sultan said. “I make my own shisha.”

For the past seven years, the new Macon resident has been operating similar lounges in Atlanta and Jonesboro, she said.

Outside of Flavorz2
Flavorz2 will cater to the LGBTQ community and others for morning coffee and evening entertainment. (Liz Fabian)

She decided to open up in the old Bodega location at 368 Second Street, which is three doors down from the Hargray Capitol Theatre.

“I’ve had friends within the LGBTQ community that don’t feel as though they have a place,” Sultan said. “Let me take on something I’m already familiar with.”

A flag hangs in the window of the black tile façade of the future lounge.

“Hate has no home here” is spelled in rainbow letters and a heart carries the message “Black lives matter.”

She is getting the “feel of the city,” but recognizes with two courthouses down the street that people are out early.

Some mornings she’ll open at 7 a.m. for the coffee crowd, and stay open after midnight for Monday Night Football and shows on the weekends.

“Entertainment within the LGBTQ community, drag and different things they like to do,” said Sultan, who doesn’t plan on live instruments at this point.

Commissioner Bryan Scott asked about whether the county has a noise policy.

“We’ve had issues with the conflict between live entertainment and the folks living downtown in the lofts. There’s never been resolution to that,” said P&Z Executive Director Jim Thomas.

Noise ordinances don’t address the unique issues facing downtown, Thomas said.

Sultan said she’s spoken to a lot of neighbors who say living downtown, “It’s noisy. It just is.”

Subdivision plan draws opposition

It has been about 16 years since a subdivision was planned around the 7500-7600 block of Columbus Road, but only 56 lots were platted when the recession hit in 2007/2008.

Engineer Steven Rowland petitioned for approval for a 168-lot, single-family detached cluster subdivision on the land, which would require another entrance in the 7500 block of Columbus Road.

A handful of people showed up in opposition, including neighbor Wes Peavy who spoke against the development.

“My issue is the density of the property and it’s right in front of my window,” said Peavy, who has lived there 36 years.

Commissioners went back and forth with Rowland about the number of homes that could be built along the entrance.

They settled for mandating a 50 foot-landscaped-buffer and a 50 foot-setback from that to the first houses. Rowland will configure how many residences would fit after blocking off that land.

Commissioners also asked that the entrance be shifted to the west, so lights from traffic leaving the neighborhood would not shine into Peavy’s home.

Conditional use of the property was granted with those conditions.

‘Get your ducks in a row’

Commissioners had plenty of questions for Jerry Burke, who has leased space in the Mercer Crossings Shopping Center for an event center.

P&Z staff raised concerns there would be no employee on site during the rental period.

“Sounds a little loose to me,” P&Z Chairwoman Jeane Easom said in the administrative meeting before the hearing. “We just need to hear what he has to say.”

Burke explained Suite 101-5 near Ollie’s will be named “The Weekend.”

“I want you to be able to come to this event center and have a weekend feel,” Burke said.

He won’t provide food or alcohol and prohibits live music.

“If it’s allowed,” Burke said he would let those renting the space bring in alcohol and food. “I don’t want to step on any toes.”

That renter or the caterer would need an alcohol license, Easom noted.

With minimal furniture, including a small pool table, Burke’s business will be available for birthday parties, showers, game nights, book clubs and a variety of activities, he said.

Commissioner Tim Jones said he didn’t have a problem with the concept of an events center.

“But to be honest, Mr. Burke, I think your plans are a little vague,” Jones said. “You’re almost asking for our approval for almost anything.”

Commissioner Gary Bechtel asked how Burke would enforce the rental agreement and make sure those using the space vacate on time.

Burke explained he would be the key holder and would be opening up and closing down. He only lives five minutes away and can check on it at any time, he said.

“Can we go on the record with what’s not allowed?” Commissioner Bryan Scott asked.

“No nudity,” Burke answered quickly.

“That’s really about it,” Thomas responded, as to what the law prohibits.

Burke said there will be no live deejays or music except his stereo.

“My radio won’t be tall… nothing major,” he said.

Commissioners unanimously approved the use of the space.

“Get your ducks in a row,” Easom said with a smile as Burke left the meeting.

Commissioners also approved several items the staff had recommended for ratification, including an after-school program for children in the same Mercer Crossing shopping center.

Julian McCastle, of Tokens of Love, will work with ages 5-18 to help them reach success.

Also approved:

5107 College Crossing Drive – River Edge transitional home for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are moving from institutional care.

4635 Hartley Bridge Road – New Captain D’s restaurant will be built to seat 22 people inside the 1,790 square-foot building at the corner of North Trolley Drive.

3360 Millerfield Road – Rhema International Ministries approved to build a nearly 11,000 square-foot-church that will also house a daycare.

6300-6400 Old Forsyth Road – Staff recommended the William L. Hall trust be able to plat property that is not fronting the public right of way as similar requests have been granted.

Upcoming meetings canceled

During Monday’s administrative meeting, P&Z commissioners voted to cancel the Nov. 22 and Dec. 27 meetings due to the proximity of the holidays.

Items that would be considered during those meetings will be shifted to Dec. 13 and Jan. 10, said Zoning Director Randi Doveton.

-Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.