Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Wesleyan Woods neighbors lose battle over cluster homes

P&Z commissioner warns residents future high-density development will come if they don’t organize design review district
Liz Fabian
Wesleyan Woods residents packed the Jan. 8 Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission hearing to oppose a high-density development of Rivoli Drive.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission overruled Wesleyan Woods neighbors’ objections and approved 30 “cluster homes” that will be built very close to each other at 4687 Rivoli Drive.

The opposition spoke for more than 30 minutes about increased traffic, fears of declining property values and changing the character of the established neighborhood with its sprawling yards.

At Monday’s hearing, the owners of the 9.6-acre property, Double Eagle Associates, secured rezoning from Residential-1AAA to Planned Development Residential to allow for tighter density on the former single-family property.

The design, which includes a landscaped buffer along the perimeter, will mimic the Abington and Maimont neighborhoods a bit farther north on Rivoli.

A 110-year-old house on the property will be demolished after developers found it would not be cost-effective to save it.

P&Z Commissioner Josh Rogers explained to neighbors living nearby that existing R-1AAA zoning would have allowed 21 homes on that site without P&Z approval.

Double Eagle Associates LLC plans 30 “cluster homes” placed close together on 9.6 acres on Rivoli Drive near Wesleyan Woods Drive. (Liz Fabian)

One of the developers, Wayne Johnson, said they are targeting “empty-nesters” and needed the additional homes to keep prices in the $400,000 range and not jump to $600,000 to $750,000.

In considering his decision, Rogers said he had to weigh the public benefits of the project as designed. He estimated the county would have about $12 million worth of property to tax under the 30-house proposal versus $8 million for 21 homes.

“It’s a more efficient use of land to have a greater density,” Rogers said, which drew grumblings from the neighbors and a stern warning from P&Z Chair Jeane Easom, who threatened to clear the room if there were any other outbursts.

Rogers scribbled calculations on his copy of the agenda and estimated an additional $200,000 in property taxes from this development.

“That’s a huge boon to a county that needs money, and a school district,” Rogers said.

He reasoned that the new homes would not degrade property values but have the opposite effect due to the price-per-square-foot on the new builds. While he said he sympathized with those in opposition, he recognized that this is a sign of Macon’s growing pains.

“There are a lot more people who want to live here now, and it’s hard to adapt to. There are opportunities and challenges to those changes,” Rogers said.

Because the P&Z staff report favored the development along all six of its determining criteria, a denial would likely be overturned on appeal, he said.

To further protect the neighborhood from that kind of cluster development, Rogers encouraged the disgruntled residents to consider forming a Design Review District, such as those governing Beall’s Hill, Vineville and InTown. Those districts require more scrutiny over changes that could alter the character of a neighborhood.

Double Eagle Associates developers said they plan to demolish this 110-year-old home to make way for 30 new homes in the $400,000 price range. (Liz Fabian)

“If in Design Review, they wouldn’t have allowed a developer to demolish that historic house,” Rogers said. “There are a tremendous amount of large lots in your neighborhood. If they become available, anyone can do half-acre lots without anybody’s approval.”

For the new Rivoli project, developers are targeting people looking to downsize from larger homes, but not leave the nearby amenities in north Macon, they said.

P&Z Commissioner Gary Bechtel was the only one to vote against the rezoning and Conditional Use permit for the new homes.

Late night daycare to assist working families, bar denied

Parents working late shifts will have a new option for childcare at Higher Excellence Learning Center at 4433 Roundfield Road, which is not far from Log Cabin Drive.

Sam Hughley, chairman of deacons for New Hope Baptist Church which runs the daycare, said they are negotiating with Atrium Health Navicent to provide daycare for hospital employees.

“Several companies are looking for night care,” Hughley told P&Z.

“Sounds great to me,” Rogers said. “I know it is a huge need.”

P&Z approved expanding the daycare’s hours to be open from 7 a.m. until midnight.

Also in west Macon, Commissioners denied Lanita Hunt’s Conditional Use application to open a bar with live entertainment at 5040 Brookhaven Road in a shopping center which overlooks the Harrison Road Walmart.

Hunt, who did not attend the hearing, intended to operate from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday to Sunday in the 4,400-square-foot storefront at the end of the strip shopping center. Hunt planned to regularly have DJs, bands and karaoke, according to the application.

P&Z unanimously denied the request due to the residential zone adjacent to the shopping center.

“I’m persuaded by the same concerns as staff that this is not an appropriate Conditional Use for this location,” Rogers said. “The proximity to single-family dwellings… I can’t imagine having a bar next door open to 2 a.m.”

Last summer, Macon-Bibb County demolished the closest house to the proposed bar because of its blighted condition, but property along Massey Road remains in a single-family residential zone.


  • 1952 Clinton Road – Rezoning approved to allow construction of new duplexes in a planned development expected to be built in stages. This item was discussed during a prior hearing, but lacked a majority vote due to commissioner absences.
  • 1015 Calhoun St. Variance granted to reduce the minimum lot requirement and the raise maximum lot coverage to create a duplex in a 1900 single-family home in the  Beall’s Hill Historic Preservation District.
  • 1510 Bass Road – Conditional Use granted for a new Mavis Tire Store.
  • 111 Oneal Drive – Conditional Use approved to allow a manufactured home with decks on the property.
  • 635 Womack St. – Conditional Use granted for Johntrell Jackson to run a retail aquaponics farm and bait and tackle business. Jackson would like to rent U-hauls at the same location, but needs to secure approval from traffic engineers for required parking,cc or be granted permission by the neighboring land owner to park vehicles on that lot.

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

More to Discover