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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

P&Z unanimously denies high-density neighborhood on Lamar Road

Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning Commission considered residents’ complaints about traffic, drainage issues and crowded schools
Liz Fabian
Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning commissioners discuss a planned high-density neighborhood proposed for the 800 bock of Lamar Road during the March 25 meeting.

Dozens of northwest Bibb County residents successfully blocked rezoning Tuesday for more than 100 proposed homes for a high-density neighborhood in the 800 block of Lamar Road.

On March 4, Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission deferred making a decision after Chair Jeane Easom commented that 120 homes on nearly 35 acres were “maybe a little too dense.” 

Easom asked engineer Steve Rowland to “bring us a better plan” with fewer houses and more greenspace in what is considered a cluster development because of the smaller 6,000-square-foot lots. 

For this week’s hearing, the developers reduced the number of houses to 113 and added 2.7 acres of greenspace and an additional natural buffer around the subdivision border. 

Rowland said the new plan had a good balance of infrastructure cost and housing to make the neighborhood affordable in the current economy.

“We’ve seen development costs nearly double in the past few years,” Rowland said. “I’d say we’ve gotten to the point where the higher density or more compact is what we have to do to make sure the houses are not priced out of reach for anyone.”

Attorney Justin Hollingsworth, who represents neighbors in the LaGrange Place subdivision behind the proposed site, said the current agricultural zoning would allow for 35 homes on that property. 

“That’s more dense than is being used on 50 of the surrounding parcels,” Hollingsworth said. 

He also raised concerns that the two proposed greenspaces are not his idea of usable space for recreation, but “leftover land that can’t be developed” on the property.

Zoning regulations for cluster neighborhoods require areas for amenities to compensate for smaller lot sizes.

“I think the intent is to use parks and usable land, not overgrown land mosquitos are grown in,” Hollingsworth said. 

Neighbor Sam Hollis said the six-inch sewer line for LaGrange Place is not sufficient for the development that’s come around it, including the Howard school complex. 

Lake Wildwood neighbors also spoke against the development due to stormwater runoff concerns in their gated community that is regularly inundated by flooding. 

“You have a responsibility to us to make sure this water is not flooding us out,” Lake Wildwood resident Linda Hurd told P&Z.

Carl Fambro testified that his family has lived on Lamar Road for over a century and he has seen the old family farms become sprawling shopping centers.

Residents opposed to a new high-density subdivision in the 800 block of Lamar Road say drivers already speed down the street that they think is too narrow to accommodate additional traffic. (Liz Fabian)

It’s dangerous for his relatives to pull in and out of their driveway and get the mail on the narrow two-lane road where drivers often speed, he said. 

“Approval of this new project will require new road construction and drainage control,” Fambro said. 

He said his opposition does not stem from a “not in my backyard” philosophy because they already accepted nearby major development.

Easom chided the opposition at the March 4 hearing for rejecting “anything that will mess with their lifestyle and greenspace” because “that mentality is not going to help Macon grow” as available land is in short supply. 

One-acre lots would be much more acceptable than the 3.23 houses per acre in the proposal, she said. 

“In this case, I don’t think we have to push the envelope here,” Easom said. “I’m going to say, I don’t think this is a good project.”

The newest P&Z member, Robby Redmond, agreed that a 35-home development “conforms more to the area” and wouldn’t be as big a burden on already overcrowded schools. 

P&Z Commissioner Mindy Attaway said while she appreciated the developer adding greenspace, but it was not enough for her to approve the project. 

She cited the “generations of property owners,” like Fambro and other families that would be affected. 

Commissioners voted unanimously against rezoning the property from agricultural to R-1 residential to allow cluster homes. They also denied the accompanying application to reduce the lot widths under the plan.

The next P&Z hearing is April 8 when the office begins its move to Macon Mall. 

Aside from that hearing, Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning will be closed for regular business from April 8-12 for the relocation. 

The new office will be across from the armed services recruiting offices on the lower level of the mall on the Mercer University side. The closest mall entrance is near the old Sears department store that is now home to two new courtrooms and the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections. 

Other agenda items

  • 2485 Carlton Way — Certificate of Appropriateness granted for exterior modifications to siding, columns, window, door and landscaping. 
  • 552 New St. — P&Z approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for renovations and repairs to a one-story, commercial brick building built in 1920. Applicant Todd Ussery plans to replace the front door and window, add a downspout and install a balcony on the rear of the building that he plans to convert for residential use.
  • 521 Mulberry St. — New signs approved for Robins Financial Credit Union’s new location in the former Atlanta Postal Credit Union at the corner of Third Street. Robins plans to remove the time and temperature sign at the front of the building as part of the rebranding. 
  • 720 North Ave. —  P&Z approved the conditional use of a former law office as an EMS academy. Most classes will be delivered online and no ambulances are expected on site. 
  • 607 Paul St. — Conditional use approval granted for a two-story duplex to be built on the property. Two 1,224-square-foot, three-bedroom apartments will go up on the 0.37-acre parcel. 
  • 4580 N. Mumford Road — P&Z rezoned 4.3 acres of agricultural land to a mixed use, planned development. The Georgia Industrial Children’s Home donated the parcel to neighboring Wesley Glen Ministries, which needed the rezoning to be able to combine the new tract with its existing 50-acre property. Macon-Bibb County does not allow split-zoning on one parcel of land.
  • 3651 Northside Drive and 175 Tom Hill Sr. Blvd. — Hertz car rental company can add 13 more vehicles to its on-site fleet by using additional spaces in the Rivergate Shopping Center adjacent to the Pet Supermarket. In 2009, P&Z originally approved the conditional use of the car rental office with 12 vehicles as long as there was no servicing or car washing on the premises. Staff recommended approval since the departure of the Publix grocery store and 14-screen movie theater has decreased demand for parking.  

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

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