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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

P&Z fence violation could prompt veteran’s move

Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning reverses Design Review Board decision on College Street, approves south Bibb neighborhood redesign
Liz Fabian
The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission held its last hearing Monday at Terminal Station before the office moves to Macon Mall.

A veteran suffering from PTSD said he might have to move because the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission won’t let him keep his 12-foot privacy fence that he erected without a permit. 

Ronnie Jackson’s new wooden fence along his property line at 2674 Penbrook Lane is closer than 10 feet to the right-of-way, 4 feet taller than the 4 feet allowed in the front yard, and 2 feet taller than the maximum of 10 feet that is allowed in his backyard. 

“I hate to try to relocate and move out of Bibb County, but I’m having issues,” Jackson told P&Z at Monday’s hearing, which was held at Terminal Station for the last time before this week’s move to Macon Mall. 

Jackson said the fence and security lights he installed have curtailed break-ins on the dimly lit street. 

Because his neighbor’s house sits up high, Jackson said he needed the 12-foot fence to shield himself from view when he is enjoying his morning coffee out by the pool. 

The application also noted someone recently shattered his car window with a BB gun. 

P&Z staff was willing to grant a variance for the backyard fencing due to the sloping topography and limited view from the street, as long as Jackson removed the part too close to the right-of-way and trimmed the front fence to 4 feet. 

Commissioners were conscious of other recent fence rulings where property owners had to cut down part of the fence to come into compliance and denied Jackson’s request to keep the fence as is. 

“Being a veteran, I do understand PTSD, but unfortunately our codes are our codes,” P&Z’s Kesia Stafford told Jackson. 

Commissioner Tim Jones agreed. 

“I appreciate your service and appreciate your condition, but zoning rules are zoning rules,” Jones said. 

College Street turnaround

P&Z reversed Design Review Board approval for an expanded concrete driveway at the Fickling home on College Street in favor of an earlier design. (Liz Fabian)

The Fickling family’s redesign for a safer exit from their historic district driveway hit a snag. 

Although the Design Review Board approved an expanded concrete driveway on April 1, P&Z concurred with staff’s ruling that a larger drive, change of materials and new fence would alter the characteristics of the historic property at 535 College St.

P&Z previously approved using concrete pavers to expand the original brick walkway from 6 feet to 8 feet to create a semi-oval driveway. The Ficklings are trying to prevent cars from having to back out near the Washington Avenue intersection on the busy road. 

At the DRB meeting earlier this month, landscape architect Laurie Fickling proposed using concrete scored in 5-foot blocks instead of pavers, and widening the driveway to 15 feet 8 inches in front of the house, which DRB’s Trey Wood had suggested be expanded to allow a greater turning radius.

The newly proposed driveway tapers to 12 feet, 3 inches at each curb. 

DRB Chair Will Stanford was concerned that expansion would encourage parking in front of the home, which is not allowed in the historic district. 

Fickling also told the DRB that the old iron fence in front of her brother’s home was difficult to salvage, so she proposed building brick piers and adding plain railings. 

While the DRB staff thought the changes were inappropriate, the DRB advisory board approved the project. 

P&Z’s Historic Preservation Planner Maryam Yarahmadi disagreed. She said the concrete design looked more commercial than the current brick aesthetic that is “so beautiful and charming for the street.”

P&Z voted to remove the application from its consent agenda, but the Ficklings were not present at the hearing.

Chair Jeane Easom and Commissioner Jones thought there was too much concrete for the small front yard. 

“When they bought the house, the neighborhood was the neighborhood,” Jones said. “Can’t change the character of the neighborhood.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the new application and revert back to the approved plan. 

“I’m sorry if it costs a lot of money,” Easom said. 

South Bibb truck parking approved

In 2022, P&Z approved an application to display accessory buildings for sale in the 4900 block of Sardis Church Road. That property will now house a truck parking lot. (Liz Fabian)

A new parking lot to hold 100 tractor trailers will be going in at 4970, 4992 Sardis Church Road and 7116 Nowell Road South.

Bolt Truck Parking plans to have big rigs enter and exit on a one-way path coming from the neighboring Quik Trip and exiting on Nowell.

“We still have a parking situation in Bibb County,” Jones said. 

Assistant Zoning Director Butch Sementelli said the lot will be gated, just like Love’s across the interstate.

“Love’s is full and they’ve been parking on Frank Amerson Parkway,” Sementelli said. 

P&Z unanimously approved the new project on land that displayed accessory buildings for sale in 2022. 

‘Woods at Ocala’ redesign, Mercer rezoning 

Nearly 20 years after construction began on the Woods at Ocala neighborhood, a revised Phase 3 will be going in at 6755 Vinson Road.

Engineer Steven Rowland wants to build 123 homes on 50.25 undeveloped acres of the subdivision that was originally approved for a total of 234 houses in 2004.

Phases 1 and 2 only built 108 houses and a 2022 permit for 109 houses in Phase 3 expired.

Commissioners unanimously approved the conditional use permit for the new site plan.

There was no debate over rezoning 250 Mercer Junction, 5151 Mercer University Drive

from a planned mixed-use development to the heavy industrial district M-2 for a new distribution center.

HFG Development plans to build a 498,000-square-foot industrial warehouse complex with 125 loading docks on two parcels. 

The April 15 meeting of the Design Review Board and the April 22 P&Z meeting will take place in the new county offices on the lower level of Macon Mall. P&Z’s new quarters are across from the military recruiting offices close to the old Sears on the Mercer University Drive side.

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

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