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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

P&Z approves new Napier Commons apartments, barber school

Planning & Zoning to host meetings on historic district regs, OKs PVC in renovation and incentive pay boost for workers
Liz Fabian
Napier Commons developers plan to use the old Bellevue School gymnasium as a community center.

The new Napier Commons apartment complex will go up on the site of the old Bellevue School, and Macon’s historic district regulations are under review with public meetings planned this month.

At Monday’s hearing, the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission again faced the limitations of the current code when it comes to materials used in historic restorations, but the main item of discussion involved plans for 120 apartments at 4090 Napier Ave.

Commissioners Kesia Stafford and Tim Jones raised traffic concerns due to the proximity of the entrance to the traffic light at Ayers Road, Napier and Park Street.

“There’s already a traffic problem at that intersection. Is there any way the entrance could be moved farther down Napier?” Jones asked. “That turn lane for Ayers Road, it’s already a mess.”

Napier Commons, a 120-unit apartment complex, is planned on the old Bellevue School campus at 4090 Napier Ave. (

Steve Rowland of Roland Engineering agreed to shift the driveway as far east as possible and planned to restripe the road with a center turn lane.

P&Z Chair Jeane Easom asked Rowland if the apartments would be market rate, and he replied that he assumed it would be some type of affordable housing. 

Considering that New Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church was listed as the owner on the application, Easom asked if the church was going to own and operate the complex.

Rowland said his client has the property under contract with the church, which bought it from the board of education for $110,000 in 2018, according to tax records

The Commissioners agreed to rezone the 5.7 acres from R-2, two-family residential, to multi-family R-3 to allow the five, three-story, 24-unit buildings that will reach about 40 feet high. 

P&Z also signed off on the height, which exceeds the standard 35 feet. 

Rowland plans to keep the old school gymnasium for use as a community center for residents, but other buildings on the property will be torn down. 

Barber school and historic regs

Commissioners also approved a new barber school at 4551 Billy Williamson Drive in the old Petsmart location off Presidential Parkway.

Three years ago, Ajanae Smith opened a similar Scales Barber Academy in McDonough and plans to open his second location across from Home Depot “to equip students with technical skills, business acumen, and professionalism needed to excel in the barbering industry.” 

Smith’s hours of operation will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The academy plans to have 20 students and employ four workers. 

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission is rewriting regulations governing historic home renovations like this one on Georgia Avenue. (Liz Fabian)

P&Z also ratified the Design Review Board’s decision to allow the use of PVC material in restoring a house at 1120 Georgia Ave

Historic home renovator Jeremy Rosier showed photos of rotted wood on the front porch column boxes of the 1890 house. He convinced the DRB that using sheets of polyvinyl chloride would be better material than today’s lumber that does not have the durability of the old heart pine.

Because PVC is not an approved material under historic district guidelines, he must appear before P&Z for each application because staff cannot make an exception without board approval, although the DRB agrees in principle.

“The notion of using materials like was originally used is really not practical. This wood you buy today… it’s going to deteriorate pretty fast. I don’t think anybody in this room is going to live long enough to see the three-quarter PVC look anything like the way the wood is deteriorating,” said DRB’s Trey Wood. 

Both the DRB and P&Z approved Rosier’s permit as long as he removes a center column that was not original to the house and installs a reinforcing beam instead. 

Changes to historic district regulations are pending. 

The public is invited to provide input at meetings June 20 at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame from noon until 1 p.m. and from 6 to 7 p.m. 

All residents, property owners and other stakeholders from the Central Business District, Vineville, Beall’s Hill, Intown and Cherokee Heights neighborhoods are encouraged to attend.

P&Z hired consultant Ethos Preservation to go over the regulations which have not been updated in decades, in most cases. Learn more about the design guidelines and the ongoing process at

Realtor Veronica Spann addressed the commission during public comments and urged them to bring Macon into the 21st Century with its codes and governing land resolution, and to lower its fees. Spann had a list of suggested text amendments that she said would have cost her $30,000 to officially bring before the board. 

“I think that the community as a whole thinks these should be more affordable,” Spann said.

P&Z Executive Director Jeff Rugierri has already drawn up a new fee structure that will take effect later this summer. 

After holding a brief executive session to discuss personnel matters, commissioners approved a $2,500 pay incentive for P&Z employees.

Rugierri said savings from three unfilled positions enables the department to match a similar incentive bonus already awarded to other county departments. 

“Retention is super important for us. We have such a great group here,” Rugierri said. “As everybody knows, filling positions is a challenge but we’re doing our best to keep our best people.” 

He wants to hire a couple of planners to assist in doing research and other tasks. Jobs are posted at the career tab at

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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