Neighbors help block developers’ plans in north Macon


Liz Fabian

The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission considers rezoning a parcel at 5171 Bowman Road for an assisted living, memory care facility.

About two dozen people packed into the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission hearing Monday to oppose planned projects in north Macon.

Residents of the Wesleyan Hills subdivision spoke against proposed rezoning of a nearly 10-acre tract of adjacent land from Single Family Residential District to Planned Development Extraordinary District.

Braemar Partners of Marietta is petitioning to allow an assisted living/memory care facility and two future offices on outparcels at 5171 Bowman Road.

“I think there are lots of concerns,” said neighbor Karen Lambert, who spoke against the project. “It’s a commercial development that’s sandwiched in to a property that’s not adequate.”

Her backyard boundary would be about 90 ft. from the main building under the current site plan. Developers said due to the flood plain and lay of the land, the building could only be shifted another 15 feet from Lambert’s property.

Lambert says she supports the need for that type of facility in Macon but the land next to her is “not the right property for that.”

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Valerie Wynn, who represents that portion of north Macon, also opposed the project.

“We have encroachment on our neighborhoods more and more,” Wynn said.

Commissioners reviewed plans for the 82-unit “residential style” building and shared concerns.

“It feels to me to be a massive shift to the parcels around them,” P&Z Commissioner Josh Rogers said. “It’s not adequate to buffer the two different uses from single family to something as dense as this.”

Commissioner Bryan Scott said: “I just don’t like the site plan.”

Scott wants the developers to add buffers between their buildings and the neighborhood.

Commission chairwoman Jeane Easom also objected to potential offices along Bowman Road in front of the residential assisted living and memory care building.

“It’s a residential area. There’s no transition here,” Easom said. “Even if they look like residences it’s asking too much of this neighborhood.”

The rezoning request was deferred to Jan. 13 to allow the developers to alter the site plan and reverse location of the outparcel parking lots off the road to the back of the proposed outparcel buildings.

Special to the CCJ

Providence neighbors oppose changes to development

Several residents of the Providence neighborhood vented their concerns about changes proposed to a new mixed-use development that’s been approved at the entrance to their community on Bass Road.

Cunningham & Company Engineers asked the commission to allow them to alter the plan to eliminate an approved retaining wall and create a new proposed driveway into the retail and office complex being built.

Providence resident Rob Morton spoke in favor of the changes as a “compromise to get more attractive landscape.”

Neighbor Jimmy Rousey argued against the changes, telling the commission: “This plan has kinda morphed. It’s kinda gotten out of control.”

Rousey also was upset that a buffer of natural wetlands vegetation that was expected to remain along Providence Boulevard has been cut down by the owner of that sliver of land along the road.

“We were promised a buffer all the way up,” Rousey said.

Neighbor Jean Holland wants that buffer replaced.

Special to the CCJ
Revised site plans for the Bass Road mixed-use development show a proposed driveway for the complex off Providence Boulevard.

She also fears traffic will back up on Providence Boulevard toward Bass Road as cars turn left into the complex at the proposed new driveway.

“We feel like our trust of what was promised and what is being done doesn’t exist,” Holland told the commission. “What you approved is not what’s being done.”

Providence neighbor Adam Howard thinks a driveway off Providence Boulevard will cause people to cut through the business complex and avoid the traffic light.

Easom agrees.

The developers secured approval for the driveway from Nigel Floyd, director of Macon-Bibb County Traffic Engineering. They say the curb cut would allow the 400 Providence residents to access the retail businesses without going all the way to Bass Road.

Holland told commissioners no one knows what businesses will eventually be there so neighbors can’t say whether the entrance will be useful to them.

Howard hasn’t found support for it.

“From our standpoint, the residents do not want this. They want the retaining wall as was agreed to in April.”

About 60 neighbors signed a petition opposing the change to the original plan.

The proposed revision would align the driveway with an entrance to a memory care facility being built across Providence Boulevard.

“The neighborhood is clearly opposed,” Commissioner Josh Rogers said. “There’s nothing in evidence… saying the safety of Macon-Bibb citizens relies on the driveway.”

Commissioner Tim Jones said: “This adds an additional challenge for the neighborhood.”

Applause rang out in the room when the commission denied the revision to the site plan and approved grading the land and adding the retaining wall along the boulevard.

Sonny’s BBQ on Zebulon Road hits zoning snag

Although developers of the Lofts at Zebulon believe a sit-down Sonny’s BBQ restaurant is consistent with their plans, the Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning Commission isn’t sure.

Cunningham & Company Engineers is asking for conditional use of the property at 5801 Zebulon Road for the 4,700 sq. ft. building on 1.61 acres on the southwest corner of the property.

When the loft project was approved, fast food restaurants with drive-thrus were restricted along with car washes, tire stores and automotive businesses.

Special to The Telegraph
A new Sonny’s BBQ proposed for 5801 Zebulon Road will include a covered patio.

The new Sonny’s would have a “pickup window” and order board at the rear of the building, which commissioners questioned in light of the drive-thru restrictions.

Commissioners deferred the request until Jan. 13 to allow time to consider whether the 200-seat eatery is appropriate for the property.

Downtown Lofts delay

Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning commissioners also deferred consideration of a certificate of appropriateness for construction of six luxury lofts at 598 Third St.

The planned expansion of Spa Medical and Vein Specialists of the South has been approved but revisions to the site plan must be approved by the Design Review Board before the full commission can vote.

Although plans were discussed at a recent Design Review Board, there wasn’t a quorum to take a vote, P&Z executive director Jim Thomas said.

Special to the CCJ
Architectural plans show renovations designed for 598 Third St. at the corner of Plum Street in downtown Macon.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected].