Churches oppose alcohol in Beall’s Hill; Senior living expanding in north Macon; New Airport industrial park


Liz Fabian

The pastor of the Power of God Church at 960 Hazel St. was one of several people speaking out against a restaurant serving wine and beer in Beall’s Hill.

Although the Beall’s Hill Neighborhood Association is strongly behind a new restaurant, nearby churches fought the project during Monday’s Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

In November, P&Z approved Robert Fisher’s plan to build Mamas Rogue Southern Cooking in the old Korner Kupboard building at 1182 Calhoun St. No one spoke against the project last fall.

At the time, Fisher told commissioners he was hoping to reach an agreement with Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church to share their parking lot. Zoning requires 31 spaces for the restaurant and catering kitchen.

He originally planned to be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, closing as late as 10 p.m.

Not only did the church not offer its parking lot, several people spoke against the project due to plans to serve beer and wine, host live music and use on-street parking.

“Am I supposed to go to sleep on Friday night to the jazz or whatever they have going on?” asked Elaine Bailey, a retiree who lives across the street.

Mount Olive, about a block away on Oglethorpe Street, dates back over 150 years. The Power of God Holiness Church is across Hazel Street from Fisher’s property.

“I think the selling of beer, wine and other alcohol beverages across the street… and in this very nice, developing Beall’s Hill Community is very inconsiderate,” Mount Olive Pastor Timothy W. Price Sr. told commissioners.

Pastor Willie Simmons, whose father was the original pastor of the nearby Hazel Street church, said the planned restaurant, with a proposed small bar for diners waiting for tables, is a “disgrace to the church.”

“We’re trying to teach people to avoid what you’re putting there,” Simmons said. “It’s enticing to children looking at what’s going on across the street. They can backslide.”

Paul Griffin, head of the neighborhood association, said the members are excited to have the historic late 19th Century building restored and occupied.

He questioned some of the opposition’s claims that the establishment could increase crime in the area.

“None of us have an issue and are 100 percent behind him,” Griffin said.

During last year’s hearing, Fisher stressed he has no intention of being anything other than a family restaurant.

“We’re not just going in there as developers or a restauranteur making a buck… we’re really looking to make a difference in the community,” he said.

Fisher hosted gatherings in the neighborhood to gauge feedback last summer.

He has decided to use part of his lot for onsite parking, which satisfies commissioners’ conditions on last year’s approval.

To further appease concerns, he has altered his proposal and opted not to serve dinner in favor of breakfast and lunch, Monday through Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Fisher also plans to run his Mama Honey’s Catering and Sideshow in the back of the building.

Commissioners approved the changes to his original plan. Fisher now said he has no immediate plans to apply for an alcohol license.

P&Z executive director Jim Thomas said if Fisher adds dinner hours in the future, he will have to come back before the board.

More Cottages at Wesleyan

The Cottages at Wesleyan will expand with 50 new two-bedroom units and a club house between 1485 and 1620 Wesleyan Drive. (Liz Fabian)

With the rise of aging Baby Boomers, The Cottages at Wesleyan stays nearly 100 percent occupied, said Randall Griffin of the property management firm Double Eagle Associates.

To meet the demand for housing, the company purchased additional land to build 50 more, 1,400-square-foot-units on five lots between 1485 and 1620 Wesleyan Drive. The lots cover about 0.3 of a mile along the road, including a couple of homes that presumably will be torn down.

They applied to P&Z to rezone the nearly 27 acres from agricultural to allow for the planned development.

P&Z staff concluded: “Changing age demographics and development market trends indicate only increased demand can be expected for the proposed residential use.”

Jonathan Smith’s home on Brookford Road will back up to the new two-bedroom units, mostly fashioned as duplexes.

Smith raised concerns about privacy, noise and storm water runoff.

“I already have water coming into my property,” Smith said.

The expansion will include a community club house and 120 parking spaces just south of the existing cottages. A little over 7 acres on the eastern edge of the property is expected to remain undeveloped due to a creek and power easement, Griffin said.

He did not expect a lot of traffic coming in and out of the mostly senior community, but admitted to additional noise during construction next year.

“Once we’re finished and totally landscaped it will be a very quiet neighbor,” Griffin said.

Don Smith, another proponent of the project, said the extra storm drains and retention pond they are installing will likely reduce the amount of runoff Smith is currently seeing.

Commissioners approved the project and the rezoning, but the site plan, including buffers and landscaping will receive further scrutiny before construction begins.

New industrial park near airport

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority purchased this home at 7111 Cochran Field Road to be part of a new 125 industrial park to market to potential new industries. (Liz Fabian)

For industry recruiters, success has a downside.

The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority is running out of marketable properties for industry prospects.

Monday, the authority requested rezoning from light industrial to heavy industrial for 125 acres along Cochran Field Road near the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

“The zoning limits our abilities so we’re hopeful we’d be able to attain the M-3 zoning to allow our marketing to be a lot broader,” said Stephen Adams, executive director of the authority.

The authority does not have an announced prospect for the property but its proximity to the airport and rail line gives it great potential, according to industry consultants, Adams said.

Commissioner Bryan Scott questioned why the authority didn’t opt for middle ground and go from M-1 zoning to M-2, which has more restrictions.

Adams said they want to broaden the net to attract as many industries as possible.

“We’re in the business of trying to decrease the unemployment rate and increase the tax base,” Adams said.

The authority will have control over what locates there.

“We’re trying to find the company that fits for the community in addition to a lot of due diligence,” Adams said.

The rezoning was approved unanimously.

In other actions, commissioners approved exterior modifications for an historic home at 672 Monroe St. including new shingles, paint, doors, window glazing and repairs to the front porch.

Commissioners granted a variance to allow for a new sign for John Wesley Villas at 5471 Thomaston Road near the Knight Road entrance.

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