Christian school approved at Zebulon Road church

lmorris@macon.comJuly 22, 2013 

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday approved plans for a private school at a church at the intersection of Zebulon and Bass roads in north Bibb County.

The commission approved a conditional-use application to allow a private school, The Sterling Christian Academy, to operate at Stone Edge Church at 5659 Zebulon Road.

In 2010, the commission approved plans for the 45,000-square-foot church on 16.8 acres, which included a multipurpose room, student center, coffee café, indoor playground and classrooms. No ball fields or amenity areas were authorized.

Current plans call for educational services to be offered online and in seven classrooms at the church for kindergarten through 12th grade, said applicant Adriana Gantt, program administrator for the school. Classes would be held 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the school would open from September through May.

Overall enrollment will be no more than 120 students with on-campus enrollment of about 85 students, Gantt said. During the initial phase, the school would have 15 staff members, including administrators and teachers.

Miles Brewer, who lives next to the church, said while he and his neighbors opposed plans years ago for a bank and a day care, “when the church came along, we had no objections whatsoever.”

But after learning about plans for the school, Brewer said he called several neighbors and “they all agreed we didn’t want a school behind our property.”

The neighbors are concerned about the noise and traffic the school could bring, he said. Also, they worry the school might want to add more students in the future and create outdoor recreation areas, such as ball fields.

Gantt said the school doesn’t plan to operate out of the church for long, and it won’t be adding ball fields.

“The goal for us is to build an independent building within the next two to three years,” but not on the church property, she said.

P&Z Commission Chairwoman Sarah Gerwig-Moore said the school is so small that she doesn’t think it will add a great deal of traffic to the area and that the church would have to get approval from the commission before it could add outdoor recreational areas.

When the commission approved plans for the church in 2010, the church property -- which contained two parcels -- was to be platted into one parcel, and that must happen before the school can get its permit, Gerwig-Moore said.

Other items on the agenda were:

ITEMS DEFERRED FROM PRIOR MEETING:

329 Main St.-272 Schell Ave.: Proposal to rezone from R-2, Two-Family Residential District to C-2, General Commercial District. The purpose of this rezoning is to bring the zoning classification into conformity with the existing commercial land use(s). Martha Chafin, Wayne Crowley, applicant. Deferred until the Aug. 12 meeting.

CONDITIONAL USES:

2790 Riverside Drive: Conditional use to allow a self-service ice machine with variance in front yard setback requirements, C-4 District. Jason West, Artesian Ice LLC, applicant. Approved.

3750 Eisenhower Parkway: Conditional use to allow a church in an existing building, C-2 District. Felisa Daniels, Higher Ground Ministries, applicant. Approved.

134-136 Ward St.: Conditional use to allow an off-site parking lot, R-3 District. Chris Clark, Carter & Sloope, applicant. Approved.

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

1263 Shamrock St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow a pavilion, HPD-BH District. Ryan Griffin, RDG Ventures, applicant. Approved.

566 Poplar St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow exterior modifications, CBD-1 District. Fred Geheber, applicant. Approved.

1230 Hardeman Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications, HR-3 District. John Cain, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

3175 Avondale Mill Road: Variance in setback requirements to allow a convenience store, M-1 District. Widner & Associates, applicant. Approved.

7470 Airport Drive: Variance in setback requirements to allow an industrial building addition, M-1 District. David Rager, O’Neal Inc., applicant. Approved.

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