Fate of downtown’s Tremont Temple Baptist could be decided Monday

lmorris@macon.comDecember 7, 2013 

Adam Ragusea/GPB News A “for sale” sign is posted in front of the Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Macon. Church members, who now worship at a different location, want to sell the historic building to a developer.

The fate of a historic church in downtown Macon could be decided by planning and zoning officials Monday, when they also will consider a proposal for a downtown residential development and a project that would create student housing near the city’s main post office.

Perhaps most controversial is a measure that would allow the demolition of Tremont Temple Baptist Church at 860 Forsyth St. The issue was deferred at the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission’s Nov. 11 meeting to give the commission’s design review board an opportunity to render its opinion about the church’s plan.

Earlier this month, the design review board said the demolition would be inappropriate, but it’s up to the commission to make a final decision.

The church, built in 1897, has been for sale seven years and recently found a buyer who wants to demolish it and build a doughnut shop with a drive-thru lane.

The congregation moved out two years ago to the church’s current location on Bloomfield Road.

The downtown church has a major roof leak, water damage in the basement and is consumed by mold. The building also is infested with termites, according to a church report.

But Josh Rogers, executive director of Historic Macon Foundation, said at the November meeting the building can be saved. Even though the church has a contract with another buyer, Rogers proposed that Historic Macon buy the building with a deal that’s similar to the current contract. But Rogers said he needs three months to conduct an inspection and put together drawings, market studies and construction estimates.

Single-family homes to be built downtown

Also up for consideration Monday is a conditional-use permit to allow a single-family cluster subdivision with 13 lots at 425 New St. One lot would be used for a common area, and houses would be built on the other lots. A permit for a certificate of appropriateness is also requested for the project.

The 1.2-acre tract is near the southwest intersection of New and Cherry streets, behind the American Cancer Society building.

Several apartment developments have been proposed for this property, most recently in 2006 and 2008, but they never moved forward, according to the planning and zoning commission’s staff report.

The current proposal would include single-family detached homes with about 1,200 square feet in each two-story unit. The homes would have front and back porches and the property would be “heavily landscaped and well lit,” according to a letter from developer Ryan Griffin with RDG Ventures.

Development would add lofts, retail

Monday’s agenda also includes a proposal to rezone 1305 and 1345 Hardeman Avenue from a neighborhood commercial district to a planned development district for a mixed-used development. A conditional-use permit to allow the project and approval for signs also are expected to be considered for the project.

The proposed development, which includes two buildings on the 3.56-acre site, would feature residential loft apartments for Mercer University students and retail uses, according to the commission’s staff report.

The Lofts at College project, first announced in October by Sierra Development Group, includes construction of 13,300 square feet of retail space, 145 total residential units and a total of 297 parking spaces, according to the report.

“Commercial uses will vary but likely include at least a sandwich shop, laundry, hair salon, pizza eatery, yogurt shop, clothing boutique and a restaurant with a bar” on the ground floor of the buildings, according to the zoning request.

The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. at Macon City Hall, 700 Poplar St.

Other items on the agenda are:

ITEMS DEFERRED FROM PRIOR MEETINGS:

4581 Forsyth Road: Variance to allow an electronic graphic display panel (EGD), C-4 District. ZT3 Placemaker Studio Inc., Peggy Thompson, applicant.

CONDITIONAL USES:

911 Patterson St.: Conditional use to allow a tutoring service in an existing building, R-2 District. Isaac Eferighe, Math & Science Academy, applicant.

4930 Bloomfield Road: Conditional use to allow a fuel island and canopy addition to an existing shopping center, PDE District. Widner & Associates, applicant.

905 High St.: Conditional use to allow a site plan revisions to a previously approved student life center, HR-3 District. Chris Clark, Carter & Sloope, applicant.

3304 Jeffersonville Road: Conditional use to allow a banquet hall in an existing building, C-2 District. Betty Cleveland, applicant.

1711 Key St.: Conditional use to allow a convenience store with fuel sales, C-2 District. Roger Patel, Dhanesh Inc., applicant.

6999 Knoxville Road: Conditional use to allow a convenience store with fuel sales, C-2 District. Belinda Callaway, applicant.

3260 Williamson Road; 3306, 3480, & 3350 Bloomfield Drive; 3395 & 3397 Jesse Rice St.: Conditional use to allow a timber harvest (clear cut), PDE District. Earl Barrs, Due South Investments, applicant.

212 Ashford Court: Conditional use to allow revisions to buffer requirements, PDR District. Betty Shaw, applicant.

4460 Columbus Road: Conditional use to allow auto sales, PDE District. Columbus Watkins, applicant.

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

905 High St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications (parking lot and dumpster location) HR-3 District. Chris Clark, Carter & Sloope, applicant.

VARIANCES:

2746 Montpelier Ave.: Variance in setback requirement to allow a building addition, C-2 District. Paul Kelley, applicant.

5228 Greenwood Terrace: Variance in location and setback requirements to allow two (2) accessory buildings, R-1A District. Richard Porter, applicant.

SIGNS:

5744 Thomaston Road: Variance in sign height requirements, PDE District. Sean Dukes, TKD Sign Studio, applicant.

3598 Williamson Road: Variance in sign height requirements, PDE District. Chris Bryant, applicant.

1681 Rocky Creek Road: Variance in sign height requirements, C-1 District. Chris Bryant, applicant.

INTERPRETATIONS:

Interpretation of Section 1.02 [79] and Section 10.03 [11] of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution to allow a design center in an existing building, R-2 District.

Tony Butler, applicant.

To reach writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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