P&Z commission delays decision on lighting for Macon private school athletic field

lmorris@macon.comMarch 10, 2014 

Macon-Bibb County zoning officials decided Monday to delay making a decision on a permit requested by Covenant Academy to add lighting to its sports field.

The school, which moved to 4652 Ayers Road in 1994, applied for a conditional-use permit to add lighting as part of a long-range plan to add a football stadium, track and a concession stand in the future.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a similar request for a recreational/sports facility in 2007, but the school didn’t have the money to move forward. That application was withdrawn. In 2010 the commission approved a multi-purpose practice field at the school.

“Since then funding has become available for the lighting of this field, which would allow Covenant to have some home football games instead of renting other facilities,” said Kent McCormick. a principal engineer with Macon-based Hulsey, McCormick & Wallace Inc.

Representing the school, McCormick said he has a child who attends Covenant.

“Covenant Academy is just asking for something that other private schools now enjoy -- having lighted football fields on their campus,” he said.

The school is planning to add four, 80-foot-tall concrete poles -- with 70 feet of the poles above ground -- with two poles on each side of the field. The poles would be more than 50 feet from any property line. The lights would be diverted toward the field, McCormick said.

Some people from neighboring subdivisions said they were concerned about the light filtering into their homes and about the noise from ball games.

Tom Wagoner, who lives in a subdivision across Ayers Road from the school, said lights from the school’s parking lots already can be seen from his backyard, and he said he doesn’t want to hear announcements from football games.

“Why didn’t Covenant come and talk to the neighborhood?” Wagoner said.

P&Z Chairwoman Sarah Gerwig-Moore said that while applicants aren’t required to discuss their plans with neighbors, it is encouraged.

Julia Wood, who lives in a subdivision behind the school, said she already can “see a glow” from the school and hear the band practicing.

Another area resident, Blair Myers, said that he knew of someone who moved out of Bibb County “because of things like this.”

The three who spoke out against the school’s lighting plan purchased their homes after the school located on Ayers, according to the tax assessor’s website.

McCormick agreed Monday that if the commission deferred the matter for two weeks he would meet with some of the neighbors to explain the school’s plans.

The matter is expected to be discussed again at the commission’s March 24 meeting.

Other items on the agenda were:

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

1105 Adams St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications, HR-3 District. Lesley Clarke, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

8251 Rock Mill Road: Variance in cul-de-sac length to allow a residential subdivision, R-1AAA District. Paul Kelley, applicant. Approved.

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