Planning & Zoning Commission approves two apartment projects for north Bibb County

lmorris@macon.comMay 27, 2014 

Two apartment projects in north Bibb County were approved Tuesday by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission -- not, however, without some opposition from nearby residents.

Texas-based Roundstone Development plans to build a 95-unit apartment complex at 1425 Hall Road, but the property had to be rezoned from an agricultural district to a multifamily district. The developer also needed conditional-use approval for the development. Hall Road connects Forest Hill Road and Riverside Drive.

Bob Colvard, representing the developer, said the rezoning conforms with “what’s going on in the area,” referring to another large apartment complex behind Butler Automotive off Riverside Drive.

A majority of the vacant site is heavily wooded.

Asha Ellen, who lives on Hall Road across from the proposed complex, said, “It will be devastating for our small street. ... We already get a lot of through traffic. The safety is a concern. ... Traffic is a concern.”

Ellen said the property has been in her family for decades.

“I can’t just up and move,” she said. “It’s very personal for me and all my cousins and my grandmother. I understand real estate ... and that it’s about making money, but this is my home.”

Colvard pointed out that the commission’s staff report said that the added vehicle traffic should not be an issue. He also said the project would not move forward if it does not get funding from federal and state tax credits. Several other Bibb County projects also are competing for tax credits.

The commissioners agreed that the property should be rezoned.

Commission chairwoman Sarah Gerwig-Moore said residents would not want it to remain agricultural because permitted uses allow much worse than apartments.

The commission approved the conditional-use permit with some caveats.

The buffers around the project, which must remain undisturbed, must be at least 25 feet, even though commissioners questioned whether the same number of apartments could fit on the site once the buffers are widened. Also, the complex must be fenced all the way around and the entrance cannot be directly across from homes on Hall Road, so vehicle lights would not shine into residences.

The final site plan must still come back before the commission for approval.

The other apartment complex is planned for 5300 Bowman Road.

Atlanta-based Potemkin Development Inc. needed approval of a conditional-use permit to allow site plan revision to a previously approved development and final site plan approval for a multifamily senior living complex.

The project includes a three-story building with 72 units, a gazebo and pavilion. The building would sit between two hotels on the site and Bowman Road. It would be located on the north end of the site, not next to the Wexford subdivision to the south.

In 2006, the commission approved a conceptual site plan that included three office buildings. The apartment complex replaces those three buildings.

Mike McCard, who lives in the Brookefield subdivision across Bowman Road from the proposed project, said he was concerned about the added traffic the development would bring to the area.

“Traffic on Bowman is terrible,” he said. “I do agree that senior living is better than another low-income hotel.”

He said that while the hotel developers were required to put in landscaping, that what little was planted was not irrigated and died.

Cleve Cunningham, a Macon engineer who represents the apartment developer, said he has worked with the developer before.

“I can attest that landscaping is something they spare no expense on,” Cunningham said.

The commission approved the conditional-use permit, stating that the developer must work with its staff on lighting and landscaping plans.

Other items on the agenda were:

CONDITIONAL USES:

1101 Rocky Creek Road: Conditional use to allow used auto sales, C-2 District. Shazena Rahaman, applicant. Approved.

2605 Cherokee Ave.: Conditional use to allow a supportive living home (eight beds), HC District. Theodore Brinson, Get Stabilized Together Housing LLC, applicant. Approved.

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

878 Forsyth St.-860 Forsyth St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow demolition of a structure, and design approval of a restaurant with drive-thru, CBD-1 District. Lou Patel, D&D Middle Georgia LLC, applicant. Approved.

873 Pine St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow relocation of a structure, CBD-1 District. James Beverly, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

1694 Third St.: Variance in side yard setback requirements to allow a fellowship hall, R-2 District. Greater Overcoming Church of God, R-2 District. Approved.

SIGNS:

1502 Rocky Creek Road: Variance to allow an off-premise sign, C-4 District. JKB Horizons, Brandon Ashkouti, applicant. Approved.

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