Homeowner: Development would be “atomic bomb” to neighborhood

awomack@macon.comJuly 6, 2014 

Zebulon_PandZ

Glenn Smith explains Thursday how a change in zoning would allow a shopping center to be built across from his home on Zebulon Road.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

In 1995, Glenn Smith and his family moved into a two-story home that fronts Zebulon Road.

Several houses stood between the Smiths’ home and a buffer -- Carter Elementary School and Northway Church -- separating residential neighborhoods from shopping centers that now include Wal-Mart, Kroger, Lowe’s and a movie theater.

Now, Smith is one of 27 residents appealing a Nov. 12 rezoning that paves the way for a planned $30-million, 250,000-square-foot shopping center to be built just west of Bass Road.

If the decision stands, Smith may soon live across the street from the center, set to be anchored by a grocery store.

“We think it’s inappropriate to drop an atomic bomb right in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s wrong,” Smith said.

A Bibb County Superior Court judge is set to hear oral arguments in the appeal Monday morning.

Andrea Cantrell Jones, a lawyer representing Alabama-based Blackwater Resources, which is using Development Co. LLC for the project, said her client intends to work with neighbors to make a “wonderful development.”

“Hopefully the judge will rule in our favor and we’ll be able to move on,” she said. “Time is money, and they could have been moving forward.”

Pope Langstaff, a lawyer representing the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission, said “the commission feels its actions were lawful.” He declined further comment.

Bill Larsen, the lawyer representing the 27 residents who either live across from the proposed development or in the Stone Edge subdivision next door, referred comment to Smith.

Jones said the judge can either send the matter back to the commission for further review or he can rule on the legal arguments in the case.

“He can’t rezone the property himself,” she said.

Before the commission’s decision to rezone the property, more than 250 signed petitions and about 150 people attended meetings displaying signs opposing rezoning.

The residents have contended that the shopping center will bring increased noise, traffic, odors, exhaust fumes and light pollution.

“We think the planning and zoning commission made a number of errors in the process,” Smith said.

He said the residents opposed to the rezoning have encouraged the seven property owners selling 25 acres to the developer to consider other uses for the property that would be compatible with the neighborhood.

One suggestion has been to create a subdivision of 35 to 50 single-family homes with lots ranging in size from half to three-quarters of an acre.

Smith said his family has “no desire to pull up stakes and move. ... We’re excited that we’re finally going to have our day in court.”

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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