A grand mansion in Macon’s Shirley Hills neighborhood will not become a private club.
The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission denied Monday a conditional-use permit that would have allowed a private club at 1386 Waverland Drive owned by Weyman Hardin. It is the former home of Emmett and Edwina Barnes who held large parties at the 16-acre site.
Hardin said the club would be for the members and their guests to use the premises in exchange for an initial fee and additional costs when they use the property. Members and their guests could use the site for social gatherings such as family gatherings, Christmas and birthday parties and other events. It also may be used for community gatherings as it has in the past, such as by the Shirley Hills Neighborhood Association and for home and garden tours, he said.
Hardin said the property had passed through several foreclosures before he bought it. The property and buildings were in great disrepair at the time and he has put a lot of work into the property, he said.
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“I would like to just see it maintained,” he said.
The mansion, originally built in 1946 on the 16-acre site, was added onto several times over the years, and it now has 18,000 feet of space. Also, a separate garage, gazebo and chapel were built and a swimming pool and tennis courts were added. It is in a single-family residential district and is adjacent to the Masonic Children’s Home.
The home has the “largest private Chinese garden outside of China and the largest residential fountain system in the U.S.,” according to a report filed with the zoning office. “This property is recognized by many as one of the top treasures in Macon and has a very colorful and historic past.”
When questioned by the commission, Hardin said the pool and tennis courts would not be used by club members. Also, the kitchen would not be available for caterers but he would expect members to use self-contained caterers as he did for his daughter’s wedding.
“I want a place for you and your friends to gather,” Hardin said.
He said he would make sure any members who used the property would adhere to the law and would be responsible for any damages. ... I would own the club and be responsible for it ... as a sole proprietor.”
But some residents said they didn’t want the added traffic and noise that a private club would bring to the neighborhood.
Amy Dever, who lives on Waverland and is a board member of the Shirley Hills Neighborhood Association, said the board wants to “voice strong opposition” to the club. “It is an iconic, established neighborhood ... and we have about 81 members who have worked to protect this neighborhood.”
Dever agreed there have been issues with neglect over the years and that she understood it was expensive to maintain, but that Hardin didn’t seem to have a business plan, a marketing plan or capitalization plan.
“This is not a credible proposal,” she said.
Terrie Denson, who used to live on Waverland and now lives on Old Gray Highway, said that when the Barneses lived there there was noise, use of alcohol and traffic.
“I’m afraid it’s going to happen again,” she said. “I think it would significantly affect the neighborhood in a negative manner.”
Hardin said he was not in financial distress — “every other owner has done that” — and that was not the reason he wanted to create a club.
He had not created a business plan because he wanted to get the opinion of the commission and the neighborhood before he formalized his plans, he said. He asked the commission what they would like to see him do with the property, but he didn’t get a response.
After listening to Hardin and residents, the commission voted 4-0 to deny the permit. They said the plan appeared to be more of an event center which is not allowed in a residential district. Commissioner Tim Jones was absent.
Plans for new downtown hotel approved
In another matter, the commission unanimously approved a conditional-use permit and a certificate of appropriateness to allow a six-story hotel with 140 rooms at 620-678 Poplar St.
The Hyatt Place full-service hotel is one of two hotels that will be part of a mixed-use redevelopment that includes the block of Poplar Street between First and Second streets and D.T. Walton Way. The hotel is part of the entire Central City Commons project which represents an investment of more than $166 million.
Construction of the hotel should begin in August, and it is expected to take about 14 months, said Tim Thornton, president of Thornton Realty Co., who formed a joint venture for the project with Miller Heath III, CEO of MMI Capital LLC. The general contractor is Macon-based Piedmont Construction Group.
“It going to have some really cool things like a roof top terrace, outdoor seating and a sidewalk cafe,” Thornton said.
The Hyatt is expected to have an adjacent parking deck with dedicated parking spaces for the hotel and a separate parking entrance for other uses, Miller said.
“It looks amazing,” Commissioner Brian Scott said when shown a video of the hotel.
Other items on the agenda were:
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM MAY 22, MEETING:
513 Plum St. [a/k/a 543 Plum St.]: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications, RC Poss Construction, applicant. Approved.
3320 Houston Ave.: In violation of Section 25.03 of the Comprehensive Land Development for the City of Macon and Bibb County Georgia. Sign erected/painted, no zoning compliance obtained as well as no zoning compliance for business. Quinton Braswell. To be turned over to board’s attorney to handle.
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM PRIOR MEETING:
4027 Pio Nono Ave. (a/k/a 4053 Pio Nono Ave.): Conditional use to allow live music (karoke, band & comedy shows) at an existing bar/grill, C-4 District. Rodeo Bar & Grill, applicant. Approved.
5080 Riverside Drive: Conditional use to allow a restaurant with outside seating (Zoe’s Kitchen), C-2 District. Zoe’s Kitchen, Nate Houser, applicant. Approved.
7798 Nowell Road South: Conditional use to allow an additional single-family dwelling, A-Agricultural District. Mary Brown, applicant. Approved.
3090 & 3086 Columbus Road, 3075 Mercer University Drive: Conditional use to allow an event rental facility, C-2 District. Moses Jackson, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:
221 Cleveland Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of an accessory structure, HR-2 District. Jeff Gage, applicant. Approved.
1296 Woodcrest Drive: Variance to allow accessory between the building line and right-of-way, A-Agricultural District. Gary Lee Eddy Sr., applicant. Approved.
221 Cleveland Ave.: Variance to allow a reduction in setback requirements to allow an accessory structure, HR-2 District. Jeff Gage, applicant. Approved.
3902 Juanita Drive: In violation of Section 27.05 of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution – Accessory structure erected on property with no zoning compliance obtained. Carlos Garcia. Found in violation, and to be turned over to board’s attorney to handle.
2808 Skyline Drive: In violation of Section 26.08 of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution – Semi truck parked in driveway at residence. Pamela Tufts. Found in violation, and to be turned over to board’s attorney to handle.
119 Emery Highway: Conditional use to allow storage of construction equipment for road project [17-20686]. C-4 District. ER Snell Contractor, applicant. Approved.