A Bibb County Superior Court judge has set aside a decision made by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission that would have allowed a shopping center on Zebulon Road.
Judge Edgar W. Ennis Jr. issued an order late Friday, granting an appeal via certiorari that was filed by residents living next to the proposed center.
“The commission abused its discretion in failing to comply” with its comprehensive land development plan “despite the lack of any evidence to support a deviation,” the order said.
Nearly a year ago, Alabama-based developer Blackwater Resources began the zoning process to build a $30 million shopping center on 25 acres between 5801 and 5885 Zebulon Road. Blackwater was developing the shopping center under the name Development Co. LLC.
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The shopping center would have 200,000 to 250,000 square feet of space, including five outparcels, and would create 350 to 500 jobs, John Abernathy, director of development for Blackwater, has said.
Hundreds of people signed petitions against the rezoning, but the commission voted to rezone the parcels. Some of the affected residents filed an appeal to reverse that decision.
The company filed a counterclaim, and the project was put on hold.
In September, Ennis asked the parties to enter into mediation, but in October both sides said they were unable to come to a resolution.
Glen Smith, one of the Zebulon Road residents fighting the proposed shopping center, said in an email Friday night: “We are thankful for the ruling by Judge Ennis to reverse the rezoning. We continue to believe that the Zebulon Road corridor should remain a residential area. There already exists ample property for commercial development without situating a shopping center in the middle of the neighborhood.”
An attempt to reach Abernathy was unsuccessful.
Ennis’ order Friday said “the court finds that the commission abused its discretion in approving the Development Company’s rezoning application without the concurrent approval of a submitted conceptual development plan. ... The commission’s decision to rezone the Zebulon Road properties is reversed. The commission and Development Company’s motions to dismiss (the appeal filed by residents) are denied.”
Ennis sent the matter back to the commission for further consideration.