The members of a black Macon church said during a zoning meeting Monday that its building has deteriorated to the point they can’t afford to repair it and want approval to have it demolished.
Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, a portion of which was built in 1888, was seeking approval Monday from the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission of a Certificate of Appropriateness to allow exterior modifications as well as demolition and reconstruction of an existing building at 957-989 Oglethorpe St. The church also plans to move a separate building it uses as a church library to property it owns across Oglethorpe Street from the church.
The situation at Mt. Olive comes two years after a similar situation at Tremont Baptist Church, 860 Forsyth St., another historic black church that was demolished because of deteriorating conditions. However, Tremont was condemned by a city official. Another difference is that Tremont was torn down because the congregation wanted to set up their church in a different location, and they were selling the church lot to someone setting up a retail operation. The members of Mt. Olive, however, want to build a new church on the site of the existing church.
Contractor Michael Robinson of Conyers said he had planned to remediate mold in certain portions of the church and to renovate and remodel the interior of the sanctuary and education building. But as this work progressed other problems were discovered, including water damage in the ceiling and rotted wood support beams.
Robinson said he contacted Garry Kornegay at Kornegay Engineering, a Macon structural consultant, who visually inspected the building. Kornegay said in a letter that one interior wall “was obviously leaning” and that the foundation had settled.
“It is our professional opinion that the repairs to bring the house up to being structurally sound and code compliant would be far more expensive than the replacement costs,” Kornegay said in the letter.
The commission’s Design Review Board met June 6, and it approved Mt. Olive’s demolition. But it deferred making any decision about the design of the new church, landscaping and other details to allow the applicant to provide more information.
Ethiel Garlington, executive director of Historic Macon, said he thought the application was incomplete, and he would like permission to walk through the building to look at the issues.
“We’ve worked with buildings much older than this,” he said.
Commissioner Jeane Easom expressed concern about losing another historical structure.
“I’m still smarting from Tremont and don’t want to see another church torn down if it can be avoided,” she said. “I think you need a complete structural report.”
Church deacon Averett Jordan said Mt. Olive “is totally different from Tremont Temple. ... We want to build and worship in the same spot.”
Chairman Kamal Azar said he thought the matter should be discussed by the entire board, and since commissioners Ashok Patel and Bryan Scott were absent Monday, the application should be deferred.
After more discussion, the matter was postponed.
Other items on the agenda were:
DEFERRED FROM MAY 23 AGENDA:
6601 Zebulon Road: Conditional use to allow a ninety (90) unit multifamily complex for seniors, PDE District. Mark Wright, Oracle Design Group, applicant. Deferred.
DEFERRED FROM MARCH 14 AGENDA:
4371 Sardis Church Road: Request for rehearing of previously denied rezoning application, Stephen Fike, applicant. Deferred.
2010 Riverside Drive: Conditional Use to allow retail (Dollar General) store, C-4 District. SW North Macon LLC, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS DEFERRED FROM PREVIOUS AGENDA:
685 Arlington Place: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow replacement of ramp, HR-3 District. Shantel King-Whitby, applicant. Approved.
DEFERRED FROM MAY 9 AGENDA:
260 Margaret Court: Conditional use to allow the continued use of an existing surface mine/borrow pit, A-Agricultural District. Preston McCallum, applicant. Deferred.
6500 Zebulon Road: Conditional use to allow a multifamily development with commercial outparcels, PDE District. Cleve Cunningham, Cunningham & Co., applicant. Approved.
5650 Bloomfield Road: Conditional use to allow a telecommunication tower, C-4 District. Verizon Wireless, Baker Donelson law firm, applicant. Approved.
475  Poplar St.: Conditional use to allow an entertainment facility (situation room), CBD-1 District. Sarah Choo-Yick, applicant. Approved.
3902 Northside Drive: Conditional use to allow a church in an existing building, PDC District. Ral Waltower, applicant. Approved.
2778 Riverside Drive: Conditional use to allow a package store, C-4 District. Venkat Sanjeev, applicant. Approved.
883 Burrus Road: Conditional use to allow a day care, C-4 District. Larry Manuel, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:
811 Cherry Street Lane: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval to re-platting of existing lots and single-family dwelling, HPD District. RDG Ventures, applicant. Approved.
283 Orange St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval to replace exterior siding, window and doors on an existing structure, HR-3 District. Window World of Middle Georgia, applicant. Denied.
912 Magnolia St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications, HR-3 District. Robert Barthelemy, applicant. Deferred.
2605 Cherokee Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of signage, HC District. Health Department, The Sign Store. Approved.
1029 Ash St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of new single-family dwelling, HPD-BH District. RDG Ventures LLC, applicant. Approved.
2427, 2409, 2441 & 2457 Bonner Gilbert Road: Variance to allow flag lot, A-Agricultural District. Beverly Janet Hinson, applicant. Approved.
6500 Zebulon Road: Variance in parking requirements, PDE District. Cunningham & Co., applicant. Approved.
541 Moss Hill Drive: Variance in setback requirements to allow a fence, PDR District. Chris Tsavatewa, applicant. Approved.
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