The pastor of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Macon said Monday that the church went “through a grieving process” before deciding to ask the zoning board for permission to demolish the structure.
“This is not something we wanted to do,” the Rev. Tim Price said.
Mount Olive filed a Certificate of Appropriateness with the zoning commission to allow exterior modifications and demolition and reconstruction of an existing building for the church at 957-989 Oglethorpe St. The item was deferred from the June 13 meeting to allow the full commission to hear the matter. Commissioners Bryan Scott and Ashok Patel were not at that meeting.
The church had planned to renovate the church, a portion of which was built in 1888, but a structural consultant found several structural issues, such as a leaning wall and problems with the foundation. So the members decided to apply for the demolition and rebuild the church.
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The commission’s Design Review Board recommended demolition, but it deferred a decision about the design of the new church and other details to allow the applicant time to provide more information.
On Monday, the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission gave the church its blessing and approved the demolition. It also agreed to allow the church to move a house it uses for a library to property it owns across the street. The church plans to build a new church on the site of the existing building.
George Mohammad of Macon said he was baptized in the church and that he wanted the commission to deny the application.
“Mount Olive needs to make a sacrifice and save what our ancestors” built, he said. Mohammad also said he didn’t want the church to move the house next to the church.
Although Ethiel Garlington, executive director the Historic Macon Foundation, had earlier opposed the demolition, he had met with some members of the church since the last meeting, and agreed it might be the best thing.
“We oppose the demolition but we understand their circumstances,” he said.
The commission agreed 5-0 to approve the demolition, but it said the church would have to get a building permit approved before the commission would issue a demolition permit.
In another matter, the commission deferred again an item that has been deferred since May.
The commission and its staff have been working for about a year on an amendment to its Comprehensive Land Development Resolution to improve the design review process for certificates of appropriateness in the historic zoning districts, and the commercial business districts.
Dr. Robert Hargrove, who lives on Adams Street, said the historic district is a big draw for visitors and that the proposed changes would “degrade” the historic areas of Macon.
“I believe the changes you are making ... weakens the entire design review process,” he said. “We need to have stronger regulations not weaker regulations.”
After hearing from various people interested in amendment, the commission decided to defer the matter until its July 11 meeting.
Other items on the agenda were:
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM APRIL 25 MEETING:
3910 Arkwright Road: Conditional use to allow a convenience store with alcohol package-to-go sales, C-2 District. Jim Mitchelle, applicant. Approved.
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM JUNE 13 MEETING:
4371 Sardis Church Road: Request for rehearing of previously denied rezoning application. Stephen Fike, applicant. Approved.
912 Magnolia St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications, HR-3 District. Robert Barthelemy, applicant. Denied
AMENDING PREVIOUSLY APPROVED COA:
314-318 Second St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to approve exterior modifications and rear addition, CBD-1. Leonard Hindsman Jr., applicant. Approved.
3920 Pio Nono Ave.: Conditional use to allow an automotive electrical repair shop, C-2 District. Juan Carlos Aranda Gonzalez, applicant. Approved.
5000 Bass Road: Conditional use to allow parking expansion for boat storage and conversion of existing storage to employee parking, PDE District. Stantec Consulting, Willard Neal, applicant. Approved.
2432 Vineville Ave.: Conditional use to allow a five-unit multifamily dwelling, HR-3 District. Lesley Clarke, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:
182 Pierce Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval to subdivide a lot, HR-3 District. Clifford Skelton, applicant. Approved.
4290 Pio Nono Ave.: Variance in screening requirements to not allow screen wall, C-4 District. Cannon Cory, Primax Properties, applicant. Approved.
685 Arlington Place: Variance to allow reduction in required screening buffer, HR-3 District. Michael Robinson, applicant. Approved.