Commissioners make it easier for Target to build in north Bibb

Bibb County commissioners on Tuesday made a ruling that advocates say would clear a major hurdle for Target to open a new store on Bass Road.

Robert Cleveland, a vice president for Fickling & Co., asked the county’s engineering committee to interpret the international building code in a way that would allow a building with multiple adjacent stores to have different owners. Fickling & Co. had been negotiating unsuccessfully on the issue with the Macon Bureau of Inspection and Fees, but in the absence of an appeals board, the law allows county commissioners to make the call. Bill Chambless, who works for the Georgia chapter of the Association of General Contractors, offered his opinion in support of Fickling, although he is not a paid consultant for the developer.

“Target will not agree to come if this does not happen,” he said, adding that Target’s policy is always to own its stores. “We’re on the verge of losing a very large development over this.”

For health and safety reasons, the International Building Code usually calls for a setback between buildings controlled by different owners. But Fickling & Co. addressed these concerns by adding an easement agreement to the property deed requiring that the owners coordinate to maintain alarm and sprinkler systems and walls that will contain a fire for three hours, Chambless said.

Other communities, he said, have approved similar provisions to accommodate both the code and Target.

The engineering committee voted to use its authority to interpret the building code to allow the project.

Chambless, who formerly ran the city’s inspection and fees bureau, repeatedly referred to Target as the anchor for the shopping center, which is located across from the Bass Pro development in north Bibb. Cleveland said after the meeting that he can’t confirm the tenant is Target.

Jen Glass, spokeswoman for Target, said, “We haven’t closed on anything in Macon. We are still exploring and haven’t determined whether we are going in that location or not.”

She said Target is interested in expanding its presence in the Macon market.

To contact writer S. Heather Duncan, call 744-4225.