Nearly 800 sign petition opposing Bass/Rivoli rezoning

Nearly 800 people have signed a petition in opposition to a housing development proposed for north Bibb County.

Lawrence Mink, co-chairman of the North Bibb Citizens Coalition, said his group has been collecting signatures since Monday evening. Mink turned in the petition to the Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning Commission by a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline. The commission is scheduled to take up the issue at its Monday meeting.

“There could have been more, but we ran out of time,” he said. “We hope that the committee looks at the number of people when they meet and hear our concerns. The zoning is excessive in density. We’d like to see this particular proposal rejected outright.”

At issue is a proposed zoning change that would allow a developer to build hundreds of residential units at the intersection of Bass Road and Rivoli Drive. The proposal to P&Z includes 350 apartment units, 63 townhouses, single-family homes and an assisted-living facility in a 70-acre area.

The plan’s opponents say the added growth would increase traffic in an already congested area.

Bibb County Commissioner Elmo Richardson, the other co-chairman of the coalition, said not only is the proposal too much for the area, but it’s incompatible with the single-family homes that are already there.

“I’ve lived (in the area) for 31 years, and it’s all been single-family residences,” Richardson said. “There’s not a thing in the area that’s multi-use — certainly not a nursing home, and certainly not apartments. It’s inappropriate. It’s spot zoning, and it should be turned down.”

Zan Thompson, a planner and consultant working with the property owners to develop the land, said he isn’t worried that the petition would have any influence on the planning commission.

“If you look at Georgia law, (a petition) isn’t supposed to have any weight, whatsoever,” Thompson said. “The laws are very strict on what the commissioners can weigh.”

Thompson said some of the neighborhood’s residents whom his firm have dealt with have been in favor of the project. He said the coalition has distorted the facts about the project, and he predicts that some of the people who signed the petition might prove to be in favor of the development once they get all the available details.

“Usually, the case with these things is that some people support it, and some are against it,” he said. “It’s not an issue since the commission is only supposed to consider certain things.”

Mink said most residents realize development for that particular area is inevitable, but they don’t want this specific rezoning approved.

“We know that there will be growth on that site, but the commissioners should remember, there are already homes there,” he said. “People have a major investment there as it is.”

Monday’s meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. at Macon City Hall, 700 Poplar St.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.