Bibb zoning commission makes mixed decision on Rivoli, Bass rezoning

After months of meetings and negotiations, neither side of a rezoning issue was particularly happy with the results of Monday’s Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting.

The commission made a three-part decision on an application to rezone 4646 Rivoli Drive from an agricultural district to a planned development residential district. The purpose of the rezoning was to allow a mixed-use senior-housing community, which includes townhouses, single-family homes and a retirement center.

In its first vote, the commission agreed 4-1 to rezone the property to a planned development residential district. But in a separate motion, all five commissioners voted against the applicant’s plan that called for a total density of 6.9 units per acre. Some opponents of the development, which went by the name North Bibb Citizen’s Coalition, were seeking a total density of 3.3 units per acre.

In another 4-1 vote, the commission agreed to a maximum gross density of 5 units per acre – a number that had not been discussed by either side. Commissioner Arthur Hubbard was the only member to vote against two of the motions.

After the meeting, land planner Zan Thompson, who represented the land owner, was clearly disappointed with the commission’s decisions. He had asked that if the commissioners couldn’t agree to the 6.9 units per acre density, to not approve it at all.

At that point, the applicant could have brought the retirement center portion of the development back to the commission under the agricultural zoning, Thompson said.

“But that’s a moot point now,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do. We could take it to court, try to make it work at 5 (units per acre) -- but in this economy that will take awhile -- or we may appeal the decision. We have several different options.”

Attorney Tom Richardson, who represented the neighborhood opposition group, was a little less critical of the commission’s decisions.

“Of course the neighborhood was hoping for less density, but I think that the commissioners really tried to get this right,” Richardson said. “It’s higher than we wanted and it’s less than the other side wanted. But we’ll see what happens.”

For more on this story see Tuesday’s Telegraph or