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Permit denied for planned Eisenhower Parkway nightclub

An attempt to reuse a vacant building on Eisenhower Parkway fell apart Monday.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission denied Monday a conditional-use permit to allow a nightclub with live music and an event rental business in the former Hi-Fi Buys building at 3690 Eisenhower Parkway.

Marshall Hughes, who owns JoNita’s Press Club in Macon Mall, planned to move into an existing 12,282-square-foot building across Eisenhower Parkway.

“We have outgrown it,” Hughes said about his current location.

Hughes emphasized to commissioners that he operates a good, safe business for people 25 or older with a strict dress code.

But several residents in the area objected to the club coming to their neighborhood.

“I oppose this because it’s in my front yard,” said James Chambler, who lives on Stallings Drive — a side street behind the former Hi-Fi Buys building. “It’s not what goes on inside, it’s what goes on outside when (patrons) come out. I just don’t want it there.”

Resident Linda Whitehead said that JoNita’s is now in a smaller space, “and it’s more controlled by being in the mall,” and that it would be more difficult to control a larger crowd.

“We are scared,” Whitehead said. “We don’t want a club in our neighborhood. We just want to live in peace.”

Hughes said he understood their concerns, but that as a former Bibb County deputy, he was “not trying to bring any crime in their neighborhood. ... My business success speaks for itself.”

Before the commission voted to deny the permit, vice-chairwoman Sarah Gerwig-Moore said she appreciated what Hughes was trying to do but that the commission had to consider the neighborhood.

“I don’t feel this is the right use at the right location,” Gerwig-Moore said. “We have a duty to the neighborhood and to business owners and balance those as best as we can.”

In another matter, the commission also denied a rezoning permit and a conditional-use permit for 2090, 2094, 2126 and 2116 Barnes Ferry Road from a M-1 Wholesale and Light Industrial District to M-2 Industrial District. The rezoning would have allowed a concrete/asphalt recycling center.

Several neighbors were concerned about dust, increased traffic and noise from the facility.

Attorney Randal Harrison, who represented the applicant, tried to assure neighbors and the commission that the equipment used met EPA standards regarding dust compression; that the portable equipment has been used at several sites around Macon and no one has complained about the noise and that the natural buffer around the property would not be disturbed.

“Once it’s rezoned, it changes everything,” said Stanley Walker, who said he represented several others who opposed the facility. “I think this would add to the problem with drinking water out there.”

Andra Howard also is worried about other industries that might follow if this plant was allowed.

“The rezoning to M-2 (would) open up the gates to other industry,” Howard said.

Other items on the agenda were:

AMENDMENTS:

An amendment to Section 13A.03, Section 13A.04, Section, 13A.05, and Section 13.04 [13] of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution for city of Macon and Bibb County, regarding the development of multi-family dwelling units in the CBD-1, Central Business District. Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission, applicant.

ITEMS DEFERRED FROM PRIOR MEETINGS:

560 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (Broadway): Conditional use to allow mixed-use complex (multi-family/retail), CBD-1 District. Dunwody, Beeland Architects, applicant. Approved.

CONDITIONAL USES:

2311 Allen Road: Conditional use to allow a shopping center, M-1 District. Applied Technology Consultants Inc., applicant. Denied.

4530 Columbus Road: Conditional use to allow auto sales, PDE District. Edwin Damon Lawson, applicant. Approved.

6055 Lakeside Commons Drive: Conditional use to allow a private college in an existing office building, PDE District. Jim Huffstetler; SPP Commercial Group, applicant. Approved.

2402 Houston Ave.: Conditional use to allow a private recreational facility, C-1 District. David Jackson, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

3062 Vineville Ave.: Variance in front yard setback requirements to allow a building addition, C-2 District. Robert Warner, applicant. Deferred to May 11 meeting.

3499 Hollingsworth Road: Variance in side yard setback requirements and variance in distance requirements to allow a carport, R-2 District. Joann Lewis, applicant. Approved.

VIOLATIONS:

1670 Kitchens Road: In violation of Section 27.05, Section 25.03 [2], and Section 4.07 [1] (a) (ii) of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution (operation of a church, installation of signage, erection of a carport without a zoning compliance, and failure to meet setback and distance requirements), R-1 District. Thelma Hill. Deferred to May 26 meeting.

ITEMS FOR COMMISSION RATIFICATION:

VARIANCES:

3419 Ridge Ave.: Variance in side yard setback requirements to allow an accessory building, R-1A District (09-0461). Dan Mills, applicant. Approved.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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