The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application for a cell-phone tower on Zebulon Road in a split vote Monday.
At previous meetings, residents in the area had opposed a conditional-use permit to allow the communication tower at 7788 Zebulon Road. The matter had been deferred twice since August to give the commission and its staff more time to look into the issue.
At the Sept. 14 meeting, commissioners said they would receive testimony for or against the tower during that meeting, confer with their attorney and then render a decision at Monday’s meeting. No further testimony was allowed Monday.
Commissioners Kamal Azar, Sarah Gerwig-Moore and Jacqueline Hightower voted to approve the application, while commissioners Damon King and Arthur Hubbard voted against the proposal.
During their discussion, some commissioners said they were trying to balance the concerns of the neighbors with the appropriate land use of the property and potential usefulness of the tower.
Hubbard said he understood the need for better communication, but he shared neighbors’ concerns about how the tower might hurt their property values.
But Gerwig-Moore said she didn’t feel that either side presented enough evidence to convince her how property values would be affected.
“Clearly, there is a decline in aesthetics, but I’m not sure that’s outweighed by the need for the cell service or that there were acceptable alternatives,” she said.
In another matter, commissioners deferred a decision on two zoning permits for 990 Shurling Drive at Kitchens Drive in east Macon.
Plans are to demolish the vacant Hunt Magnet School and build a new shopping center on 5.6 acres of the property and an apartment complex on 4.4 acres of the property.
Thelma Perryman, who said she was representing several residents in the area, opposed the developments.
“We don’t need this there,” Perryman said. “Police are there all the time. We don’t need more houses down there.”
Tyrone Hill, who lives on Kitchens Drive, said he was concerned about the added congestion that traffic would bring.
However, Tony Widner with Widner & Associates, who represented the owner, Kunj Investments Inc., said that according to a traffic study the new developments would “roughly have the same impact” as when the school was open.
“There was always activity there,” Widner said. “This is not in the middle of a neighborhood. This is on Shurling Drive. There is probably no more appropriate use for this property. ... My experience is when you have new shops and new stores going in, it usually helps an area.”
The commission deferred the matter until the Oct. 26 meeting to give the applicant an opportunity to meet with residents from the area.
Other items on the agenda were:
ITEMS DEFERRED FROM SEPT. 14, 2009, MEETING:
163 Bradstone Circle: Variance in side yard setback requirements to allow a single-family dwelling, R-1A District. MLC-Mike Casteel Construction, applicant. Approved.
248 Straight St.: Conditional use to allow a building addition (two story) to an existing church, R-2 District. Stafford Builders, New Piney Grove Baptist Church, applicant. Approved.
2661-2665 Allen Road: Conditional use to allow site plan revisions to a previously approved single-family cluster development, PDR District. David McCrory, applicant. Approved.
5659 Zebulon Road: Conditional use to allow a church, R-1AAA & PDR District. Victory Christian Center, applicant. Approved.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:
2691 Stanislaus Circle: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow change in roofing material, HR-1 District. Trudie Sessions, applicant. Approved.
293 Corbin Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow exterior renovations to an existing dwelling, HR-1 District. Bickley Design Build Service, applicant. Approved.
230 Third St.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of facade modifications, CBD-1 District. Lumley & Howell, Kerry Howell LLC, applicant. Approved.
4841 Harmon Place Extension: Variance in platting requirements to allow subdivision of a parcel, A-Agricultural District. Love Harmon, applicant. Approved.
120 Montclair Court: In violation of Section 4.11  (a) and Section 4.11  (a) of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution (wall erected in excess of 8 feet in height and unfinished side of wall exposed to the exterior), R-1AAA District. Kathy Tripp. The owner has until Oct. 26 to apply for a fence height variance and to install an appropriate finish to the exterior of the wall.
ITEMS FOR COMMISSION RATIFICATION:
3625 Pio Nono Ave.: Variance in setback requirements to allow a fence, C-4 District (091290). Randall Odom, SunTrust Bank, applicant. Approved.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.