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Bass-Rivoli project vote delayed again

A rezoning decision for a mixed-used development in north Bibb County remains in limbo.

After nearly two hours of debate Monday, the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission decided once again to defer an application to rezone a 70-acre site at 5646 Rivoli Drive from an agricultural district to a planned development residential district.

The original proposal for Founder’s Pond at Rivoli included apartments, townhouses, single family homes and a retirement center.

The rezoning application is now set to be heard at the March 9 meeting.

Opponents turned out at Monday’s zoning meeting at Macon City Hall, continuing to protest the project — especially the density and the retirement home component — planned on the property at the corner of Rivoli Drive and Bass Road.

This is the second time commissioners deferred action on the project and the same issues were discussed Monday.

And for the second time in two months, commissioners asked the developer’s representatives to meet with neighborhood representatives to see if they can come to an agreement on the density and retirement center.

After two meetings earlier this month, the developer made several changes to the preliminary plan.

The 350-unit apartment complex was removed, buffers were doubled to 50 feet and the retirement center was moved to the center of the site and was reduced from 338 units to 300 units.

With the changes, the density changed from 10.33 units per acre to 7.25 units per acre.

“The purpose is to do a truly planned and a truly mixed-use residential development,” said land planner Zan Thompson of ZT3 Placemaker Studio, representing the developer. Some of those who protest the project “want a single-family development, and that’s not what we are doing.”

Thompson proceeded to go through each component of the project with the commission, describing where each would go and the new density of each section.

But the changes in density and other adjustments were not enough to allay the concerns of residents, even though they said they appreciated the removal of the apartments.

“I oppose the conceptual plan presented today,” said Elmo Richardson, who has lived on Rivoli Drive more than 30 years. He also is a Bibb County Commissioner and co-chair of the North Bibb Citizens Coalition group opposing the zoning. “The density has always been the issue with the neighborhood. We think it should be more in line with other (planned development residential) zoning in surrounding areas.”

Greg Popham said the retirement center was a commercial venture and that the zoning would amount to spot zoning.

The commission’s staff pointed out that the regulations do not regard a retirement center as a commercial business and they have been allowed in residential areas.

The commissioners seemed to agree that the property should be zoned as a planned development district but they were divided on the proposed development.

Commissioners Sarah Gerwig-Moore and Kamal Azar said the density still seemed to be out of character for the area.

But Commissioner Jacqueline Hightower said, “I’m not sure I would vote no to the (new) density. … I am not opposed to this at all.”

Commissioner Arthur Hubbard said he wanted to defer the matter to give the parties another chance at coming to a compromise.

Representatives from both the developer and the area residents agreed to waive the 45-day rule for a decision to be made on the matter, and the commissioners voted to defer the application to the next meeting.

Other items on the agenda were:

CONDITIONAL USES:

536 Poplar St.: Conditional use to allow a church in an existing building, CBD-1 District. New Life Christian Center Inc.; James Hicks, applicant. Deferred.

4500 Billy Williamson Parkway: Conditional use to allow an educational facility in an existing shopping center (DUI School), C-2 District. Sieglinde Gray, applicant. Approved.

1010 Newberg Ave./1041-1125 West Granada Terrace: Conditional use to allow expansion of a parking lot for an existing church, R-1 District. Beulahland Bible Church; Butch Sementilli-Widner & Associates, applicant. Approved.

3931 Ridge Ave.: Conditional use to allow an office and design center in an existing building, PDE District. Darren Suggs; Marble Masters of Middle Georgia, applicant. Approved.

4010 Northside Drive: Conditional use to allow a moving/delivery service and truck rental within an existing shopping center, C-1 District. James Couey, applicant. Approved.

465 Albert St.: Conditional use to allow a truck terminal station, M-1 District. George Greer; BTI of Macon, applicant. Deferred.

3640 Macon Tech Drive: Conditional use to allow a shuttle service, C-2 District. Izell Hillman; Work Taxi Inc., applicant. Approved.

855 Tolliver Place: Conditional use to allow modular classrooms at a previously approved school, R-3 District. Montessori of Macon; Chris Clark-Carter & Sloope, applicant. Approved for five years.

343 Plantation Way: Conditional use to allow a proposed skilled nursing facility (66 beds), PDR District. Health Systems Real Estate Inc.; Carter & Sloope, applicant. Approved.

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS:

2828 Vineville Ave.: Certificate of Appropriateness to allow design approval of exterior modifications (window replacement and side door addition), HR-1 District. Helen Stafford, applicant. Approved.

VARIANCES:

1044-1090 Washington Ave.: Variance to allow reserved parking at an existing shopping center, HR-3 District. Wayne Crowley, applicant. Denied.

797 Byars Road: Variance in side yard setback requirements to allow a building addition and variance in setback requirements from the right-of-way to allow a fence. A-Agricultural District. Tyrone Blair, applicant. Approved.

7096 Lower Thomaston Road: Variance in rear yard setback requirement to allow an addition to a single-family dwelling, A-Agricultural District. Gregory Justin Bankston, applicant. Approved.

VIOLATIONS:

981 Ousley Place: In violation of Section 26.08 [1] of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution (parking more than one commercial vehicle in a residential district), R-1AA District. Darrell Brown; Shirley Brown. The violators agreed to park only one vehicle at the property.

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

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