Battle over south Bibb rail spur back on P&Z agenda

An application to rezone about 50 wooded acres for a rail spur to a fuel storage facility is back on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission.

The item has been deferred three times already.

The proposal by Texas-based Epic Midstream to rezone 2048 Barnes Ferry Road from an agricultural district to a wholesale and light industrial district would allow a rail spur from the Norfolk Southern main line to serve a rail pipeline loading station for ethanol.

Epic says the rail spur would be used no more than 13 times a year, and when used the transfer operation would be done within a 24-hour period. Also, Epic has now proposed a 100-foot-wide buffer along the Barnes Ferry frontage of the property instead of an earlier 50-foot buffer.

Residents in the area have told commissioners they don’t want the rail spur because of problems with previous leaks from a jet fuel pipeline that some of them dealt with for years. Some wells in the area were polluted because of the fuel leaks, they’ve said.

A previous owner was responsible for those issues, Epic’s attorney has said.

An addendum to a previous staff analysis says that ethanol was classified as a hazardous liquid in recent weeks. A result of that change is that ethanol will be subject to more strict federal regulations.

The addendum concludes, “After further review of the facts surrounding this proposal and in light of the additional information regarding ethanol and its dangers to public health and welfare, staff has concerns that this proposed development will pose significant negative impacts to the adjoining and nearby properties.”

Also on Monday’s agenda is a bid to revise the design review process by eliminating the Design Review Board. The board now reviews all Certificate of Appropriateness projects and offers a recommendation to the Planning & Zoning Commission, which has final say.

Historic preservationists, including representatives of Historic Macon, are against the move, saying that getting rid of the board could endanger Macon’s historic properties. They have asked the commission to at least delay a vote.

The commission says in part that the current design review process is inefficient. The P&Z staff is recommending that commissioners replace the review board with a development review officer. The proposal would streamline the process for developers and property owners to get their plans approved, they say, and doing so would also save the P&Z staff time and resources.

The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Macon-Bibb County Government Center’s commission chambers. A “pre-meeting” of the commission will be held at noon in the 10th floor conference room in the Willie C. Hill Government Center Annex, 682 Cherry St.

Here are the items on the agenda:


2048 Barnes Ferry Road: Proposal to rezone from A-Agricultural District to M-1, Wholesale and Light Industrial District. The purpose of this rezoning is to allow a rail spur to serve as rail pipeline loading station. George Greer/Epic Midstream, applicant.


An amendment to Chapter 27A of the Comprehensive Land Development Resolution for the city of Macon and Bibb County to establish changes to the Design Review Board process. Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission, applicant.


6855 Thomaston Road: Proposal to rezone from A-Agricultural District to PDC, Planned Development Commercial District. The purpose of this rezoning is to allow a retail development (Dollar General). SW West Macon LLC/Colin Edwards, applicant.

All properties within the boundaries of Walnut Street, Seventh Street, Poplar Street and the railroad: Proposal to rezone from M-2, Heavy Industrial District, to CBD-2, Central Business District. The purpose of this rezoning is to allow residential and commercial uses. Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission, applicant.


8960 Hopewell Road: Conditional use to allow a manufactured home with decks, A-Agricultural District. Joann Johnson, applicant.


3750 Pio Nono Ave.: Conditional use to allow auto sales, C-4 District. Joseph Pilkenton, applicant.

4684 Presidential Parkway: Conditional use and final site plan approval to allow retail sales of tires, C-2 District. Cunningham & Co., applicant.

343 Plantation Way: Conditional use to plat property before site plan approval and approval of a revised site plan, PDE District. Zebulon Road Properties, LLC/Sterling Nelson, applicant.


8960 Hopewell Road: Variance in lot width requirements to allow a manufactured home, A-Agricultural District. Joann Johnson, applicant.

4140 Houston Ave.: Variance in setback requirements to allow a church, C-2 District. Deeper Life Bible Church, applicant.

3684 S. Lizella Road: Variance to plat property without frontage on public right-of-way, A-Agricultural District. Robbie & Brandi Sellers, applicant.